The moment you’ve all been waiting for has arrived and the voting for the Greatest WWE Tag Team Ever is open here. But there’s no need to get in a big hurry, voting remains open through the end of the year and I’ve got a few more of these articles planned. You can catch up on past House Afire articles here and check out the Facebook group here.
I’m starting something new with this column where I’ll try to talk a little about an older team that has little to no footage. I’m no historian and I’d much rather watch matches than do research for this, so by all means do your own research on teams you’re interested in, but I wanted to at least bring up a few teams.
We’ve got some real heavy hitters this week so let’s get to it.
Years Teamed in WWE: 1963-1964
Total Matches: Costello-Heffernan- 112, Costello-St.Clair- 2
Combined Days of Tag Title Reigns: Costello-Heffernan 516 (WWWF U.S. title prior to consideration period)
Match Suggestions: Footage is so scarce and anything you find on YouTube is likely not the WWWF so feel free to watch to get an idea of their style, but there may not be any WWWF footage
Thoughts: It would appear that there are five different versions of the Fabulous Kangaroos (plus three versions of the New Fabulous Kangaroos.) At least those are the ones that appear on wrestlingdata, there may be more. I’m going to try to not just repeat the Wikipedia page, because you can check that out yourself. The original Kangaroos were Al Costello and Roy Heffernan and competed in Capitol Wrestling Corporation (the precursor to WWWF) from 1958-1963 until the company became what is today WWE. Historians and sources I found credit them as being the most over and historically important team of this time, truly being tag team pioneers. Wrestlingdata credits them with having 112 matches in WWWF in 1963-1964. They held the WWWF United States Tag Titles three times for a combined 516 days from 1960 to 1962 (which is technically before the consideration range.) The next iteration was Costello and Ray St. Clair who appeared in two matches at MSG in 1967. Wrestlingdata also says Costello and Don Kent worked under the Kangaroos gimmick in WWWF in 1972, but I can’t find what matches or how many there were. The fourth and fifth iterations of the Kangaroos did not appear in WWWF.
Placement Range: How do you judge the work of a team whose work you can’t see because there’s no WWWF footage? It’s very difficult to decide what to do. I decided I would consider any team with strong longevity, title reigns or historical significance. Historical significance is also difficult to judge, since WWE is a company that places little value on its own history, unless it is to advance whatever narrative they’re pushing at the moment. But all the historians and fans of the day agree the Fabulous Kangaroos were the best, most over and most important team of their time. If you go by the letter of the law, 112 matches in two years was a helluva lot to have with one company when there were so many territories. If you go by the spirit of the law, it seems clear that the Kangaroos had far-reaching influence in Capitol Wrestling and tag team wrestling in general in the period immediately before the consideration period. My original plan was to slot in a few teams from the 60s or early 70s into the bottom portion of my list, but…I kinda think the Kangaroos merit being a bit higher. I don’t know how high I can go without having a better idea of match quality, but it seems like the Kangaroos are the team to test those limits. For now I’m going to say middle of the back half of the list, maybe in the 55 to 85 range.
Tito Santana-Ricky Steamboat
Years Teamed in WWE: 1985-1987
Total Matches: 20
Combined Days of Tag Title Reigns: 0
Match Suggestions: vs. Dream Team (4/21/85), vs. Mr. Fuji-Don Muraco (11/22/85), vs. Moondog Spot-Rene Goulet (4/14/85)
Thoughts: Two of the greatest babyface workers to ever grace the WWF/E teamed together 20 times from 1985 through 1987. The results were spectacular. Three of those matches are posted in the Facebook thread, but frankly, their fate will live and die based on your thoughts of their match with the soon-to-be-named Dream Team. It takes place in the midst of the Valentine-Santana feud and, like the rest of that feud, it’s fantastic. I’d put it in consideration for best WWF tag team match of the 80s. If you’ve never seen it, what the hell are you waiting for? Watch it now, I’ll wait. Welcome back and you’re welcome. Even if you won’t consider Steamboat and Santana due to their lack of longevity, you should watch the match. If you do have other teams on your list based on one great match (like Austin-HHH, Austin-Michaels or Bret-Owen) you should watch that match and give some thought to Santana and Steamboat (and some extra credit to the Dream Team.)
Placement Range: I love the match with the Dream Team like Saturn loved Moppy. But you probably already guessed that. Santana and Steamboat will take up one of the last spots on my list as a personal favorite due to that match (and they were good in the other matches we saw.) Their lack of longevity prevents them from climbing higher, though. If you’re a voter that will consider a team based on one classic match, give that match a look and give Santana and Steamboat some thought.
