wrestling / Columns

The Contentious Ten 2.4.13: Top 10 Tag Team Titles

February 4, 2013 | Posted by Gavin Napier

Last week in The Contentious Ten, I ran down my list of the ten best looking secondary titles in American wrestling history. One day, when I’m more educated about wrestling in foreign countries, maybe I’ll go through a list of Mexican and Japanese and even European titles. For now, though, you’re going to have to settle for this week’s list – the ten best looking tag team titles in American wrestling history, at least according to me. I’m sure you’ll have different opinions and that’s fine. I welcome them in the comment section below. Before that, though, here’s the criteria for The Top 10 Tag Team Championship Belts.

–The title belt itself is being judged, not the significance of the title
-Must be a tag team title
-Must be an American title
-Must be an “officially recognized” title
-Visual appeal
-Personal Preference

As with last week, the first criteria means that it’s entirely possible for, say, the CHIKARA Tag Team Championships to rank higher than the WWE Tag Team Championships. Actually, everything ranks higher than the current WWE Tag Team Title belts. They look like giant pennies taped to leather. They’re awful. Beyond that, if a promotion has ran events primarily in the United States and has a decent looking set of tag straps, then they’re eligible. No “unofficial” tag titles, and the rare secondary tag team titles are eligible this week. Beyond that, it’s strictly based on what I like and don’t like visually.

Items that just missed the cut: NWA World Six Man Tag Team Titles, ECW World Tag Team Titles, TNA Knockout Tag Team Titles

NWA PNW Tag Team Titlessize=6>

A hidden gem
-Active from 1985-1992

If I’m being completely honest, these belts didn’t even cross my mind when I started putting this list together. The Pacific Northwest territory has been dormant for years, at least on a scale that garners national attention, and so I didn’t put a lot of thought towards including them. As I browsed through galleries of title belts, I found these. The design on this belt really is a hidden gem, in my opinion. The belt almost looks inverted, with the swell that is typically found at the top of the title at the bottom instead. There’s just a dash of color near the bottom of the belt with the mini-map that includes Washington, Oregon, and Idaho; a nice distinctive touch. Several recognizable names held the titles at one point or another, including The Harris Brothers, Art Barr, Scotty the Body aka Raven, Buddy Rose, Tom Zenk, and Billy Jack Haynes.

TNA World Tag Team Titlessize=6>

Arguably the premier tag team titles in the sport today
-Active from 2007-current

The design isn’t nearly as distinctive as their Television Title, but TNA’s World Tag Team Titles aren’t too shabby. I’ve seen a lot worse – trust me, I’ve looked at dozens and dozens of titles over the last few weeks – but they seem to be lacking something. If this list were based on value of the title, these belts would be much higher. Going by quality of teams that have held the titles over the last few years, these are arguably the premier tag team titles in the sport today. The design is basic but strives for elegance. There’s plenty of nice engraving there, but I’d like to see more variance from the main plate to the side plates, and maybe some blue on the globes instead of black representing the water. The belts look nice, they’re just not breathtaking.

NWA World Tag Team Titlessize=6>

A minor upgrade
-Active from 1986-1987

I wish there were a better, more clear picture that was suitable for the article. Everything else that I was able to find regarding these titles is far too small to post here. The reason for that is twofold. The first is that this actual design was only used very briefly. The second is that the design is actually only a minor upgrade to the tag team titles worn by The Minnesota Wrecking Crew, The Midnight Express, and The Rock N Roll Express. Those belts were solid gold. The versions you see above have a silver plate with a gold eagle, and it makes both parts stand out much better. It’s hard to be too upset about the short lifespan of this design, though, given what would immediately follow.

CZW World Tag Team Titlessize=6>

How did this happen?
-Active from 1999-current

This was the original blurb that ran, after I posted the wrong picture of the CZW titles, which some commenters called me out on. The link to the belts that were pictured then is HERE. The actual belts are now pictured above and most of this description actually still fits, except for the part about the garish red logo. Sorry for the error, folks. – Gavin is a promotion built on the ideals of ultraviolence, outlandish behavior, and small time characters acting like big time characters. Along the way, some decent talent has passed through CZW mixed in with the rabble. That’s a pretty good parallel for this title belt. I mean, you look at the CZW Championship and the Wired Television title, and they’re both less than impressive. Then there are these beauties. How did this happen? Was it a happy accident? Was it a brief stroke of genius in the way of design by someone within CZW? We’ll never know. The only complaint that I have about these belts is the absolutely garish CZW logo at the top of the main plate. It sticks out like a sore thumb. If that’s removed in favor of simply engraving or plating a gold, black, or even red set of letters that read CZW, the belts would be an unlikely contender for a top three spot on this list.

