Compiled by Jamie Greer; rankings voted on by full LWOPW staff.
And here we are! The final 25 entrants in the Hot Tag 100 ’18, looking once again at the best tag teams of the past year in wrestling around the world, from major to indie. Last year, The Young Bucks finished #1 on the list – will the Jackson brothers repeat? We’ll have to find out! The Hot Tag 100 is a four-part series, with each part focusing on 25 of the entries, counting down. This part looks at #25 to #1.
For the purpose of context, the dates are from November 1, 2017 through November 1, 2018. 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 2019’s list looks!
(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)
#25. The Hunter Brothers (Jim & Lee Hunter) (80)
Titles Held: ATTACK! Tag Team (2x), FCP Tag Team (24+ days), 4FW Tag Team (321 days)
Arguably one of the most underrated tag teams in the UK indie scene and virtual unknowns beyond it, The Hunter Brothers had a rock solid past year. Also known as The Brothers of Obstruction, they began the year with their second ATTACK! Tag Team title win, while in the midst of a 321 day run as 4 Front Wrestling (4FW) Tag Team Champions. This summer they captured their 3rd ATTACK! Tag Team titles and on the final day of the ranking timeline, they captured the Fight Club: PRO (FCP) tag team titles. Also contenders in Revolution Pro (RevPro), Defiant Wrestling, and Insane Championship Wrestling (ICW), their one of the top tandems in the UK today.
#24. Besties in the World (Davey Vega & Mat Fitchett) (74)
Titles Held: PWR Tag Team (2x, 145 days), AAW Tag Team (300 days)
One of the best tag teams in the US indies not working regularly with a major promotion, The Besties in the World just get better each and every year. They held the All American Wrestling (AAW) Tag Team titles for two months shy of a year, defending him this past year against the likes of LAX, Juice Robinson & Colt Cabana, oVe (Dave & Jake Crist), Aussie Open, The Rascalz, and even Keith Lee & Shane Strickland. They also held the Pro Wrestling Revolver (PWR) tag titles on two separate occasions.
#23. Violent Giants (Shuji Ishikawa & Suwama) (DNR)
Titles Held: AJPW Tag Team (2x, 210+ days)
Two absolute beasts of Japanese wrestling finally committed to a serious run as tag team partners after flirts off and on, resulting in two reigns (including the current reigning) as All Japan Tag Team Champions. Shuji Ishikawa has won the top titles in All Japan (Triple Crown Champion), Big Japan Wrestling (BJW Strong World Heavyweight) and DDT Pro, where he’s a 4x KO-D Openweight Champion, while Suwama is a 6x All Japan Triple Crown Champion in his 14-year run with AJPW. Together, they’re proving to be unbeatable.
#22. oVe (Dave & Jake Crist) (11)
Titles Held: IMPACT Tag Team, Blackcraft Tag Team (122+ days)
oVe came out strong in their IMPACT debut last year, as the Crist Brothers won the tag titles last summer. The lost them in the fall but have continued to be serious threats for tag titles in promotions around the US, competing for AAW, The Crash Lucha, Rockstar Pro, House of Hardcore, Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW) and many more. They debuted with new promotion Blackcraft Wrestling late this year, becoming their inaugural tag team champions as well.
#21. Las Sicarias (Ivelisse & Mercedes Martinez) (53)
Titles Held: Shine Tag Team (434 days)
Two of the most dominant women’s wrestlers in the US indie scene for the past decade joined forces in Las Sicarias and ran Shine‘s tag team division for the past year. Mercedes Martinez is a 2x SHIMMER Champion, 3x Women’s Superstars Uncensored (WSU) Champion, 5x World Xtreme Wrestling (WXW) Women’s Champion, and the reigning Phoenix of RISE Champion, while Ivelise is a 2x Shine Champion whose won gold in Lucha Underground.
“Las Sicarias ruled the limited tag division in Shine and always turned in good performances, even against repeat opponents.” Brandi Wagner (LWOPW Writer)
#20. WarBeast (Jacob Fatu & Josef The Almighty Sheik) (DNR)
Titles Held: PCW ULTRA Tag Team (703+ days)
They’ve literally held the PCW ULTRA tag team division for ransom for nearly two years and no one has come close to paying the blood debt required to take the belts off them. “The Samoan Werewolf” Jacob Fatu is another member of the fabled Anoa’i Family – his father is former WWF Superstar The Tonga Kid and he was trained by his uncle, WWE Hall of Famer Rikishi. The Almighty Sheik is a 20-year indie veteran of the West Coast (previously competing as NASDAQ and Joey Machete) who is helping turn Fatu into a killing machine – and so far it appears to be working.
