Compiled by Jamie Greer; rankings voted on by full LWOPW staff, plus guest panelist Dave Dynasty of “The Dave Dynasty Show”
We conclude 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 24 down to 1.
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 (24-1)
(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)
#24. CHAOS (Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano)
Titles Held: IWGP Tag Team
Two of CHAOS’ most polarizing members have been tagging together over a decade now and the two got their first taste of tag team gold this year, with a reign as IWGP Tag Team Champions.
“The most unlikely team on the list. Strong Styles Stone Pitbull, who comes straight from an internationally acclaimed match against Keith Lee, teams with the never serious Yano, who mostly tries to sell his DVD. Highly bizarre but also highly entertaining.” Moritz Risch, LWOPW European Correspondent
“Ishii and Yano have made an odd couple turn into an exciting team that adds depth to NJPW. It’s fun to watch their dynamic.” Walter Yeates, LWOPW
#23. #DIY (Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa)
Titles Held: NXT Tag Team
Both men started in NXT as part timers while still on the indie circuit, but after solid outings each and every time, went full time with NXT early last year. They immediately had show stealing match-ups with every team they faced, including amazing feuds with The Revival and Authors of Pain. The team broke up in May of this year at NXT Takeover: Chicago, when a frustrated Ciampa turned on Gargano.
“Ciampa and Gargano rose to become one of the most popular tag teams in WWE. They then proceeded to break all of our hearts. While they were great as a team, 2018 will prove to be an even bigger year for the two as rivals.” Eric Thompson, LWOPW
#22. Maybach Taniguchi & Naomichi Marufuji
Titles Held: GHC Tag Team, Winner of 2017 Pro Wrestling NOAH Global Tag League
NOAH legend Naomichi Marufuji won his 5th GHC Tag Team title in his 17 year career with Pro Wrestling NOAH alongside 11-year NOAH staple Taniguchi, then proceeded to conquer NOAH’s Global Tag League as well.
#21. Funky Future (Ryusuke Taguchi & Ricochet)
Titles Held: IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team
Two of the top junior heavyweights in the world (not to mention junior tag team specialists) paired up for a short stint this past year and made up for it in spades. Ricochet won his 3rd IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team championship after pairing up with 6x champion Ryusuke Taguchi to form Funky Future. Alongside Hiroshi Tanahashi, the duo also captured the NEVER Openweight 6-Man titles as well. Sadly, when they lost their titles this past October, Ricochet announced his departure from NJPW, ending the tandem.
“The chemistry these two have together is remarkable. Taguchi never receives the credit he deserves, yet he continues to deliver and remain the backbone of NJPW’s Junior division.” Walter Yeates, LWOPW
#20. Suzuki-Gun (Taichi & Yoshinobu Kanemaru)
Titles Held: IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team
They don’t get as much of the spotlight as other Suzuki-Gun members like Zack Sabre Jr., Killer Elite Squad, or leader Minoru Suzuki, but Suzuk-Gun’s Junior Heavyweight tag team always performs at top level, winning the IWGP Junior Heavyweight tag titles this year away from Roppongi Vice.
“Taichi and Kanemura make up for not being the most dynamic workers with being masters of psychology and drawing heat from the crowd.” Walter Yeates, LWOPW
#19. Doom Patrol (Chris Dickinson & Jaka)
Titles Held: EVOLVE Tag Team (x2)
Also part of the EVOLVE faction Catch Point, where they’ve captured the EVOLVE tag team titles on two occasions this year, including off their own members Fred Yehi and Tracey Williams. They’ve dominated EVOLVE’s tag division all year long, and have taken their warpath on the road to Beyond Wrestling, where they scored a big win over Matt Riddle & Jeff Cobb.
#18. Authors of Pain (Rezar & Akam)
Titles Held: NXT Tag Team
These two juggernauts were met with hesitation from the fans when they debuted last year, but racked up a monstrous following over the past year as they decimated opponent after opponent in NXT, including a 203-day reign as NXT Champions.
#17. Killer Elite Squad (Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Lance Archer)
Titles Held: GHC Tag Team, IWGP Tag Team
Suzuki-Gun’s hard hitting heavyweight representatives in NJPW’s heavyweight tag team division, they returned to NJPW late last year after a self-imposed exile in Pro Wrestling NOAH where they claimed two reigns as GHC Tag champions. An injury to Archer forced KES out of action for a good chunk of the year, but once he returned they made up for lost time, capturing their 3rd IWPG Tag Team titles, which they currently still hold.
