Welcome to another installment of the House Afire Tag Team Cheat Sheet, where the big boys type. You’ve probably heard that the voting is open and you can vote here. If you’d like to read about all the team’s we’ve already covered (this article gets us to 59 teams) you can check out our archives. Or you can join the discussion on the Facebook group here.
As time for this project is running short, I’m trying to turn these around quicker, which is a bit easier since I’ve already watched a ton of matches for many of the teams I’m writing about. At the same time, since I’m putting the finishing touches on my list, I’m starting to throw in a few bonus teams per article that I can cover quickly. I’d expect that to continue in the last few articles.
Years Teamed in WWE: 1965-1966, 1971-1972
Total Matches: 22
Combined Days of Tag Title Reigns: 198 days (WWWF United States Tag Team Championship)
Match Suggestions: n/a
Thoughts: Dr. Bill Miller and his brother Dan Miller were a team ahead of their time. You see, Dr. Bill was a veterinarian, and can you imagine him in the 1980s WWF treating Matilda, Frankie, Damian and whatever the hell that was they called Bad News Brown’s sewer rat? Or imagine him moving into the Parts Unknown cul-de-sac with the rest of the working class moonlighting as wrestlers in the mid-1990s? Why he could’ve car pooled with Isaac Yankem and T.L. Hopper, you’d think. But seriously, the Millers Brothers are one of the more highly regarded teams of their era. They first wrestled in Capitol Wrestling Corporation in 1958 and found their way to the WWWF in 1965, after teaming off and on for a decade. They won the WWWF United States Tag Team titles from Gorilla Monsoon & Cowboy Bill Watts and held onto them for 198 days before dropping them to Johnny Valentine & Antonio Pugliese in Madison Square Garden. During their time as a team the Miller Brothers often opposed the top stars of the day like Bruno Sammartino. Their run with WWWF appears to be short, with the records I found showing just 20 matches in 1965-1966 and a couple others in 1971 and 1972. Dr. Bill also enjoyed singles as a top challenger for Sammartino during this time.
Placement Range: I don’t know, I’m not convinced the Millers make it. It’s not like spots are reserved for elite teams on this list, but at the same time, I’m not struggling to find 100. The Millers seem to be well-regarded, and their long U.S. Tag Title reign helps their case, but 20 matches with no footage just doesn’t make a very compelling case. I’ll keep them in mind if I need to fill one last spot, but it’s not looking good for Dr. Bill and Dan Miller now.
Years Teamed in WWE: 1979-1980, 1982-1984
Total Matches: 492
Combined Days of Tag Title Reigns: 431
Match Suggestions: vs. Rick Martel & Tony Garea (11/8/80, appeared JIP on ASW 11/15/80), Vs. Adonis & Murdoch (6/16/84- MSG link in FB thread), vs. Andre the Giant & Jimmy Snuka (in FB thread), vs. Ivan Putski & Tito Santana (1/21/80-MSG)
Thoughts: The Wild Samoans were big, scary heels that looked intimidating and like a huge deal. Their upper-card placement and longevity allowed them to stink up the ring against some of the true legends in pro wrestling. I understand that the Wild Samoans weren’t about match quality, and that their gimmick was more about giving babyfaces an obstacle to overcome and fans villains to boo. I’m not minimizing their impact on the tag team scene or their ability to be semi-realistic foils for teams featuring Andre the Giant, Bob Backlund and Pedro Morales. The Samoans are a balancing act between in-ring work and everything else, as they are pretty bad, with a few notable exceptions. I liked the match where Martel & Garea won the titles from the Samoans, and the one in the Facebook thread against Murdoch and Adonis is quite good.The Samoans had a longevity with the company that few, if any, teams of their time can match. During the territory days, teams would move around a lot and the Wild Samoans were no different. My best guess looking at the wrestlingdata records would be that they had just short of 500 matches with the company during their stints, which matches up well with teams from any era. The Samoans also worked face as well as heel, which is something I suppose.
Placement Range: You just can’t deny the importance of this team. I do consider in-ring performance and match quality important and don’t care much for the Samoans in-ring work. So balancing those two facts, it’s looking like the Samoans will fall between 35 and 50 on my list. They should make everyone’s list due to their significance on their time period, and blazing the trail for hard-headed Samoan teams for decades to come.
New Orient Express
Years Teamed in WWE:1990-1992
Total Matches: 166
Combined Days of Tag Title Reigns: 0
Match Suggestions: vs. Rockers (Royal Rumble ‘91), vs. Owen Hart & Jim Neidhart (Royal Rumble ‘92)
Thoughts: My working theory is that Paul Diamond had to enter witness protection, necessitating his donning a mask and becoming Kato! (read in JT’s vocal imitation Lord Alfred.) And WWF fans of the day were better for it, as the New Orient Express was the rare example of a team being both New and Improved. Their 1991 Royal Rumble match against The Rockers was considered one of the gold standard for WWF tag matches for years, if not decades. It still holds up today as I’ve seen it more times than I can count and still love it. Their 1992 Royal Rumble match against the New Foundation is also a fun match, and the New Orient Express had more than 150 matches with the company, so they were around longer than you may have thought.