“Best team in the west with over 700 days as PCW ULTRA Champions. Their devastating combination of experience, athleticism, and matches where All Violence Is Legal could keep them on top in Wilmington for a long time.” Brian Ronovech (LWOPW West Coast correspondent)
#19. Los Ingobernables de Japon (EVIL & SANADA) (DNR)
Titles Held: IWGP Tag Team (156 days), Won NJPW World Tag League 2017
EVIL and SANADA have always worked well together as part of the Los Ingobernables de Japon stable during the past few years, but it wasn’t until early 2017 that they made a real concentrated effort as a legitimate tag team duo and they immediately made an impact. They won the 2017 NJPW World Tag League and captured the IWGP Tag Team titles, holding them for 156 days. While they fell slightly this year in some respects (partially due to EVIl’s distraction with Chris Jericho), they regained their momentum by winning the 2018 World Tag League shortly after the cut off for the Hot Tag 100 ended, proving they’re still a force to be reckoned with in the NJPW heavyweight tag division.
#18. Oedo Tai (Kagetsu & Hana Kimura) (DNR)
Titles Held: Goddesses of Stardom (347 days)
Kagetsu emerged as one of Stardom‘s most dominant forces this past year, leading her stable Oedo Tai to great heights, and finally capturing the World of Stardom Championship. But she also ruled Stardom’s tag team division alongside Hana Kimura, holding the titles for nearly a year against some tough competition, including Io Shirai & Viper, Bea Priestley & Kelly Klein, Mayu Iwatani & Tam Nakano and HZK & Momo Watanabe. Whatever Kagetsu wants, Kagetsu gets.
“The lovable rebels Oedo Tai held the Goddesses Of Stardom championships for 347 days. While they have now split after Kimura turned on Kagetsu they were once a dominant force in Stardom’s Goddesses division.” Alex Richards (LWOW UK correspondent)
#17. Doom Patrol (Chris Dickinson & Jaka) (19)
Titles Held: EVOLVE Tag Team (400 days)
Doom Patrol continued to be the gold standard of the EVOLVE tag team division for most of 2018, until a late year loss to NXT’s Street Profits. But Doom Patrol are limited to just EVOLVE – they also continue to reek havoc everywhere they go, including Beyond Wrestling.
“Doom Patrol has become the gatekeeper team in EVOLVE and the measuring stick for which all other teams in the promotion are held to.” Brandi Wagner (LWOPW Writer)
#16. MexaBlood (Bandido & Flamita) (DNR)
Titles Held: The Crash Lucha Tag Team (231 days), PROGRESS Tag Team (50 days)
These Lucha stars made names for themselves in Mexico and then Dragon Gate in Japan, before heading to the US (and the rest of the world) this year, where they became global sensations. Stunning matches in Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG), Revolution Pro (RevPro), Over The Top (OTT) Wrestling, All American Wrestling (AAW) and AAA, plus big titles wins in The Crash Lucha and PROGRESS made MexaBlood one of the breakout tandems of the year.
“Bandido and Flamota really outdid themselves in 2018. They exploded worldwide and brought an interesting combo of Lucha Libre that can only be match by the Lucha Brothers. Although they delivered big as singles, their duo really put them on the world map of wrestling.” Emmanuel Rosado (LWOPW Latin America correspondent)
#15. Briscoe Brothers (Jay & Mark Briscoe) (64)
Titles Held: ROH Tag Team (219 days)
The Briscoes have always been the lifeblood of the Ring of Honor tag team division since they debuted in 2003, but for a few years, they went on singles paths, then into 6-man territory alongside Bully Ray. They reclaimed their spot at the top this year, winning their 9th ROH World Tag Team titles and becoming the first ROH tag team to hold the titles for over 1000 days combined. Shortly after the Hot Tag 100 cut off date, they won their astounding 10th set of titles, setting up another great year in 2019.
“In a year that saw the Young Bucks not win the Ring of Honor tag titles and that saw the Motor City Machine Guns come to an end with Alex Shelley’s retirement, the Briscoes, who held the titles for almost seven months, helped carry ROH’s tag division and had some great matches in the process. Not to mention, they’ve amassed over 1,000 days combined as ROH tag champions, a number that continues to grow with their most recent win at Final Battle.” Marilee Galligher (LWOPW Editor)
#14. Grizzled Young Veterans (Zach Gibson & James Drake) (65)
Titles Held: PROGRESS Tag Team (2x, 237 days)
Although they’d paired off and on for a couple years, it wasn’t until last year that the duo of Zack Gibson and James Drake solidified themselves as one of the best tag teams in the UK indie scene. The past year saw the duo win the PROGRESS titles on two separate occasions. Next year looks to be another huge step, as they’ve both moved over to NXT UK as well, where they’ll be sure to be immediate threats for the impending NXT UK Tag Team Championships.
