Intentional or not, The New Day has done something few tag teams since the Attitude Era have been able to do. They’re making tag team wrestling exciting and entertaining again. Not to mention, they’re selling a ton of merchandise in the process. It begs the question: why has it taken the WWE 15 years to realize that tag teams can still be huge draws in the pro wrestling landscape?
Some would say tag team wrestling took a major hit after the Attitude era’s famous tables, ladders, and chairs matches. The Hardy Boys, Dudley Boys, Edge & Christian, The New Age Outlaws, The APA, Too Cool, etc. all contributed to what was ultimately one of the finest eras in tag team wrestling history. Somehow, after this revolution fizzled out, the dynamic of tag team wrestling changed completely.
Actual partners with a single, united gimmick became a rarity. Tandems were short lived, and the era of pairing two singles stars together began. The Tag Team Championship flopped around with seemingly countless month-long reigns between teams consisting of random combinations of singles stars. Among those included Chris Jericho & Christian, Kurt Angle & Chris Benoit, Booker T & Goldust, Kane & Rob Van Dam. Some of the best tag team matches in WWE history came out of this era: the Triple Threat Elimination Match at Survivor Series 2002, TLC IV from Monday Night Raw in 2002, the ladder match between Haas & Benjamin and Eddie Guerrero and Tajiri (of all people).
Still, traditional tag teams became a thing of the past – no more Rockers, no more Smoking Gunns, no more Hart Foundation.
Gone were the days of 5-8 year runs as tag teams. What replaced that was this system that tried to brand former World Champions as tag team specialists. It also tried to introduce teams as a way of letting individual talent get their feet wet before breaking out into singles careers.
The Tag Team Championship floated between being a placeholder for main eventers who weren’t booked elsewhere and being a developmental title for rookies to seemingly make an impact.
Do you remember the last time that a Tag Team Championship match main evented a show? Do you remember that teams like Demolition and The Legion of Doom were once seen as major draws for the WWE?
Regardless of how they’ve been portrayed over the past decade and a half, some of history’s most underrated tag teams have taken the stage. While longevity was rare, some teams had the look and feel of an “old school” tag team – meaning if times were different, they may have been featured in a more prominent role.
Let’s take a look back at the top 10 tag teams since the WWE’s Attitude Era:
10. Team Hell No
The combination of Daniel Bryan and Kane under the moniker of Team Hell No held the WWE Tag Team Championship for eight months. The duo’s dysfunctional dynamic became a favorite on WWE programming. During their entertaining run, the two provided a refreshing take on what it meant to be champions. They were willing to set aside their differences as men because the Tag Team titles were worth it.
9. Billy & Chuck
The team that bridged the Attitude era through the brand extension era held the WWE Tag Team Championships for 4 months over 2 reigns. Billy Gunn & Chuck Palumbo accounted for one of the most memorable moments in WWE history when they staged a wedding in 2002, before Eric Bischoff guided 3 Minute Warning into sneak attacking the two.
8. La Resistance
The ultimate heel tag team – La Resistance terrorized Raw for nearly two full years. Between the trio of Rene Dupree, Sylvan Grenier, & Rob Conway, the Frenchmen (In Conway’s case, French sympathizer) held the World Tag Team Championship 4 times, and were prominently featured on Raw weekly.
7. Kendrick & London
For 11 months, the high-flying duo of Paul London & Brian Kendrick reigned as the WWE Tag Team Champions on SmackDown. The pinnacle of their run came at Armageddon 2006, when the two defeated The Hardy Boyz, MNM, & William Regal & Dave Taylor in an unforgettable ladder match.
6. The Usos
The Usos bring about an exciting brand of wrestling that fans haven’t seen since the Hardy Boyz retired. Jimmy & Jey held the championships for 202 days and remain one of the key cogs in weekly WWE programming. They’ve sold a ton of merchandise, and even landed roles in a 5-hour energy commercial. It’s not unreasonable to credit them with creating this new resurgence in tag team wrestling back in 2014.
5. The World’s Greatest Tag Team
Shelton Benjamin & Charlie Haas debuted as Team Angle in late 2002, and if they had ever truly found their way outside of that moniker, they’d likely be number one on this list. Later known as The World’s Greatest Tag Team, these two excellent ring technicians exemplified tag team wrestling perfectly. They held the WWE Tag Team Championship twice for a cumulative 5 months but deserved many more reigns and much more time atop the tag team division.
4. The Miz & John Morrison
For a full year, over two championship reigns, The Miz & John Morrison were not only two of the best wrestlers in the WWE, but two of the best entertainers. The team known for their internet show, The Dirt Sheet, was featured in rivalries against Jesse & Festus, Cryme Tyme, and even DX. They’re one of the few teams on this list to transcend the tag team division and become an integral part of the overall product.
3. Los Guerreros
In 2002, Eddie & Chavo Guerrero captured their first of two WWE Tag Team Championships. It likely would’ve been three reigns had Chavo not been injured and replaced by Tajiri. Los Guerreros had one of the greatest, most underrated tag team feuds of all time against Haas & Benjamin, but more importantly, it was during this time that Eddie Guerrero began to transform into the eventual WWE Champion he would become.
Perhaps the quintessential tag team, Joey Mercury & Johnny Nitro exhibited all fans want in a tag team: great wrestling, great personality….and well….Melina helps, too. MNM would hold the WWE Tag Team Championship for around 10 months between 3 reigns, but perhaps more impressive was the attention they received on SmackDown programming. Featured in major programs against the likes of Eddie Guerrero & Rey Mysterio, The Hardy Boyz, Kendrick & London, and Batista & Rey Mysterio, MNM truly had the feel of an old-school WWE tag team capable of main eventing any show.
1. The New Day
It’s always hard to place a current act among the all-time greats, but The New Day’s ability to put on tremendous matches and make everyone laugh in the process simply commands it. They don’t belong anywhere else on this list. Simply put, they are one of the biggest draws in WWE today, something that definitely can’t be said about any other team since the TLC era. Only 57 days away from breaking Kendrick & London’s record, they could become the longest-reigning WWE Tag Team Champions since the titles were introduced in 2002. Forget the last 15 years, The New Day is approaching “all time” great status, but that may be another article for another day.
New. Day Rocks. New. Day Rocks.
Stoney Keeley covers the WWE for WrestlingNews.co, covers the NFL’s Tennessee Titans for Pro Football Spot, and is the Editor of The SoBros Network. You can follow him on Twitter at @StoneyKeeley and the SPOT’s Tennessee Titans Twitter feed at @spot_titans.