Years Teamed in WWE: 1988-1989
Total Matches: 177
Combined Days of Tag Title Reigns: 76
Match Suggestions: vs. Hart Foundation (SummerSlam ’89), vs. Rockers (SNME 3/11/89), vs. Demolition (SNME 2/3 falls-7/29/89), vs. Strike Force (WM 5), w/ Demolition-Bolsheviks-Fabulous Rougeaus-Conquistadors vs. Powers of Pain-Rockers-British Bulldogs-Hart Foundation-Young Stallions (Survivor Series ’88), vs. Rockers (3/18/89), vs. Rockers (1/23/89)
Thoughts: Arn and Tully might be the best team at heel shenanigans, timing and cutting off the ring to ever grace a WWF ring (The Revival might be the other contender and I think both teams should take that as a compliment.) It’s just beautiful heel tag team wrestling. They have more great matches in a year than most teams could have in a lifetime. Their matches against Demolition are some of my favorite Demos matches, their SummerSlam match against the Harts is a great match and I could watch them wrestle The Rockers every day. They wrestled The Rockers both all the time and not nearly enough, as I love nearly all their matches. Some will knock them for longevity having only a year in the company, and that’s true, but it was during the time period where the company would run multiple house shows in the same day (the Busters and Rockers had another match at MSG the same day as the Boston Garden match mentioned) so they racked up more than 170 matches during that year.
Placement Range: Great work in every match, great matches with the Rockers and Harts and a title run add up to a tremendous year-long run. And that adds up to somewhere in the 20 to 35 range on my list.
Years Teamed in WWE: 1993-1996
Total Matches: 456
Combined Days of Tag Title Reigns: 331
Match Suggestions: vs. Owen Hart-British Bulldog- (IYH: Mind Games), w/ Tatanka vs. Bam Bam Bigelow- Headshrinkers (SummerSlam ’93), vs. Owen Hart-Yokozuna (IYH 1), vs. Owen Hart-British Bulldog (IYH: Buried Alive), vs. Owen Hart-Yokozuna (WM 11)
Thoughts: Maybe the OKeyst team to ever compete in the WWF/E. They weren’t especially good nor were they bad overall or at any one particular thing. Everything you can say about them has a counterpoint. They were the best team of their era and “held the division together” (whatever that means), but the other teams of the time were a bad lot. They didn’t have anyone to work with, but they didn’t have any great or memorable matches (and their best matches were against Owen and Bulldog, who are better workers than the Gunns.) They had dumb over-gimmicked characters, but their characters were far more believable and relatable than others of the time, like hog farmer hillbillies and fitness freaks. For every yin there is a yang (not Jimmy Wang Yang…probably) with the Gunns. They did have impressive longevity (but again you’d think they’d have accomplished more with than kind of time with the company.) They definitely are deserving of a place on the list, but I think they’ll have a wide range of placements.
Placement Range: It would be fitting if they came in right at 50, since for every high there is a low with the Gunns. But I think they deserve to be a bit higher for two reasons. One, they do have impressive longevity and were the focus of the division for a decent amount of time. The other reason is simply that the list of other candidates is a bit lacking, with a lot of teams having flaws in match quality or longevity. I think the Smoking Gunns will wind up finishing between 35 and 50 on my list.
Years Teamed in WWE: 2004-2007
Total Matches: 196
Combined Days of Tag Title Reigns: 285
Match Suggestions: vs. London-Kendrick vs. Hardy Boyz vs. Regal-Taylor (ladder match Armageddon ’06), vs. London-Kendrick (Judgment Day ’06), vs. London-Kendrick (4/7/06-SD), vs. Hardy Boyz (December to Dismember ’06), vs. Hardy Boyz (Royal Rumble ’07), vs. Batista-Rey Mysterio (SD 12/30/05)
Thoughts: Sneaky great resume. Their match against the Hardy Boyz at Royal Rumble ’07 is one of the WWE’s best examples of a Southern style tag match with MNM getting the heat on the Hardys. That match is a classic, but the match at December to Dismember was also excellent, and stood out like a diamond in a goat’s ass on that dreadful PPV. They were also involved in the four-way ladder match at Armageddon ’06 and had a number of outstanding matches with London and Kendrick. In addition to these matches, they had great characters and often hobnobbed with and opposed main eventers, feuding with Batista-Rey, Batista-Eddie and Eddie-Rey at various times. MNM always felt like a big deal and always delivered in the ring.
Placement Range: They had the feel of a main event act, had classic matches with the Hardy Boyz and always tore the house down with London and Kendrick. They never felt out of place opposing super-teams made of main eventers. The only thing holding them back is longevity with just under 200 matches, but that’s enough to place them inside my top 15. They’d probably be top 10 with a few more matches and I wouldn’t argue much with anyone that had them that high.
