Blading with Bill: The top tag teams
Tag team wrestling has often been an under-appreciated facet of pro wrestling, generally eschewed by promoters who looked on tags as no more than additional payoffs.
In their minds, why pay four wrestlers when you can pay two?
But back in the day when house shows were the primary source of generating income, tags were necessary in order to break up the monotony of a show. Add in a couple of hot tag matches placed in the right part of the card, and the overall event was much more entertaining.
And let’s face it, four performers should be able to deliver twice as much as two, at least if there is a good storyline and the wrestlers know what they are doing.
I always loved a good tag match. The heels cutting the ring in half, beating down on the baby face who is valiantly struggling to make a tag to his partner. When he finally makes the hot tag, all hell breaks loose and the fresh baby face cleans house. It’s formula, but it works.
I had a heck of a time narrowing down all the great tag teams I’ve seen to four for my Mount Rushmore. Many were considered and came close — The British Bulldogs, Hart Foundation, The Steiner Brothers, The East-West Connection (Adrian Adonis, Jesse Ventura), Edge and Christian, The Rockers, Doom, Harlem Heat, The Von Erichs, Fabulous Freebirds, The Nasty Boys, The Dudleys — the list goes on and on.
With all those, and many more not making the cut, it only shows how special the four who made the final cut are.
Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard
The gold standard of tag teams from the National Wrestling Alliance.
Anderson and Blanchard were founding members of The Four Horsemen and that alone is enough to cement their inclusion.
Anderson was the tough, no-nonsense member of the team while Blanchard was the guy who fans would gladly pay money to see get beat up. He was cocky, brash and never afraid to express himself.
Both could also work the mic better than most.
Tapes of their matches and promos should be mandatory for young teams wanting to know how to work a match and deliver an interview.
The Road Warriors
The Road Warriors (or Legion of Doom) may be the most iconic tag team in the history of pro wrestling.
Road Warrior Hawk (Michael Hegstrand) and Road Warrior Animal (Joseph Laurinaitis) revolutionized tag team wrestling. With their imposing physical statures, face paint and spiked shoulder pads, the Road Warriors were as an intimidating force as any team that ever stepped into the squared circle.
The LOD were champions across three major promotions — the American Wrestling Alliance, the National Wresting Alliance, and finally with World Wresting Entertainment.
They were at their best when their matches were brutal and filled with violence and blood. Their War Games matches with the Horsemen were gold and their angle in late 1988 that saw them take a spike to the eye of Dusty Rhodes was so over the top it got Rhodes, who booked the storyline, canned from World Championship Wrestling.
Hawk and Animal could also deliver a promo, particularly Hawk who could be both intimidating and amusing at the same time.
What a rush!
The Midnight Express
The Midnight Express had several members, mostly under the management of Jim Cornette. The group started in the early 1980s with Dennis Condrey and Randy Rose. Perhaps the best known and most successful incarnation were the duo of Bobby Eaton and Sweet Stan Lane.
Eaton is one of the greatest, most under appreciated workers of all time while Lane could also get the job done.
Neither were particularly great on the mic, but that’s where Cornette came in.
Cornette grew up loving the business and was as obnoxious as they came. His big mouth and ability to cut a promo was the perfect foil for Eaton and Lane, who could deliver a five-star match at the drop of a hat.
The World Wrestling Federation (WWF at the time) combined Bob Holly and Bart Gunn as The New Midnight Express in the late 1990s. It was as bad as it sounds and was doomed to fail. No one could live up to Eaton and Lane in the ring or Cornette on the mic.
The Rock and Roll Express
In the 1980s Robert Gibson and Ricky Morton were as over and as good as any tag team in Jim Crockett Promotions.
The duo were huge baby face stars with long hair, goofy outfits and the ability to deliver a top-notch match night after night.
They held the NWA World Tag Team Championship nine times and had legendary feuds with the Four Horsemen. In the late 1980s, they were contenders for the American Wrestling Association’s World Tag Team Championship.
Morton also had several memorable bouts as a single with Ric Flair that many consider on par with Flair’s legendary matches with Ricky Steamboat and Barry Windham.
Morton also played the part of a heel when he turned on Morton to join The York Foundation in World Championship Wrestling (WCW).
The duo, who were inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, may have flown under the radar a bit always delivered.
Next week: The top baby faces of all time.
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