Compiled by Jamie Greer; rankings voted on by full LWOPW staff, plus guest panelist Dave Dynasty of “The Dave Dynasty Show”
We continue our look at the best 100 tag teams of the past year with the 1st annual Last Word on Pro Wrestling Hot Tag 100, looking at numbers 49 down to 25, passing the halfway point. If you’re just discovering the HT100 now, you can catch up on reports for #100 through #75 as well as #74 through #50.
For the purpose of context, the dates are from November 1, 2016 through November 1, 2017. We then took the last month to tabulate our rankings internally and do the write up. The criteria we used was as follows: Kayfabe narrative (so winning championships will offer more strength to those who never won, although strong feuds and showings will also count), strength of booking/visibility (so larger promotions will get a bit more prestige in the rankings), skill level, and overall “buzz” throughout that year. We realize that no one will agree completely with this ranking – and nor should they. After all, wrestling is a form of entertainment and should be entirely subjective by the beholder. But we had a blast compiling this list and look forward to seeing how 2018’s list looks!
The Hot Tag 100 (49-25)
(EDITOR’S NOTE: This list incorporates traditional two-person tag teams, including men’s, women’s, and intergender; it does not include 6-man tag teams, although trios that employ the Freebird Rule, where rotating 2-person units compete, are included)
#49. Undisputed Era (Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly)
On any given year, the duo formerly known as reDRagon would be easy Top 10 candidates. But late 2016 and early 2017, the two split off into singles careers that saw O’Reilly win the ROH World Championship and Fish hold the ROH Television title. The former 2x IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions and 3x ROH World Tag Team Champions then left Ring of Honor, briefly reuniting in PWG. They both re-appeared on NXT late in the summer and joined up with Adam Cole in Undisputed Era, acting as the trios tag team candidates.
“The former ROH World Tag Team Champions & IWGP Jr. Tag Team Champions reunited in Pro Wrestling Guerrilla back in the summer. They would end up shocking the NXT crowd in Takeover: Brooklyn III, by attacking the newly crowned Sanity and former champs, Authors of Pain. Now, with their stable – with Adam Cole – The Undisputed Era, the former reDragon are creating mayhem in the WWE developmental territory. They closed 2017 with a bang, as they are the new NXT Tag Team Champions (but outside the window of criteria).” Emmanuel Rosado, LWOPW
#48. Kairi Hojo & Yoko Bito
Titles Held: Goddess of Stardom Tag Team
Before Kairi Hojo made waves in the WWE Universe by winning the inaugural Mae Young Classic as Kairi Sane, Hojo was one of Stardom’s brightest stars. In the months leading up to her WWE debut, she held the Wonder of Stardom title as a singles, as well as the 6-woman tag titles, Artist of Stardom, with Hiromi Mimura and Konami. But she was also a tag team champion alongside another top Stardom star in Yoko Bito.
#47. Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH)
Titles Held: IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team
As The Tempura Boyz, they were contenders for the ROH World Tag Team titles for the latter part of 2016 and first half of 2017, before heading back to Japan and becoming Roppongi 3K, with former Roppongi Vice member Rocky Romero as their manager. The shift in landscape paid off, as they won the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team titles in their re-debut. Shortly after the eligibility criteria deadline, the won the NJPW Super Junior Tag Tournament.
“They blast back into New Japan after a long international excursion to CMLL and later ROH. They immediately won the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship under the guide of their mentor Rocky Romero. At Wrestle Kingdom 12, they have the opportunity to make their mark and defend against the most talked about tag team on Earth, The Young Bucks. They could be the team to watch in 2018.” Walter Yeates, LWOPW
#46. Los Ice Creams (El Hijo del Ice Cream & Ice Cream Jr.)
Titles Held: CHIKARA Campeonatos de Parejas
A comedic staple in CHIKARA for over a decade, the tandem of Los Ice Creams finally became tag team champions in July and have held the titles for over 200 days.
“Los Ice Creams are everything that is great about CHIKARA. Colorful masks, great in-ring skills, and hilarious, they are finally getting a well-deserved run with the belts.” Eric Thompson, LWOPW
#45. Hiroyo Matsumoto & Jungle Kyona
Titles Held: Goddess of Stardom Tag Team
11-year veteran Hiroyo Matsumoto paired up with relative newcomer Jungle Kyona to win the Goddess of Stardom tag team titles, winning them from two of Stardom’s best, Kairi Hojo and Yoko Bito, reigning for over 100 days.
