Trios: The Rise, Fall and Rise of 6-Man Tag Team Titles

Photo: Pro Wrestling Illustrated

In a recent international media conference call, WWE Superstar Luke Gallows was asked about the possibility of 6-Man Tag Team titles in the WWE. His response was short, but he replied: “I would love to see WWE introduce the 6-Man Tag Team Championship. I think that the Balor Club would absolutely capture the titles. And I agree with you that with The Shield and The New Day, there are a lot of great trios across the sports entertainment landscape right now. It would be exciting for the WWE Universe, absolutely. I’d love to see that.” While Gallows is purely speaking from a personal standpoint, it’s an interesting concept to dwell on – should the WWE bring back the 6-man tag team titles to the WWE?

6-Man Tag Teams: From The Beginning

After all, there’s a deep history of such championships in North America and it’s been making its comeback in such promotions as Lucha Underground and Ring of Honor, not to mention still being a huge accolade in Japan. As recently as 2014, the WWE seemed remotely interested in the concept, stating in an article on that “the renaissance of Six-Man Tag Team Matches over the past year has us here at wondering if, perhaps, the stakes should be raised for three-on-three competition. No time in WWE history has ever been better than now to introduce Six-Man Tag Team Championships.” The WWE itself owns “lineage” to several prominent Six-Man Tag Team Championships, most notably the WCCW and WCW ones (although both have been inactive for decades).

The NWA crowned the very first NWA World Six Man Tag Team Champions back in 1955, when future NWA World Heavyweight Champion Pat O’Connor teamed with Roy McClarity and Yukon Eric to defeat The Crusher, Art Neilsen and Don Leo Jonathan. It was only five years after the first Tag Team Champions crowned in NWA San Francisco, so it’s been a concept and championship held in the United States since wrestling’s Golden Era. But it arguably never became such a hot commodity until Texas’ WCCW introduced their own 6-Man Tag Titles in 1982 that it became the stuff of main events – with the feuding Fabulous Freebirds (Michael PS Hayes, Terry “Bam Bam” Gordy and Buddy Roberts) quarrelling over the belts against the Von Erichs (David, Kevin and Kerry), the 6-Man Tag Team belts became the main event in Texas for years. The NWA’s own 6-Man Tag Team titles took on a new life in the 1980s under Jim Crockett’s direction, when they became the hardware of choice when The Russians (Ivan and Nikita Koloff with Krusher Kruschev) feuded with Dusty Rhodes and The Road Warriors (Hawk & Animal). It briefly carried over to WCW in its early days, but was ultimately retired in 1991. Many of these trios became the impetus of War Games, as the multiple factions had a venue for full out war.

Photo: Robert Riddick Jr.

6-Man Tag Team Titles: The Resurgence in North America

Internationally, Mexico has been had great emphasis on their 6-Man Tag Team, or Campeonato Mundial de Tríos, with CMLL introducing their own Trios titles in 1993, which are still defended and challenged for to this day. Rivals AAA introduced their own in 2011, and are still big proponents of their cards. Ring of Honor recently began their own 6-Man Tag Team Championship in 2016, as way of utilizing larger factions, such as Bullet Club and The Kingdom, and Lucha Underground uses the Trios title instead of a traditional two person tag team title, and have since they debuted in 2015.

Photo: Ring of Honor

6-Man Tag Team Titles: Big In Japan

But nowhere in the world has the 6-man tag team concept been embraced in the past twenty years than it has in Japan. The first was in 1994, when Wrestle Association R (WAR) introduced the WAR World 6-Man Tag Team titles, which were held by such legends as Ultimo Dragon, Bam Bam Bigelow and Lance Storm, and dominated by Fuyuki-Gun, the trio lead by Hiromichi Fuyuki and featuring a young Gedo and Jado. Frontier Martial-arts Wrestling (FMW) introduced their own in 1996, the World Street Fight 6-Man Tag Team titles, held by the likes of Atsushi Onita, Masato Tanaka and also Fuyuki-Gun. In 2012, DDT Pro began their KO-D 6-Man Tag titles, and in 2015, NJPW entered the fray, with the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team titles, that has become a pivotal title within the factional gang warfare in New Japan. In women’s wrestling, even Japan’s joshi leaders Stardom have a 6-woman tag title, Artist of Stardom Championship, that was established in 2013.

