May is Tag Team Appreciation Month at Wrestling Merchandise & Memories, with nearly 100 unique and interesting articles on the art of tag team wrestling.
When one talks about the tag team scene in the 1990s (for our purposes, the years 1990 through 1999), there's a bit of good, a bit of bad and a bit of ugly all rolled into one.
In the World Wrestling Federation, most teams paled in comparison to the golden era just a decade earlier. Teams didn't stick together for nearly as long, and those who dressed and looked alike weren't often remembered as icons of the era. And in WCW, there were periods in the late-1990s where management completely deemphasized the tag team division entirely.
Having said that, over 10 years, there were more than enough classic teams to facilitate a list like this. In ranking the Top 50 Tag Teams of the 1990s, we looked at the following criteria:
How prominent was the team between the years 1990 and 1999?
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?
One very important note: the famed three-team series between The Dudley Boyz, Matt and Jeff Hardy and Edge & Christian began in the year 2000, so their breakout rivalry didn't happen until the year after this particular list ended. They're all listed prominently -- but maybe not as prominent as you'd figure.
If you'd like to be a part of this conversation, Tweet us at @canadianbulldog using the hashtag #Top50, or leave a comment below.
Ready? Here we go!
One of the more gimmicky names in an industry filled with gimmicky names, Timothy Well and Steven Dunn debuted in the WWF in 1993 under the tutelage of Harvey Wippleman. While they only had mild success during their time there, Well Dunn was also a popular tag team in the USWA and other regions.
The Harris Twins
Ron and Don Harris have competed under many different names and in many different promotions, although the 1990s were their prime. They competed as Jacob and Eli Blu, The Grimm Twins and The Disciples of the Apocalypse in the WWF, Creative Control in WCW, and The Harris Twins in PNW and USWA.
The Orient Express
Whether as the original duo of Tanaka and Sato, or the later teaming of Tanaka and Kato (Paul Diamond under a mask), The Orient Express were a part of the WWF between 1990 and 1994. Managed by Mr. Fuji, the team battled The Legion Of Doom, Duggan & Volkoff and even defeated The Rockers at WrestleMania VI.
Power and Glory
In the summer of 1990, WWF decided to turn mid-carders Hercules and Paul Roma heel, align them with Slick, and call the duo Power and Glory. During the year they were a duo, they beat The Rockers at SummerSlam, battled The Hart Foundation, and lost (in 59 seconds) to The Legion of Doom at WrestleMania VII.
The Faces Of Fear
Although Haku and The Barbarian originally began teaming in 1991 as members of the Bobby Heenan family (taking on The Rockers at WrestleMania VII), they lasted far longer outside the WWF. The team continued in New Japan and later reassembled in WCW around 1996 as the Jimmy Hart-managed Faces of Fear.
The Beverly Brothers
Originally a top team in the AWA during that promotion's final years, Wayne Bloom and Mike Enos were briefly also working for WCW as the masked Minnesota Wrecking Crew II. By 1991, they were part of the WWF as Beau and Blake, The Beverly Brothers, feuding with The Legion Of Doom and The Rockers.
Competing previously in World Class and WCW as The Samoan Swat Team, Fatu and Samu entered the WWF in 1992. Managed by Afa (and later Captain Lou Albano), the savages held the WWF World Tag Team Titles briefly. Later, Samu was replaced by Headshrinker Sionne, better known to fans as The Barbarian.
Men On A Mission
In 1993, Nelson Knight and Bobby Knight were known as The Harlem Knights in the USWA. They quickly moved to the WWF where they were repackaged as rappers Mo and Mabel, with manager Oscar helping them spell Men On a Mission, or M.O.M. The duo briefly held the WWF Tag Team Championship.
In 1994, the groundbreaking team of New Jack and Mustafa Saed debuted in Smoky Mountain Wrestling, where their controversial comments angered the Southern audience. They moved the team to ECW in 1995, where they captured the Tag Team Championship twice, launching New Jack into a singles career.