#44. Atsushi Onita & Masanobu Fuchi
Titles Held: All Asia Tag Team Champions
Japanese hardcore legend Atsushi Onita continued to score gold, even in his retirement year, when he won the All Asia Tag Team titles in All Japan alongside another 40 year ring legend, Masanobu Fuchi. The pair were no transition champs either, holding the belts over 200 days.
#43. Tabarnak de Team (Mathieu St-Jacques & Thomas Dubois)
Titles Held: BATTLEWAR Tag Team, IWS Tag Team, CRW Tag Team
The past year has been a breakout year for the rugged French Canadian duo, Tabarnak de Team, who dominated the Quebec indie circuit, particularly Combat Revolution Wrestling (CRW) and International Wrestling Syndicate (IWS). They’ve branched out beyond their home province in Canada, including one of the year’s hardest hitting match-ups against the London Riots with Smash Wrestling, not to mention their debut with Impact Wrestling last month against OvE, as well as battles with Super Smash Brothers and a reformed La Resistance (Sylvain Grenier & Rene Dupree).
#42. XX (Hi69 & Taiji Ishimori)
Titles Held: GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team
KAIENTAI-DOJO veteran Hi69 made the jump to Pro Wrestling NOAH last year and paired up with longtime NOAH star Taiji Ishimori and the duo immediately made an impact. They had a near 200 day reign as GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team champions, and had great showings in two tournaments – they lost in the finals of NOAH’s Global Junior Heavyweight Junior Heavyweight Tag League as well as AAA‘s Lucha Libre Victoria World Cup.
#41. Swords of Essex (Will Ospreay, Scott Wainright & Paul Robinson)
Titles Held: IPW:UK Tag Team, RCWA Tag Team, WCPW Tag Team
Will Ospreay’s UK faction have run amok throughout WCPW and PROGRESS, with the tandem of Ospreay and Wainright capturing the WCPW Tag Team titles for the first half of 2017. It only added to a list of several other titles they’d held earlier in the year and the latter half of 2016.
“The heel reunion led to Ospreay and Robinson taking over WCPW for a short period before making their way to PROGRESS where again they made a huge statement. Retirement and Japanese commitments stopped their momentum but what a year they had regardless.” Alex Richards, LWOPW UK Correspondent
#40. American Alpha (Jason Jordan & Chad Gable)
Titles Held: WWE Smackdown Tag Team
Just over a year ago, they were one of the hottest tag teams in NXT before debuting on Smackdown Live in August. They had great momentum for months, with big feuds against The Wyatt Family and The Usos, capturing the Smackdown Tag Team titles in December. Following their loss, they never quite recaptured their drive, despite still garnering some Tag Team title matches. The team was dissolved in July of this year, when Jordan moved to Raw.
#39. The Marauders (Mike Bird & Wild Boar)
Titles Held: ICW Tag Team
Mike Bird and Wild Boar reunited last year after four years apart and immediately took Scotland’s Insane Championship Wrestling (ICW) by storm, beating Polo Promotions for the ICW Tag Team titles and holding them for 287 days.
#38. SAnitY (Eric Young & Alexander Wolfe)
Titles Held: NXT Tag Team
The crazed faction of SAnitY, lead by former Impact World Champion Eric Young, alongside Killian Dain, Alexander Wolfe and Nikki Cross, finally scored WWE gold after just over a year in NXT, when the duo of Eric Young and Alexander Wolfe scored the victory over NXT Tag Team Champions Authors of Pain at this summer’s NXT Takeover: Brooklyn III. They defended against Authors of Pain, Undisputed Era and Sabbatelli & Moss, before losing to O’Reilly and Fish at the NXT tapings past the criteria cut off.
#37. The Young Lions (Lucky Kid & Tarkan Aslan)
Titles Held: GWF Tag Team, HCW Tag Team, wXw Tag Team
Members of the emerging RISE faction in wXw, The Young Lions (aka Die Jungen Löwen) have recently invaded the UK scene, starting with WCPW (now Defiant). Prior to arriving in wXw, they’ve also won gold with the German Wrestling Federation (GWF), where they’re former 3x GWF Tag Team Champions, as well as with Hungarian Championship Wrestling (HCW).
