World’s Cutest Tag Team and The Rise of Intergender Tag Teams

This past Thursday January 18, 2018 at Bar Wrestling 8: Happily Ever After, the tag team combination of Joey Ryan and Candice LeRae, collectively known as The World’s Cutest Tag Team, came to a close after a five year run that changed the landscape in terms of intergender tag teams. While men and women had teamed for years prior, it was always under the pretense of mixed tag team rules – whereby when women tagged in, the other team would have to substitute their own female representative to even the genders. But World’s Cutest Tag Team pushed the boundaries of what could work in intergender tag team wrestling, portraying Candice LeRae as not only Joey Ryan’s equal (and often superior), but as equal to their opponents as well.

Since the arrival of the World’s Cutest Tag Team, intergender tag teams have been on the rise. Sometimes they are paired against each other, but more often than not the opponents are traditional male or female only tag teams, with a balance of equality in the ring and a believability of combat unseen on mainstream television – although many wrestling fans still seem opposed to the idea or it’s “believability”.

With the World’s Cutest Tag Team now on indefinite hold now that Candice has officially signed with the WWE, here’s a look at several other intergender teams that are still tearing up the indie circuit, continuing the path blazed by Candice and Joey back in 2013, as well as some early pioneers who started the ball rolling.

LUNA VACHON & TOMMY DREAMERECW, 1995

Photo: WWE Network

While there had been mixed tag team matches prior to this, it was always under the rules that when the woman tagged in, the opposing woman had to as well. But in ECW, they changed all that, and of course it was Luna Vachon who started it. The hard hitting daughter of Paul Vachon, trained by her aunt Vivian Vachon, paired up with Tommy Dreamer in his feud against Raven and Stevie Richards and actually took the fight to the men rather than the women. Luna would go on to become the first woman since the carny days of Mildred Burke and Mae Young to face a man in singles competition, when she took on Stevie Richards later the same year.

SHANE DOUGLAS & FRANCINE, ECW, 1996-1997

Photo: WWE

Hard to think of “The Franchise” Shane Douglas in ECW without his valet/partner Francine, “The Queen of Extreme”. While she was mostly used in a managerial position, she would occasionally take to the ring against other women on the roster. But during Douglas’ feud with Tommy Dreamer and his real life wife Beulah McGillicutty throughout 1996 and 1997, Francine often teamed up with Douglas and faced the other couple. While interaction with the males was limited in the matches, they never had to just face off against the women, and Francine often took bumps from Dreamer himself.

TOMMY DREAMER & BEULAH McGILLICUTTY, ECW, 1996-1997

The opposing couple to Shane Douglas and Francine, the pair had frequent intergender match-ups against the two, with McGillicutty taking her share of bumps from Douglas.

Photo: WWE

CHYNA & EDDIE GUERREROWWE, 2000

Photo: WWE

Chyna shattered all kinds of stereotypes in mainstream wrestling with the WWF in the 1990s, including winning the Intercontinental Championship on multiple occasions. As Triple H‘s bodyguard in the early days of D-Generation X, she paired with Triple H on a few select Live Events, but in 2000 when she was paired with Latino Heat himself, she got into proper intergender match-ups, when her and Eddie took on such teams as Right To Censor (Steven Richards & Val Venis), Too Cool (Brian Christopher and Scotty 2 Hotty), Kaien Tai (Taka Michinoku & Funaki) and Dean Malenko & Perry Saturn. Chyna actually had a tag team with Billy Gunn just prior to joining with Guerrero as well.

THE MISSIONARIES OF VIOLENCE (LuFisto & Sexxxy Eddy), IWS, CZW, 2006-2007

LuFisto has been a vastly underrated pioneer in women’s wrestling in the 2000s, especially taking Luna’s influence of the hard hitting extreme style to a whole new level when she worked with International Wrestling Syndicate (IWS) in her home province of Quebec, Canada and in the US with CZW. She ended Kevin Steen‘s (aka Kevin Owens) 364-run as the CZW Iron Man Champion in 2006, the same time that she started an intergender wrecking crew with Sexxxy Eddy called the Missionaries of Violence that took on all comers.

