wrestling / Columns

Csonka: An Isolationist’s Guide to The WWE Network (Tag Teams)

March 23, 2020 | Posted by Larry Csonka
Bobby Fulton WWE

Hey guys, so things kind of suck right now. I hate to see that, I know it hurts a lot of you in various ways. I also know that your looking for something to make you feel better, make you forget, or just pas the time. Wrestling is an escape for many of us, and while no wrestling needs to happen right now, the wrestling we’re getting certainly helps. I can’t tell you that everything will be ok, or that I could fix things, but all I can do is do for you what I’ve been doing for the past 16-years, try to deliver you, the fine readers of 411 the best and most consistent wrestling coverage possible. So today I hope to start a new series of columns, which I have titled An Isolationist’s Guide to The WWE Network, where I will break down some must see things from the WWE Network’s vast library of content for you to enjoy. Today I will discuss the GREAT TAG TEAMS, consider this homework kids, and stay safe, Larry loves you…

THE LIST IS IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER, IT IS JUST A LIST OF GREAT TAG TEAMS THAT I LOVE AND THINK YOU SHOULD WATCH, NOT EVERY TAG TEAM CAN MAKE THE LIST.

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The Rock & Roll Express: In my opinion, the Rock & Roll Express are not only one of the greatest tag teams of all time, they are the greatest babyface tag team of all time. Their work formed so much of what tag team wrestling is to the point that the phrase “playing Ricky Morton” has become part of wrestling’s lexicon. As a big NWA fan, I adored the Rock & Roll Express, I lived and died when Ricky Morton was in trouble, and I always wanted them to win. They were a versatile team who could work with anyone, they always came off as stars and also made everyone they worked with look great. The scary thing is that they are still around and contributing to the business, and there is nothing that fills me with more joy than Ricky Morton busting out suicide dives and Canadian Destroyers in 2020.

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The Midnight Express: But for as much as I love the Rock & Roll Express, you cannot discuss them on any list of must watch tag teams without bringing up the Midnight Express, their greatest rivals. There is no other feud that formed my love of tag team wrestling than these two teams, and whether it was Condrey & Eaton or Lane and Eaton, if the Midnights and Rock & Rolls were battling, it was appointment viewing for me. For as much as I loved the Rock & Rolls, I hated the Cornette led Midnights. I wanted them to lose, lose badly and wanted the heroes to win. But for as much as I hated them in my youth, I grew to respect them as I got older. There were even times I rooted for them, specifically when Paul E led “the original Midnights vs. Cornette’s midnights”…

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The Fantastics: In my opinion, the Fantastics are one of the greatest tag teams I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching; Bobby Fulton was an extremely smart team leader and brought that gritty southern style, while Tommy Rogers was way ahead of his time and born way too soon. The other thing I know about the Fantastics is that they are VASTLY underrated by so many, often dismissed due to perceived similarities with the Fabulous Ones and Rock & Rolls, and this is a tragedy. Their work on the NWA, Mid-South, UWF, AJPW, and many other places is almost second to none, and for as much as I ADORE the Rock & Rolls and their feud with the Midnights, I think the Fantastics had higher end matches, as far as overall top tier work goes, with the Midnights, it’s just not as popular for some reason. Add in their stuff with the Gilberts, Bill Dundee & Dutch Mantell, and especially the Sheepherders and they have a really diverse catalogue of absolutely banging matches that are just not appreciated enough. If you’re someone not familiar with them or that doubts them, I highly recommend a binge watch as soon as possible.

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The Steiner Brothers: Here’s the story of two brothers Rick and Scott, when it comes down to raw physical ability, athleticism, and strength the Steiner Brothers are almost unmatched. Rick was the barebones, athletic powerhouse that in many ways was underrated at the rime and overlooked by the superior look and athleticism that Scotty showed off, but make no mistake, when you put these two together and they were on, there were few that could really compete with the Steiners. I think that the brothers are largely overlooked due to their late WCW runs as singles where injuries and at times not giving a fuck were fully on display, but in their prime, the Steiner Brothers were a joy to watch in Japan, WCW/NWA, and even the WWF.

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The Road Warriors: We can all agree that the Road Warriors weren’t the most technically proficient team, and some say that they only worked one style of match and that they aren’t great at all. I completely disagree, yes they didn’t have technical classics, there were matches where their psychology lacked, but they were a complete force of nature that transcended basic wrestling. They were stars, they drew money, they were larger than life and there are sometimes when there is nothing better than a good old fashioned Roadies squash, where two men die at their hands in under 90-seconds. Variety is wrestling is important, and the old school Roadies are such a joy to watch… …skip pretty much all of their WWF/WWE stuff. But for as much as I loved them at times, they hurt my soul when they attacked Dusty…

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The Heavenly Bodies: I find The Heavenly Bodies to be a completely underrated tag team, and I think that’s for two reasons: 1) they were looked at as the Midnight Express 2.0 due to Eaton & Lane’s early involvement, and 2) they did the bulk of their work in SMW. But the main duo of Tom Prichard and Jimmy Del Ray were an absolutely outstanding team that did great work not only in SMW, but also in the USWA, ECW, WWF and WCW. Tom Prichard mainly gets love as a wrestling trainer, and well deserved, and truth be told by the time Jimmy Del Ray got to shine he was slowing down due to knee injuries of moonsaulting before it was a regular thing. But together, working PG-13, Public Enemy, the Rock & Rolls, the Thrill Seekers, and others, they cemented a legacy and my best of the Heavenly Bodies VHS is still a favorite of mine to this day.