#13. Kings of the North (Damian Corvin & Bonesaw) (16)
Titles Held: OTT Tag Team (2x, 616+ days)
The Kings of the North have run Ireland for years now and they show no sign of slowing down. In fact, the Irish conquerors are gaining more steam. Aside for OTT, they’ve begun working with PROGRESS, Insane Championship Wrestling (ICW) and Defiant Wrestling, so 2019 may see the Kings of the North heading a bit further down south to plunder more gold.
“The Kings Of The North have been the best tag team in OTT since day 1. In February they shockingly lost their tag titles ending their 413 day reign as champions. It wasn’t long before they reclaimed the tag team championships and turned heel once again in a viscious attack on More Than Hype to end the year with some buzz.” Alex Richards (LWOPW UK correspondent)
#12. Roppongi 3K (SHO & YO) (47)
Titles Held: IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team (2x, 124 days), Won 2017 & 2018 Super Junior Tag League
Many were curious how Rocky Romero‘s new Roppongi incarnation would follow in the footsteps of Romero’s Roppongi Vice team with Trent Baretta, but so far the duo of SHO and YOH have come out running, capturing the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team titles twice in the past year, and winning back to back NJPW Super Junior Tag League trophies.
“Roppongi 3K finally achieved status they have long had the potential for. An upper echelon team in the Juniors tag division.” Brandi Wagner (LWOPW Writer)
#11. Undisputed Era (Kyle O’Reilly, Roderick Strong & Bobby Fish) (49)
Titles Held: NXT Tag Team (2x, 405+ days)
Originally paired with his old reDRagon partner Bobby Fish, when Fish went down with injury last year, fellow ROH alumnus Roderick Strong filled the void and has helped solidify the Undisputed Era’s line-up with some extra firepower. While the NXT Tag Team titles were initially defended under Freebird rules, O’Reilly and Strong have remained the principal tag team duo of the stabe and they’ve held the NXT titles for the majority of the past year and a half.
“Undisputed Era promised to shock the system when they arrived in NXT and they certainly did just that when they added Roderick Strong to their ranks. Joining up with Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly, Strong perfectly filled the hole left by Bobby Fish’s injury. With Fish on the shelf, Cole and primarily O’Reilly and Strong enjoyed tag title reigns, a War Games match and rising to the top as perhaps the best stable in NXT history. Now, with Fish back and Undisputed Era at full strength, Cole has promised big things for the foursome in 2019.” Marilee Galligher (LWOPW Editor)
#10. Suzuki-gun (Minor Suzuki & Zack Sabre Jr.) (DNR)
Titles Held: RevPro Tag Team (338+ days)
Zack Sabre Jr. elevated quickly through the ranks of Minoru Suzuki‘s Suzuki-gun faction over the past year, essentially becoming his right hand man. That was never more prevalent than at RevPro’s High Stakes in January when the duo won the RevPro Undisputed British Tag Team titles from Moustache Mountain. Since then, the cruel and sadistic duo have refused to part with them and are closing in on a year as champions, defeating such challengers as Aussie Open and CCK.
#9. Lucha Brothers (Pentagon Jr. & Fenix) (15)
Titles Held: MLW Tag Team (200+ days), WAR Tag Team (463+ days), The Crash Tag Team (28 days)
As singles stars, brothers Fenix and Pentagon Jr have won major World titles in IMPACT Wrestling, AAA, Lucha Underground and beyond. But together they still remain focused as a superior tag team unit, where they held tag team gold in The Crash Lucha and still hold gold in MLW and Ecuador’s Wrestling Alliance Revolution (WAR).
“While stars on Lucha Underground and in AAA Lucha Libre, the duo of Pentagon and Fenix had only worked a handful of matches together outside of Mexico until 2017. By the time 2018 began, the Lucha Bros had made a name for themselves, one they continued to build upon as the year went on. Most notably, both became regulars for several promotions, including the televised IMPACT Wrestling and MLW, where they are current tag team champions.” Marilee Galligher (LWOPW Editor)
#8. Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson) (1)
Titles Held: IWGP Tag Team (113 days), IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team (24 days), WSW Tag Team (2 days)
They still managed to capture three different tag team belts the past year, but that’s a major downgrade from the usual bucketful these two brothers normally claim. The Bucks had their most successful business year to date, co-presenting All In with Cody Rhodes, but the in-fighting in Bullet Club was a huge distraction, and kept them from competing as often as they normally do in tag team action. As free agents heading into 2019, the sky’s the limit for how much more gold they can acquire.
