Tag Team Appreciation Month

RHYTHM & BLUES

The Honky Tonk Man & Greg Valentine

1988-1991

 

Written by Canadian Bulldog

It was the early 2000s, and my brother The Big Rybowski and I were called up with some exciting news by future Manager Of The Year Stu Stone -- he was hanging out at a nightclub with Rhythm & Blues!

 

We dropped whatever it was we were doing (likely not much) and drove down to the posh Rosedale section of Toronto to meet former WWF competitors The Honky Tonk Man and Greg The Hammer Valentine, who sat in a booth and looked as though they'd rather be pretty much anywhere else in the world at the moment.

 

But more on that in a bit....

Just as random as their hanging out at a Toronto nightclub, Honky Tonk and Valentine began randomly teaming up on WWF television in 1989. Beyond both men being members of Jimmy Hart's stable, neither were really tied to each other in storyline -- and yet they still managed to cause controversy.

 

After being disqualified during a match against The Hart Foundation on syndicated television, Honky Tonk el-kabonged Bret Hart with his guitar, setting up their rematch at WrestleMania V. The Hart Foundation easily won that encounter, and that should have been that.

 

But later that year, Hart reunited the two shortly after The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers quit the promotion, christening the duo Rhythm & Blues, despite the fact that nothing about Valentine's character was even remotely musical.

That changed fairly quickly, when Valentine dyed his blond hair jet black and began wearing Elvis-style jumpsuits and shades (on commentary, Gorilla Monsoon often likened him to Roy Orbison, as well as calling him "Boxcar" Valentine). The two became the biggest musical sensations this side of Elias, much to the chagrin of the fans.

 

 

While R & B were never really portrayed as a top act, they didn't necessarily need to be. Armed with a hit single ("Hunka Hunka Hunka Honky Love"), a unified look and one of the top managers in the business, Rhythm & Blues had some series momentum. They were essentially two established singles stars with a heel heat-generating gimmick, which was more than sufficient when they took on Demolition, The Hart Foundation and many of the other top teams of the era.

The biggest moment in the brief career of Rhythm & Blues took place at WrestleMania VI in Toronto's SkyDome (a mere 20 minutes from the nightclub where Honky and Valentine would occupy more than a decade later for reasons that are still, to this day, not fully understood by me). 

 

Driven to the ring in a vintage pink Cadillac (driven by the car's owner, a young...er Diamond Dallas Page), Rhythm & Blues decided to treat their fans to a performance of "Hunka Hunka Hunka Honky Love." But midway through the song, those no-good Bushwhackers (disguised as roaming merch vendors who just happened to wear camo and baseball caps with bites taken out of them) jumped into the ring, robbing the Toronto faithful of what was likely to be the most compelling musical performance in WrestleMania history.

 

Or at the very least, it would have been better than Flo Rida.

Somewhat surprisingly, R&B stayed together for most of the next year, competing in meaningless matches against the likes of Superfly Snuka & Koko B. Ware and Hulk Hogan & Tugboat. They were also teammates of The Undertaker's during his Survivor Series debut, so they can kind of take credit for that.

 

Oh, and in case you're wondering... I didn't ask them to perform "Hunka Hunka Hunka Honky Love" at the club that night.

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