The Heavenly Bodies
Originally consisting of Doctor Tom Pritchard and Sweet Stan Lane, the Jim Cornette-managed Heavenly Bodies dominated in Smoky Mountain Wrestling in 1992. Lane soon left in favor of Gigolo Jimmy Del Ray and the team moved to the WWF, while still working in SMW, which was very much an anomaly in that era.
The Allied Powers
In 1995, the WWF took the unusual step of putting together top singles stars Lex Luger and Davey Boy Smith into a tag team known as The Allied Powers. While they never captured tag team gold, the duo defeated Jacob and Eli Blu at WrestleMania XI and challenged WWF champions Owen Hart and Yokozuna.
Arn Anderson & Ric Flair
Best friends and charter members of The Four Horsemen, WWE Hall of Famers Arn Anderson and Ric Flair teamed several times in their career. In 1990, the two engaged a brief heel vs. heel feud with Doom. By 1993, the team were babyfaces battling The Hollywood Blonds. And in 1995, the two helped turn on Sting.
Although less popular than Arn Anderson's 1980s pairing with Tully Blanchard, the teaming of Anderson and Larry Zbyszko was a top story in 1991. Together as The Enforcers, the two quickly captured the vacant WCW World Tag Team Championship and feuded with the duo of Barry Windham and Dustin Rhodes.
Owen Hart & The British Bulldog
Brothers-in-law Owen Hart and The British Bulldog first began teaming when Bulldog had turned heel in 1995 and both were being managed by Jim Cornette. Eventually, they captured the WWF Tag Team Championship.
The Fabulous Freebirds
WWE Hall of Famers The Fabulous Freebirds made their mark in the 1980s, but were still a top team for much of the following decade. Now consisting of Michael Hayes and Jimmy Jam Garvin, the Freebirds were United States and World Tag Team Champions in WCW.
In 1992, The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase and Irwin R. Shyster won the WWF Tag Team Championship at a house show, despite never teaming up before. Later dubbed Money Inc., they held the belt three times, battling The Natural Disasters, Steiner Brothers, Hogan & Beefcake and The Nasty Boys
Sabu & Rob Van Dam
Both trained by The Shiek, Sabu and Rob Van Dam began teaming in ECW in 1997 and captured the Tag Team Championship twice, feuding with the likes of The Dudley Boys and the team of Jinsei Shinzaki and Hayabusa. They were also part of the ECW turncoat angle, where they aligned with WWF's Jerry Lawler.
The Natural Disasters
In 1991, the WWF decided to team up their two biggest wrestlers together, turning Tugboat heel and renaming him Typhoon. Together with Earthquake and managed by Jimmy Hart, the 850-pound duo captured the WWF World Tag Team Championship and battled Money Inc. and The Bushwhackers.
Matt & Jeff Hardy
After teaming together in OMEGA and other independent promotions, Matt and Jeff Hardy became a regular part of WWF programming by 1998. While they wouldn't dominate the tag team ranks until the 2000s, they did manage to have a best of seven series with Edge & Christian and defeated The Acolytes.
Sting & Lex Luger
Sting and Lex Luger first began teaming up in 1988, when they won The Crockett Cup. In the early 1990s, they feuded with The Four Horsemen and had a classic match with The Steiner Brothers. By 1995, both men were in WCW again and captured the WCW World Tag Team Championship as a team.
Edge & Christian
Lifelong best friends Edge and Christian began teaming on the independent circuit in 1997. When both were recruited by the WWF, they picked up where they left off and teamed as members of The Brood and then on their own. While they didn't win tag team gold until 2000, they were still climbing the ladder.
The Hollywood Blonds
Thrown together by the braintrust in WCW in 1993 with no real plan for them to get pushed, Stunning Steve Austin and Brian Pillman proved the critics wrong by dominating the promotion's tag team scene for the most of the year, having high-profile matches against The Four Horsemen and Steamboat and Douglas.
The Dudley Boyz
WWE Hall of Famers The Dudley Boyz are arguably one of (if not, the) greatest tag teams in history, and the 1990s were where they did the most damage. In ECW, the half-brothers captured the tag team championship eight times from 1996 to 1999. They also moved on to the WWF in 1999, building on their legend.
