wrestling / Columns

The 411 Wrestling Year-End Awards: Part Three – The Best Tag Teams 2017

January 11, 2018 | Posted by Larry Csonka
Tag Team Young Bucks Nick Jackson Matt Jackson - Honor Rising

Welcome back to the Wrestling Top 5, year-end awards edition! What we are going to is take a topic, and all the writers here on 411 will have the ability to give us their Top 5 on said topic, and the end, based on where all of these topics rank on people’s list, we will create an overall Top 5 list. It looks a little like this…

1st – 5
2nd – 4
3rd – 3
4th – 2
5th – 1

It’s similar to how we do the WOTW voting. At the end we tally the scores and get our overall top 5! It’s highly non-official and final, like WWE’s old power rankings. From some of the best and worst, the 411 staff is ready to break down the awards! Thanks for joining us, and lets get down to work.

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5. The Singh Brothers
4. DIY
3. Authors Of Pain
2. The Hardyz

1. The Usos – I have not been shy in my non-fandom of The Usos ever since their debuts. The matches were always solid. The bloodline and history was obviously there. There was definitely SOMETHING there. I understood why WWE signed them and have had them on television for years. It just never totally ‘clicked’ with me…until 2017. Whether it was the heel turn or gimmick change, who cares? The Usos officially arrived on the blue brand and had their best year ever. No shame whatsoever in admitting that. Tons of great bouts, great promos, great new music, and great new attitude. One of the easiest awards to hand out and no, it isn’t paranoia.

Kevin Pantoja
5. SAnitY
4. The Bar
3. British Strong Style
2. The Authors of Pain

1. The Usos – The WWE dominates this list because they easily have the best tag divisions in the business. SAnitY, The Bar, Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins, Breezango, The New Day, Rusev Day, Gable and Benjamin, American Alpha, The Revival, Authors of Pain, Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly, and others have all had quality moments this year. No team was better than the Usos, though. It was tough between them and AOP, but the Usos have to do it on such a consistent basis. Week in and week out, they go out and have good matches. Their work with American Alpha at the start of the year was very good, the short feud with Breezango was fun, and their rivalry with the New Day was arguably the best of the year. I’m including singles feuds too. They reinvented themselves in 2016 and took off in a whole new way in 2017. They won the Smackdown Tag Team Titles three times this year and it was their best year ever.

Robert S Leighty Jr
5. The Hardys
4. New Day
3. The Young Bucks
2. The Bar

1. The Usos – No Tag Team has had a better year than The Usos as they reinvented themselves for the better and have delivered in the ring time and time again. The heel turn put new life into the team and now as tweeners that attack everyone verbally and physically they have been one of the best acts in the WWE. Their feud with New Day was one of the best of the year and produced some great matches. They also have killed it on Talking Smack and have shown more personality in their entire run to this point. Their dominance over the division is starting to show and I look forward to a run with Harper and Rowan as past encounters have shown they can tear down the house as well. This was The Usos year and they could stay on top next year as well.

Ken Hill
5. The Hardy Boyz
4. The New Day
3. Cesaro & Sheamus
2. The Young Bucks

1. The Usos – It’s really not paranoia, after all. Even as one of WWE’s most consistent in-ring teams in the 2010s, Jimmy and Jey had been having a mediocre 2016 up to the point where they made the move to Smackdown in the WWE Draft. Upon their entrance to the blue brand, they very soon flipped a switch and became one of the more technically-sound, physically grinding heel teams in the WWE, as well as improve their fledgling mic skills by an exponential margin, getting lots of fun air time on Talking Smack to hone their craft and outlandishly undermining their opponents before a match as well as building up to one. Their feud with the record-making New Day was not only the highlight of Smackdown’s 2017 for the series of great to fantastic matches (The first-ever tag team HIAC match being the topper, and a MOTY candidate, IMO), but also for the two teams’ excellent promo work that at times got personal and controversial, a great combo. (“Yo Big E, let’s just keep it PG, you know what’s good/Just don’t get all Rated-R like your boy, Xavier Woods.”) As much as I’ve loved the critical upswing of tag teams in 2017, The Usos lead that charge without a doubt.

Rob Stewart
5. The Hardy Boys/Broken Hardyz
4. The Usos
3. The Bar
2. The Young Bucks

1. The New Day – God bless the WWE tag team scene in 2017, which has consistently been the most engaging and entertaining aspect of their in-ring product. And The New Day has been the pinnacle of that, putting in classic after classic on WWE’s live specials all year long (including starring in my WWE match of the year, but we’ll get to that at a later date…). It’s crazy that Woods, Kofi, and E have been as high of quality for as long as they have been (and even more crazy that WWE has not interfered with their success to break them up), but whether it’s stellar matches, humorous skits, or playing games on their UpUpDownDown YouTube channel, The New Day makes professional wrestling more fun.

