May is Tag Team Appreciation Month at Wrestling Merchandise & Memories, with nearly 100 unique and interesting articles on the art of tag team wrestling.
In many respects, people consider the 1980s (for our purposes, 1980 through 1989) to be a golden age for tag team wrestling. Promotions including the AWA, WWF and NWA/WCW routinely featured contests with teams that not only looked alike and dressed alike, but added a different element that singles wrestling really didn't feature in the same way.
While tag team wrestling wasn't necessarily a main event phenomenon on most major shows in the 1980s, they at least had their fair share of ring time on those shows.
In selecting the Top 50 Tag Teams Of The 1980s, Canadian Bulldog's World looked at the following criteria:
How prominent was the team between the years 1980 and 1989?
Were they a dominant duo in their chosen promotion(s)?
Did they capture championship gold, and if so, how frequently?
Was the team promoted at or near the top of the card?
Questions? Feedback? Comments? As always, we want YOU to be a part of the conversation! Leave a comment below, or let us know on Twitter (@CanadianBulldog) using the hashtag #Top50.
Ready? Here we go!
The Young Stallions
Paul Roma and Jim Powers were largely considered enhancement talent when they debuted in the early 1980s. However, the two pooled their resources and became The Young Stallions in the WWF. While they never came close to capturing championship gold, they did co-win their match at the first ever Survivor Series.
The Dynamic Dudes
In the late 1980s, Johnny Ace (better known today as John Laurinaitis) and Shane Douglas formed a team known as The Dynamic Dudes, a pair of young, skate-boarding grapplers in the NWA. The two were briefly managed by Jim Cornette, only to have Cornette turn on them, siding with his team The Midnight Express.
Magnificent Muraco & Bob Orton
WWE Hall of Famers The Magnificent Muraco and Cowboy Bob Orton formed an alliance in 1986, initially to feud with a freshly-turned Rowdy Roddy Piper. Eventually, Muraco and Orton began teaming up frequently, managed by Mr. Fuji, and the two even took on The Can-Am Connection at WrestleMania III.
Speaking of Spivey, he and Sid Vicious became a pair of badass big men that terrorized the NWA in the late 1980s. Managed by Teddy Long (who had recently been stripped of his role as a referee), The Skyscrapers wreaked havoc until Vicious was injured and replaced by Mean Mark, a/k/a The Undertaker.
The Destruction Crew
"Let me handle this one, Mike...." In 1989, the AWA paired "Mean" Mike Enos and Wayne "The Train" Bloom as The Destruction Crew, a top pairing of heels that were managed by Johnny Valiant. The two won the AWA Tag Team Championship in October 1989 and held the belts until the following summer.
King Kong Bundy & Big John Studd
As I wrote in my Tag Team Spotlight, King Kong Bundy and Big John Studd were the star pupils of Bobby The Brain Heenan, making life miserable for the likes of Andre The Giant, Hulk Hogan and other WWF babyfaces. Most notably, they opposed Hogan and Paul Orndorff the night Mr. Wonderful turned hee
As Adam Zimmerman wrote in his Tag Team Spotlight, WWE Hall of Famers The Bushwhackers actually began teaming in 1966. By the 1980s (known as The Sheepherders), Butch Miller and Luke Williams competed in Puerto Rico, Pacific Northwest and the NWA before adopting their signature personas in the WWF.
The Fabulous Ones
The team of Stan Lane and Steve Keirn teamed up beginning in 1982 as The Fabuous Ones. Decked in top hats and sequined tuxedos, the two made an impact in Florida, Memphis and other regional promotions throughout the decade. The Fabs feuded with The Sheepherders and The Midnight Express.
The Soul Patrol
As Mike Rickard wrote in his Tag Team Spotlight, WWE Hall of Famers Rocky Johnson and Tony Atlas began teaming in 1983 and quickly defeated The Wild Samoans to become the first pair of black world tag team champions in WWE history. They lost the titles to Adrian Adonis and Dick Murdoch months later.
Not to be confused with the Stampede tag team Bad Company, Pat Tanaka and Paul Diamond began teaming in 1986 in the CWA territory, where they captured the group's tag team titles. They traveled to the AWA, where they also won that promotion's tag titles, and later went to the WWF as The "New" Orient Express.
