A good tag team can be wrestling box office gold. In Hollywood, writers, directors, and producers often try to rehash old ideas in the hopes of riding a wave of nostalgia to a box-office payday. Sometimes those ideas work, fans love it, and money is made. Think Cape Fear, Oceans 11, and all of the Vacation movies (in my opinion). More often than not, however, these retreaded and repeated ideas fail miserably. Caddyshack II, Ghostbusters, and Footloose (2011) all fell flat critically and at the box office.
The creative minds in the world of professional wrestling often try to reimagine and rehash ideas in the hopes of touching a nostalgic nerve or to attempt to catch the eyes of viewers that may have missed the first time around. For instance, many invasion angles have been attempted since the nWo ran roughshod over WCW. The evil ref gimmick is rehashed over and over again. How many times can the WWE run a brand draft? One area that often gets the old redux is once successful tag teams.
Here are the top 10 failed tag team remakes and rehashes in wrestling history.
Tag Team Reboot #10 – Demolition (Crush and Smash version)
Demolition (Ax and Smash) was one of the most successful and feared tag teams in WWE/WWF history. They won the tag team titles in 1988 and held them for a then-record 478 days. In total, they have held the WWE tag team titles for longer than any tag team in history (698 days). By June 1990, Ax had developed some health problems that he stated came from a shellfish allergy. Soon after, the Legion of Doom (Road Warriors) signed on with the then-WWF and Demolition’s popularity waned with Crush in place of Ax, and they were unable to recapture that late 80s magic
Tag Team Reboot #9 – 4 Horsemen (1993 Paul Roma version)
The Four Horsemen need no introduction or explanation. Throughout the years, various incarnations successfully teamed together to cause destruction on those in their way. Everyone remembers the originals, Ole, Arn, Tully, and Flair. Another incarnation replaced Ole with Lex Luger in a brilliant storyline that saw jealousy rear its ugly head. Other members throughout the years included Sting, Barry Windham, Sid Vicious, Brian Pillman and others. Most incarnations of the Horsemen were able to have success and strike fear into the hearts of their opponents, even if they weren’t quite the same as the originals. However, from May of 1993 until December of 1993, Ric Flair and Arn Anderson joined forces with the one and only Paul Roma. With the exception of one night when they were joined by Ole, the Four Horsemen were actually only three, despite continuing to call themselves the Four Horsemen. Paul Roma had basically been a jobber to the stars during a lengthy run in the WWF, getting a semi-push for a bit as a tag team with Jim Powers. While they did challenge for titles for a small amount of time, nothing he did up until that point screamed “Horsemen.” Long story short, Arn Anderson was stabbed and the Horsemen disbanded for a couple of years.
Tag Team Reboot #8 – The Fabulous Freebirds (Fantasia / Badstreet version)
The Fabulous Freebirds team of Michael “PS” Hayes, Terry “Bam Bam” Gordy and Buddy “Jack” Roberts became well known as bad-asses for their time in the late 70’s and early 80’s in Memphis and the Mid-South. They became absolutely legendary after feuding with the Von Erich’s in World Class Championship Wrestling. The dudes even have their own rule named after them! The Freebird Rule is still in use today and states that any two of three members can defend the team’s championships. The trio had success everywhere they went and even brought in “Gorgeous” Jimmy Garvin, without missing a beat, as Roberts began to wind down his career. In 1991, with Gordy wrestling mostly in Japan and Roberts basically retired, PS Hayes and Jimmy Garvin began to talk about a third masked member named Fantasia. The folks over at Disney had a problem with this and the name was quickly changed to “Badstreet”. Badstreet was simply Brad Armstrong in a mask and covered with black feathers. The gimmick lasted for a mere five months before it was scrapped.