“They got some attention after their re-debut for wXw this year although I personally ccan’treally connect to them. A problem for them could develop in the future caused by the age difference (ca. 10 years) in the team. Lucky Kid is on his way to breaking out in the next year, while Tarkan Aslan is going strong towards 40.” Moritz Risch, LWOPW European Correspondent
#36. Catch Point (Fred Yehi & Tracey Williams)
Titles Held: EVOLVE Tag Team
For a few years, Catch Point was a faction that dominated EVOLVE, with members Drew Gulak, “Hot Sauce” Tracey Williams, TJ Perkins, Fred Yehi and Matt Riddle. Gulak and Williams were the primary tag team, but when Gulak headed to the WWE, Yehi replaced him and he and Williams continued the tag team dominance, holding the EVOLVE tag team titles for 160 days. They lost their titles to new Catch Point recruits Chris Dickinson and Jaka, and since then Yehi & Williams have stopped tagging together.
#35. The London Riots (James Davis & Rob Lynch)
Titles Held: IPW:UK Tag Team
One of the UK’s most popular and devastating tag teams of all time, they’re former 3x IPW:UK, PROGRESS, SWE and NGW champiosn, who continued to dominate wherever the went, with heavy battles against War Machine, The UK Hooligans, CCK, South Pacific Power Trip and Tabernak de Team to name a few. They could easily have won more gold this year, if not for the premature retirement of Rob Lynch this past summer, although Davis has since gone on to singles success as Strangler Davis in PROGRESS.
#34. Polo Promotions (Jackie Polo & Mark Coffey)
Titles Held: ICW Tag Team, PWE Tag Team, Target Tag Team
One of the most successful tag teams in Scotland, they’ve been staples of ICW’s tag team division for years, where they’re 4x (and current) ICW Tag Team Champions. They’re also the current reigning Pro Wrestling Elite (PWE) Tag Team Champions, also in Scotland, and the tag champs for England’s Target Wrestling. Both recently had a WWE Tryout during the WWE’s last stop in the UK.
#33. A4 (Absolute Andy & Marius Al-Ani)
Titles Held: wXw Tag Team
Germany’s A4 practically ran wXw’s tag team division for the first part of the year, with a tag team championship reign that saw repeated defences against RINGKAMPF, as well as The London Riots and CCK. But the return of The Young Lions put a halt to their reign and the duo of Absolute Andy and Marius Al-Ani has spent the last half fighting off RISE to reclaim their spot in the tag team division. Following a poor outing at this year’s wXw World Tag League, the team split up.
“Absolute Andy & Marius Al-Ani split up during the World Tag League this year, when Andy superkicked Al-Ani and turned heel. They were one of the most beloved teams in wXw while it lasted and Al-Ani really connected to the crowd during their run.” Moritz Risch, LWOPW European Correspondant
#32. Oedo Tai (Hana Kimura & Kagetsu)
Titles Held: Goddesses of Stardom Tag Team (x2)
OZ Academy veteran Kagetsu brought rookie Hana Kimura over full time to Stardom last year and since then, the two have been a dominant force in the Goddesses of Stardom tag team division, with two reigns in the past year, including being the current reigning champions. Alongside fellow faction member, Kyoko Kimura, they’ve also held the Artist of Stardom 6-woman tag titles.
#31. Over Generation (CIMA & Dragon Kid)
Titles Held: Dragon Gate Open The Twin Gate Tag Team
Both members of Over Generation’s tag team tandem have 20 years experience each, and are both long time veterans of Dragon Gate. Two of the most decorated champions ever in Dragon Gate as well, these two are closing in on a 400 day reign as the Dragon Gate Open The Twin Gate (tag team) champions.
“Record breaking twin gate reign from the Dragon Gate legends is enough to earn a high placing.” Alex Richards, LWOPW
#30. La Pesta Guapa (Negro Casas & Shocker)
Titles Held: CMLL World Tag Team
Two legends of CMLL, the veteran team of Negro Casas and “El 1000% Guapo” Shocker have held the CMLL World Tag Team titles since 2014, over 1250 days.
