For our WrestleMania Week finale, we take a look at my favorite aspect of pro wrestling growing up: the tag team match, playa!
Tag team wrestling is a lost art when it comes to WWE. When done right, a tag team match can be a thing of beauty. Bad guys causing the good guys to distract the referee to illegally double team their opponent, the frustration of a heat segment leading to a hot tag where the good guys clean house. A tag team match can be one of the most energetic and exciting matches on the card, when done right.
It’s a shame it’s not done right that often any more.
But there have been many great tag team matches at WrestleMania, dating back to the first one in 1985 where the main event was a tag team match (you can read more about that shortly). This list celebrates the best of all of them – not just the title matches – because so many of my favorite WrestleMania tag team didn’t have any championships associated with them.
10. Terry and Hoss Funk vs. Junkyard Dog and Tito Santana (WrestleMania 2)
This is a match that not a lot of people would consider as a “best of” anything. But the action, mainly from the Funks and Santana, was fast-paced and kept the crowd interested in the match the whole way through. Considering it followed Adrian Adonis and Uncle Elmer fighting, that’s saying something. Classic heel tactics give the Funks the win, as Hoss (former NWA champion Dory Funk Jr.) distracted the referee while Terry (also a former NWA Champion, actually named Terry) hit the Junkyard Dog with a megaphone and got the duke.
9. Nikolai Volkoff & The Iron Shiek vs. Mike Rotundo and Barry Windham – Tag Team Title Match (WrestleMania I)
The first time I saw this match was on a tape of WrestleMania my grandfather brought home from his Knights of Columbus chapter, and it helped me to develop an appreciation for tag team wrestling over simple one-on-one action. Champions Windham and Rotundo, known as the U.S. Express, had the crowd fired up as they tried to fight back the foreign menace of former WWF Champion The Iron Shiek and his Communist companion, Volkoff. The advantage, though, was with Shiek and Volkoff, who had manager “Classy” Freddie Blassie in their corner. One shot with Blassie’s cane later, we had new champions. I was devastated.
8. Team Angle vs. Los Guerreros vs. Chris Benoit and Rhyno – WWF Tag Team Title Match (WrestleMania XIX)
Throwing an extra team into the tag team mix adds another dimension to the chaos of a tag team match. Not only do you have to worry about the health of your opponent’s partner if they get tagged in, you have two completely different opponents to consider. The match can either be utter chaos, or a thing of beauty. When you have some of the best athletes in the business all in the ring at the same time, as you do in this match (plus Rhyno), you’re going to get the latter. Team Angle – Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin – get the win to retain their titles here by taking advantage of the chaos when Benjamin pinned Chavo Guerrero after Rhyno hit Chavo with a spear.
7. The Rock and Mick Foley vs. Ric Flair, Randy Orton and Batista (WrestleMania XX)
At the time this match took place in 2004, you had three of the greatest entertainers of all time – The Rock, Foley and Flair – along with two sure-fire Hall of Famers who were just starting to make names for themselves in the business. Both Rock and Foley were masters of working a fun match and Orton and Batista stayed with them move-for-move while Flair, the ring general, surely kept the action moving. The end result – Orton hitting an RKO on Foley to get the win for his team – was disappointing for fans of Rock and Foley, but it helped propel the young lions into the spotlight with a major WrestleMania win.
6. The Rockers vs. Haku & The Barbarian (WrestleMania VII)
I discussed this match in the Best Openers list early this week. Click HERE to check it out and then come right back for the rest of the list.
5. Dudley Boys vs. Hardy Boys vs. Edge and Christian – Tag Team Title Ladder Match (WrestleMania 2000)
The first of two WrestleMania matches between these three teams that reimagined both the tag team division and ladder matches. Pretty much everything we see in the modern era from tag teams, ladder matches and tag team ladder matches can be attributed to these six men. The match was chaotic and never gave anyone a chance to catch their breath. Despite being ONLY a ladder match, the Dudley Boys introduced tables, and almost everyone went through one at one point or another. As Jeff Hardy hit an amazing Swanton Bomb off a ladder and through a table onto Bubba Dudley, Edge and Christian were climbing up to a table situated on top of two ladders to win their first tag team titles. The match built on the standard set by Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon at WrestleMania X (which was included on the Secondary Title list HERE) and completely changed the perception of what a ladder match could be.
4. Hart Foundation and Danny Davis vs. British Bulldogs and Tito Santana (WrestleMania III)
The Harts and the Bulldogs had been feuding since the Foundation beat the Bulldogs for the tag team titles late in 1986, with the help of evil, corrupt referee Danny Davis, who was “suspended for life plus 10 years” as a result of his shenanigans in that match. Davey Boy Smith and Dynamite Kid wanted revenge. So did Santana, who lost the Intercontinental Title in a match Davis refereed as well. The match had great energy, and Davis was used as a punching bag the whole match. After getting hit with a tombstone piledriver, it looked like he was going to be unconscious for about a week. But Davis is the one credited with the win, as he pinned Smith after hitting him with Hart’s megaphone.
3. Greg Valentine and Brutus Beefcake vs. The British Bulldogs – Tag Team Title Match (WrestleMania 2)
While the WrestleMania I tag team title match started my appreciation for tag team matches, this is the match that cemented it, as it was a perfect example of just how great tag team matches could be. The Bulldogs had to contend not just with the champions Valentine and Beefacke, but with their manager, Johnny Valiant (who died earlier this week). A fun match that got the crowd excited with a unique finish – Smith tossed Valentine into the Dynamite Kid’s head, knocking out both men (possibly legitimately knocking Kid loopy) and allowing Davey Boy to pin Valentine for the titles. On top of a great match, we get a prime Ozzy Osbourne, who is in the challengers’ corner, yelling “BRITISH BULLDOGS FOREVERRRRRRRRRR!” What a moment.
2. Hulk Hogan & Mr. T vs. Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff (WrestleMania I)
The main event of the first WrestleMania in 1985 was pure spectacle. Former boxing champion and greatest of all time Muhammad Ali was the special enforcer outside the ring. Former Yankees manager Billy Martin did the ring introductions and Liberace served as the timekeeper. No one had seen anything like this before, and the throng of photographers around the ring at the same time made the match feel like something special and crowded the ringside area whenever anyone went outside. It was a crazy scene, man, and the New York City crowd ate it all up. The match wasn’t an all-time classic in terms of action, but the energy and excitement within Madison Square Garden made it something special. When Hogan pinned Orndorff to get the win, the place went nuts.
1. Edge & Christian vs. Hardy Boyz vs. Dudley Boyz – Tag Team Title TLC Match (WrestleMania X-Seven)
How do you improve upon the classic they had the year before? Add tables and chairs and give all three teams a third person who could interfere on their behalf. The six men involved had their working boots on, not content to rest on their laurels from the match they had at WrestleMania 2000. In one of the craziest spots I’ve ever seen, Edge hit Jeff Hardy with a spear while Hardy was hanging from the titles high above the ring. It was an absolutely insane move to try and I will never forget the site of it. With the help of Rhyno, Edge and Christian managed to grab the titles for the second year in a row.
That’s all for WrestleMania Week! I hope you enjoyed the five lists I put out leading up to Sunday’s WrestleMania 34. Stay tuned this weekend for a review of the BOOM! Studios WrestleMania 2018 comic book and a recap of the show sometime on Monday.