“Archer & Smith returned this year and won the IWGP Tag Titles. Two scary men with high impact moves, that perfectly fit into Suzuki-Gun. With the right opponents they can deliver a great match.” Moritz Risch, LWOPW European Correspondent
“A classic example of the whole being better than the sum of its parts. Smith and Archer are a perfect tag team and hide the others weakness. They are fun to watch and always deliver a solid and watchable match.” Walter Yeates, LWOPW
#16. Kings of the North (Damien Corvin & Bonesaw)
Titles Held: OTT Tag Team
The undisputed toughest tag team in Ireland, they’ve ruled OTT for the last two years with two reigns as OTT Tag Team champions. They’ve taken the fight to other promotions as well, including WCPW, Lucha Forever and ICW, but it’s on Irish soil they’ve been the vanguards, fighting back challenges from Aussie Open, British Strong Style, CCK and Polo Promotions.
“The number 1 tag team in Ireland have dominated the country for years and stood atop the OTT tag division for 90% of the year. Made their debut in many UK promotions doing the Irish proud. More than deserve a top 20 spot having bested CCK and British Strong Style among many others this year.” Alex Richards, LWOPW UK Correspondent
#15. The Lucha Brothers (Penta El 0M & Rey Fenix)
Titles Held: PWG World Tag Team, WAR World Tag Team
Since departing AAA at the beginning of the year, the former Pentagon Jr. and Fenix have taken the indie circuit around the world by storm. They defeated the Young Bucks for the PWG World Tag Team titles, ending the Bucks’ 600+ day reign, then holding them for over 200 themselves. They recently went to Ecuador and captured the Wrestling Alliance Revolution (WAR) World Tag Team titles, which they still hold.
“Leaving AAA has been great for their career. The sky’s the limit for how far they could go together. In several years they could reach the level of The Young Bucks if they stay injury free and continue working together.” Walter Yeates, LWOPW
“The former PWG Tag champions who evoked OMG moments on a regular basis in 2017 due to their willingness to take tag wrestling to another level by creating new moves. Two of my favorites this year and over with any crowd.” Moritz Risch, LWOPW European Correspondent
#14. Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose
Titles Held: WWE Raw Tag Team
Just prior to the reunion of The Shield, former stablemates Ambrose and Rollins reunited and tag command of Raw’s tag team division. Lethal singles competitors in their own right, their combined forces proved to be a powerful combination once again, resulting in a reign as the Raw Tag Team champions.
#13. Motor City Machine Guns (Alex Shelley & Chris Sabin)
Titles Held: ROH World Tag Team
The former Impact Wrestling, IWGP Junior Heavyweight and AAW Tag Team Champions have been tagging together over a decade, but finally accomplished something they’d never done before, capturing the ROH World Tag Team titles this year. They continue to work at an elite level, with several tag match of the year candidates in 2017.
#12. LAX (Ortiz & Santana)
Titles Held: CZW Tag Team, Impact World Tag Team, GFW Tag Team, HOG Tag Team
When they’re not wrestling on Impact Wrestling, they also work the independents as EYFBO, and the past year they’ve been winning tag team gold everywhere. The held the CZW tag titles at the end of 2016 and as well as the House of Glory (HOG) Tag Team Champions, then made an immediate presence felt when the jumped to Impact Wrestling as part of Konnan’s new incarnation of Latin American Exchange (LAW), capturing the Impact Tag Team titles as well as the Global Force Wrestling (GFW) titles.
“While high on the list, it will be interesting to see how long they can stay a top team. They are exciting, but have a lot of room to grow as a team and individual performers. It will be interesting to see how their career as team develops.” Walter Yeates, LWOPW
#11. OvE/OI4K (Dave & Jake Crist)
Titles Held: IWA East Coast Tag Team, AAW Tag Team, Impact World Tag Team, JCW Tag Team
The Crist Brothers have been terrorizing the indie circuit for years in the Ohio Is For Killers (OI4K) faction, alongside Sami Callihan, where they just lost the IWA East Coast Tag titles after a five year reign, and they are 500+ days into their reign as Juggalo Championship Wrestling (JCW) Tag Team champs. The captured their 4th AAW Tag title this year before debuting with Impact Wrestling as Ohio vs. Everything (OvE) and immediately fought their way into the title picture. The ended the eligibility period as Impact Champions, with OI4K partner Sami Callihan joining them at Bound For Glory.