ALLIE & BRAXTON SUTTER, CZW, ESW, Smash Wrestling, Beyond, GCW, 2012-present

Photo: Impact Wrestling

Long before they were Allie and Braxton Sutter on Impact Wrestling, the real life married couple were known as Cherry Bomb and Pepper Parks. Starting way back in 2012, the duo have paired up frequently in intergender battles, starting in New York with 2CW and ESW. They took on all challenges, from either other intergender teams or men’s duos, from Smash Wrestling in Toronto to Beyond, even pairing up in Impact Wrestling.

THE CAMPAIGN FOR A BETTER COMBAT ZONE (Drew Gulak & Kimber Lee), CZW, WSU, 2012-2014

Photo: CZW

During his early days with CZW, Drew Gulak had a gimmick very similar to his current 205 Live one where he was on a mission to make a better CZW. His group of like minded wrestlers were called The Campaign for a Better Combat Zone and one of his most frequent partners in tag matches was one of his real life students, Kimber Lee. Today both are in the WWE, as Kimber Lee is in NXT as Abbey Laith.

BULLET CLUB (Luke Gallows & Amber O’Neal), PWX, NJPW, 2014-2015

Early in the Bullet Club‘s formative years, they had their own intergender tandem, although they didn’t work with great frequency. Luke Gallows, the regular tag team partner of Karl Anderson, would occasionally tag team with his then-wife Amber O’Neal, “The Bullet Babe”, in intergender match-ups. Amber had far more success as a wrestler on her own accord, in such promotions as SHINE, Women of Honor and Queens of Combat (QOC).

THE FILTHY GENERATION (Kay Lee Ray & Stevie Boy), ICW, 2014-present

Photo: David Wilson

Over in the UK, the Scottish real life couple of Kay Lee Ray and Stevie Boy have been having intergender matches in ICW and elsewhere since 2014 as part of the group, The Filthy Generation. They specialized in a more hardcore approach, closer to Dreamer/Luna or The Missionaries of Violence, than the normal intergender indie style. Kay Lee Ray was recently part of the WWE’s Mae Young Classic.

PRINCESS KIMBER LEE & JERVIS COTTONBELLY, CHIKARA, 2015

Photo: CHIKARA

When Kimber Lee moved from CZW to CHIKARA, she took on a far more gentile character in Princess Kimber Lee, but don’t let her looks deceive you. She still took it to the men and with the men, even winning the CHIKARA Grand Championship. During 2015, she joined the faction Crown and Court and was a frequent tag team partner of Jervis Cottonbelly.

DASHER HATFIELD & HEIDI LOVELACE, CHIKARA, 2015

Photo: CHIKARA

While Kimber Lee joined Crown and Court, her arch-rival Heidi Lovelace (now Ruby Riott in the WWE) joined up with Dasher’s Dugout that same year. Heidi was a frequent tag team partner with Dasher Hatfield himself against anyone who laced up against them, man or woman.

ODB & THE BRISCOES, Ring of Honor (2015-2016)

Photo: Ring of Honor

Longtime Impact Knockout ODB jumped to Ring of Honor in 2015 and found a natural partnership with the rough and tumble Briscoe Brothers. While she was more often in a valet role (or competing singles for Women of Honor), there were several times ODB joined the two in 6-Man Tag matches, most notably during their feud against Truth Martini‘s House of Truth unit of Jay Lethal, Donovan Dijak and J. Diesel.

SOUTH PACIFIC POWER COUPLE (TK Cooper & Dahlia Black)PROGRESS, IPW:UK, 2015-present

Photo: James Musselwhite / Portrait of a Wrestler

New Zealand’s South Pacific Power Trip faction invaded the UK scene in 2015, introducing the world to Travis Banks and TK Cooper. But Cooper’s real life girlfriend (and faction member) Dahlia Black was no slouch herself, a constant contender for the top Women’s titles in the UK. While it’s usually Cooper and Banks that tag team, the duo of Cooper and Black – The South Pacific Power Couple – have not been shy when it comes to teaming up for matches over the years either.