Jake St-Pierre
5. CCK
4. The Lucha Brothers
3. British Strong Style
2. The Young Bucks

1. The Usos – This award – for me at least – has been thoroughly dominated by the independent scene in recent years. Not only has WWE’s tag team landscape been mostly barren (barring the last couple years of great NXT tags), but the past decade or so of independent wrestling has given us countless elite teams that WWE has been too stubborn to match. 2008-2010 we had The Briscoes, the American Wolves, Kings of Wrestling, the Machine Guns, and countless others. 2011-2014 had the Bucks, reDRagon, Super Smash Brothers, and Bad Influence. 2015 to now has seen an improved Bucks, Candice & Joey, Team Tremendous, RPG Vice, the Lucha Brothers, Sumerian Death Squad, British Strong Style and more. So the indies have had this on lock for a very long time, basically. But this year, The Usos have not only revitalized themselves but have become the most well-rounded tag team on the entire planet. Their promos as heels have been so perversely entertaining, and their work between the ropes gave us the best feud WWE had all year against the New Day. I even have their incredible Hell in a Cell match as my WWE main roster Match of the Year. I think they’ve come into themselves to such an extent that everything they do becomes interesting by mere association. I’m as negative on the WWE product as anyone you’ll meet, but I gotta call a spade a spade; The Usos have been the best part of Smackdown’s tumultuous 2017 and I hope that their consistency bleeds into the new year. These guys are special talents.

Jack Stevenson
5. Stephen Wolff & Trey Miguel
4. Aussie Open (Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis)
3. Scarlet & Graves (Dezmond Xavier & Zachary Wentz)
2. CK-1 (CIMA & Dragon Kid

1. DoiYoshi (Naruki Doi & Masato Yoshino) – Naruki Doi and Masato Yoshino were one half of my favorite two on two tag match of the year, which saw them challenge CIMA & Dragon Kid for the Open the Twin Gate Championships at Dragon Gate’s Kobe Pro Wrestling Festival. It had much more of a slow burn pace than the matches I usually really love, but there were just so many beautiful sequences in it, moments of liquid like fluidity, and alongside those were a succession of increasingly brilliant, addictive near falls. It was a hell of a match which will be understandably but unfairly overlooked in the Match of the Year discussion. Outside of that spectacular highlight Doi and Yoshino had a very good year. They co-founded Dragon Gate’s newest stable, MaxiMuM, a group which clicked instantly and quickly became very popular with fans. They formed two thirds of the MaxiMuM trio in my favourite match of the year, a 3 vs. 3 vs. 3 scramble at Korakuen Hall. To be honest, for large parts of the year they felt like the biggest stars in the company, despite never holding any championships until the 23rd December. They’re just a fantastic pair of wrestlers with a fantastic chemistry.

Jake Chambers
5. War Machine
4. Jaka and Chris Dickinson
3. Drago, Pindar and Vibora
2. The Mack, Killshot & Dante Fox

1. Microman & El Gallito – In 2017, essentially the “tag” has been taken out of tag team wrestling. There are some traditional 2-on-2 tag team matches here and there, but even those devolve into these tag-less multi-man brawls where the “tagging” has little consequence. At one time the indy-verse used to be a place you could still experience excellent tag team wrestling, but with Bullet Club-faux-Dragon Gate comedy spot-fests growing in popularity throughout 2017, everything just got harder to watch for me. When I was a kid, tag team wrestling mattered because you were always waiting for the cool member of the team to tag in. The “hot” tag wasn’t a dissected trope thrown around in meta-punditry, it was actually a thing; you were burning with anticipation for Tito Santana, Dynamite Kid or Bret Hart to jump in and try to save the day when his partner was out of energy. And so in 2017 I kind of caught a sense of this old feeling once again when watching these CMLL matches featuring new mascot sensation Microman. The son of marvelously minuscule KeMonito, Microman is even smaller and every move this guy can accomplish feels like Olympic feat of athleticism. The craving to see more of him is partially why I’m assuming CMLL featured him prominently in tag matches (that and this rookie’s limited move set) rather than trios, in order to take advantage of the safe pro-wrestling formula that helped make Andre the Giant a phenom. So if you’re a jaded wrestling fan like myself, search out some Microman matches with his regular partner El Gallito, and find yourself in nostalgic wonder as you feel the urge for Microman to make that hot tag and do some amazing things.

Larry Csonka
5. The Hardys
4. The Lucha Brothers
3. War Machine
2. The Usos

1. The Young Bucks – 2017 was a great year for tag team wrestling around the world, and as a fan of tag team wrestling, it was a great thing to see. And as you can see by the teams listed by the staff, there was a wide variety of greatness to choose from. When I reflect back on 2017, I personally have to go with the Young Bucks. Along with being an ROH & NJPW team, they also traveled the world, having tons of quality matches with a large variety of teams in traditional and six-man tags. On top of delivering high quality matches, I also consider their economic effect on the business, and not just for their own merchandise. But their Hot Topic deal has been huge for them & members of Bullet Club. Add onto that their effect on attendance of the many international shows they have worked as well as ROH (ROH business was reportedly up around 29% from last year) and the Bucks have been a big part of that, it’s been a great year for the brothers. Love them or hate them, I think that combining thier in ring work and positive effect on the business, that they were easily my tag team of the year.

AND 411’s TOP 5 TAG TEAMS of 2017 ARE…

5. The Hardys8 points

4. The New Day9 points

3. The Bar11 points

2. The Young Bucks20 points

1. The Usos31 points