Abandoned: The History of the WCW US Tag Team Championship

Kyle SchadlerChief Writer INovember 23, 2011

Abandoned: The History of the WCW US Tag Team Championship

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    Throughout history, professional wrestling has seen many championships.

    In WWF/E, there are six major titles. Not many know that the company has had a total of at least 19 different titles, 13 of which have been abandoned for one reason or another.

    The other two major companies owned by WWE are WCW and ECW, which have at least 15 abandoned and forgotten titles between them.

    For as long as it takes, I will be concentrating on those forgotten titles.

    Each slide will feature the champion, who they defeated, where and when they won it, the length of their title reign, any special circumstances that happened during their reign and a bit of commentary.

    Belts with a lengthy history will get their own articles and may be broken up into two depending on the length. Titles with a short history may be featured in a standard article, but if they’re really short, they’ll be at the end of another title.

    For the fifth edition of Abandoned, I present the WCW United States Tag Team Championship.

    Established in 1986 as the NWA United States Tag Team Championship under NWA affiliate Jim Crockett Promotions, the titles survived JCP becoming WCW but not for long.

    The titles were abandoned in 1992 after seeing 19 champions in its six years of existence.

    So let’s get started!

Ivan Koloff and Krusher Khrushchev

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    Defeated: The Kansas Jayhawks (Dutch Mantel and Bobby Jaggers)

    Where: Atlanta, Ga.

    When: Sept. 28, 1986

    Title Reign: 72 days

    Ivan Koloff and Krusher Khrushchev defeated the Kansas Jayhwaks in a tournament final to become the first National Wrestling Alliance United States Tag Team Champions.

    The titles were created by Jim Crockett for his NWA affiliate Jim Crockett Promotions. Due to that, the NWA United States Tag Team Championship was only defended during JCP events.

    Fifteen years prior, Ivan Koloff won the WWWF World Heavyweight Championship, ending Bruno Sammartino’s seven-plus year reign as champion. That would be the only time he would win the title.

    He would also win various regional NWA titles before retiring in 1994.

    Krusher Khrushchev got his start in JCP, but would really make a name for himself when he moved over to the World Wrestling Federation.

    There, he became known as Smash and was one-half of one of the greatest tag-teams in history, Demolition.

    He still appears at independent events as Demolition Smash.

Ron Garvin and Barry Windham

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    Defeated: Ivan Koloff and Krusher Khrushchev

    Where: Spartanburg, SC

    When: Dec. 9, 1986

    Title Reign: 95 days

    Ron Garvin is best known as the man that agreed to be a transitional NWA World Heavyweight Champion just so that Ric Flair could win the title back at the first ever Starrcade, which was on the same day as the first ever Survivor Series.

    Garvin found himself in WWF in 1989, but he didn’t find much success there.

    Ron Garvin is now semi-retired and can still be seen from time-to-time at independent events and legend’s conventions.

    Barry Windham is probably best known as a member of the legendary Four Horsemen. He enjoyed a long career jumping back and forth between NWA/WCW and WWF.

    His most notable storylines to modern day fans are the New Blackjacks with Bradshaw in WWF and the West Texas Rednecks with Curt Hennig in WCW.

    On Oct. 26, 2011, it was reported that Windham suffered a heart attack. Last I heard, he was in a medical facility in Florida.

Ivan Koloff and Dick Murdoch

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    Defeated: Ron Garvin and Barry Windham

    Where: Atlanta, Ga.

    When: March 14, 1987

    Title Reign: ~one month

    The titles were declared vacant in April 1987, when Murdoch was suspended by the NWA.

    Dick Murdoch was a mainstay of the NWA, winning over 20 titles there. He appeared briefly for WWF winning the Tag Team Championship with Adrian Adonis in 1984.

    His last appeared for a main stream wrestling promotion in 1995, when he was a surprise entrant in the Royal Rumble.

    Murdoch would unfortunately pass away on June 15, 1996.

The Midnight Express (Bobby Eaton and Stan Lane)

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    Defeated: Ron Garvin and Barry Windham

    Where: Atlanta, Ga.

    When: May 16, 1987

    Title Reign: 346 days

    The Midnight Express defeated Ron Garvin and Barry Windham in a tournament final to win the titles.

    The Midnight Express are a legendary tag-team that has gone through many incarnations. Eaton and Lane would be the third team under the name.

    This version of the Midnight Express would only win two titles together, the other being the Mid-Atlantic version of the NWA World Tag Team Championship.

The Fantastics (Tommy Rogers and Bobby Fulton)

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    Defeated: The Midnight Express

    Where: Chattanooga, TN

    When: April 26, 1988

    Title Reign: 75 days

    The Fantastics formed in 1984, and they feuded with the Midnight Express throughout most of the 1980s.