Photo: Stardom

6-Man Tag Team Titles: A WWE Possibility?

With a rise in 6-Man Tag Team prominence once again, at its highest peak since the 1980s, is it something the WWE should look into? While many detractors will say WWE has too many titles as it is, when you consider the brand extensions, each brand really only has four titles each – a World (Universal/WWE), a secondary (Intercontinental/US), a Women’s and a Tag Team. Adding a fifth title (which would put each WWE main roster brand equal to ROH’s five, including the upcoming WOH title) would still mean that Raw and Smackdown Live would still be three belts behind NJPW’s current eight championships being used (IWGP Heavyweight, IWGP Junior Heavyweight, NEVER Openweight, IWGP Intercontinental, IWGP United States, IWGP Tag Team, IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team and NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team). With that in mind, here’s a look at existing trios in the WWE and potential future factions who could be a part of a WWE 6-Man Tag Team title mix.

6-Man Tag Teams: Who the WWE Already Has

BALOR CLUB (Finn Balor, Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson)

Photo: WWE

One of the principle pros for having a 6-man tag team title is that it would help give stables or factions a purpose in their gang warfare (see NJPW) and also help deflect some of their more “main event” members from having to be in the World title picture for a while. Which is perfect for the current reunion of former Bullet Club originals Finn Balor with Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson. With Balor leading Balor Club into battle for a 6-Man Tag Team title, it would give him purpose while he’s not actively chasing the Universal Championship on Raw.

THE SHIELD (Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose)

Photo: WWE

Thanks to the mumps and then a torn tricep, WWE’s hotly anticipated Shield reunion fell flat on its face and became one of the sore spots of 2017. But a 6-Man Tag Team title that could properly utilize all three members could result in some hot feuds with some of the other potential trios – not to mention give Roman Reigns a break from the main event all the time. While it’s no question that the three are all bona fide main event stars in the WWE now, it’s really no different than Dusty Rhodes taking a departure into the 6-Man Tag Team division in the 1980s at the height of his popularity to team with an equally hot regular tag team, The Road Warriors, to help elevate the division.

THE NEW DAY (Big E, Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods)

Photo: WWE

If there was ever a need for a true 6-man tag team title to be created, the New Day is it. Sure they’ve implemented the “Freebird Rule” in defending the regular tag team titles, even the Freebirds were at their best when they were entered into the 6-Man Tag Team realm instead of just the regular.

THE MIZTOURAGE (The Miz, Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel)

Photo: WWE

The Miz can make anything seem more exciting than it is, simply with his brash cockiness and time on the mic, but having a 6-man tag team title to show off his Miztourage would be the kind of thing Miz would relish. And it’s not like he has two slouches in tow. Yes, neither Bo Dallas or Curtis Axel have had the best showings in their main roster debut, but both men have shown their capabilities in the past, particularly Bo Dallas during his reign as NXT Champion. Giving them a meatier storyline, like fighting for a 6-Man Tag Team Championship, could be the launching point to finally elevating Dallas and Axel to the level of respectability they both so desperately need.

SANITY (Eric Young, Killian Dain & Alexander Wolfe)

Photo: WWE

NXT’s SaNitY have got to be getting close to their call up time, but having a 6-man tag team division in place would be an ideal storyline to jump into. Nikki Cross would have her opportunities for either division’s Women’s title, but she could also be the wild card manager for a 6-man team featuring Eric Young, Killian Dain and Alexander Wolfe. And they’ve shown their abilities as a trio, most notably at NXT: War Games.

