wrestling / Columns

The Contentious Ten 7.30.12: Top 10 Tag Team Finishers

July 30, 2012 | Posted by Gavin Napier

Welcome back to the Contentious Ten. I doubt I’ll be here to list the top ten matches of the first 1,999 episodes of Raw, but I may make it to the 700th Smackdown, at least. After sitting down and attempting to play both Day Z and MLB The Show 12 with little to no success, I figured I may as well put together a top ten list. This week it’s something a little less involved than digging through hundreds of matches for the sake of comparing and contrasting the best of the best and then trying to split hairs between them. This week, it’s tag team finishers. Here is my criteria for the Top 10 Tag Team Finishers so that we’re all on the same page:

-It has to involve both members of a team. That means Evan Bourne hitting a shooting star press doesn’t count as a tag team finisher for Air Boom.
-It had to be used at least semi regularly. No random, one time uses of a devastating move allowed.
-It gets bonus points for looking awesome.

That means Evan Bourne hitting a shooting star press doesn’t count as a tag team finisher for Air Boom. That means that random pairings of wrestlers that only teamed once probably won’t appear on the list. And looking awesome? That means the Road Warriors’ trademark Doomsday Device would win a tiebreaker against the Rock N Roll Express’ double dropkick…assuming they were tied. It also means that teams don’t necessarily have to be great to have great finishers. They just had to have the chance to use them every now and again. This list is also restricted to American wrestling. I’m aware that there’s a lot of great finishers out there in Japan and Mexico, and probably in other countries as well. I’m sticking to what I’m most familiar with, though, even if the Golden Shower is impressive.

Moves that just missed the cut: The Ants Go Marching (The Ant Colony), Steinerizer (Steiner Brothers), G9 (Cryme Tyme), Rocket Launcher (Midnight Express), Hart Attack (Hart Foundation)

X color=red>size=8>
Superkick German Suplex size=6>

The most underrated team (and finisher) of the late 80’s and early 90’s.
-Pat Tanaka delivers a German Suplex
-Paul Diamond superkicks opponent on the way back
-Had a phenomenal series of matches with The Midnight Rockers

This finisher feels ahead of its time. Badd Company was in the AWA in the late 80’s, which weren’t good times. They’d get out before things got embarrassingly, painfully bad, but they were still overlooked a great deal because of where they were. By the time they made it to the WWF, Paul Diamond was given a hood and they were a generic Japanese tag team that beat jobbers and then jobbed to upper card tag teams. That’s a shame, too, because they were damn good. This was the most underrated team (and finisher) of the late 80’s and early 90’s. Even in the last few years of the promotion, the AWA was able to produce a pretty fair number of tag teams, including the “Original” Midnight Express, The Midnight Rockers, Badd Company, The Destruction Crew, DJ Peterson and The Trooper, and Young Guns.

IX color=red>size=8>
Made In Detroitsize=6>

One part Backseat Boys, one part Midnight Express.
-With an opponent on the turnbuckles, Sabin positions for a sitout powerbomb.
-Shelley delivers a top rope version of Sliced Bread #2
-Move ends in pinning position for Sabin

Alex Shelley’s departure from TNA disappointed me mainly because it meant the era of seeing the Motor City Machine Guns on television regularly was pretty much over. Chris Sabin’s subsequent injury doesn’t help things, as he’s now had three major injuries to his legs – both knees and a nasty broken ankle – and is going to be missing significant time once again. The Machine Guns were one part Backseat Boys, one part Midnight Express. I don’t throw the Backseat Boys in there just because of the MCMG’s penchant for using the Dream Sequence, but Acid and Kashmere were the first team that I personally saw use this style of double teaming. They were ahead of their time, too small, and too douchebaggy to really make the big time. However, their influence on teams like the Young Bucks and the MCMG’s is apparent, even if those teams would never admit it. Sabin and Shelley had a feel for each other in the ring like nobody since Eaton and Lane, and it produced a number of great tag team matches over the last few years. It’s a shame that it seems to be over.

VIII color=red>size=8>
Spike Piledriversize=6>

This move is apparently impossibly difficult to pull off.
-Arn delivers a piledriver
-Tully Blanchard comes off the ropes and “spikes” the opponent down
-Victims should be forced to retire

I’m aware that other teams have used this finisher, but Arn and Tully have the version that sticks out in my mind the most. Why? Because not surprisingly, they’re the best at it. This move is apparently impossibly difficult to pull off. I’ve seen numerous attempts by numerous teams where they just can’t get the timing down. Tully and Arn’s spike piledrivers were flawless. Again, that isn’t surprising when you consider just how good both of those men were in the ring. The piledriver is one of the most legitimately dangerous moves in wrestling. Adding a double team version to it should be the American version of the Burning Hammer – nobody kicks out.

VII color=red>size=8>
Demolition Decapitationsize=6>

Well, at least their finisher was original.
-Smash delivers a backbreaker and hold the opponent.
-Axe or Crush delivers a second rope elbow drop.
-Amazingly, hasn’t been consistently used since Demolition’s run.

