Compiled by Jamie Greer; rankings voted on by full LWOPW staff.
The Hot Tag 100 ’18 continues, 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 #50 down through #26.
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)
#50. Jimmy Havoc & Mark Haskins (DNR)
Titles Held: PROGRESS Tag Team (14 days), Defiant Tag Team (33 days)
These two heavy hitters of the UK indie scene formed an alliance in early 2017 to take on British Strong Style, but it wasn’t until this past year that the duo turned their attention to gold. Consisting of two former PROGRESS and IPW World Champions, Havoc and Haskins caused chaos and destruction in multiple promotions across the UK, including PROGRESS, Defiant, Insane Championship Wrestling (ICW) and IPW, capturing two of the fours tag team titles in the process. They’ve only just recently started hunting the gold in ICW, so the duo could be collecting more in the new year.
#49. Twisted Sisters (Holidead & Thunder Rosa) (93)
Titles Held: Shine Tag Team (157+ days)
The duo of Holidead and Thunder Rosa has a huge year in 2018, becoming one of the top indie tag teams in the US. They made their Ring of Honor debut this year, as well as debuting for Beyond Wrestling, RISE and more, and ended Ivelisse & Mercedes Martinez‘ record 434-day reign as Shine Tag Team Champions at Shine 52 this past July.
“The Twisted Sisters are finally hitting on all cylinders and really achieving great things. Both women’s styles mesh and compliment each other well.” Brandi Wagner (LWOPW Writer)
#48. Killer Elite Squad (Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Lance Archer) (17)
Titles Held: IWGP Tag Team (102 days)
For five years, the Killer Elite Squad were one of the most dominant tag teams in Japan. From 2013 through 2017, they were 3x IWGP Tag Team Champions and 2x GHC Tag Team Champions, in NJPW and Pro Wrestling NOAH respectively. While they wore their third IWGP title belts into 2018, following their loss of the Championships in January, they began to struggle in the tag division, ending up in more multi-man tag matches with their Suzuki-gun brothers than competing for the tag titles. They had a solid showing in the NJPW World Tag League at the end of the year, so perhaps there’s still some fuel left in the tanks for another run at the gold in 2019.
#47. El Texano Jr. & Rey Escorpion (DNR)
Titles Held: AAA Tag Team (277+ days)
Los Mercenarios emerged as a new faction in AAA this year, led by the duo of 2x AAA Mega Champion Texano Jr. and former CMLL Light Heavyweight Champion Rey Escorpion. The duo captured the AAA World Tag Team titles this past March and continue to hold them heading into AAA as the gatekeepers of the tag team division.
“The pair of Los Mercenarios did something unique in AAA, consistency. Texano and Rey Escorpion are the most solid tag team in all of Mexico, defending their titles against anybody and being ruthless badasses.” Emmanuel Rosado (LWOPW Latin America correspondent)
#46. Monster Consulting (Julian Nero & Avalanche) (DNR)
Titles Held: wXw Tag Team (176 days)
The tandem of Avalanche (formerly Robert Dreissker) and longtime partner Julian Nero were one of the most unstoppable duos in Germany’s Westside Xtreme Wrestling (wXw) the past year, riding into this year’s wXw World Tag Team League as wXw Tag Team Champions of 176 days. But a couple missteps and they left the tournament without the gold and their partnership on hold, following an injury to Nero. Avalanche has found a replacement partner in Euro veteran Emil Sitoci for the time being, but it will be interesting to see if Monster Consulting reunites when Nero returns, of if Avalanche and Sitoci gel as a new team in 2019.
#45. RATEL’S (HAYATA & YO-HEY) (DNR)
Titles Held: GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team (154 days)
The rogue stable in Pro Wrestling NOAH, RATEL’S was founded by 3x GHC Junior Heavyweight Champion Daisuke Harada in early 2017. That summer, the tag team duo of Dove Pro‘s HAYATA and YO-HEY, recruited by Harada as freelancers, captured the GHC Junior Heavyweight titles for the stable and held them for over 150 days.
