Last week I wrote about who would be on the Mount Rushmore of professional wrestling. The ensuing discussion centered mostly on wrestlers and/or promoters. That got me thinking… what if we had a bigger mountain where we could honor those involved in a segment of professional wrestling which should be more heralded? What if we considered a Mount Rushmore of Tag Teams in professional wrestling?
1) The Road Warriors.
The first team to be on that mountain would have to be the Road Warriors. I doubt that anyone would argue with Hawk and Animal in this spot. These two were never the greatest workers in the world, and they had reputations for being stiff and unwilling to sell, but they were over big time. They were big and strong and scary-looking. They jumped out of the television at you and tried to shove their opponents’ faces into your throat. Their power moves looked cool and dangerous. In their many squash matches we would get to see on television, they were rarely in the ring for more than a few seconds, but you would find yourself pumped up anyway.
They were always considered the best, regardless of where they were. They were stars in the AWA, NWA, WWF, Japan, independent circles, and everywhere in between. They spawned imitators all over, the most famous of which was the team of Demolition in the WWF. They held titles everywhere they went. And in a way, they were almost above the tag titles at other times. It was like everyone knew the Legion of Doom was the best team out there and everyone else was shooting for second place.
The end of their career was not the way I think anyone wanted to see them go out – The descent of Hawk into his alcoholism and eventual passing. Their manager Paul Ellering’s beloved puppet Rocco. Droz. Heidenreich. It was almost sad at the end.
But despite that not-so-graceful end to the team, the Road Warriors definitely deserve a spot on this Mount Rushmore. They were the original power monsters, and the single most devastating team in professional wrestling.
Anyone who disagrees with this pick has never seen the Legion of Doom in action during the height of their career.
2) The Midnight Express.
I wouldn’t think this team would get any complaints either. Unless you were a fan of the Dynamic Dudes and never got over the swerve from Jim Cornette making them look like chumps (a recurring them in the career of Shane Douglas and Johnny Laurinaitis), I can’t imagine you didn’t enjoy the Midnight Express. Even as a fan of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express, forever locked in a battle to the death for the rights of all tag team mankind’s souls, you had to respect and admire what the Midnight Express did in the ring.
The only debate I can forsee is which pairing of the Midnight Express should be on the mountain. Some people are partial to the Dennis Condrey/Bobby Eaton pairing. Personally, I am a bigger fan of the Stan Lane/Bobby Eaton combination. And I imagine there could be some who pine for the Dennis Condrey/Randy Rose grouping, both the initial team and then resurrected as the Original Midnight Express under the eye of Paul E. Dangerously.
Regardless of which pairing you enjoy best (unless you like the Bombastic Bob Holly and Bodacious Bart Gunn combination in the WWF), there is no question this team was one of the very best anywhere they were. Jim Cornette served as the Midnight Express’ manager and mouthpiece, and his constant commentary on the Midnight Express squash matches was always a highlight. In fact, I remember being shocked the first time I heard Bobby Eaton speak.
They had major feuds against some of the best tag teams in the world. Their feud with the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express is the showpiece of both teams’ career, but the Midnights also had great battles with the Road Warriors, the Horsemen, the Steiners, the Dynamic Dudes, themselves (see the Midnight Express versus Original Midnight Express feud), and the Fantastics. They had some of the most memorable segments in professional wrestling history, for good or bad. Examples include the scaffold match disaster, the invasion attack by Paul E. Dangerously and the Original Midnight Express, the turning on the Dynamic Dudes, any of the matches against the Rock ‘n’Roll Express, and easily one of the best tag team brawls you will ever see against the Fantastics.
The Midnights could wrestle, they could brawl, they were smart and talented, they got under your skin, and they would win. They had a knack for making you hate them because they were better than you, but you also loved watching them dominate their opponents. And, according to wrestling lore, they were the most decorated tag team of all time. In my opinion, they definitely deserve to be right next to the Road Warriors on that mountain.
3. Rick and Scott Steiner
The third and fourth team on this list were hard to choose. At any given time, I could see myself swapping them out for the Rockers or Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard or the Mulkeys (just kidding on that last one). But I started to think about what the Road Warriors and the Midnight Express had in common, and what I came up with was that the similarity is in how I reacted to them. When I watched the two teams above, I felt like I knew I was seeing something special. I felt like I knew I was witnessing greatness when I watched. I had never seen a team dominate like the Road Warriors. Nor had I seen a team pick apart their opponents, and with such glee, like the Midnight Express.
So if I was going to use that as a criteria for choosing the next team, I had to go back into my memories and try to recall my reactions to various teams. With the Rockers, I thought, “Hey, these guys are pretty good. Obviously they are a rip-off of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express, but they are very talented.” Upon reflection, even with the success in the AWA and WWF, obviously one half of the team was destined for superstar status so that made the team seem a little uneven in my faulty memories. With the Brainbusters, I thought, “I like watching Arn and Tully in their singles matches. Together they seem to compliment each other really well. These guys might be the most solid team I’ve ever seen.” Upon reflection, even with their successes in the NWA and WWF, when discussing them, I would always go back to their individual accolades, or the Horsemen as a whole before discussing their tag team.