UNDISPUTED ERA (Adam Cole, Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly)

Photo: WWE

Another trio that is ultimately going to be main roster bound at some point, entering a 6-man tag team division to show their strength would be a great way to introduce the three to the WWE Universe, many of whom who probably don’t have much knowledge of them from their ROH or NJPW days. Once they’ve established their presence as a group, they could go after their respective paths, of the former reDRagon (O’Reilly & Fish) targeting a Tag Team title, with Cole heading off to a singles title.


THE MAHARAJA’S COURT (Jinder Mahal & The Singh Brothers)

Photo: WWE

While they’ve been great comedic relief as the bumbling sidekicks (and bump takers) for Jinder Mahal, many people forget that the Singh Brothers are actually very good wrestlers. Individually, they took part in 2016’s WWE Cruiserweight Classic, and they were a decorated tag team, The Bollywood Boys, on the indie circuit for years prior to joining the WWE. It would go a long way to giving to them both some credibility if they dusted off their ring boots and actually got to wrestle alongside Mahal, instead of just taking RKO’s off of bamboo walls for him.

6-Man Tag Teams: Who the WWE Potentially Has

THE AUTHORS OF PAIN (Rezar, Akam & ??)

Photo: WWE

Manager Paul Ellering is no stranger to the 6-man tag team concept. As the longtime manager of The Road Warriors, Animal and Hawk, he steered them (alongside Dusty Rhodes) to several 6-man titles. Should the opportunity arise, it wouldn’t be out of character for Ellering to enlist a ringer to join the AOP, much like he did Dusty Rhodes in the 1980s. Adding someone like Samoa Joe to the already impressive duo could elevate AOP quickly to the WWE Universe.

THE WYATT FAMILY (Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper & Erick Rowan)

Photo: WWE

In a perfect world, “Woken” Matt Hardy would delete Bray Wyatt on Raw and send “The Eater of Worlds” back to Smackdown Live where he could rejoin his Bludgeon Brothers, Luke Harper and Erick Rowan, and reform the Wyatt Family. In doing so, it would make for an imposing trio to compete for a 6-man tag title. Harper and Rowan held the NXT Tag Team titles, and Harper shared the Smackdown Tag Team titles with Wyatt (and Randy Orton) under Freebird rules. As we’ve seen in past gang feuds, the Wyatts have had great chemistry as a trio and this could help not only legitimize a 6-man division, but enhance whomever they’re facing.

THE BAR (Sheamus, Cesaro…& Kassius Ohno)

Photo: WWE

Okay, so The Bar is still just a duo right now – and a very successful one – but Sheamus‘ ongoing neck concerns are going to start slowing them down. With Kassius Ohno now being seemingly relegated as the Gatekeeper in NXT, it may be time to bring him up as a potential third member of The Bar. Having a third man, and making The Bar a trio, would help alleviate some of the pressure to Sheamus to be in every match and add extra protection in a 6-man tag team match, while still chasing potential gold. Why Kassius Ohno? Well, in a different universe, as Chris Hero, he was part of one of the most successful indie tag teams of the 2000s, The Kings of Wrestling, with Cesaro, so the narrative simply writes itself.

Photo: Ring of Honor

LEGACY 2.0 (Randy Orton, Ted DiBiase Jr. & ??)

Photo: WWE

Whoa, whoa, whoa. A Legacy 2.0? While we probably won’t see Cody Rhodes back in the WWE for a while yet, former Legacy member Ted DiBiase Jr. recently teased on Twitter a potential return to the WWE as he had “unfinished business with his Legacy”. A return to join Randy Orton could help Orton turn back heel (which he’s ultimately better at) and DiBiase could return with another multigenerational star to help his cause. Who could that third man be? Well, NXT Champion Andrade “Cien” Almas is the son of 80’s luchador Brilliante (and like Orton and DiBiase, is a 3rd generation, as his grandfather wrestled as El Moro). Or if you ditched the “real life” family ties, a debuting Ethan Carter III (EC3) would have all the right swagger to join Orton and DiBiase.

What are some other 6-man tag team options WWE could employ if they created a 6-Man Tag Team Championship? What are your thoughts on this even happening? Let us know in the comments below!