[Today’s guest post is written by our old pal, Joey, whom we’ve called upon to write about house shows and to recap Raw in the past. This time around we’ve let him write about something very dear to his heart. Boys. Lots and lots of boys. Have fun! – Ray]
The WWE has a rich history of fantastic tag teams which have wowed and amazed audiences for decades. Lately, after a long lull, the WWE is finally giving more screen time to great tag teams. With the introduction recently of The Usos, who have embarked on what looks set to be a fantastic rivalry against The Hart Dynasty; it dawned on me that in the very near future the WWE creative team will probably break one of these teams up. It’s what they seem to do with Tag Teams. They break them up, give them former partner vs former partner storylines or try them out as singles wrestlers and that’s the end of that team. I then realised something… there’s always one member that gets a bigger push. I then geeked it up to look over some of the biggest tag team break ups and had my theory confirmed.
Considering this is Guest Post week, I decided that rather than keep this little gem to myself, I’d share my findings with the Wrestlegasm world. When I first got into WWE, it’s was the Attitude Era so I do apologise if I miss out some more well-known tag teams from the past. I’ll do my best.
The Rockers – Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty
The Rockers took the WWE(F) by storm in the late 80s/early 90s and their cool style and swagger meant the fans were really drawn to them. The two teamed successfully but actually never officially won the Tag Team Championships but that didn’t matter. This team was well known for their fantastic and fresh fighting style and their Rocker ways. It goes without saying that The Rockers left a great Legacy in the WWE including the introduction of the Iron Man Match (even though these were never actually televised).
Every wrestling fan remembers when The Rockers broke up in what is now a legendary backstage segment in Brutus Beefcake’s Barbershop where Michaels threw Jannetty through a glass window. This caused a lot of heat because the WWE had allowed Jannetty to “blade” himself (cutting himself so he bled) and this was something that was new and fans were shocked worldwide.
After the break up the two feuded for a while and Jannetty left the company (he was later to return but only in short bursts) and Michaels developed his Heart Break Kid persona. This is perhaps the biggest case of one partner being more successful as the other and Michaels mapped out a hugely successful career which spanned for decades. He became a hero whilst Jannetty simply became a punchline.
As a team these men were unstoppable but it was Michaels that was the break out star. But why? Many believe that it was down to circumstance. Jannetty left the WWE because he was unhappy and therefore Michaels was given the opportunity to shine. Would Jannetty have been as popular if he had stayed? Who knows!
The Acolytes (APA) – Bradshaw and Farooq
The Acolytes were a forced to be reckoned with. They were the perfect mix of strength and brains. They both started out as singles wrestlers but they failed to hit home with the fans. The WWE sensed that these men were good but weren’t quite good enough to get fame on their own. They threw them into a tag team together called Hells Henchmen. This was short-lived and eventually they joined The Undertaker’s Ministry of Darkness as The Acolytes. This was a successful stint and the two even managed to gain their first WWE Tag Team Championship. After the Ministry storyline faded, the two then changed their name to APA meaning the Acolytes Protection Agency. It is this tag team that won the greatest love for the fans as the men would kick it backstage drinking beer and smoking cigars.
The idea behind the APA was that people could hire their services and this resulted in the APA interfering in many matches to help whoever had hired them. This meant that APA was involved in many feuds which always ended up in bar room brawls or fights backstage in their “office”. This was the height of the Attitude Era and the fans could not get enough.
The APA was mildly successful when it came to gold and managed to get their hands on the titles once more. When Farooq got injured, Bradshaw even managed to win the now defunct European Title.
In the first WWE Draft the two were broken up but reformed the next year. Their final year of teaming up was not successful and the APA was beginning to go stale. Farooq (or Ron Simmons as he’s better known now) had decided to retire and was “fired” on Smackdown by then-general manager Paul Heyman. Bradshaw wrestled in singles matches before retiring to become a Smackdown commentator.
With Simmons off screen and Bradshaw on commentary it was to be believed that this team weren’t to be cursed by the “one-more-successful” curse. This was not to be as Bradshaw returned to in-ring action as John Bradshaw Layfield. His new cowboy/money-grabbing gimmick raised him to the heights of super heel and he gained a lot of heat. Bradshaw had an extremely successful singles career and even managed to win the WWE Title. Simmons, meanwhile, returned to our screens but was simply seen backstage spouting his catchphrase “Damn!”
Simmons was released in 2009. Bradshaw, meanwhile, continued to win gold until announcing that he quit. Bradshaw has said recently that he’s considering returning later this year. Simmons, meanwhile, will not be.
Edge & Christian – Edge and Christian
Edge and Christian were fun, cool and the fans loved them. With their fun catchphrases and posing ways they were the tag team everyone loved. Before that though, they were weird vampire freaks as part of the Brood. The Brood were a weird tag team that, in the era of Twilight and True Blood, would probably do quite well today. As the Brood, they teamed with Gangrel who eventually turned on them and threw them out of the group.
After a short feud with the Hardy Boyz it was decided that E & C needed a fresh gimmick, something that’d make them stand out and they were given the comedic surfer/teen idol gimmick. It worked well and the two became like WWE’s version of marmite. They spouted strange catchphrases like “reeking of awesomeness” and gave their moves weird names “conchairto” anyone?
The two, however, were an extremely successful tag team and plenty time got their hands on the WWE Tag Titles. Their popularity grew and along with The Dudley Boyz and The Hardy Boyz, they put on some amazing matches.