To make the point a little clearer, when I mention Shawn Michaels, my guess is the first thoughts you have are his great singles matches, his Wrestlemania performances, etc. When I mention Tully Blanchard, my guess is the first thoughts you have are his blood feuds, the I Quit match with Magnum T.A., stealing Baby Doll from Dusty Rhodes, etc. Their tag team success doesn’t enter into the conversation until the second paragraph at best.
With the Steiners, I know Scott Steiner got a lot of mileage out of his Big Poppa Pump character after the Steiners stopped teaming together regularly. And I remember Rick Steiner around wrestling singles matches in the UWF and with the Varsity Club. But when the two brothers started teaming together, it was a sight to behold. And unless you are a millennial who didn’t see the Steiner Brothers first hand, you will always think of that team first when you hear either of their names.
The Steiners were muscular and looked like they could have been the Blade Runners just going by their look. But they were also fast and very, very impressive athletes. Playing off some solid amateur background, both Steiner brothers always looked locked in during competition. These guys were going to get in the ring with you, but you didn’t know if they were going to overpower you or if they were going to outwrestle you. Sometimes they did both. And Rick Steiner had that stiff Steiner-line clothesline he would like to throw that you could feel from your own couch. I mean, damn.
But what the Steiners did was unique in my mind. In fact, I think it has only been recently replicated by Brock Lesnar, or in the tag team ranks, to a lesser extent by Jason Jordan of American Alpha. You see, the Steiners would kick your ass with punches and clotheslines and slams and the like. But other teams did that all the time. When you wrestled the Steiners, they were going to suplex you out of your boots. And then keep doing it. The Steiner Brothers built Suplex City. And it was a thrill to watch.
The Steiners dominated everywhere they went as well. They won championships in WCW, New Japan, and the WWF. They are also regarded as the first team to win the WWF World Tag Team Championship, the WCW World Tag Team Championship, and the IWGP Tag Team Championship in wrestling history. My only negative is that the Steiners were around in a time period that included the first two teams on the mountain. As such, I don’t feel they get their rightful due. Maybe putting them on the mountain will make up for it.
4. The Miracle Violence Connection
Okay, this was the hardest one to choose. First, how could I put in Terry Gordy for this team and not the team for which he is most known, the Freebirds? Second, how could I put in Dr. Death Steve Williams when I just argued against putting in someone whose main accomplishments in most people’s minds are in the singles ranks? Third, how could I put in a team that was together for a relatively short period of time (three years)?
In my mind, it came down to one thing. This team kicked all sorts of ass. I love ass kicking teams. One of my favorite teams right now is War Machine in ROH. I loved the APA when they first started as the Acolytes, just kicking the shit out of people left and right. The Samoan Swat Team was one of my favorite teams back in the day because they just looked like they had absolutely zero fucks to give and just beat on whomever they wanted. All of these teams have a wildness about them, a drive and a motor that never stopped, and their opponents always looked the worse for wear after fighting them.
Terry Gordy and Steve Williams started their team in All Japan in 1990. They ran roughshod over the promotion, destroying other tough guys like Stan Hansen and Mitsuhara Misawa. Eventually they went to WCW where they dominated in the short time they were there.
Bottom line, these guys hurt people. They could both wrestle, they could both overpower you, but most of all, they just wanted to hurt you. They were not together long, and both men passed away much earlier than they should have, but I am sure there are still wrestlers who have nightmares about facing those two men.
So there you have it, my four teams on the Mount Rushmore of Tag Teams in Professional Wrestling. I am sure someone will look at this and say, “What? No Dudley Boys? No Hardyz? No Hart Foundation or British Bulldogs or Killer Bees?” Well, I can think of arguments to be made for each of those teams. I just couldn’t think of arguments to put them above these four. So go ahead and comment below. Let’s extend the conversation. Convince me why a different team should be up there. Who would you take off and why? What else are we going to talk about? Zack Ryder versus Rusev?
Also, I can definitely see this Mount Rushmore possibly be blown to bits and rebuilt in the future. Teams like Jay and Mark Briscoe, reDRagon, the Young Bucks, American Alpha, TM-61, and the American Wolves all can possibly move onto the mountain in the future. Until that time, here are a couple matches between these Mount Rushmore teams.
That’s it for me this week. Until next time, hold on to that tag rope…
Tags: American Alpha, American Wolves, Brainbusters, Briscoes, dudley boyz, hardy boys, Legion of Doom, Midnight Express, Miracle Violence Connection, redragon, Road Warriors, Rockers, Steiner Brothers, Young Bucks