    You can still see the team pop up here and there on the independent scene.

The Midnight Express

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    Defeated: The Fantastics

    Where: Baltimore, MD

    When: July 10, 1988

    Title Reign: 62 days

    The titles were declared vacant on Sept. 10, 1988, when the Midnight Express won the NWA World Tag Team Championship.

The Fantastics

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    Defeated: Eddie Gilbert and Ron Simmons

    Where: Chattanooga, TN

    When: Dec. 7, 1988

    Title Reign: 19 days

    The Fantastics defeated Eddie Gilbert and Ron Simmons in a tournament final to win the titles.

    This would be the final time the team would hold the belts.

The Varsity Club (Kevin Sullivan and Steve Williams)

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    Defeated: The Fantastics

    Where: Norfolk, Va.

    When: Dec. 26, 1988

    Title Reign: 64 days

    Kevin Sullivan is best known for his time in WCW as “The Taskmaster” and leader of the Dungeon of Doom.

    He ended up as head booker in WCW, which resulted in the loss of Dean Malenko, Perry Saturn, Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero to WWF. He was fired before WCW was shut down.

    He now pops up once in a while at legends conventions and independent shows.

    Steve Williams is best known for his nickname “Dr. Death.” Williams had most of his success in the 1990s, becoming the biggest foreign act in Japan.

    He appeared for both WWF and WCW before contracting throat cancer. He was cancer-free a year later and continued to wrestle on the independent circuit.

    Unfortunately, his cancer returned in 2009, and he passed away on December 29.

Eddie Gilbert and Rick Steiner

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    Defeated: Kevin Sullivan and Steve Williams

    Where: Columbia, SC

    When: Feb. 28, 1989

    Title Reign: ~three months

    The titles were declared vacant in May 1989 for unknown reasons.

    Eddie Gilbert was quite the successful wrestler, winning titles in the AWA, NWA and ECW before it became extreme, and many other promotions.

    He would unfortunately pass away on Feb. 18, 1995.

    Rick Steiner is best known as one-half of the Steiner Brothers with his younger brother, Scott. They would win multiple Tag Team Championships together.

    He also held numerous singles titles throughout his career.

Z-Man and Brian Pillman

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    Defeated: The Fabulous Freebirds (Michael Hayes and Jimmy Garvin)

    Where: Gainesville, Ga.

    When: Feb. 12, 1990

    Title Reign: 96 days

    Z-Man and Brian Pillman defeated the Fabulous Freebirds in a tournament final to win the titles.

    Z-Man got his first mainstream exposure in WWF as a part of the Can-Am Connection tag-team with Rick Martel.

    He abruptly left and found himself in JCP in 1989, where he had his most success.

    Z-Man retired in 1996.

    Brian Pillman had a successful career, appearing for NWA, ECW, WCW and WWF.

    Most of that success came from WCW winning this belt, the World Light Heavyweight Championship and NWA and WCW Tag Team Championships as the Hollywood Blonds with Steve Austin.

    Pillman would unfortunately pass away on Oct. 5, 1997.

The Midnight Express

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    Defeated: Z-Man and Brian Pillman

    Where: Washington, DC

    When: May 19, 1990

    Title Reign: 97 days

    This would be the final time the Midnight Express would hold the titles.

The Steiner Brothers (Rick and Scott Steiner)

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    Defeated: The Midnight Express

    Where: East Rutherford, NJ

    When: Aug. 24, 1990

    Title Reign: 180 days

    In 1988, Ted Turner bought Jim Crockett Promotions and established World Championship Wrestling. The titles remained under the NWA banner until January 1991, when WCW officially withdrew from the NWA and became its own entity.

    The titles were renamed the WCW United States Tag Team Championship, and the Steiners were still recognized as champions.

    The titles were declared vacant on Feb. 20, 1991, when the Steiners won the WCW World Tag Team Championship.

The Fabulous Freebirds

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    Defeated: The Young Pistols (Tracy Smothers and Steve Armstrong)

    Where: Saints Petersburg, FL

    When: May 19, 1991

    Title Reign: 85 days

    The Fabulous Freebirds defeated the Young Pistols in a tournament final to win the titles.

    Along with Terry Gordy, the titles were defended under the Freebird Rule.

    Established during their time in World Class Championship Wrestling, the rule states that any two of the three could defend the titles during a defense.

    Freebird original Terry Gordy would unfortunately pass away on July 16, 2001.

The Patriots (Todd Champion and Firebreaker Chip)

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    Defeated: The Fabulous Freebirds

    Where: Gainesville, Ga.