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The Sheepherders: While not the pure physical and brute force that the Roadies were, due to their size and look, the Sheepherders were a completely different kind of force of nature when it came to their wild brawling style. These two guys were two little bad asses that had their kind of match, and became famous for their wild and bloody brawls. Seeing them come into the NWA and work as great heel foils for the Rock & Rolls and Fantastics (especially) was a joy to see and allowed the babyfaces to have believably beatable foils due to the fact that the Sheepherders weren’t huge like the Roadies, but at the same time, the Sheepherders were such believable bad ass mother fuckers. ALSO… LET ME BE CLEAR, I AM TALKING ABOUT THE NEW ZEALAND SHEEPHERDERS… NOT THE FUCKING BUSHWHACKERS! Trust me, I get it, the move to WWF and a family friendly Bushwhackers gimmick meant job security, more money, and a way to extend their careers so I don’t hate them for doing it, but it was the absolute worst part of their careers for me.

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Bad Company: We’re talking Pat Tanaka and Paul Diamond here, two wrestlers that had found various degrees of tag team success prior to teaming but really came into their own in the in the CWA, winning the CWA/AWA International Tag Team Championship, CWA’s main tag team titles, the AWA Southern Tag Team Championship; they were two seasoned workers who understood how to look and work like stars, and maybe to their own detriment, make others look amazing. Their AWA run was a short one, but they had lengthy tag title run, feuding with the Midnight Rockers, the Guerreros (Chavo & Mando), & the Olympians (Rheingans & Patera). The reunited in WWE as the new Orient Express, with a masked Diamond replacing Akio Sato, as Kato. Their work with the Rockers was a highlight of the early WWF 90s tag title scene. While I wouldn’t call them an all time great team, I do think that they are a greatly under appreciated team by modern fans.

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Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood: For as much as I love and feel that the Rock & Roll Express are not only one of the greatest tag teams of all time, and that they are the greatest babyface tag team of all time, another team that is forgotten and contends with them for that title in the early 80s are Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood. The Rock and Rolls have transcended tag team wrestling in many ways, but an argument can be made that Ricky Steamboat & Jay Youngblood were one of if not the best working, most effective babyface team I have ever seen. They were standouts of the Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling territory, and due to Steamboat eventually becoming such a name as one of the greatest singles babyfaces of all time, the team due to when they thrived, if forgotten of simply not known about by many fans. From 79-83, they were one of the gold standards of that era with tremendous babyface fire, team work and the fact that they were over huge as the quintessential babyface team. They are a must-watch & study team for me.

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Arn & Tully: My love for Arn & Tully as a tag team will never end. They were standout singles performers in the Horsemen, developed into one of the era’s greatest tag teams and not only delivered in the NWA, but also in the WWF as the Brainbusters. There was no flash an sizzle from Arn & Tully, no dives or superkicks, just a spiked piledriver and barebones, kick ass, mechanic like tag team excellence. They area team I can go back and watch over and over again as they mastered tag team psychology, could work with anyone and also make them look as good as they were. No list of must-watch great tag teams available on the Network is complete without Arn & Tully.

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Undisputed Era: We close out things by going moderns in the network era. Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly as reDragon made their names as a great team in the indies, ROH, & Japan. They were signed by WWE’s NXT, eventually paired and the Undisputed Era was born. Fish & O’Reilly haven’t slowed by any means in NXT in terms of in ring quality and delivering. They are great on TV, always deliver on Takeovers and while Fish is getting older and has had some injury issues, the team, in terms of delivering to tier performances, are still one of the best in the business today. They are the tag team stars of the Network Era, and while the Revival, DIY, American Alpha, & Mustache Mountain have all been great, the constant has been Fish & Kyle O’Reilly.

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The 411 on Wrestling Podcast returns to the 411 Podcasting Network for episode 100. On the show, 411’s Larry Csonka & Steve Cook take a trip back to 1998, and the start of the Steve Austin era with retro reviews of WrestleMania 14 & the following night’s Raw. Ian Hamilton then joins the show to talk the best of the wXw 16 Carat Weekend. The show is approximately 168-minutes long.

* Intro
* Retro WWE WrestleMania 14 Review: 5:00
* Retro WWE Monday Night Raw 3.30.98 Review: 42:45
* Ian Hamilton Talks wXw 16 Carat Weekend and Compares Notebook Matches With Larry: 1:31:47

* iTunes
* Spotify
* Stitcher
* Google Play

– End scene.

– Thanks for reading.