Placement Range: They have more matches than expected and the ‘92 Rumble match was good, but let’s not kid ourselves, they will live and die with that Rockers match at Rumble ‘91. I like that match well enough to put them on the list in one of the bottom 15 spots.
Owen Hart & British Bulldog
Years Teamed in WWE: 1995-1997
Total Matches: 177
Combined Days of Tag Title Reigns: 246
Match Suggestions: vs. Shawn Michaels & Steve Austin (5/26/97- Raw), vs. Smoking Gunns (Buried Alive), vs. Smoking Gunns (Mind Games), vs. Steve Austin & Dude Love (Raw 7/14/97), vs. Vader & Mankind (WM 13), w/Bret Hart & Jim Neidhart & Brian Pillman vs. Steve Austin & LOD & Ken Shamrock & Goldust (Canadian Stampede), w/ Vader vs. Shawn Michaels & Ahmed Johnson & Sid (International Incident), w/Vader vs. Jake Roberts & Ahmed Johnson & Yokozuna (WM XXII)
Thoughts: Owen and Bulldog have that classic Raw match against Austin and Michaels that I’d call one of the best matches in Raw history. And they have a significant run atop the division in 1996-1997. During that time they had a wide range of outcomes when it comes to match quality, with really good stuff against Austin and Dude Love on Raw, against the Smoking Gunns and as part of the Hart Foundation’s wars against a number of American wrestlers. They were a significant part of the Canadian Stampede main event and were a regular tag team during that time, so it would be fair to consider their work in that match. I was a bit disappointed by some of their other work, particularly their PPV matches against the Legion of Doom.
Placement Range: I started this project thinking they would be a top 20 team. I’ve yo-yo’d back and forth on whether that’s accurate. I made the assumption with the Austin-Michaels and Hart Foundation multi-mans in mind, and I’ve found a lot of matches that can’t touch those. But when I start to think about moving them down a bit, I realize MOST teams don’t have matches to touch those. I’ll probably split the difference a bit and expect Owen and Bulldog to land between 20 and 30 on my list.
Years Teamed in WWE: 1991-1993
Total Matches: 235
Combined Days of Tag Title Reigns: 411
Match Suggestions: vs. Steiner Brothers (8/16/93- cage match), vs. Steiner Brothers (7/17/93- Superstars), vs. Natural Disasters (10/31/92- Wrestling Challenge), vs. Hogan-Beefcake (WM IX), vs. Natural Disasters (WM VIII), vs. Legion of Doom (SummerSlam ‘92), vs. Randy Savage & Ultimate Warrior (10/27/92-SNME 11/14/92)
Thoughts: Programming note: match suggestions are not necessarily endorsements. I feel like I have to note that here, since if a team has a WrestleMania match against Hulk Freakin’ Hogan, it pretty much has to be mentioned in their case for this list. But that WM IX match is the shits (and I don’t love the WM VIII match or SNME matches either.) Now Hogan was pretty disinterested and Beefcake never did anything of any worth from this point on, but that match is a bit of a black eye for Money, Inc. That match aside, Money, Inc. were probably the best workers among the top teams of 1992, but since they were usually paired against the Natural Disasters and Nasty Boys that is damning with faint praise indeed. Money, Inc. was not bad workers as much as they were boring, which is kind of a cardinal wrestling sin for me. The tag division fell on Hard Times, as Dusty would say, in 1992 after the heyday of the mid-80s and early 90s, and Money, Inc. was part of that decline. Somewhat better times were ahead, as they did have a really good cage match with the Steiner Brothers and some other good matches with them, as well, before the Tax Man and the Million Dollar Man went their own ways.
Placement Range: Longevity and title reigns they’ve got, but in the ring they were dull at best and had some real stinkers at their worst. It’s not a question of whether they deserve to make the list, they do. But they’re not currently in my top half and I can’t imagine that changing. I’m expecting them in the 50 to 70 range.