“Ohio Is For Killers, Ohio Versus Everything, call them whatever you like, their talent is undeniable. The Crists have been cutting their teeth on the indies for years, but with their arrival in Impact Wrestling the team is taking things to a whole new level.” Eric Thompson, LWOPW
#10. Moustache Mountain (Trent Seven & Tyler Bate)
Titles Held: CHIKARA Campeonatos de Parejas, PROGRESS Tag Team (2x), Rev Pro British Tag Team
While many know them only as competitors in the WWE’s UK division, these two have been tearing up the UK tag team division for over a year now. The closed out last year as CHIKARA’s tag team champs, before hooking up with Pete Dunne to form British Strong Style. They captured the PROGRESS Tag titles twice this year and recently became the Rev Pro British Tag Team champions, adding more gold to the Moustache trophy case.
“Anchored down the PROGRESS tag division as well as becoming big WWE UK stars. Put on absolute classics on every show and went to war many times with CCK. No doubt one of the world’s top tag teams.” Alex Richards, LWOPW UK Correspondent
#9. Roppongi Vice (Rocky Romero & Trent Beretta)
Titles Held: IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team (2x), WrestleCircus Big Top Tag Team
The were already Junior Heavyweight tag team legends when they added two more titles to their count this year, before sadly breaking up at the end of the summer when Trent moved up to the Heavyweight division.
“For years, the Junior Heavyweight Tag Team division has been defined by The Young Bucks and Rocky Romero. With Trent? by his side, Roppongi Vice have consistently put on amazing matches not only in New Japan, but WrestleCircus as well. No doubt they get bonus points for having the best entrance music on the list.” Eric Thompson, LWOPW
“Before breaking up they were one of the more exciting teams in the world. Rocky Romero always helps his partners shine and his work allowed Trent to grow and improve. An effective team that accomplished their goal.” Walter Yeates, LWOPW
#8. CCK (Chris Brookes, Kid Lykos & Travis Banks)
Titles Held: ATTACK! Tag Team (2x), PROGRESS Tag Team (2x), Rev Pro British Tag Team, CZW Tag Team
It was a breakout year for the Commonwealth Catch Kings (CCK). While Travis Banks is the reigning PROGRESS World Champion, the bulk of the tag team duties falls on Brookes and Lykos, although it was Banks and Brookes who captured the Rev Pro titles.
“They are pretty much one of the best, if not the best, trio in the UK right now with some of the greatest tag work in 2017.” Moritz Risch, LWOPW European Correspondent
“The breakout stars of the UK scene this year holding gold all over the UK and receiving a huge reaction in their PROGRESS debut. Have the potential to rile the UK in 2018 with BSS on the way out.” Alex Richards, LWOPW UK Correspondent
#7. Guerillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa)
Titles Held: IWGP Tag Team (2x), WrestleCircus Big Top Tag Team
Bullet Club’s heavyweight tag team representatives following the departure of Anderson & Gallows, the brothers Meng have become invaluable soldiers in the tag team wars of Japan.
“While some critique the team, I feel that they bring a unique edge and character that is needed in the tag ranks. Tama is the engine of the team and makes it work.” Walter Yeates, LWOPW
“Guerillas of Destiny put together quite the resume in the last twelve months. Beyond the year on paper, the duo became, for many, the faces of the IWGP Heavyweight Tag division right next to War Machine. With the addition of brother Leo Tonga to the Bullet Club (and cousin Bad Luck Fale), this family might be one of the most formidable on this list.” Eric Thompson, LWOPW
#6. The Bar (Sheamus & Cesaro)
Titles Held: Raw Tag Team (2x)
What a difference a year makes. Following a best-of-seven against each other ended in a no-decision, former Raw GM Mick Foley paired the two together. The groans from the collective WWE Universe soon turned to wide eyed amazement, as the two big men became one of the hardest hitting and exciting new tag teams in WWE in years. Since the window of eligibility, they’ve actually added their 3rd Raw Tag Team Championship of 2017.