The East-West Connection
As Mike Rickard wrote in his Tag Team Spotlight, Adrian Adonis and WWE Hall of Famer Jesse Ventura began teaming in the AWA in 1979 and were quickly dubbed The East-West Connection as a nod to their kayfabe hometowns. Adonis and Ventura captured the AWA World Tag Team Championship in 1980.
The Super Powers
When Magnum T.A.'s career ended prematurely in 1986, WWE Hall of Famer Dusty Rhodes was left without a partner to battle The Four Horsemen in the NWA. Enter Nikita Koloff, once T.A.'s sworn enemy, who formed The Super Powers with Rhodes and won the 1987 Jim Crockett Senior Memorial Cup.
As Mike Rickard wrote in his Tag Team Spotlight, Strike Force was formed in 1987 when Rick Martel sought to replace Tom Zenk in the Can-Am Connection. Martel teamed with WWE Hall of Famer Tito Santana, and the two defeated The Hart Foundation to capture the WWF World Tag Team Championship that year.
Mr. Fuji & Mr. Saito
As Mike Rickard wrote in his Tag Team Spotlight, WWE Hall of Famer Mr. Fuji began teaming with Mr. Saito in 1981. Managed by Captain Lou Albano, the Japanese team defeated Rick Martel and Tony Garea and then the team of Jay and Jules Strongbow to hold the WWF World Tag Team Championship two times.
The Minnesota Wrecking Crew
As Mike Rickard wrote in his Tag Team Spotlight (boy I'm getting tired of typing that!), kayfabe brothers Lars, Gene and Ole Anderson began teaming in the 1970s. Once in the Jim Crockett Promotions, Gene and Ole won the NWA World Tag Team Championship. Another Anderson, Arn, was added in as Ole's cousin.
The Iron Sheik & Nikolai Volkoff
As I wrote in a Tag Team Spotlight, WWE Hall of Famers The Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff began teaming in 1985 as top foreign heels and won the WWF World Tag Team Championship at the first WrestleMania. Together, they battled the likes of The U.S. Express, The Killer Bees and The British Bulldogs.
The Dream Team
As Adam Zimmerman wrote in his Tag Team Spotlight, WWE Hall of Famers Greg Valentine and Brutus Beefcake began teaming in 1985. Managed by Johnny V, The Dream Team won the WWF Tag Team Championship in 1985 and feuded with The British Bulldogs and The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers.
The Wild Samoans
WWE Hall of Famers Afa and Sika began teaming in the 1970s, invading territories such as Mid-South Wrestling, the NWA and the WWF. Managed by Captain Lou Albano, The Wild Samoans won the WWF World Tag Team Championship three times and paved the way for dozens of other Samoans.
Bobby Fulton and Tommy Rogers began teaming in 1984 and quickly became favorites in several regional promotions. The Fantastics feuded with The Sheepherders and The Midnight Express, capturing championship gold in the NWA, AWA and World Class. Later, Rogers was replaced with Jackie Fulton.
Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood
WWE Hall of Famer Ricky Steamboat formed a popular tag team with Jay Youngblood in the early 1980s. Together, the two captured the NWA World Tag Team Championship an incredible five times and had memorable rivalries against the likes of Sgt. Slaughter & Don Kernodle and Jack & Jerry Brisco.
The Fabulous Freebirds
As Mike Rickard wrote about in a Tag Team Spotlight, WWE Hall of Famers The Fabulous Freebirds began in 1979 and various combinations of Michael Hayes, Terry Gordy, Buddy Roberts and Jimmy Garvin famously feuded with The Von Erichs in World Class and teamed up through the AWA, NWA and elsewhere
As The Big Rybowski wrote in his Tag Team Spotlight, WWE Hall of Famer Shawn Michaels along with Marty Jannetty first began teaming in 1985, where they dominated the AWA as The Midnigh Rockers. In 1988, they jumped to the WWF and feuded with The Brain Busters, The Rougeaus and other top teams.
The Mega Powers
As The Big Rybowski wrote in his Tag Team Spotlight, WWE Hall of Famers Hulk Hogan and Randy Macho Man Savage began teaming in 1987 to fend off Jimmy Hart's heels. They dominated the main scene for the next year, leading to the inevitable WrestleMania V match where The Mega Powers exploded.