Edge & Christian
Years Teamed in WWE:1998-2002, 2004-2005, 2011
Total Matches: 351
Combined Days of Tag Title Reigns: 206
Match Suggestions: vs. Hardys (Ladder Match-No Mercy ‘99), vs. Dudley Boyz vs. Hardy Boyz (SummerSlam ’00- TLC Match) , vs. Dudley Boyz vs. Edge-Hardy Boyz (WM X7- TLC Match), vs. Dudley Boyz vs. Hardy Boyz (WM 2000- Ladder Match) vs. Hardy Boyz vs. Dudley Boyz vs. Benoit-Jericho (TLC- SD- 5/24/01), vs. Dudley Boyz (Royal Rumble ‘01), vs. Lance Storm & Mike Awesome (Invasion)
Thoughts: Edge & Christian totally reek of awesomeness! They rule almost as much as kazoos! That list of match recommendations is lengthy and impressive. Now, Edge & Christian do lack a great match that isn’t a ladder match and that may keep them from the tippy-top of my list, but their non-gimmick work is quite good. I particularly like their Royal Rumble ‘01 match against the Dudley Boyz and their last PPV match against Lance Storm and Mike Awesome is quite good, as well. And the thing is, those ladder and TLC matches happened and were some of the best matches in company history. I don’t think it’s fair to compare a three-team TLC match to a regular two-on-two match, but E&C, the Hardy Boyz and Dudley Boyz have to get credit for putting their bodies on the line, having great matches and piling up “holy shit” chants. Plus, they had a lot of those types of matches, which were quite popular and the teams were continuously asked to do more ladder and TLC matches. They upped their game every time and that’s going to push Edge & Christian high up my list, where they will pose for the benefit of those with flash photography.
Placement Range: When it comes to comparing the “TLC 3”, I think the Hardy Boyz are head and shoulders above the other two teams. The Dudleys have much more longevity and Edge and Christian have better promos and skits. All three teams were presented as a big deal, mixing it up with main eventers and winning lots of tag titles (E&C are seven-time champs.) I’ve seen some talk about E&C as a #1 contender, but they won’t sniff that on my list. They are a definite top 10 contender for me and will either be just inside the top ten or just outside it. I value longevity and the Dudleys have A LOT more matches together, so they’ll be higher but maybe just a spot or two. Put E&C down for between eight and 12 on my list.
Batista & Rey Mysterio
Years Teamed in WWE: 2005-2009
Total Matches: 53
Combined Days of Tag Title Reigns:14
Match Suggestions: vs. MNM (SD 1/3/06 cage match), vs. MNM (SD 12/13/05), vs. MNM (SD 12/27/05), vs. JeriShow (Hell in a Cell ‘09),vs. Kane & Big Show (Armageddon ‘05)
Thoughts: Batista and Rey Mysterio were friends. They teamed together more than 50 times between 2005 and 2009, most notably to battle MNM for their WWE Tag Team Championship. The matches against MNM on SmackDown were all excellent, culminating in a cage match in early 2006. Batista and Rey fought for SmackDown against Raw tag team champs the Big Show and Kane at Armageddon ‘05, falling just short. They remained friends, teaming every year until deciding to pursue tag team gold again in 2009, when the battled JeriShow at Hell in a Cell in a very good match. But then came Bragging Rights 2009. Both Rey and Batista were involved in a fatal four-way match for the World Heavyweight Championship and when Batista was thiiiiis close, he got stabbed in the back by his friend when Rey broke up a pinfall, potentially costing Batista the title. It was a normal maneuver in a multi-man match, but it was costly. After the match Batista calmly told Rey he was going to rip his head off and then he, less calmly, proceeded to do just that. “You were supposed to be my friend!” Batista screamed while he decimated Rey. It was one of the more memorable and well-done tag team break-ups in decades.
Placement Range: They had more matches than I expected, but longevity still hurts them. I loved their big man-little man dynamic. Batista would whip Rey into opponents and Rey would jump off Batista’s shoulders for a splash. Their matches against MNM and JeriShow boost their case. The break-up angle after Bragging Rights was tremendous and this team was just so much fun. It’s a personal preference pick, but I can find room on this list for Batista and Rey in the last 15 spots, closer to the bottom than the top.
Cade & Murdoch
Years Teamed in WWE: 2005-2008
Total Matches: 286
Combined Days of Tag Title Reigns: 231
Match Suggestions: vs. Hardy Boyz (Backlash ‘07), vs. Hardy Boyz (Judgment Day ‘07), vs. Hardy Boyz (Vengeance ‘07), vs. Hurricane & Rosey (Unforgiven ‘05), vs. London & Kendrick (Unforgiven ‘07), vs Hardy Boyz (6/4/07-Raw), vs. Cody Rhodes & Hardcore Holly (Survivor Series ‘07)
Thoughts: Cade and Murdoch’s peak was during a blind spot for me. I remembered them debuting, shrugged my shoulders, stopped watching for some time and kind of forgot about them. Digging into their work for this project, they’re a lot better than I remember at nearly every aspect (or they grew as a team after I stopped watching.) They worked really well together and had very interesting offense with Cade’s sit-out spinebuster, Murdoch’s Code Red (!) and the leg drop where Cade drops Murdoch onto their opponents. Their characters were also interesting as they didn’t match exactly, with Cade being a suave cowboy and Murdoch a less refined redneck brawler, but you could totally see them being friends and tag team partners. I also enjoyed their disingenuous shows of sportsmanship. They had a very good series of matches against the Hardys in 2007 and their work against London & Kendrick was always good as well. They had a solid three-plus year run and were always one of the more prominent teams in the division. So they’ve been a bit of a pleasant surprise for me when going through this project.