    When: Aug. 12, 1991

    Title Reign: 85 days

    The team of the Patriots didn’t last long, as they broke up a year later when Todd Champion left WCW.

The Young Pistols

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    Defeated: The Patriots

    Where: Gainesville, GA

    When: Nov. 5, 1991

    Title Reign: 70 days

    Previously known as the Southern Boys, the Young Pistols would break up a year later when Smothers went to Smokey Mountain Wrestling and Armstrong left for the WWF.

Ron Simmons and Big Josh

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    Defeated: The Young Pistols

    Where: Columbus, OH

    When: Jan. 14, 1992

    Title Reign: 34 days

    Ron Simmons is best known as Faarooq in WWF/E.

    Previously, though, he would become the first African American to win the WCW World Heavyweight Championship.

    While in WWF/E, he would hold the Tag Team Championship three times with Bradshaw as the Acolytes/APA. Simmons is now retired.

    Big Josh is best known as the original man under the Doink the Clown gimmick. You can still see him wrestle on the independent scene, sometimes as Doink.

Greg Valentine and Taylor-Made Man

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    Defeated: Ron Simmons and Big Josh

    Where: Rock Hill, SC

    When: Feb. 17, 1992

    Title Reign: 90 days

    Greg “The Hammer” Valentine has had a long and successful career, winning many, many titles.

    You can still see him wrestle at independent shows and legends conventions.

    He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame as a member of the class of 2004.

    Taylor-Made Man is best known as Terry Taylor and has had a long and successful career.

    He retired from in-ring competition in 2006 and was last seen as a road agent and head of talent relations in TNA before being released earlier this year.

The Fabulous Freebirds

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    Defeated: Greg Valentine and Taylor-Made Man

    Where: Jacksonville, FL

    When: May 17, 1992

    Title Reign: 39 days

    The Freebird Rule did not apply here, as Terry Gordy was teaming with Steve Williams at the time.

Dick Slater and Barbarian

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    Defeated: The Fabulous Freebirds

    Where: Kansas City, Mo.

    When: June 25, 1992

    Title Reign: 36 days

    The titles were abandoned on July 31, 1992 for unknown reasons. It’s theorized that they were scrapped because WCW didn’t want more than one Tag Team Championship.

    Dick Slater was an accomplished wrestler throughout the United States, winning many titles. His career ended in WCW when he injured his back.

    He retired shortly after in 1996.

    Barbarian split his career between the NWA, WWF and WCW.

    While in the NWA and WWF he was a member of the Powers of Pain tag-team with the Warlord. They would never win tag-team gold together.

    When moved to WCW, he was best known as a member of the tag-team the Faces of Fear alongside Meng. The team was also a member of the Dungeon of Doom.

    They too would never win tag-team gold.

    Barbarian was awarded the WCW Hardcore Championship in 2001 by Meng, but he never actually defended it.

    He can still be seen in the ring at independent shows.

Statistics and Final Thoughts

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    Most Reigns: The Midnight Express (three)

    Longest Single Reign: The Midnight Express (346 days)

    Longest Combined Reign: The Midnight Express (505 days)

    Shortest Reign: The Fantastics (19 days) 

    City with the Most Title Changes: Atlanta and Gainesville (three) 

    State with the Most Title Changes: Georgia (seven) 

    The WCW United States Tag Team Championship had the unfortunate pleasure of being a regional title. I call it unfortunate because a regional title in a big, worldwide promotion never lasted.

    The title began only as a title seen in Jim Crockett Promotions. It became a WCW title when Ted Turner bought the promotion and soon turned it into a worldwide entity that eventually competed with the monster known as WWF.

    I’m surprised that the titles didn’t last longer. Teams were plentiful back then, so there was plenty to go around with the WCW World Tag Team Championship.

    They could have been titles that were exclusive to the United States, while the World Tag Team Championship would have been the belts that travelled all over the world.

    At the same, though, it’s understandable that WCW would only want one set of titles for their tag-teams.

    The WCW United States Tag Team Championship are now forgotten.

    Thanks for reading, and come back on Friday for a special edition featuring the WWF World Martial Arts Heavyweight Championship! 

    Previous Installments 

    WWE Women’sWWE EuropeanECW TelevisionWCW Hardcore 

    Sources 

    http://www.wrestling-titles.com/wcw/wcw-us-t.html

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WCW_United_States_Tag_Team_Championship

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dick_Murdoch

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%22Dr._Death%22_Steve_Williams

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eddie_Gilbert_%28wrestler%29

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Pillman

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terry_Gordy

    Photos: onlineworldofwrestling.com