“The Bar have succeeded where so many other teams have failed. Generally when two guys are thrown together, it is a last ditch effort to make them relevant. And it’s usually a kiss of death. Sheamus and Cesaro have taken this opportunity and become one of the best tag teams in wrestling today.” Eric Thompson, LWOPW
#5. The Broken Hardys (Broken Matt Hardy & Brother Nero)
Titles Held: HOG Tag Team, Impact World Tag Team, ROH World Tag Team, MCW Tag Team, Wrestling Superstar Tag Team, Crash Lucha Tag Team, WWE Raw Tag Team
The Broken Hardys did more in the last few months of 2016 and first couple of 2017 than most did in an entire year. On their famous “Expedeeeeshun of Gold”, they travelled the world collecting titles, at House of Glory, MCW Pro (formerly Maryland Championship Wrestling), Puerto Rico’s Wrestling Superstar and Mexico’s The Crash Lucha, not to mention runs with Impact Wrestling and Ring of Honor’s World tag titles. They returned to the WWE at WrestleMania 33, winning their 7th WWE Tag Team titles.
“Just when the brothers were beginning to grow stale, they have reinvented themselves with an extremely unique gimmick which will extend their career as viable draws by five years.” Walter Yeates, LWOPW
#4. War Machine (Raymond Rowe & Hanson)
Titles Held: VIP Tag Team, IWGP Tag Team (2x), WCPW Tag Team
The former ROH World Tag Team champions left ROH early in the year and headed overseas, where they’ve conquered Japan and taken their brutality throughout the UK scene.
“They have some rough patches, but make up for it with exciting moments. They fit into the tag division of New Japan perfectly, yet I’m not sure how long they will be on the top.” Walter Yeates, LWOPW
“War Machine have an old school look, with a new school style.Huge bruisers with gnarly beards have never moved the way these two can. They can easily mix it up in any style of match, making them valuable anywhere they go.” Eric Thompson, LWOPW
#3. The Usos (Jimmy & Jey Uso)
Titles Held: WWE Smackdown Tag Team (3x)
As painted babyfaces, the 5x WWE Tag Team champions were growing stale and becoming victims of being Roman Reigns’ cousins. But a heel turn following their switch to Smackdown was just what the Uso Penitentiary needed, and they returned to dominance, capturing the Blue Brands tag titles on three occasions this past year and winning back the hearts of the WWE Universe.
#2. The New Day (Big E, Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods)
Titles Held: WWE Raw Tag Team, WWE Smackdown Tag Team (2x)
Employing the Freebird rule, the trio has changed frequently which two members form the tag team duo in matches, but regardless the cast, they’ve continued to win and defend tag team gold all year. They closed out 2016 with a 483 day reign as Raw Tag Team champions, setting the record for longest tag team title reign in WWE history, then moved to Smackdown Live in 2017 and picked up two more titles.
“They have been able to keep the 80s throwback gimmick of highlighting cultural stereotypes work. While it isn’t ideal, they continue to be highly regarded and are extremely entertaining.” Walter Yeates, LWOPW
#1. The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson)
Titles Held: IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team (3x), PWG World Tag Team, ROH World Tag Team (2x)
As part of Bullet Club’s Elite, The Young Bucks have been throwing Superkick Parties around the world for years now, and every year their momentum gets bigger and bigger. As if they’re legend wasn’t big enough, the held three IWGP Junior Heavyweight title reigns, two ROH World Tag Team title reigns, and held the PWG World Tag Team title all in the past year. Their popularity transcended the indie circuits to become global pop culture phenomenons, with their T-shirts entering Hot Topic chains around North America and becoming the first indie stars to get their own Funko Pop figures.
“The best Tag Team in the world right now. They still innovate their moveset, are highly charismatic and can be considered as two of the smartest buisness men in the scene today. Every year gets better for them and 2018 should be just ‘too sweet’.” Moritz Risch, LWOPW European Correspondent
“What else can you say. They are brilliant marketers, have helped NJPW cement their name in the United States, and always bring their best effort wherever they work. They have reinvented what it means to be a tag team and have proven that teams can be major draws, despite the group think WWE subscribes to.” Walter Yeates, LWOPW