The Top Ten: Tag Teams of the 80’s
By: Rhett Davis
10. The Wild Samoans (Afa & Sika)
In the early 80’s, there was not a more feared team in all of the WWF than The Wild Samoans. Utilizing brutal strikes, surprising athleticism, and demolishing Samoan Drops, these were two men that would make men regret lacing up the boots. Afa and Sika were some of the first Samoans to enter the realm of WWF, and were a formidable team using innovative moves to take themselves to tag team glory. How much glory you may ask? Well they were 3-Time WWF Tag Team Champions and have held tag team championship gold in every company there were employed. A Samoan Drop from Afa or Sika, and you’re lights out.
9. The Rockers (Shawn Michaels & Marty Janetty)
One of the most used expressions in today’s wrestling world when it comes to tag teams is who is the ‘Shawn Michaels’ and who is the ‘Marty Janetty.’ When tag teams break up, that often seems to be the question. Michaels goes on to being one of the greatest wrestlers of all time, and Janetty goes on to being the guy that Michaels threw through Beefcakes’ glass window. All that aside, these two men started as The Rockers. The Rockers were a high-octane, fast-moving, adrenaline-pumping team in the 80’s that revolutionized the tag team scene today. They incorporated a lot of tag team moves into their arsenal, and they didn’t look like Shawn Michaels and Marty Janetty. They looked like Rocker #1 and Rocker #2 which, in tag team wrestling, isn’t a bad sentiment at all. They fit together perfectly and would constantly pull out incredible matches. Despite never winning the tag team gold in WWF, the impact that this team left on the company was just too much to ignore.
8. The Midnight Express (Primarily Dennis Condrey and Bobby Eaton)
Put two talented wrestlers together, throw in a mouthpiece of Jim Cornette, and you have yourself something wonderful. Although this team consisted of many different members, each group has had their own measures of success. Like many teams during the 80’s, The Midnight Express bounced from company to company finding tag team success everywhere they went. They earned a ridiculous amount of tag team titles rivaled only by The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express. These two teams were practically the Yin and Yang of each other during the 80’s. They had arguably the greatest rivalry of all time. Their finisher was called the Rocket Launcher and it usually meant the end of the match when it hit.
7. The British Bulldogs (Davey Boy Smith & Dynamite Kid)
These were two rugged and rough individuals that hailed from the Mother Land. They would move to Canada and work in Stampede Wrestling as well as New Japan Pro Wrestling until WWE purchased Stampede and The Bulldogs became WWE-exclusive. With high-impact, bone-jarring moves, The British Bulldogs were a force to be reckoned with in the WWE. They would enter the company having some rave matches with The Hart Foundation until finally setting sights on the WWE Tag Team championships held by The Dream Team of Greg Valentine and Brutus Beefcakes. After a year-long struggle, The British Bulldogs would capture the gold at WrestleMania II. However, due to the Dynamite Kid’s terrible back injury, he wasn’t able to defend the title a lot and Davey Boy Smith had to find replacement partners until they lost the belts to The Hart Foundation. Then they would return with a live mascot named Matilda.
6. Demolition (Ax & Smash)
Here comes the Ax and here comes the Smasher. If you watched WWE tag team wrestling at all in the 80’s, you knew the lyrics that followed what I wrote. Ax and Smash were a brutal group that many call Road Warrior-lite. They wore spikes, they were big burly men, they wore face paint, and they stuck their tongues out. It’s not a bad argument to make, but to say that these two men weren’t successful, is another story entirely. They held the tag team titles for over a year! 478 days to be precise. Not only that but they went on to win the titles two more times adding together for a record-breaking 698 days as champion. Both of those records hold true to today. In the late 80’s, the Walking Disaster was the duo to avoid if you had any hopes of coming out the victor.
5. The Brain Busters (Tully Blanchard & Arn Anderson)
Two of the most cerebral and diabolical men in the ring, Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson were ring generals by the time they started teaming up. They were some of the most technically sound men in the ring and were two of the founding four members of the Four Horsemen. Using their cunningness as well as their ‘win-at-all-costs’ mentality, The Brain Busters (as they were known in the WWE) won three tag team championships with their one WWE Tag Team Championship ending the 478-day long reign of Demolition. Being a part of one of the most infamous factions of all time, The Brain Busters were a force to be reckoned with whether they were alone or riding with the Four Horsemen.
4. The Hart Foundation (Bret Hart & Jim Neidhart)
One of the most beloved tag teams of the 80’s has to be The Hart Foundation. Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart and Jim ‘The Anvil’ Neidhart were a workhorse in the ring and fit into the ‘little man with big man’ tag team mold. Bret Hart would be the technical piece of the team as well as the speed while Neidhart would be the muscle. They were initially a heel team taking on all of the aforementioned tag teams in the list until after WrestleMania IV where they would begin feuding with teams managed by their former manager, Jimmy Hart. The Hart Foundation would eventually go on to win the WWE tag team titles twice with their first reign being ten months long. The Hart Foundation is a team that won’t soon be forgotten as it was the launching pad for Bret Hart.
3. The Freebirds (Michael Hayes, Buddy Roberts, Terry Gordy, & Jimmy Garvin)
Boogying on out to the ring was just the way The Fabulous Freebirds made their entrance in WCCW. The original three (Hayes, Roberts, and Gordy) were a fearsome threesome that weren’t beyond breaking the rules to get their way in the squared circle. They practically created the three-man group form that many groups, including today’s The Shield, have emulated. The three would share the tag team titles when they won them defending the belts under what is now called ‘The Freebird Rule’ where any two of the three could defend the championship. The group would win tag team championships nearly everywhere with the obvious exception being the WWE. With ‘Purely Sexy’ Michael Hayes entertaining the audience, ‘Bam Bam’ Terry Gordy brutalizing their opponents, and Buddy ‘Jack’ Roberts being the quickness, The Freebirds were an innovative bunch.
2. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express (Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson)
Created by promoter Jerry Lawler originally as an alternative for The Fabulous Ones when they were booked elsewhere, The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express soared above and beyond what was initially intended. And after all of the years that they wrestled they had accumulated thirty-four title reigns. The only team to rival that infamous feat is The Midnight Express. Much like The Rockers, The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express incorporated a lot of tag team moves into their repertoire including their double dropkick which they finished a lot of their opponents with.
1. The Road Warriors (Hawk & Animal)
Ooooohhh what a rush! There could be no doubt as to who would top this list. The Legion of Doom or the Road Warriors are arguably the greatest tag team of all time. They had a unique look, a unique move set, and a unique soundtrack. Everything about The Road Warriors was memorable. They weren’t the greatest technicians in the ring, but they dominated. They moved from territory to territory destroying talent left and right and winning championship gold everywhere. Not to mention they won the Jimmy Crockett, Sr. Memorial Cup which had almost every top tag team in the 80’s. Hard to argue against the Doomsday Device users being the number one team not only of the 80’s but of all time.
- The Dream Team (Greg Valentine & Brutus Beefcakes)
- Foreign Legion (Iron Sheik & Nikolai Volkoff)
- Strike Force (Tito Santana & Rick Martel)
- The Powers of Pain (Warlord & Barbarian)
- The Heavenly Bodies (Tom Prichard & Stan Lane)
- The Steiners (Rick & Scott Steiner)