As the two continued in the WWE they wrestled under different tag teams such as Los Conquistadores which was invented as a loophole to a stipulation where they weren’t allowed to challenge for the Tag Team belts again. They eventually joined forces with Kurt Angle forming the stable ECK. This stable was then joined by Rhyno thus the team became, yeah you guessed it, RECK. Team RECK were a good team and saw Edge & Christian score the Tag Titles twice during the RECK reign.
After RECK, Edge and Christian’s popularity began to fizzle out and in 2005, Christian jumped ship to TNA. It was after this that Edge’s popularity began to soar and he became extremely popular. Edge began the road to singles success by winning the Money in The Bank at Wrestlemania 21 which lead to Edge started his first of nine World Championship reigns. Edge’s outstanding singles success had earned him many fans and he has become one of the top WWE Superstars. Christian returned to WWE in 2009 but has yet to reach such great heights. In all fairness, Christian is extremely popular as Captain Charisma and has managed some great reigns as ECW champion but he’s stuck as a mid-card wrestler.
It’s very obvious that one of the two had the Edge… Sorry.
The Hardy Boyz – Matt and Jeff Hardy
The Hardyz rise to fame was long as both started out as jobbing singles wrestlers who simply couldn’t catch a break. Eventually WWE learnt that these two had something special, they worked well together and were willing to do anything to make it to the top. After Edge & Christian were thrown out of The Brood, Gangrel teamed with The Hardys to form the New Brood. This was a short lived team but allowed the boys to gain some significance as a tag team and also get their hands on the Tag Titles for the first time.
The Hardy’s high flying, high-octane style of Wrestling became extremely popular with fans and, along with Lita, the boys formed the stable Team Xtreme. As Team Xtreme fans wer
e treated to death defying wrestling as the boys jumped from ladders and cages and defied what seemed humanly possible. This all-or-nothing style of wrestling really hit home with fans and Team Xtreme became as popular as ever. This garnered the boys 6 reigns as tag champions.
The fans couldn’t get enough of Team Xtreme but eventually all good things have to come to an end. Ask Nelly Furtado. The Hardys extreme ways seemed to continue on in their personal lives which have come into debate from fans for many years. After losing the Tag Titles to Paul Heyman and Brock Lesner, Jeff and Matt feuded against each other in a long brother vs brother storyline drawn out of jealously from Matt that Jeff had better opportunities. The WWE Draft split the two apart and Matt made his debut on Smackdown as Matt Hardy v1. Jeff made his debut on Raw as Jeff Hardy, drug addict and was swiftly released from the WWE in 2003. Je
ff then joined TNA in mid-2004 but was later suspended in 2006 after several no-shows. Matt, meanwhile, was also future endeavoured from WWE after real life personal issues with Lita. He was, however, rehired.
Everyone believed that drugs and girls had torn the boys apart forever but in 2006 the two reunited as The Hardys. They went on to have a very successful feud with MNM and fans were pleased to see the spark was back and the two embarked
on a 6th tag title reign. Both Matt and Jeff became disillusioned with teaming up and had higher hopes. The Draft once again split the two up.
What followed wasn’t so great for Matt Hardy whose brother Jeff continued to grow in popularity whereas Matt simply began to grow at the waist. Jeff was a huge fan favourite and continued along the path of putting his entire body on the line with high flying moves. Jeff managed to win many different singles championships including a run as World Heavyweight Champion. Jeff continued to be popular but off screen Jeff was no longer happy with the WWE and decided to quit. Jeff later went back to TNA. Matt, however, stayed with WWE. Since Jeff’s departure, Matt has failed to score any decent gold but manages to stay popular with some fans.
Jeff, meanwhile, is very popular over at TNA where he’s enjoying tag team action again as part of the E
The Tag Team curse isn’t an old thing either and has reared its ugly head very recently.
John Morrison & The Miz
John Morrison & The Miz formed a short lived tag team that was actually quite popular and was based around the idea of Hollywood fame. The two started teaming after being teamed together in a match against Matt Hardy and MVP for the WWE Tag Titles. They won the match and took the titles to ECW where they faced many different tag teams.
To further add to their popularity, the two were given their own show on WWE.com called The Dirt Sheet in which the two would basically insult other wrestlers and fans and discuss how they were better than everyone else. The crowd lapped it up and the two continued on their success. The two even went up against DX after insulting their age.
The team’s popularity grew and grew and fans could not get enough. It was becoming clear that The Miz’s mic skills and Morrison’s interesting in-ring style were really making the two shine and it wasn’t long before they began feuding. The Miz and Morrison’s feud was explosive with Miz explaining to Morrison that he was “Jannetty” whereas the Miz was Michaels. This lead to an Elimination Match at Survivor Series in which Team Miz won. The final and most recent bout between the two was at Wrestlemania 26 where ShowMiz defeated Morrison & R-Truth to retain the titles.
Morrison has since moved back to Raw but has failed to hit the popularity that The Miz has reached. The Miz is an extremely successful singles wrestler and has held the US Title multiple times. He’s also become an NXT Pro for a second time (Morrison is pro for the first time). Miz has also become a poster boy for the WWE and made several TV appearances in the UK during the WWE’s European Tour. The Miz was also on hand to represent the company at the launch of Raw vs Smackdown 2011 game.
The Tag Team curse is a strange beast and there are loads more examples of it happening than I could possibly even discuss. The Tag Team division in the WWE used to be amazing but began to peter out as the WWE tried to cash in on individual stars but as the roster grows the company has realised the importance of tag team action. It’s my only hope that they continue to nurture and grow the division rather than splitting it up all for the sake of cheap storyline.