#44. Los Ingobernables (Rush & El Terrible) (DNR)
Titles Held: CMLL Tag Team (128 days)
The original Los Ingobernables in Mexico continue to hold the fort in CMLL, despite their Japanese chapter, lead by Tetsuya Naito, getting most of the international headlines. Co-founder Rush is finally breaking into the US with Ring of Honor and Major League Wrestling (MLW), but he’s still a huge star in CMLL and together with El Terrible, dominated the tag team scene, capturing the CMLL World Tag Team titles this summer.
“The duo of Los Ingobernables should be higher, but the injury to Terrible changed everything. Rush and Terrible work great as a unit and their championship was a much-needed refreshment of the presence of LI in Mexico, who have lost ground on popularity to their Japanese counterparts.” Emmanuel Rosado (LWOPW Latin America correspondent)
#43. Hi69 & Minoru Tanaka (DNR)
Titles Held: GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team (245 days)
Kaientai Dojo veteran Hi69 joined NOAH in 2016 and immediately made an impact, pairing with Taiji Ishimori to form XX and win the GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Team titles on two occasions. When Ishimori left NOAH for New Japan, he chose a new partner in 46-year old Japanese legend Minoru Tanaka, a former 4x IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, All Japan World Junior Heavyweight Champion, WRESTLE-1 Cruiserweight Champion and ZERO1 World Junior Heavyweight Champion. Tanaka had already previously won the GHC Junior tag titles briefly with Yoshinari Ogawa, but his team with Hi69 proved to be far more lethal, holding them for 245 days this year.
#42. Kinky Party (Jack Jester & Sha Samuels) (DNR)
Titles Held: ICW Tag Team (231 days), PCW Tag Team (182 days), PWE Tag Team (77 days)
A dyslexic tag team of unique proportions, this year the duo of Jack Jester and Sha Samuels exceeded expectations to become of the UK’s most dominant tag teams. This spring saw them capture tag team gold in three separate promotions – ICW and Pro Wrestling Elite (PWE) in Scotland and Preston City Wrestling (PCW) in England. Their 231 day run in ICW only recently came to a close, and it’s a safe bet they’ll be looking for more gold as 2019 begins.
“On paper, the team of Jack Jester and Sha Samuels doesn’t seem like something that would work but somehow it has. Spending their time in ICW with mixed success, they captured the Tag Team Championships and spent the latter half of 2018 dominating everyone who stood in their way.” Adam Morrison (LWOPW UK correspondent)
#41. The REP (Dave McCall & Nate Carter) (DNR)
Titles Held: CZW Tag Team (273 days), NYWC Tag Team (154 days)
The REP has been a solid tag team in Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW) since 2012, but it’s only been in the past couple years they’ve made it to the main event and begun to seriously chase (and win) the gold. Last December, they won their first CZW World Tag Team titles, holding them for a solid 273 day run, while also winning tag team gold with New York Wrestling Connection (NYWC). Shortly after the cutoff date for this year’s Hot Tag 100, the REP captured their second CZW Tag Team titles.
#40. Totally Tubular Tag Team (Delilah Doom & Leva Bates) (DNR)
Titles Held: SHIMMER Tag Team (344 days)
Last November, a seemingly random pairing of indie stars Leva Bates and Delilah Doom faced off against SHIMMER Tag Team Champions Mount Tessa (Tessa Blanchard & Vanessa Kraven), who were in the midst of a year-long reign as tag champs in SHIMMER. The pairing of Bates and Doom – known as the Totally Tubular Tag Team (or T4 for short) shocked the world by upsetting Mount Tessa. But they were no flash in the pan, holding the titles for 344 days themselves, defending against the likes of Madison Rayne & Deonna Purrazzo, LuFisto & Hudson Envy and Paradise Lost (Rosemary & Dust).
“T4 always brought a sense of fun and lightness that few teams on this list can offer. They also proved that underneath the cheerful and bubbly exterior, they can put on great matches and are no push-overs.” Brandi Wagner (LWOPW Writer)
#39. Westside Mafia (Morgan & Tabu) (82)
Titles Held: WWL Tag Team (2x)
Prior to this year, the Westside Mafia team of Morgan and Tabu were widely considered one of Puerto Rico’s top tag teams, but this year they finally cemented the accolades, with two World Wrestling League (WWL) Tag Team Championships reigns, with their first reign being over 376 days.