WWE Hall of Famers Kevin Nash and Scott Hall became WCW's most formidable tag team in the 1990s, dispatching of every team from Harlem Heat to The Steiner Brothers with relative ease. Together, The Outsiders captured the WCW Tag Team Championship five times (six times with alternate Syxx).
Even though they went their separate ways in 1992, The Rockers were dubbed "The Tag Team Of The 90s" for very good reason. Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty brought a fast-paced, high-flying style to the WWF when tangling with Demolition. The Hart Foundation, Power and Glory and other top tag teams.
In 1992, the WWF put together mid-card high-flyers Owen Hart and Koko B. Ware, outfitted them in baggy pants, and sent them out to face the likes of The Headshrinkers, The Beverly Brothers and The Nasty Boys. While the pairing only lasted a year, the tag team did get a shot against champions Money Inc.
While The Bushwhackers' best days were behind them in the 1990s, they still had considerable television time in the WWF. Featured rivalries included The Beverly Brothers, The Nasty Boys and The Natural Disasters. The WWE Hall of Famers also competed at the infamous "Heroes of Wrestling" PPV held in 1999.
Long before they were household names, Lance Storm and Chris Jericho were known as The Thrillseekers. Best known as a duo for their brief run in Smoky Mountain Wrestling against The Heavenly Bodies, the team also competed in Calgary and in Japan, sometimes using the team name Sudden Impact as well.
The Hardcore Chair Swingin' Freaks
Balls Mahoney and Axl Rotten formed a popular team in ECW during the late 1990s. Dubbed the Hardcore Chair Swingin' Freaks, the team battled The Dudley Boys and The FBI. They also took on ECW Tag Champs Lance Storm and Chris Candido at Wrestlepalooza 1997.
The Southern Boys
In 1990, Steve Armstrong and Tracy Smothers were mid-card fixtures in WCW, feuding with The Midnight Express and The Fabulous Freebirds. By 1991, they turned heel, renaming themselves The Young Pistols and feuding with The WCW Patriots and once capturing the United States Tag Team Championship.
Rhythm & Blues
WWE Hall of Famers Greg The Hammer Valentine and The Honky Tonk Man had teamed off and on in the past. They became a permanent duo in the 1990s, with Valentine dying his hair black to match Honky Tonk's and them performing the hit (?) song "Hunka Hunka Honky Love" at WrestleMania VI.
Dennis Knight and Mark Canterbury first teamed up in the USWA in 1991 and moved to WCW as midcard team Tex Slazenger and Shanghai Pierce. By 1996, Knight joined Canterbury in the WWF, now under the names Phineas and Henry Godwinn, winning the Tag Team Championship and managed by Hillbilly Jim.
The Rock 'n' Roll Express
WWE Hall of Famers Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson began the 1990s feuding with each other in WCW. But the 80s tag team icons known as The Rock 'n' Roll Express reunited, competing in WCW, Smoky Mountain Wrestling, the USWA, and even the WWF for brief periods. This proves rock and roll will never die!
The Colossal Connection
Although very much a temporary tag team, Bobby Heenan Family members Andre The Giant and Haku formed a duo in late-1989 and immediately defeated Demolition for the WWF Tag Team Championship. They defended the belts at WrestleMania VI and right after dropping the gold, the duo disbanded.
Stars and Stripes
In 1994, WCW put together mid-carder Marcus Alexander Bagwell with the masked Patriot to form an all-American type duo known as Stars and Stripes. Battling the likes of Pretty Wonderful, Harlem Heat and The Blue Bloods, the team managed to capture the WCW Tag Team Championship two times.
Out of the ashes of The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers rose The Quebecers, a team that debuted in the WWF in 1993. Jacques and Pierre managed to hold the WWF Tag Team Championship three times, later moving to WCW as The Amazing French Canadians, and then back once more briefly to the WWF in 1997.
The Public Enemy
The Public Enemy were one of the first acts to debut under Paul Heyman's ECW. Long time rivals Johnny Grunge and Rocco Rock teamed up in Philadelphia, capturing the ECW Tag Team Championship four times. They also struck gold during their 1996-1998 run in WCW, although they fared far worse in the WWF.