Placement Range: Cade & Murdoch really impressed me with both their in-ring work and their longevity and title runs. It was kind of a forgotten period in the tag team scene, but Cade & Murdoch’s work earns them a spot in the middle or the list. They’re falling just outside the top half now, between 50 and 60 on my list.
Years Teamed in WWE: 2014-2018
Total Matches: 346
Combined Days of Tag Title Reigns: 323 (NXT Tag Team Titles)
Match Suggestions: vs. American Alpha (NXT Takeover Dallas 4/1/16), vs. American Alpha (NXT Takeover The End), vs. American Alpha (7/6/16- NXT- 2/3 falls), vs. #DIY (NXT Takeover Toronto 2/3 falls- 11/19/16), vs. #DIY (NXT Takeover Brooklyn II-8/20/16), vs. Authors of Pain vs. #DIY (NXT Takeover Orlando 4/1/17,) vs. Drew McIntyre & Dolph Ziggler (Raw-9/24/18), vs. Hardy Boyz (Raw-7/17/17), vs. The Bar (Raw-3/5/18)
Thoughts: For my money, The Revival’s is the best working team the WWE has ever had. Their fundamentals of isolating an opponent, cutting the ring in half, working a body part, cheating like crazy and cutting off hot tags exceeds every other team to step into a WWE ring in my mind. Clearly, this pays off as many (myself included) feel they have the best tag match in company history against #DIY at Takeover Toronto, in front of more than 12,000 people and broadcast live to a global audience on the WWE Network (so save your minor league arguments.) Their match against the same team at Takeover Brooklyn II may well be the second-best match in company history and their matches against American Alpha at Takeover Dallas and The End just add to the resume. While their call-up to the Raw roster has been littered with injury and disappointment (don’t get me started on their booking and lack of opportunities) Dash and Dawson have had good matches with Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre, The Bar, New Day and the Hardy Boyz when given the chance.
Placement Range: They go hard! All day, all night…right up my list. They’ve had what I consider the best two tag matches in company history and I think they’re the best tag workers on a match-to-match basis. They’ve got respectable longevity and are one of only two teams to win the NXT championship twice. That’s a top 10 resume to me and flirting with top five.
Years Teamed in WWE: 1987-1991
Combined Days of Tag Title Reigns: 698
Match Suggestions: vs. Hart Foundation (SummerSlam ’90, 2/3 falls), vs. Hart Foundation (SummerSlam ’88), vs. Brain Busters (SNME 5/27/89), vs. Brain Busters (2/3 falls SNME 7/29/89), vs. Strike Force (WM IV), vs. Powers of Pain- Mr. Fuji (WM V), vs. Colossal Connection (WM VI), vs. Ultimate Warrior-Legion of Doom (SNME 10/13/90)
Thoughts: Here comes the Ax! Here comes the Smaaaa-sher! Leaving them off your list- would be a disass-ter! (I freely take creative liberties with the Demolition theme song.) Simply the most over team the WWE has ever had in my humble opinion (which I hold in high regard.)They’ve got an impressive list of matches, though those matches consist more of memorable moments rather than great matches that collect snowflakes. You can call them Road Warrior rip-offs without the muscles that dressed in S&M garb, but you can’t deny they had some of the most memorable moments of any tag teams in WWE history. Their title win over Strike Force at WrestleMania IV, their SummerSlam matches against the Hart Foundation and their title win (and subsequent Andre turn) at WrestelMania VI all immediately come to mind for most fans. They also had fun feuds with the Powers of Pain, Brain Busters and Hart Foundation, among others. They spent much of 1990 facing off against the Legion of Doom and World Champion the Ultimate Warrior, showing they could mix it up with main eventers.
Placement Range: Definitely in my top 10. Easily the worst workers in my top 10 (although I would rank their work about halfway between Good and As Bad as Will Thinks They Are.) They more than make up for it with longevity (575 matches), title reigns (698 days) and star power. They often shared the ring with main eventers (see Survivor Series ‘89 and ‘90) and the reactions they got as both babyfaces and heels were among the best you can find for any team.
That’s it for this week. I’ll be back soon with looking at more teams. If I missed any matches or other highlights let us know on the Facebook page.