Years Teamed in WWE: 2012-2018
Total Matches: 398
Combined Days of Tag Title Reigns: 184 (NXT and SD)
Match Suggestions: w/ Bray Wyatt vs. The Shield (Elimination Chamber ’14), vs. Usos (2/3 falls Battleground ’14), vs. Usos (Money in the Bank ’14), w/Bray Wyatt vs. The Shield (Raw-3/3/14), w/Bray Wyatt vs. Goldust-Cody Rhodes-Rey Mysterio (Raw-2/10/14), vs. Goldust-Cody Rhodes (SD 12/20/13), vs. New Day (SummerSlam ’18)
Thoughts: The Blyatts (or Wundgeons if you prefer) are a tough team to evaluate. They’ve got great matches against the Usos, Rhodes brothers and the six-man match against The Shield at Elimination Chamber is a classic. I really like their work, especially when they were the Wyatt Family. As the Bludgeon Brothers they’ve been the top team and focus of the division earlier this year, which I found terribly disappointing (that’s not necessarily their fault, I’m constantly amazed by the ineptitude of WWE creatives to have The Bar, New Day and Usos all on SD and still not be able to have an interesting tag division.) It seems like the company was so focused on getting the Bludgeon Brothers over that they had them squash everyone and by the time they were ready to let the team have longer and better matches, they’d already beaten everyone and then Rowan got injured and here we are. They’ve got impressive longevity with just under 400 matches in the company. Individually, they check all the boxes, but it just feels like they could’ve been so much more. Maybe they still can after Rowan returns from injury.
Placement Range: Harper and Rowan have a very impressive resume of matches. Their classic six-man against The Shield and their matches against the Usos and Goldust-Cody put them in the top half of my list. Their longevity and title reigns boost them further, so I expect they’ll be between 25 and 40 on my list.
Years Teamed in WWE: 2017-2018
Total Matches: 31
Combined Days of Tag Title Reigns: 2 (NXT tag team titles)
Match Suggestions: vs. Undisputed Era- (NXT UK Championship 6/26/18), vs. Undisputed Era (NXT TV 7/11/18), vs. Undisputed Era (NXT Takeover- Brooklyn IV 8/18/18),
Thoughts: The trilogy of matches that Mustache Mountain had against the Undisputed Era earlier this year are some of the best tag matches the company has ever seen. The matches all played off each other and had an emotional hook. It was all tremendous stuff. If you haven’t seen those matches you need to watch them for your own good and before voting. Longevity is obviously their limiting factor, but they’ve had 31 matches for WWE, which is twice as many as HHH-Austin or Bret-Owen. So, if you weigh great matches heavily, you should seriously consider Mustache Mountain, as they didn’t have just one great match, they had three and I haven’t seen them have a bad match.
Placement Range: This will depend on how you weight longevity relative to match quality. But if you are comfortable putting teams on the list for one great match, Mustache Mountain should be on your radar. I said earlier that Santana-Steamboat will make the back end of my list. Well, Mustache Mountain has more matches and better matches than the Santana-Steamboat team, so they will make it, as well. They’ll be in the bottom quarter, but they’ll grab one of those last spots.
Years Teamed in WWE: 1996-2009, 2017
Total Matches: 603
Combined Days of Tag Title Reigns: 229
Match Suggestions: vs. The World’s Greatest Tag Team- (One Night Stand ’07- Ladder Match), vs. APA (Fully Loaded ’99), vs. London-Kendrick vs. MNM vs. Regal-Taylor (ladder match Armageddon ’06), vs. The Bar (Extreme Rules ’17 cage match), vs. The Bar (Great Balls of Fire ’17, iron man) vs. Dudley Boyz vs. Edge-Christian (SummerSlam ’00- TLC Match) , vs. Dudley Boyz vs. Edge-Christian (WM X7- TLC Match), vs. Dudley Boyz vs. Edge-Christian (WM 2000- Ladder Match) vs. Edge & Christian vs. Dudley Boyz vs. Benoit-Jericho (TLC- SD- 5/24/01), vs. MNM (Royal Rumble ’07), vs. MNM (December to Dismember ’06)
Thoughts: Strong number one contenders. If the Hardy Boyz don’t check all the boxes for you, I’m not sure what you’re looking for. Look at this list of match recommendations. They’ve got tons of classic matches you remember easily, spanning nearly 20 years and with a wide variety of opponents. Their ladder and TLC matches were revolutionary at the time and remain incredibly entertaining today, among some of the best matches in company history. Now, I’ll grant you that a lot of the matches on their list are ladder matches and TLCs. Some may dismiss them as daredevils or stunt men because of this, but they can put on classic straight tags, as well. Look no further than their matches with MNM in late ’06 and early ’07. Their return at WrestleMania 33 was a great moment for them and one of the highlights of the show, and they showed they still had it in the ring with their matches against The Bar in ’17. The helped re-energize the tag division in ’99-’00 and have had more than 600 matches with the company, putting them in the upper echelon of teams for longevity. Matt and Jeff are one of first teams that come to mind when I think of WWE tag teams, and they merit strong consideration for a top spot (or THE top spot.)
Placement Range: One of a very few teams I’d consider for the top spot. A lock for my top 5.
That’s it for this week. I’ll be back soon looking at more teams. Again, if I missed any matches or other highlights let us know on the Facebook page.