IVELISSE, SON OF HAVOC & ANGELICO, Lucha Underground, 2015-present

Photo: El Rey Network / Lucha Underground

As far as mainstream pro wrestling on a television network, no one has truly embraced intergender wrestling like Lucha Underground. Right from day one, the women have had to compete alongside and against the men, with no definitive men’s or women’s division. Leading the charge was Ivelisse, a veteran of SHINE, SHIMMER and others (including a short stint in WWE developmental), whose trios team alongside Son of Havoc (portrayed by indie star Matt Cross) and Angelico have captured the Lucha Underground Trios Championship on two separate occasions.

MARIPOSA & MARTY THE MOTH, Lucha Underground, 2015-present

Photo: El Rey Network / Lucha Underground

The bizarre Marty The Moth in Lucha Underground introduced his sister Mariposa (portrayed by veteran indie star Cheerleader Melissa) in the second season, and while they continued to have singles matches, the pair often teamed up as a tag team as well in their many battles.

PENELOPE FORD & NEIKO SOZIO, CZW, 2015

CZW continued to push their women’s wrestlers as legitimate threats, with Penelope Ford being one of the standouts. In 2015, she was paired with Neiko Sozio, and the two had many a feud with males tag teams throughout the year.

THE DEATH MACHINES (Sami Callihan & Jessicka Havok), WrestleCircus, Rockstar Pro, PWX, 2016-present

Photo: CZW

Another pairing of a real life couple, Sami Callihan and Jessicka Havok have paired together on multiple occasions as The Death Machines, in WrestleCircus, SWE in the UK and in Callihan’s own Pro Wrestling Revolver.

WORLDWIDE UNDERGROUND (Johnny Mundo & Taya Valkyrie), Lucha Underground, AAA, 2016-present

The former John Morrison has become one of the indie’s top superstars of late, in particular with his work with Lucha Underground and AAA, where he wrestles as Johnny Mundo. His fiancée is Taya Valkryie, also on Lucha Underground, and both are part of the faction, Worldwide Underground. The two have had several matches on Lucha Underground and in AAA, and most recently faced off against World’s Cutest Tag Team in Bar Wrestling.

JANELOPE (Joey Janela & Penelope Ford), BEYOND, Bar Wrestling, 2017-present

They were rivals in CZW for a while, but in the past year, Penelope Ford and Joey Janela have put aside their differences and become the heir apparent to The World’s Cutest Tag Team as one of the top intergender tandems on the indie circuit.

POP CULTURE (Veda Scott & Jason Cade), FEST, WSU, PWX, 2017-present

Photo: CZW

Veda Scott left Ring of Honor in late 2016 and dove into the exploding indie circuit around the world. In early 2017, she paired up with emerging indie star Jason Cade in Pop Culture with FEST Wrestling and ever since, the duo has continued to work together, in RONIN, PWX and WSU.

DOOMFLY (Eli Everfly & Delilah Doom), Bar Wrestling, 2018-present

Photo: Rudos Photography

The newest intergender duo to hit the scene made their debut at the same Bar Wrestling event on Thursday that signaled the end of The World’s Cutest Tag Team. Two of the indie circuits rising stars, Delilah Doom and Eli Everfly, debuted as Doomfly, scoring a victory in their debut match against Janelope.

While there has been other one off intergender combinations, such as Ricochet and Tessa Blanchard, or Will Ospreay and Bea Priestley, these teams have all formed and been regular tag teams, helping push the boundary of what men and women can do in the ring together outside the restrictions placed by traditional mixed tag match rules that the WWE still employs, as recently as this week’s debuting Mixed Match Challenge. But on the indie circuit, women continue to be taken with more serious klout in the neverending battle of good, evil and just plain fun inside the squared circle.

What other intergender tag teams are there? Let us know in the comments below!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.