Top Priority: Saving Tag Team Wrestling Would Bolster Industry

Tag team wrestling, once a strong component of the industry, fell mostly out of favor. Now, the business needs to return to its roots and reinvigorate the floundering scene.
SmackDown / WWE/GettyImages

Growing up, everyone rooted for their favorite tag team. From Hart Foundation, Midnight Express, and Road Warriors to Tully Blanchard and the British Bulldogs, tag team wrestling once enjoyed a prominent place in the business. Even Tony Garea and Rick Martel enjoyed a decent run. Believe it or not, Garea won the world tag titles with five different partners. During a one-hour syndicated show, a tag match would absorb a third of that time, in front of a captivated live crowd and television audience.

Stealing The Show

Sitting in front of the television around the July 9, 1985 taping of World Wide Wrestling, the world witnessed the undersized, perennial babyfaces-in-peril Rock and Roll Express face the team of Ivan Koloff and Krusher Khruschev. For the balance of the hour, through commercial breaks, Koloff and Khruschev battered the Express. In a series of excellent planning, every hope spot, and moments that could turn the tide, the (not really) Russians snuffed out of these opportunities. Taking the crowd in Charlotte on an emotional rollercoaster ride culminated in the Express beating the hated Russians to the cheers of thousands in attendance, thousands at home, and one eleven-year-old boy who grew up to write this article. In retrospect, that type of match really put tag team wrestling into focus. Using the majority of the allotted time allowed the match to not only breathe but also illustrated the effectiveness of the tag division.

Useful Pursuit

In employing a healthy tag division pays dividends for the entire company. First, the world heavyweight champion doesn't need to compete every week and could actually just show up to focus on furthering a storyline via promo. In return, seeing the champ in civvies makes the television defenses of the heavyweight title feel more important.

Second, building a strong division helps clear up the singles title picture. No one needs to see an IC or TNT title that ends up in a squash. Edge-smashing Action Andretti in two minutes solves nothing. Similarly, watching that match go twenty minutes also dilutes the meaning of a title shot. Lastly, quality tag matches help with the transition. Heel/Face turns need tag team mayhem to kick off the next storyline. Most importantly, companies with large rosters, male and female can benefit. Bluntly put, the WWE needs to put more effort into the Women's Tag Team Championship. By the same token, AEW needs to create its version of a women's tag team title.

Sitting in Catering

For every talent that enjoys television ring time, several sit at catering, without a storyline or purpose, just cashing a check and leaving. Wrestling doesn't spend years on the indies or the PC just to wait. Every major wrestling company uses dark matches. Why not start pairing up talents in limbo, and start working on chemistry aspects? Permit those same talents to venture to NXT/indies to work on their craft. Moreover, Main Event, ROH, and Rampage should heavily feature tag matches, as both fail to draw substantial ratings. Coverage partners receive quality, unique programming to appease sponsors. Meanwhile, companies improve the middle/lower section of the card with future storylines.

Ripen the Green

Despite the WWE's development with NXT, the company sports quite a few glaring failures that tag-oriented thought would cure. For example, two recent releases Von Wagner and Gable Steveson come to mind. In Wagner, with his lineage and backstory, pairing him with a veteran wrestler would see him find not just his skills but his voice.

For example, Sheamus just returned to in-ring action. In all honesty, Sheamus will probably never sniff another world title run. Wagner possesses the look and just enough mic skills, at 29, to develop into a functional mid-carder, working for the next six to eight years at good money. Gable Steveson entered WWE with zero pro wrestling training. A hand like Baron Corbin would work with him. Shipping off an Olympic gold medalist and collegiate legend feels like a missed opportunity

Slapdash Pairings

Granted. bookers love to combine two mutually exclusive talents in a tag team, out of laziness or boredom. For instance, neither R-Truth nor Miz needs the tag team titles. While hovering in the title picture helps, holding the belts does nothing for either. Pairing the Miz with a younger wrestler would work wonders. Likewise for R-Truth. Sitting atop the throne of comedy wrestlers, Truth can bounce in and out of storylines. Literally, the one performer who remains over well into his fifties.

Meanwhile, on Smackdown, Grayson Waller and Austin Theory hold that version of the straps. Theory, for all intents and purposes, will serve as the face of the company in the not-too-distant future. Waller plays the annoying Miz clone.


Now, with the palpable disgust regarding mish-moshed tag teams registered, exceptions exist that paid off. Magnum T. A's career ended on October 14, 1986, due to a car accident. After completing a classic best-of-seven series versus Nikita Koloff, Dusty Rhodes looked to set Magnum as the one face to wrest the title away from Flair. Five days later, Rhodes turns Koloff's face, trying to fill the gap. In the two preceding years, with eighty matches today, Rhodes helped get Koloff over, giving him the rub, and allowing him to gain that experience. Similarly, the idea for the Megapowers (Hulk Hogan/Randy Savage). Hogan and Savage only tagged six times in the WWE. Yet, those matches helped put two different storylines in motion. Savage's heel turn and subsequent match versus Hogan elevated Savage once again, making the WWE(F) a vault of money. Now, we won't talk about those fourteen other monstrosities that occurred in WCW.


With attention strictly trained on singles storylines, talent enters the business narrowcasting their thoughts into holding a singles belt. Bobby Eaton, Jose Lothario, Rito Romero, Duke Keomuka, Dennis Condrey, and Arn Anderson wrestled the majority of their careers as a tag specialist. While they did enjoy some singles success, their legacies start at the end of the tag rope. With the bulk of the events featuring midcard bouts, the need to get the crowd into the action before the main events remain necessary and important. Every wrestler won't headline WrestleMania or All In. Not shade, just facts.

Throw the Formula Away

For as tiring as the annoying number of superkicks from the Young Bucks irritate people, the number of top-rope splashes from the Usos equals them. Despite attending hundreds of events and watching thousands more on television, no memorable matches from either of these teams come to mind. Additionally, add the New Day to the list as well. Three highly decorated teams with zero memorable matches.

In contrast, the Dudleys, Edge/Christian, and the Hardys rightfully hung their hats on April 1, 2001, at WrestleMania. Now, too many teams want to execute played-out spots that pop a fraction of the attending crowd. Wrestling feuds forever boil down to one question: Why should fans care about this? Hitting spots for star ratings and pushing merch makes no sense.

Last True Tag Team

If ROH did nothing else correctly, the booking of the Briscoes remains the last time in modern wrestling that a tag team drew eyes, stole the show, and moved the crowd. Although other tag teams love to proclaim themselves a throwback, the Briscoes' style and approach would fit in everywhere from the Sportatorium to Portland Sports Arena to the Met Center. By using pointed promo work, the Sons of Sandy Fort drew a line between themselves and their opponents. They made sure the audience cared about their matches and rose to their feet for the conclusion. According to Cagematch, Mark and Jay Briscoe wrestled 780 times as a team, with many more undocumented outings. Yet, they need to rank in the top five of all time in the most memorable tag teams.


WWE, AEW, TNA, NJPW, MLW, CMLL, and a host of indies can right the wrong. Invest not only resources in training but ring time to develop the next generation of tag teams. Emil and Ernie Dusek, collectively known as the Dusek Riot Squad held the first incarnation of a world championship back in 1949. In the ensuing seventy-five years, tag wrestling brought fans in to watch exciting matches that reside at the heart of wrestling itself.