The Hart Foundation
As I wrote in a Tag Team Spotlight, WWE Hall of Famers Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart began teaming in 1985 as The Hart Foundation. Managed by Jimmy Hart, the brothers-in-law had classic rivalries with The British Bulldogs, Killer Bees and Demolition, winning the WWF World Tag Team Championship twice.
The Rock 'n' Roll Express
As Mike Rickard wrote about in a Tag Team Spotlight, WWE Hall of Famers Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson began teaming in 1983 and their look has been emulated by high-flying babyface tag teams over the years, including many on this list. The Rock 'n' Roll Express won the NWA World Tag Team titles four times.
The Stud Stable
As Adam Zimmerman wrote about in his Tag Team Spotlight, The Stud Stable of Robert Fuller and Jimmy Golden began in Southeastern Championship Wrestling. The two eventually made their way to the Continental promotion as well as other regional territories, capturing the CWA Tag Team Championship
Brian Pillman & Z-Man
Much like The Dynamic Dudes, the team of Brian Pillman and Z-Man (a/k/a Tom Zenk) were formed in the late 1980s in the NWA as a pair of high-flying, young wrestlers. In 1990 (a year too late for inclusion on our list), Pillman and Z-Man held the WCW United States Tag Team Championship for three months.
The Varsity Club
Although the collegiate wrestling themed Varsity Club had several members, including Kevin Sullivan, Mike Rotunda, Steve Williams, Rick Steiner and Dan Spivey, it was the team of Williams and Rotunda that managed to upset The Road Warriors to capture the NWA World Tag Team Championship in 1989.
In 1986, the WWF teamed up King Tonga (as the renamed Haku) with The Tonga Kid (as the renamed Tama) and called them The Islanders. At first, Haku and Tama were babyfaces but eventually turned heel and were managed by Bobby Heenan, notably kidnapping The British Bulldogs' mascot Matilda.
The Nasty Boys
As I wrote in my Tag Team Spotlight, while The Nasty Boys had a great career in the WWF, WCW and elsewhere.... they weren't quite as nasty as they wanted to be in the 1980s After a brief run in the AWA as a team, Brian Knobbs and Jerry Sags worked in Memphis and Florida, building up to a huge run in the 1990s.
Buddy Rose & Doug Somers
As Adam Zimmerman wrote in his Tag Team Spotlight, Buddy Rose and Doug Somers teamed in the mid-1980s, defeating the team of Scott Hall and Curt Hennig to win the AWA Tag Team Championship. Managed by WWE Hall of Famer Sherri Martel, Rose & Somers feuded with The Midnight Rockers.
The Powers of Pain
As ZAH wrote in his Tag Team Spotlight, The Powers Of Pain began teaming in 1987 in the NWA as knockoffs of the legendary Road Warriors. Eventually, they came into their own, jumping to the WWF by 1988 and feuding with Demolition, The Rockers and The Bushwhackers, and still teaming up once in a while today!
The Killer Bees
As The Big Rybowski wrote in his Tag Team Spotlight, The Killer Bees began teaming in 1984 in the WWF. B. Brian Blair and Jim Brunzell quickly became top contenders to the WWF World Tag Team Championship, feuding with the likes of The Hart Foundation, The Dream Team and The Iron Shiek & Nikolai Volkoff.
The Funk Brothers
WWE Hall of Famers Terry and Dory Funk Jr. began teaming in the 1960s but had a renaissance of sorts in the 1980s. In Japan, The Funk Brothers battled Bruiser Brody and Stan Hansen in what was deemed a five-star match. Over in the WWF, the brothers pinned Junkyard Dog & Tito Santana at WrestleMania II.
The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers
Jacques and Raymond Rougeau began teaming in the 1970s in Montreal. By 1986, they made their way to the WWF, initially as babyfaces and eventually as American flag-waving heels managed by Jimmy Hart. The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers feuded with the likes of The Rockers and The Hart Foundation.
The North-South Connection
Shortly after Adonis and Ventura moved to the WWF in 1981, Ventura retired from full-time wrestling, causing Dick Murdoch to step in and the team to go from East-West to The North-South Connection. The team won the WWF Tag Team Championship in 1984 and lost the championship about one year later.
The U.S. Express
WWE Hall of Famer Barry Windham and his real-life brother-in-law Mike Rotundo began teaming in the WWF in 1984. Managed by Captain Lou Albano, The U.S. Express won the WWF World Tag Team Championship twice. After Windham left the company, he was briefly replaced on the team by Dan Spivey.