The Eliminators were first formed in the USWA in 1993, although they really began to gain momentum when they joined ECW in 1995. During their run in ECW, Perry Saturn and John Kronus battled The Pitbulls, Public Enemy and many other teams, capturing the ECW Tag Team Championship three times.
The Impact Players
Formed during the final few years of ECW, few teams were as dominant as Lance Storm and Justin Credible. Managed by Dawn Marie and accompanied by Jason, The Impact Players won the ECW Tag Team Championship in 1999, defeating Tommy Dreamer and Raven at the Guilty as Charged pay-per-view.
The Smoking Gunns
Few teams were as prominent in the early 1990s WWF as The Smoking Gunns. Billy and Bary Gunn, who had competed on the independent scene before debuting in the WWF in 1993, captured the promotion's Tag Team Championship three times, battling The Godwinns, Money Inc. and other duos.
The Miracle Violence Connection
Former rivals Terry "Bamm Bamm" Gordy and "Dr. Death" Steve Williams began teaming in All Japan in 1990, where they won that group's tag team championship five times. The team moved to WCW in 1992, pitted against Rick and Scott Steiner and capturing both the NWA and WCW Tag Team Titles.
The Nasty Boys
The Nasty Boys entered WCW in 1990, ambushing U.S. Tag Team Champions Rick and Scott Steiner. They quickly moved to the WWF managed by Jimmy Hart and won tag team gold there as well. By 1993, they had returned to WCW with Missy Hyatt as manager, adding three more tag team championships.
Owen Hart & Yokozuna
At WrestleMania XI, Owen Hart was set to debut a mystery partner against The Smoking Gunns. It turned out to be the nearly 600-pound Yokozuna, and the pair quickly won the WWF Tag Team Championship. Managed by Mr. Fuji and later Jim Cornette, the team was top of the team rankings throughout 1995.
At the beginning of 1990, Ron Simmons and Butch Reed were unmasked after briefly being managed by Woman, adopting Teddy Long as their manager and winning the WCW World Tag Team Championship. Doom battled the likes of The Steiner Brothers, The Four Horsemen and The Fabulous Freebirds.
While Ax and Smash first teamed up in the late 1980s, they were still an active unit in the following decade. The duo regained the WWF World Tag Team Titles at WrestleMania VI and soon added a third member (Crush) to the unit. Smash and Crush teamed up on their own, keeping the Demolition name intact.
The Hart Foundation
WWE Hall of Famers The Hart Foundation reached their greatest heights in the 1980s, though they did have a successful run in 1990, capturing the WWF Tag Team Championship from Demolition and losing to The Nasty Boys. Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart also had a tremendous series of matches with The Rockers.
The Road Warriors
WWE Hall of Famers The Road Warriors began terrorizing opponents in 1983, although Hawk and Animal continued their path of destruction long into the They captured the WWF World Tag Team Championship in 1991 and 1997, and the LOD also teamed in New Japan Pro Wrestling as well as in WCW.
WWE Hall of Famers Booker T and Stevie Ray first began teaming in independent promotions such as the GWF before coming to WCW in 1993. Managed by Col. Robert Parker (and later Sister Sherri), Harlem Heat captured the WCW World Tag Team Titles seven times and feuded with The Nasty Boys
The New Age Outlaws
Oh, you didn't know? WWE Hall of Famers The New Age Outlaws were arguably the most popular tag team in the WWF in The Attitude Era, with Road Dogg and Billy Gunn teaming in 1997 and capturing the WWF World Tag Team Titles four times, feuding with The Legion Of Doom and other tandems along the way.
Rick & Scott Steiner
When you think of tag teams that were dominant in the 1990s, it's hard to find a pairing that were more successful than Rick and Scott Steiner. Together, they captured the WCW World Tag Team Titles seven times, the U.S. Tag Team Titles once, the IWGP Tag Team Championship twice, and even the WWF World Tag Team Titles. In addition, they won The Pat O'Connor Memorial Tag Team Tournament and had classic matches against most of the 1990s' top tag team combinations.