“The duo of Tabu and Morgan debuted last year on the list and since then, their stock is higher. Morgan is a frenetic badass, who can deliver as a singles and as a tag team. Tabu bring comedy and entertainment, but with Morgan, elevated tag team wrestling in 2018. In Puerto Rico, its “Uyyyyy” every time they arrive to the building.” Emmanuel Rosado (LWOPW Latin America correspondent)
#38. 50 Funky Powers (Mohammed Yone & Quiet Storm) (DNR)
Titles Held: GHC Tag Team (161 days)
US indie veteran and former NYWC Heavyweight Champion Quiet Storm has been working Japan for years now, originally with Kaientai Dojo and now with Pro Wrestling NOAH. Last October, he partnered with 4x GHC Tag Team Champion Mohammed Yone to finally win his first NOAH gold, holding the titles for 161 days.
#37. Motor City Machine Guns (Alex Shelley & Chris Sabin) (13)
Titles Held: ROH Tag Team (168 days)
The Motor City Machine Guns started the year as Ring of Honor World Tag Team Champions, but by the spring, their 168-day run was over. They failed to reclaim their titles from The Briscoes in April at the ROH Bound By Honor tour, and soon after Alex Shelley announced his departure from pro wrestling to concentrate on his medical schooling.
#36. STARS (Mayu Iwatani & Saki Kashima) (DNR)
Titles Held: Goddesses of Stardom (119 days)
The new “Ace” of Stardom, 25-year old Mayu Iwatani has been a fireball for the promotion in the past year. She lost her World of Stardom Championship last fall to Toni Storm due to injury, and since coming back has worked on strengthening herself. She started her own faction called STARS and together with Saki Kashima, captured the Goddesses of Stardom titles and held them for 119 days.
“Saki Kashima returned to wrestling this year and quickly rejoined Iwatani’s STARS faction. The icon of Stardom and Kashima captured the Goddesses championships as Iwatani spent the year fighting her way back up the card.” Alex Richards (LWOPW UK correspondent)
#35. The Bludgeon Brothers (Luke Harper & Erick Rowan) (DNR)
Titles Held: WWE SmackDown Tag Team (135 days)
The repackaging of former Bray Wyatt followers Luke Harper and Erick Rowan as The Bludgeon Brothers left a path of decimation in the WWE and SmackDown’s tag team division this year. They bulldozed their way into the title picture and won the Smackdown Tag Team titles, but 135 days into their reign, they lost the belts due to an injury to Erick Rowan (that he’s still out with). It will be interesting to see if they return together once Rowan is healthy, or if they go separate paths in the new year.
#34. The Golden Lovers (Kenny Omega & Kota Ibushi) (DNR)
The reunited pairing of IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kenny Omega and Kota Ibushi as The Golden Lovers proved to be one of resounding success – in their 13 tag matches in 2018, the Golden Lovers went 12-1, defeating nearly every team thrown their direction (their only loss was at NJPW Sakura Genesis against fellow Elite members Cody Rhodes & Hangman Page). Every match was a moment of perfection and their chemistry is arguably the strongest tag team bond in the world today. The only reason they haven’t won any tag team gold is that they’ve never seemed interested in doing so – both have firm aspirations as singles wrestlers.
#33. Ringkampf (WALTER & Timothy Thatcher) (28)
Titles Held: wXw Tag Team (154 days)
Germany’s top tag team duo of WALTER and Timothy Thatcher, the last remaining members of wXw’s Ringkampf stable, rode into 2018 as the wXw World Tag Team Champions, holding them until the spring. But the team’s tag team action saw less frequency as the year went on, and not because the tag team went on a losing streak – it was more to do with WALTER’s ascension to one of the global indie scene’s biggest singles stars, winning the Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG), PROGRESS Wrestling and Over The Top (OTT) World Championships.