Jack & Jerry Brisco
As Mike Rickard wrote in his Tag Team Spotlight, WWE Hall of Famers Jack and Jerry Brisco began teaming in 1969 in Florida and other territories. In 1983, The Brisco Brothers turned heel and feuded with Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood in the NWA, capturing the NWA World Tag Team Championship.
As Mike Rickard wrote in his Tag Team Spotlight, Ivan Koloff began teaming with his "nephew" Nikita Koloff in 1984. At the height of America's Cold War paranoia, The Russians dominated the NWA and added Krusher Kruschev (Barry Darsow) to the group. The Koloffs held the NWA World Tag Team Titles.
Scott Hall & Curt Hennig
WWE Hall of Famers Scott "Razor Ramon" Hall and "Mr. Perfect" Curt Hennig began teaming in 1984 in the AWA. After teaming for more than a year, the two fan favorites defeated Jimmy Garvin and Steve Regal to win the AWA World Tag Team Championship. Many years later, Ramon and Perfect feuded in the WWF.
Stan Hansen & Bruiser Brody
As Adam Zimmerman wrote about in his Tag Team Spotlight, WWE Hall of Famer Stan Hansen began teaming with Bruiser Brody in 1975, becoming one of the top gaijin teams in Japan. The veteran heels participated in All Japan's Real World Tag League from 1982 to 1984, winning the tournament finals in 1983.
Sting & Lex Luger
As I wrote about in a Tag Team Spotlight, WWE Hall of Famer Sting and Lex Luger began teaming in 1988 as unlikely allies in a battle against The Four Horsemen. They quickly won that year's Crockett Cup tournament, toppling a star-studded field, and were partners on and off over the next two decades.
Rick & Scott Steiner
As I wrote about in a Tag Team Spotlight, Rick and Scott Steiner began teaming in 1989... or else they may have been higher on this list. The brothers teamed in the NWA that year, feuding with The Varsity Club and Doom. Later, they would go on to win multiple tag team championships in WCW, WWF and New Japan.
The High Flyers
Greg Gagne and Jim Brunzell, former college football teammates, formed The High Flyers in the late 1970s. The team captured the AWA World Tag Team Championship twice, holding the belts for well over three years, and feuding with The East-West Connection, The Shieks and Pat Patterson & Ray Stevens.
The Von Erichs
WWE Hall of Famers The Von Erichs were the top group of babyfaces in Texas for most of the 1980s whether they competed in singles or tag team matches. Combinations of Fritz, Kevin, Mike, David and Kerry Von Erich were often holding World Class tag team and six-man tag team gold during the decade.
Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard
As ZAH wrote in his Tag Team Spotlight, Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard began teaming in 1986. As half of The Four Horsemen, Arn and Tully captured the NWA World Tag Team Championship. After that, they jumped to the WWF where, managed by Bobby Heenan, The Brain Busters struck gold once again.
The British Bulldogs
As I wrote about in a Tag Team Spotlight, The Dynamite Kid and Davey Boy Smith began teaming in 1983. After dominating Stampede, The British Bulldogs (no relation) moved to the WWF, where they won the Tag Team Championship at WrestleMania II and also had successful tours in All Japan Pro Wrestling.
The Midnight Express
Managed by Jim Cornette, The Midnight Express was formed in 1980 and over the decades included Dennis Condrey, Bobby Eaton, Stan Lane, Randy Rose and Norvell Austin. Among their accolades were the NWA World Tag Team Championship and in 1988, Condrey and Rose feuded with Eaton and Lane!
As I wrote in a Tag Team Spotlight, Demolition were formed in 1987 as the WWF's answer to The Road Warriors. Managed by Johnny Valiant and later Mr. Fuji, Ax and Smash (and later Crush) captured the WWF World Tag Team Championship three times, with a record-setting title reign that was only eclipsed in 2016!
The Road Warriors
As ZAH wrote in a Tag Team Spotlight, WWE Hall of Famers The Road Warriors began teaming in 1983. Hawk and Animal, managed by Paul Ellering, brought about a persona that had never before been seen in professional wrestling - huge, muscle-bound brawlers that ran roughshod over even the toughest competition. The Road Warriors' accolades include tag team titles in the WWF, NWA, AWA, Japan and elsewhere.