The 15 Best Wrestling Tag Teams Of The 1980s
The 1980s was a golden era for tag-team wrestling. Many regional promotions had a range of talented tag-teams on their books, and new teams were showing up all across the world attempting to push the limits, and redefine what tag-team wrestling meant.
The art of great tag-team wrestling is arguably at its apex today, and many of today’s teams drew inspiration from watching their tag-team heroes compete during the 1980s. When looking back at that golden era, there were many teams that stood out. Here are 15 of the best tag-teams of the 1980s, and arguably the 15 best…
Few tag-teams have had the staying power that the Bushwhackers, previously known as the Sheepherders, have had. The duo of Luke Williams and Butch Miller performed as a team in five separate decades, and have also been inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. Their work in the 80s before they joined the WWF is some of their finest, and they fought against some of the best tag-teams in the world at the time. While they may be known for their outlandish gimmicks, the two men were also excellent in-ring performers.
The Killer Bees
The Killer Bees are one of the most underappreciated tag-team acts of their era. The team of B. Brian Blair and Jumping Jim Brunzell were a popular tag-team act who got themselves over thanks to their often amusing shenanigans in the ring. The team, who were booked as faces, would often try and pull tricks on the referee in order to get the advantage over their opponents. This, combined with the fact that they were a pair of solid in-ring workers, makes them one of the great tag-teams of their era.
The Rockers are one of the greatest tag-teams in the history of the WWF to never capture tag-team gold during their time as a team. Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty were one of the most innovative tag-teams of their era, and they were capable of putting on excellent matches in the ring together. Their controversial behaviour backstage is said to have cost them a run with the belts, but the Rockers are still one of the best teams of the 80s.
The Fabulous Freebirds
The phrase ‘Freebird Rule’ is batted around a lot in the WWF now, and this group is the reason that it exists. The Freebird Rule is when two of any three members of a group can defend the tag-team titles. The most successful trio to make up the Fabulous Freebirds was Michael PS Hayes, Terry Gordy, and Buddy Roberts. The group was hugely successful, with their most iconic feud coming against the Von Erich Family, another of the WWF’s most iconic stables.
Demolition may have been inspired by the Road Warriors, but the team of Ax and Smash managed to stand out on their own. The team was excellent in the ring and, thanks to Mr. Fuji as their manager and some great work, they got themselves over as one of the hottest tag teams of the decade.
The US Express
The US Express may have only spent one year in the WWF during the 80s but their impact was palpable. The team of Mike Rotunda and Barry Windham competed at the first-ever WrestleMania, and were also the first superstars to use Hulk Hogan’s iconic Real American theme song. The team also wrestled for various different promotions during the decade, including All Japan Pro Wrestling and the AWA.
The team of Tommy Rogers and Bobby Fulton may have lacked the star-power and name recognition of some of the other teams in the 80s, but they more than made up for it in the ring. The team were pioneers of the faster, more technical tag-team wrestling we see today and, despite impressing during their time in the NWA, never got a chance to show what they could do in the WWF.
Nikolai Volkoff & The Iron Sheik
There are few teams who epitomize 1980s tag-team wrestling quite as well as Volkoff and the Iron Sheik. The two men played the dastardly foreign heel roles to perfection, and were routinely booed out of every building they stepped foot inside. Aside from building fantastic heat, the two men were also excellent together between the ropes, and had several great matches with some of the biggest teams in the WWF.
The Dream Team
Few teams have ever lived up to their name quite like the team of Brutus Beefcake and Greg Valentine. These performers were two of the best heels of the 1980s and when they were together, there were few acts in the business who could match them. While they’d both have some singles success in their careers, they excelled as a tag-team.
The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers
Fabulous by name, fabulous by nature – the Rougeau Brothers were one of the most delightfully enjoyable heel teams of the 1980s. The group had made a name for themselves in Canada and were quickly booked as heels – who thought they were faces – in the WWF. This gimmick was a treat and, combined with their undeniable athletic ability, earns them a spot as one of the greatest tag-teams of the 1980s.
Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard
Few teams in the history of wrestling were as much of a joy to watch between the ropes as these two. Anderson & Blanchard are two of the finest technical performers to step foot inside the squared circle, and they were both great performers on the mic as well. The duo experienced great success in both the WWF and the NWA, and are often viewed as the perfect example of a workman’s tag team.
The British Bulldogs
The British Bulldogs were a tag-team that seemed to be ahead of their time. The team of Davey Boy Smith and the Dynamite Kid were a joy to watch, with their differing styles bringing out the best in one another. The Dynamite Kid is often cited as one of the most dynamic performers of all time, while Davey Boy Smith was a powerful wrestler who brought a real physicality to the team’s work.
The Hart Foundation
While the Hart Foundation is now remembered for being a faction, the group started off with just two men – Bret Hart and Jim ‘The Anvil’ Neidhart. The two men were led to the ring by the ‘Mouth of the South’ Jimmy Hart, and were among the most technically proficient and innovative tag-teams of their era. Neidhart was booked as the muscle of the group, while Bret Hart was a technical mastermind, making the two men a deadly combination.
The Midnight Express
Jim Cornette is perhaps best known to modern wrestling fans as the guy who gets angry at highfliers and gimmick matches, but to older fans, he’s one of the best managers of all time. Cornette was the manager of Midnight Express, a group that had different members at various times throughout its run, including the likes of Dennis Condrey, Randy Rose, Norvell Austin and Bobby Eaton.
The Road Warriors / Legion of Doom
Often imitated but never bettered, the Road Warriors were one of the most influential tag-teams of their era. The team of Animal and Hawk were instantly recognizable thanks to their large shoulder pads, and Mad Max inspired look. The duo was more than just a gimmick though, and they produced some excellent work inside the ring. Just to top things off, they were also managed by Paul Ellering, who’s still one of the finest mouthpieces in all of professional wrestling.