“In 2018, WALTER became one of the biggest stars in independent wrestling as he put on several Match Of The Year candidates and capturing several world titles. This meant singles success for the Austrian but his tag team with Timothy Thatcher was left without much gold. They still teamed together and joined Schadenfreude in Fight Club: Pro so it was still a good year for Ringkampf.” Alex Richards (LWOPW UK correspondent)
#32. NEXTREAM (Naoya Nomura & Yumi Aoyagi) (61)
Titles Held: All Asia Tag Team (2x, 265 days)
All Japan stable NEXTREAM switched up Naoya Nomura‘s tag partner from Jake Lee to Yumi Aoyagi last summer and it’s paid off well. Over the past year, they’ve won the All Asia Tag Team Championships twice, for a combined 265 days.
#31. The Hooligans (Mason & Devin Cutter) (DNR)
Titles Held: FIP Tag Team (910 days), PWF Tag Team (98 days), VOW Tag Team (58+ days)
The Cutter brothers – better known as The Hooligans – are 12-year veterans of the US indie circuit, who have competed and won gold around the country. They made a big name for themselves in IWA Mid South, as well as Beyond Wrestling, All American Wrestling (AAW), Rockstar Pro and many more. They held the Full Impact Pro (FIP) Tag Team titles for over 900 days (losing them just this past February), won the Pro Wrestling Freedom (PWF) titles for nearly 100 days, and are the current reigning Vicious Outcast Wrestling (VOW) Tag Team Champions. They just keep winning everywhere they go and that trend shows no signs of slowing down.
#30. Suzuki-gun (El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemura) (DNR)
Titles Held: IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team (293+ days)
After losing the IWPG Junior Heavyweight tag team titles with Taichi for Suzuki-gun, Yoshinobu Kanemaru then began working with El Desperado instead, and it resulted in the duo winning the IWGP Junior tag titles back for Suzuki-gun at the NJPW 46th Anniversary show in March and they’ve shown no signs of letting them go. They made it to the finals of this year’s NJPW Junior Tag League, losing to Roppongi 3k, but the duo is still the reigning Junior tag team champions.
#29. Drew McIntyre & Dolph Ziggler (DNR)
Titles Held: WWE Raw Tag Team (49 days)
The tandem of Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre made their presence known shortly after WrestleMania 34 this year, and for the better part of the year, the combination of size, power and athleticism proved to be an unstoppable combination, culminating in capturing the Raw Tag Team Championships this past September. The volatile personas finally clashed after they lost the belts, and the team has since dissolved into a bitter feud.
#28. The Brat Pack (Mitch Waterman & Nick Bury) (DNR)
Titles Held: MCW Tag Team (2x, 156, 189 days)
High flying young tandem in the Australian indie scene, the Brat Pack duo of Waterman and Bury have emerged as the gold standard in Melbourne City Wrestling (MCW). They closed out 2017 with their first MCW Tag Team title reign lasting 189 days, and followed up in 2018 with their second run as MCW tag champs, that’s still ongoing after 160 days.
#27. New Day (Big E, Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods) (2)
Titles Held: WWE SmackDown Tag Team (56 days)
They were the #2 team on the Hot Tag 100 last year, but 2018 hasn’t been nearly as successful for the New Day as past years. They held the SmackDown tag team titles only once this year – for 56 days at the end of the summer – and were on the receiving end of more losses than usual in feuds against the Bludgeon Brothers, The Bar, and their arch-rivals the New Day. They still had a solid year, but it paled in comparison to their record-setting 2017.
“Love em like Bryon Saxton or hate em like Corey Graves, there is no denying that ya boyz, the New Day, are the best thing either SD or Raw has had in their tag team division in a long time. On Smackdown this year, the New Day had a great feud with the Usos, one that really elevated the blue brand’s tag division over its red brand counterpart. In fact, it was one of the more entertaining tag title feuds in all of wrestling.” Marilee Galligher (LWOPW Editor)
#26. The Usos (Jey & Jimmy Uso) (3)
Titles Held: WWE SmackDown Tag Team (182 days)
Much like the New Day, the Usos‘ 2018 was a far cry from their amazing 2017 run, that ranked them #3 in the world in 2017. While they did have a solid 182 day run as SmackDown Tag Team Champions, they were often the victim of too many bookings against the same competitors. The brothers are too talented to slip any further and look for 2019 to be a rebound year for the Uso Penitentiary.