Big, bruising wrestlers. Face paint. Leather ring gear with spikes on it. A physically dominant tag team. Well, at least their finisher was original. Demolition never resonated with me as a kid. I always saw them as a pudgy version of The Road Warriors. There’s no denying that they had a cool finisher, though. The idea of being held in place across someone’s knee while a 300 lbs. man dropped an elbow across your throat isn’t entirely pleasant. Demolition rode this move to one of the most dominant runs that any tag team has had in the history of WWE.

VI color=red>size=8>
Veg-o-Matic/Death Sentencesize=6>

Not being able to find the proper video is frustrating.
– Lane/Storm holds opponent in position
-Eaton/Harris delivers a flying legdrop
-The Midnight Express’ version was still the best.

I spent as long looking for a short clip of the Midnight Express doing this move as I did on the rest of the column before finally giving up. Not being able to find the proper video is frustrating. This is my personal favorite on the list, but I understand that it’s probably not the best finisher of all time. I do think that it warrants a spot on this list, though. It looks like something that should finish a match, and Bobby Eaton’s flying legdrop was a thing of beauty. I don’t recall seeing Beautiful Bobby launch his from the top of a cage at any point, though.

V color=red>size=8>

One of the most enduring finishers of the modern generation.
-Devon performs a flapjack
-Bubba Ray does a cutter
-Wood may or may not be involved

Like many of ECW’s finishers, the Dudley Death Drop, or the 3D as it became known, was an equal opportunity destroyer. The brothers Dudley executed it on men and women without hesitation, and often with the added bonus of a table between the victim and the mat. Due to the Dudleys’ long tenure as a tag team, this finisher has become one of the most enduring finishers of the modern generation. It’s not the flashiest of the bunch, or the most devastating, but it’s always fun to watch and usually means the match is over.

IV color=red>size=8>
More Bang For Your Bucksize=6>

Those little flippy guys may be on to something here.
-Matt (I think) hits a senton suplex
-Nick (I think) hits a swanton from the top
-Matt (I think) hits a moonsault from the top
-Oohs and Aahs happen

If I got the names mixed up, I’m sure you’ll let me know. As for a finisher, those little flippy guys may be on to something here. It may lack the sheer force of some of the other moves you’ll see on this list, but what the Young Bucks pull off is just as impressive. They use their speed to full advantage, landing a series of quick, flashy moves that always draws a reaction from the crowd and serves as a believable finish. As much fun as it would be to see these guys ply their trade in WWE, their size will likely prevent that from ever happening. Well, that and the spotty at best treatment given to the tag team division. Still, this move is a sight to behold, and it almost always comes off seamlessly.

III color=red>size=8>
Total Eliminationsize=6>

This was the right finisher for the right team.
-Saturn sweeps the leg
-Kronus lands a wheel kick
-Guys and gals fold up like an accordian

Part of a successful finisher is making sure it matches whoever is using it. For example, a figure four wouldn’t have worked for Hulk Hogan. A double suplex wouldn’t have worked for the Eliminators. This was, without question, the right finisher for the right team. The Eliminators were a hybrid of smashmouth brawling and ECW style wrestling, with lots of suplexes and martial arts looking kicks. During their time there, this move was established to be one of the more devastating moves in the promotion, and it always looked the part. I’ve seen teams on the indy circuit try to duplicate it, and it just never quite looks right.

II color=red>size=8>
The Powerplexsize=6>

Power & Glory vs Red Tyler & Warren Bianchi by TSteck160

I was always and will always be a mark for this move.
-Hercules delivers a superplex
-Paul Roma delivers a flying splash
-The timing makes the move

Power and Glory were always the exact opposite of the Nasty Boys to me. Whereas Knobbs and Saggs were fat slobs, Hercules and Roma took full advantage of the lack of a Wellness Program. Whereas Knobbs and Saggs had the sense to be friends with Hulk Hogan, Paul Roma wasn’t friends with anybody not named Paul Roma. And whereas The Nasty Boys had a terrible, sloppy finisher, Power and Glory had this thing of beauty. It almost feels like it was wasted on a midcard tag team. I was always and will always be a mark for this move. This is also proof that this list is based on the quality of the move, not the quality of the team that used it.

I color=red>size=8>
The Doomsday Devicesize=6>

Legion of Doom vs Orient Express by TSteck160

This is the definition of “Kids, don’t try this at home.”
-Animal gives a piggyback ride
-Hawk delivers a flying clothesline
-Match is over

Hawk and Animal account for some of my earliest wrestling memories. I remember Iron Man blasting through the speakers, Hawk and Animal charging the ring at Center Stage in Atlanta, and assaulting jobbers before delivering their then unnamed finisher in about thirty seconds. When my friends and I would challenge each other to wrestling matches, we always knew better than to attempt this one. This is the definition of “Kids, don’t try this at home.” It also remains the single most distinctive, identifiable, devastating tag team finisher of all time. The Briscoes get points for putting a springboard variation into it, but it still just doesn’t look as destructive as the original.

There have been a lot of tag teams, and thus, a lot of finishers. That means there’s certainly going to be things missing here. Feel free to calmly tell me what I missed, what doesn’t belong here, and why I should have included what you wanted. Leave your own list. Hell, I might like yours better. You can also reach me via email with the button below, and you can find me on twitter @GavinNapier411. See you in 7.


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