“For most teams, the Bucks campaign would be epic. However for the Bucks, it was normal, but they still crack the top ten because they’re still Elite.” Brian Ronovech (LWOPW West Coast correspondent)
“As far as title wins go, it was a bit of a down year for the Young Bucks, but considering everything else, there is no denying this duo earned their spot in the top 10. Matt and Nick Jackson have excelled for years in their ability to market themselves and all of that paid off in 2018. Alongside Cody Rhodes, the two put on the biggest independent wrestling show in history, not to mention, their Youtube show Being the Elite was at the center of one of NJPW/ROH’s biggest angles all year long.” Marilee Galligher (LWOPW Editor)
#7. The Bar (Cesaro & Sheamus) (6)
Titles Held: WWE Raw Tag Team (2x, 126 days), WWE SmackDown Tag Team (69+ days)
The Bar continued to set the bar for tag team wrestling in the WWE, by smoothly crossing over to SmackDown from Raw and remaining in the title hunt, following up two Raw Tag Team title reigns with capturing SmackDown’s gold recently. Consistently in the tag team title picture, The Bar has been the best tag team overall in the WWE the past year.
“Won titles in the biggest wrestling promotion on each show. Unfortunately, the competition in WWE’s tag division lags right now.” Brian Ronovech (LWOPW West Coast correspondent)
“They didn’t just set the Bar, they were the Bar and in this past year-plus, they were exactly what WWE’s struggling tag team division needed. The pairing of Sheamus and Cesaro was the best thing to happen under Mick Foley’s tenure as Raw GM and the duo have been a breath of fresh air ever since. Their ability to go from Raw to Smackdown and be on the top in both brands without skipping a beat is certainly an accomplishment.” Marilee Galligher (LWOPW Editor)
#6. The Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) (7)
Titles Held: IWGP Tag Team (85+ days)
Tama Tonga and co. reclaimed Bullet Club from The Elite and immediately turned the faction back into it’s terrorizing ways, disrupting the prestigious G1 Climax this year, while capturing their fourth IWGP Tag Team titles along the way. GoD cause as much damage without titles (more so even) than they do with titles, but titles aren’t what Bullet Club are about anymore. It’s about chaos and disruption of tradition – and there aren’t many better at that that the brothers in GoD.
“GoD managed to step out of the shadow of other teams under the Bullet Club banner and established themselves as key players.” Brandi Wagner (LWOPW Writer)
“In a year where one of the biggest global wrestling stories was regarding whether or not the Bullet Club was fine, the Guerrillas of Destiny found themselves making big moves and distancing themselves from the Elite in the process. Alongside Bad Luck Fale and Hikuleo, GOD brought Bullet Club back to its roots, back to killer instincts. And thanks to GOD, Bullet Club is also positioned to get right back on top in the NJPW stable game.” Marilee Galligher (LWOPW Editor)
#5. CCK (Chris Brookes & Kid Lykos) (8)
Titles Held: CZW Tag Team, PROGRESS Tag Team (2x), HOPE Tag Team, ATTACK! Tag Team, FCP Tag Team
It was a rough year health wise for Kid Lykos, but when he was healthy, he and Chris Brookes were a juggernaut in the UK indie scene, winning titles in PROGRESS, ATTACK!, HOPE and Fight Club: PRO, not to mention a late 2017 run with CZW’s titles. Lykos is healthy once again and as many teams shift to NXT UK, the landscape is even more wide open for CCK to run the gauntlet once again.
“When fit, CCK are a sensation, booked everywhere in the UK, and draped in gold their success is unmatched.” Alex Richards (LWOPW UK correspondent)
“CCK as a team has worked just 28 matches in the past year-plus and they’ve won or defended titles in 40 percent of them. That success rate is hard to look past even if CCK’s momentum was stalled at times this year due to Kid Lykos missing several months with various injuries.” Marilee Galligher (LWOPW Editor)
#4. The Rascalz (Dezmond Xavier & Zachary Wentz)
Titles Held: PWG Tag Team (248+ days), AAW Tag Team, CZW Tag Team, PWR Tag Team (178+ days)
As Scarlet & Graves, the tandem of Dezmond Xavier and Zachary Wentz was one of the best young stars in the US indies. Now under the faction The Rascalz, the duo have exploded as one of the best tag teams on the planet. They’ve held the PWG World Tag Team titles for 250 days now (and the Wrestling Revolver Tag Titles over 180), plus captured tag team gold with AAW and CZW as well. Now that the team is reunited in IMPACT Wrestling (and headed to Dragon Gate in Japan), more gold will be on their horizon in 2019.