“When Lucha Libre royalty teams together, we should all pay attention. While title defenses in Mexico’s biggest promotions are few and far between, Negro Casas and Shocker made a statement this year in CMLL. The two are masters of psychology and chain wrestling. Even at their age they are a formidable and exciting tag team.” Walter Yeates, LWOPW
#29. Scarlet & Graves (Dezmond Xavier & Zachary Wentz)
Titles Held: CZW Tag Team (x2), AAW Tag Team
Featuring two of the top young indie wrestlers today, the tandem of Dezmond Xavier and Zachary Wentz has been turning heads quite often the past year. While Xavier is gaining notice on Impact Wrestling the past few months in the X-Division, his pairing alongside Wentz is tearing up the indie tag team circuits. They’ve had wars with the likes of OI4K (OvE), EYFBO (LAX), CCK, The Besties In The World, The Ugly Ducklings and countless others, picking up three title reigns in the process.
#28. RINGKAMPF (WALTER & Timothy Thatcher)
Titles Held: wXw Tag Team, Won 2017 wXw World Tag League
They’ve been arguably Germany’s toughest tag team for the past year, not just in their home promotion wXw, but during stints in PROGRESS as well. A year ago, the principle duo was WALTER and Axel Dieter Jr., while Thatcher was the EVOLVE Champion. Earlier this year, Dieter Jr. left for NXT, and Thatcher stepped in, while WALTER has also been spreading his singles wings, with big money matches in PWG, PROGRESS, EVOLVE and Rev Pro. But WALTER and Thatcher are still a force to be reckoned with, and the current wXw tag team champions.
“Thatcher & WALTER are the definition of the European technical style of wrestling. WALTER made the huge step to the US this year and competed multiple times for PWG, EVOLVE and Beyond this year. Thatcher is one of nicest and politest guys in wrestling right now and deserves any bit of success he can get. They are the winners of the World Tag League 2017.” Moritz Risch, LWOPW European Correspondant
“The best thing that Timothy Thatcher did for his career, was moving to Europe. Alongside Walter, Ringkampf is slowly becoming the most dominant tag team in Germany and all Europe. They combine their hard hitters mentality with great technicality. Their presentation in this years wXw Tag League cemented their status in this list.” Emmanuel Rosado, LWOPW
#27. The Wyatt Family (Bray Wyatt, Randy Orton & Luke Harper)
Titles Held: WWE Smackdown Tag Team
Last year ended and 2017 began with the Wyatt Family seemingly on the verge of becoming the dominant faction everyone had hoped they’d be. Bray Wyatt was WWE Champion and he and recent Family recruit Randy Orton won the Smackdown Tag Team titles (which they defended Freebird rules style alongside Luke Harper). But following WrestleMania this year, the wheels fell off, and Bray was sent to Raw.
“There’s nothing more depressing than seing good talent being wasted. It was something good at the start of the year, and the Bray Wyatt character finally got us interested, but after WrestleMania, we got nothing else for the team.” Emmanuel Rosado, LWOPW
#26. British Strong Style (Pete Dunne & Trent Seven)
Titles Held: PROGRESS Tag Team
BSS is a three man power trip across the UK, featuring Pete Dunne, Trent Seven and Tyler Bate. While Seven primarily tags with Bate now, last year the tandem was Dunne with Seven and the kicked down the doors early, beating The London Riots for PROGRESS’ tag team titles. The faction became the most popular and dominate faction in British wrestling, but it all started with these two.
“British Strong Style is usually associated with the trio of Pete Dunne, Tyler Bate and Trent Seven, but in PROGRESS, the unit that was first successful was with Dunne and Seven. Both display early glimpse of greatness at the end of 2016, that would start in 2017 the revolution that took PROGRESS by storm.” Emmanuel Rosado, LWOPW
#25. Mount Tessa (Tessa Blanchard & Vanessa Kraven)
Titles Held: SHIMMER Tag Team
Tessa Blanchard is generally regarded as one of the top women’s wrestlers in the world right now and she’s proven her value as a singles competitor in multiple promotions, including a spot in the WWE Mae Young Classic. But in SHIMMER, she showed she was also a tag team champion, joining forces with the lethal Vanessa Kraven and holding the titles for one year, only recently losing them.