Sure, we all know that it’s “fake,” but that doesn’t mean that we don’t love it. Professional wrestling in the United States is a guilty pleasure for millions, and has become a staple in equally as many homes, despite the fact that the WWE has a stranglehold on the industry. Tag team wrestling, in particular, was a huge favorite among fans at one point, due to the wild and crazy personalities and brutal finishing moves these teams employed when in the ring. During the ’90s especially, tag team wrestling was huge for the sport with dozens of teams showing glimpses of superstardom and potential. In this post, we count down what we believe to be the top 10 tag teams in professional wrestling in the ’90s..
10- Kronik- Brian Adams and Bryan Clark were two powerhouses by themselves that managed to never get a big push as singles stars. But as the combination of “Kronik,” they made the last year and change of WCW a fun one. Seeing them just destroy teams with their double choke slam, “High Times,” couldn’t be closer to the truth. After WCW floundered, however, the team disbanded after only a few matches, leaving both of them to look elsewhere for a job. Nevertheless, in spite of whatever problems they had with the WWE (after a horrible match against Undertaker and Kane, they were assigned to the company’s developmental territories, despite being in the business for over 20 years combined) and their total lack of charisma on the mic, it’s hard to argue with two reigns as the WCW tag team champions.
9- The Eliminators- Easily one of the best tag teams of ECW, the pairing of John Kronus and Perry Saturn were as high energy as you could get. Despite both being undersized, the technical skill and overall versatility of Saturn and the high-flying prowess of Kronus made them a blast to watch. Their finisher, “The Total Elimination” – a combination leg sweep and swinging leg lariat – was a devastating finishing move that helped them rack up three ECW tag team titles, defeating the best teams the company had to offer, including The Gangstas and The Steiner Brothers.
8- The Public Enemy- When thinking of this team, the cliché “The sum is greater than its parts” easily comes to mind. Rocko Rock and Johnny Grunge wouldn’t have made it very long in the industry by themselves, but together, they were a brutal tag team that carved a niche for themselves in ECW, winning the tag team titles four times. Their finisher, “The Drive-By,” was a two-part move that included a reverse DDT and a senton bomb – what it lacked in overall devastation was made up for the team’s hardcore nature in the ring. Simply put, they’d beat you with whatever weapon they could get their hands on. In spite of winning the WCW tag team titles there, they never caught on with the company and were considered sellouts by the boys in the WWF for picking the Eric Bishcoff’s company first when their contract ran out. As a result, they participated in several “stiff” matches and were soon run out of the company. After that, they appeared in several other promotions, but never achieved the same amount of recognition as before.
7- Harlem Heat- Before Booker T was a five-time WCW champ, he and his brother Stevie Ray were one of the most powerful tag teams in the industry. Winning the straps 10 times, they’ve faced off against some of the best teams in the industry, usually coming out on top. Nevertheless, the team lacked a consistent double-team move (“The Big Apple Bomb,” an elevated bear hug/standing sidekick combo was solid, but lacked the flair of the other teams that wrestled during the same time; “The Heat Seeker,” an electric chair/missile dropkick combo was the better move.) and depended more on their individual finishers to end matches. In spite of that, they were an athletic and powerful team, and consistently found themselves in the title picture while they were together and helped Booker T start his amazing career.
6-The Outsiders- These guys were just super cool and didn’t need a double team move to be successful. Having two of the most successful professional wrestlers at the time as a tag team helped propel WCW to the top of the wrestling world. It didn’t matter that they won most of their matches by cheating – they made cheating cool and cut great pre-match interviews. While it doesn’t exactly make up for what they didn’t do in the ring (both would never argue the fact that they are much better singles wrestlers), charisma can take you places in life and especially in professional wrestling.
5-New Age Outlaws- Some would say that this team was supposed to be WWF’s way of ripping off “The Outsiders,” but truth be told, these guys were and still are tag-team specialists that are great as a pair. Both have seemed somewhat successful by themselves, but they have a magic together that not many tag teams can reproduce. While both have solid finishers and used a double flapjack maneuver at times as their finish, it was always fun to see these guys wrestle in longer matches so you could see Billy Gunn’s “Fame-Asser” and Road Dogg’s “Pumphandle Slam.”
4-Edge and Christian- They were loved by women everywhere and are both excellent wrestlers on their own. A super group by wrestling standards, Christian had to go to TNA to get the respect he lacked in WWE, but Edge is a homegrown superstar that has morphed into something special. Nevertheless, these two were easily one of the greatest tag teams in the company’s history, and combined with the Dudley Boys and The Hardy’s, made for one of the great feuds in tag team wrestling history. Seeing them go from young heels in “The Brood” to bad asses delivering double chair shots was an adventure in itself, but seeing them grow as athletes that could do more than grow a good head of hair and look good on camera was the real experience.
3-The Hardy Boyz- A step above the previous tag teams because they were more than loved – they were adored. In spite of whatever personal problems they’ve had over the years, the two are excellent wrestlers that pushed tag-team wrestling to new heights. A pure shame when you consider how lacking it is right now. However, during the late ’90s, these guys were megastars that people would give their last dime to see. Not an easy feat. Able to wrestle a fast-paced match at will, these guys were incredibly versatile as well, and weren’t scared to be hardcore either. A true blessing from the wrestling gods.
2- The Dudley Boys- Much like The Public Enemy, the boys from Dudleyville are so much better together. Unlike TPE however, they are tremendous together and are so much more than hardcore icons. Able to make any tag team they wrestle look great, this team can work well as heels or baby faces, and have paved the way for several successful tag teams that worked alongside them. You could even make the case that this team made every tag team they faced better. Combine that with good mic skills and one of the most breathtaking finishers in tag team wrestling, “The 3-D,” and you have one of the most skilled tag teams in wrestling history.
1- The Steiner Brothers- Two suplex machines that pushed the industry to new heights. They won championship gold in a variety of organizations including WCW, NWA, WWF and the IWGP. Simply put, their matches in 1991 are better than anything on television today. Add in the best double-team moves in wrestling history, and it’s easy to see that they are the best tag-team wrestlers of the ’90s. A shame that both developed more charisma after they were broken up, but it’s a testament to their ability that they both thrived as singles wrestlers afterward. Nevertheless, they were better as a pair combined technical ability, with high flying and powerful moves that may never again be matched by another tag team in the industry.
Patrick Hickey Jr.
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