“As Scarlet & Graves, Wentz and Xavier were a promising tag team that was mostly known for their CZW work. In 2018 they blew up as The Rascalz, winning the PWG tag team championships and joining Strong Hearts, the most exciting freelance faction in Japanese wrestling today, now stars in the US and Japanese indie scenes they are set to get mainstream exposure with Impact Wrestling in 2019.” Alex Richards (LWOPW UK correspondent)
#3. LAX (Ortiz & Santana)
Titles Held: IMPACT Tag Team (2x, 406+ days), HOG Tag Team (373+ days), WrestlePro Tag Team (380+ days)
As EYFBO, Santana and Ortiz were no strangers to tag team dominance on the East Coast with the likes of Beyond Wrestling and House of Glory (HOG). But after joining IMPACT Wrestling as the new faces of Konnan‘s LAX, they have gone on to become international superstars, holding the IMPACT titles over 400 days in two runs and over a year as the HOG Champs. They continue to debut in new promotions worldwide, including PROGRESS, PWG and more, proving that they may just be the world’s best.
“When Ortiz and Santana debuted alongside Konnan in IMPACT Wrestling in March 2017, they were looked upon as just a new reincarnation of the promotion’s popular stable, LAX. Now, they’ve not only become more popular than the original LAX members, now the OGz, but they’ve also become one of the most popular and one of the best tag teams in all of pro wrestling. The two have worked everywhere in 2018, from the UK to Canada to the U.S. to Germany and even in international waters aboard the Jericho Cruise.” Marilee Galligher (LWOPW Editor)
#2. Aussie Open (Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis) (88)
Titles Held: PROGRESS Tag Team (85+ days), Defiant Tag Team (2x, 275+ days), ATTACK! Tag Team (36+ days), HOPE Tag Team (239 days)
The Australian tandem known as Aussie Open debuted in the UK indie scene last year with an immediate buzz, but in 2018, Kyle Fletcher and Mark Davis absolutely exploded, cementing themselves as one of the teams to beat in an exploding international scene. They’re the current reigning champions in PROGRESS, Defiant (twice) and ATTACK!, as well as capturing the HOPE titles at one point too. With many of PROGRESS’ top teams moving over to NXT UK, PROGRESS could become officially owned by the two lads from Down Under.
“The Australian duo of Kyle Fletcher and Mark Davis spent their UK stay as a fun tag team that put on good matches. Over the summer of 2018 they went to the next level and with some heel turns and (somehow) even better matches became one of the top teams in the UK” Alex Richards (LWOPW UK correspondent)
“Aussie Open also had a huge year in which domination was just the regular order of business for them.” Brandi Wagner (LWOPW Writer)
#1. Moustache Mountain (Trent Seven & Tyler Bate) (10)
Titles Held: RevPro Tag Team (89 days), NXT Tag Team (21 days), ATTACK! Tag Team, FCP Tag Team (117 days), IWS Tag Team (79+ days)
Perennial main eventers in the UK for the past few years as part of the British Strong Style faction alongside WWE UK Champion Pete Dunne, Moustache Mountain has been a top tandem in the UK for years. In what is most likely their last year in the UK indies before heading full time to the WWE, Moustache Mountain made their mark as the best tandem in the world, capturing titles in the UK with RevPro, ATTACK and FCP, plus the International Wrestling Syndicate (IWS) in Montreal, Canada. But the pinnacle was finally capturing the NXT Tag Team titles in their homeland, a possible foreshadowing of their dominance in NXT UK in 2019.
“MM had an incredible year in which they ascended even higher than they had previously. A banner year with momentum to spare.” Brandi Wagner (LWOPW Writer)
“These gents have outdone themselves since the NXT UK Tournament back in January 2017. It’s done nothing but up their stock. In short, they’ve built themselves up so well that they along with Pete Dunne can arguably be seen as the stars for NXT U.K. I’d say to have that type of casting for a new brand being part of the biggest Pro-Wrestling promotion in the world is enough to be at #1.” William Alicea (LWOPW Writer)