Ring of Honor Tag Team Titlessize=6>

Let’s pretend version two didn’t exist.
-Active from 2012-current

Ring of Honor’s tag team titles caused me a bit of consternation. I enjoyed the simplicity in the original design of the titles, but the most recent design is an eye grabber. Let’s pretend version two didn’t exist. I settled on the current version because of the modern logo and the fact that the original design looked just a little too simplistic, and similar to the ROH World Title. The titles, in their current form, incorporate the red in the same way that CZW’s tag team titles should have incorporated them. They’re a part of the plating, not superimposed like a bad photoshop job. I certainly hope that this design sticks around longer than the middle version did, because they’ve stumbled onto a winner here. The incorporation of the current ROH logo works well and gives the belts almost a “modern throwback” look.

NWA United States Tag Team Titlessize=6>

Best secondary tag titles ever.
-Active from 1986-1992

The NWA United States Tag Team Titles are the best secondary tag titles ever. There were points when I cared more about the US tag titles than I did the World. That was mainly due to the fact that the Midnight Express were my favorite team, and they were to the US Tag Titles what Dean Malenko would be to the WCW Cruiserweight Title. The belts mattered when Cornette’s charges carried them. Their feuds with Barry Windham and Ronnie Garvin, as well as The Fantastics, made those belts mean more than they would have otherwise. The highest point in the US Tag Team Titles’ history came when they were simultaneously held by the Midnight Express along with the NWA World Tag Team Championships. The belts incorporate the red, white, and blue of the United States just as effectively as the singles version of the title did but in an entirely different way. The red leather stood out and the design was simple without being boring. It remains one of my favorite titles in wrestling history.

AWA World Tag Team Titlessize=6>

Screams “the eighties.”
-Active from 1984-1991

I think the main reason I love these belts so much is because practically everything about them screams “the eighties,” right down to the font used for the word “World”. Double eagles, crowns on globes, it’s perfect for a company that refused to progress past the 1980’s, and clung to them right until they went out of business in the 1990’s. The belts, in their day, were held by some of the greatest tag teams in wrestling history. The Road Warriors, The Midnight Rockers, and Badd Company were all on top of their game when they held the AWA tag team titles. Obviously, Badd Company doesn’t hold up historically like the first two teams do, but Diamond and Tanaka were very, very talented and I was a fan in the late 80’s. I can’t imagine what an update to these belts would have looked like in the 1990’s, and I’m glad I don’t have to. These were perfect for what and where they were.

UWF Tag Team Titlessize=6>

Look familiar?
-Active from 1986-1987

Does the design on this title look familiar? Look closely. It should. There are a few tweaks there and there, such as a larger globe and an absent ribbon at the bottom, but this belt looks as though it could have been the inspiration for the WWE Undisputed Heavyweight Championship. I’m not saying that the folks in Titan Towers stole the design. It’s a coincidence, and nothing more. I’m sure of that. I do like these titles more than the Undisputed, though. The strap featured a different contour than the UWF Heavyweight or Television title, so they stood out in their own promotion. The design makes liberal use of the color red, and stands out against the black leather strap nicely. Most importantly for a belt, it looks prestigious. It does no good to carry around a title that looks like garbage if you want people to think of you as a champion (see also: WWE Divas Title), and for all of his faults, Bill Watts understood that. These belts look the part of world tag team titles.

WWF World Tag Team Titles 1985-2010size=6>

They don’t look like giant pennies.
-Active from 1985-2010

For many people, I’m sure that this is “the” tag team title. It’s likely the most recognizable tag team title on this list, and I won’t argue too much with anyone that says that it should be number one on the list. Remember, this comes down to personal preferences. I didn’t care much for these belts when I was a kid, as I felt that they were too wide, and oddly shaped. Hey, I was seven. The older I got, the more I liked the belts. At this point, the best thing they have going for them is the fact that they don’t look like giant pennies. The current design of the tag team title is a travesty. These belts had a twenty five year run, with only minor variations along the way. They’ve been held by everyone from The British Bulldogs to The Hart Foundation to Demolition to The Conquistadors….kind of. Much like the Classic Intercontinental Title, a revival for these belts is sorely needed.

NWA World Tag Team Titlessize=6>

Best of the best.
-Active from 1987-1989, 2002-2007

In fairness, these belts may have been used uninterrupted since 1987 for all I know. With the NWA’s various peaks and valleys, it’s hard to know what the titles did between ’89 and 2002, or since 2007. I’m sticking with what I know to be the most widely viewed uses of the titles, in Jim Crockett Promotions and NWA-TNA. Regardless of when and where, these belts are the best of the best in my opinion. Much like NWA/WCW’s “big gold” world title, these belts just look important. The engraving is ornate, and features images of wrestlers as well as a globe. It never mattered to me if it was Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson, The Midnight Express, The Road Warriors, or anyone else holding these titles. Whoever held them looked like they were carrying the most important titles in tag team wrestling, and so to the seven, eight, or nine year old me, that was the best team in professional wrestling. If I were ranking titles in general, not just tag team titles, these belts would still crack the top three.

That’s my list, let me hear yours. Tell me what I missed, what I got out of order, and what didn’t belong at all, then discuss the above list in the comment section below. You can find me on Twitter @GavinNapier411 and check out my new podcast on iTunes by searching for The Casual Heroes, or go to www.thecasualheroes.com and I’ll be back here in 7..6..5..

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