Tag Team Reboot #7 – “The New Foundation” with Jim Neidhart & Owen Hart
The Hart Foundation was formed in 1985 as a team of real-life brothers-in-law, Bret “The Hitman” Hart and Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart. The “Pink and Black Attack” became one of the premiere tag teams in the WWF in the late 80’s, winning the WWF Tag Team Championship twice. They remained tag team main eventers until their split in 1991 as Bret Hart went on to one of the most successful singles runs in wrestling history. In late 1991, Neidhart formed a team with Bret’s Brother Owen “The Rocket” Hart in hopes of recapturing the magic as “The New Foundation”. While the team was undefeated, their run only lasted a few weeks as the Anvil left the WWF.
Tag Team Reboot #6 – The Hollywood Blondes (Stunning Steve Austin and Flyin’ Brian version)
Throughout history, there have been numerous teams that dubbed themselves “The Hollywood Blonds.” Buddy Roberts and Jerry Brown were one of the top heel acts in the NWA in the 1970s, winning championships in the AWA and NWA. The team of Steve Austin and Brian Pillman formed in 1992 as the Hollywood Blondes and actually became the most famous incarnation of the group. While the two were very successful, and the two performers were talented enough to pull it off, the gimmick always seemed a bit forced and was very far from the personality of each wrestler. The team split up after about a year together and each did just fine as a singles competitors.
Tag Team Reboot #5 – The New Blackjacks (with Barry Windham and Justin Bradshaw)
The Blackjacks tag team of Blackjack Mulligan and Blackjack Lanza are WWE Hall of Famers that won championships in the 70’s in the NWA and WWE, then known as WWWF. They were managed by legends Lou Albano and Bobby Heenan. In 1997, Blackjack Mulligan’s son, Barry Windham and Blackjack Lanza’s nephew, Justin Bradshaw (JBL) teamed up to form “The New Blackjacks.” The team had little success and no push. Each wrestler cut their long hair and dyed it black, adding a “very 70’s of you” mustache for good measure. They looked ridiculous and no one was buying it. They broke up in 1998 and no one was upset about it.
Tag Team Reboot #4 – Minnesota Wrecking Crew II (with The Beverly Brothers)
The Minnesota Wrecking Crew originally consisted of Gene and Lars Anderson in the 1960’s. Ole Anderson replaced Lars in 1969 and the new formation dominated tag team wrestling throughout the 1970’s, winning the NWA Tag Team Championship 8 times. In 1981, Gene retired and the team disappeared for four years. In 1985, Ole found a young wrestler, his “nephew” Arn Anderson, that was worthy enough to be called a member of the Minnesota Wrecking Crew. The team formed half of what would go on to be the Four Horsemen. The Crew disbanded in 1987 when Ole was kicked out of the Horsemen. That is 20 years of proud and successful history, so, of course, let’s try it again. In 1990, Ole managed the “Minnesota Wrecking Crew II” a duo consisting of masked Wrestlers Mike Enos and Wayne Bloom, later known as the Beverly Brothers. They briefly feuded with the Steiner Brothers with little success then left for Japan.
Tag Team Reboot #3 – “LOD 2005” (with Animal and Jon Heidenreich)
The “Road Warriors” Hawk and Animal, AKA “The Legion of Doom,” were the dominant tag team of the 1980’s. Impressive physical beings, they burst onto the scene in Georgia Championship Wrestling and blazed a path of destruction through the AWA, NWA, and WWF through the 80’s and early 90’s. Their stiff and punishing style forced fans to cheer for them, even when being pushed as heels. They bounced from promotion to promotion throughout the 90’s with varying degrees of success winning titles and squashing opponents along the way. After a run through the independent circuit in the early 2000’s, Road Warrior Hawk passed away in 2003. In 2005, looking to cash in on a bit of nostalgia, the WWE recruited Jon Heidenreich to become a member of the Legion of Doom, forming “LOD 2005” with Road Warrior Animal. The team actually won a tag team championship and had a reign of 95 days before the idea was shelved and each wrestler was released from his contract.
Tag Team Reboot #2 – The New Rockers (Marty Jannetty and Al Snow aka Leif Cassidy)
“The Midnight Rockers” (Later “The Rockers”) were one of the hottest tag teams in the world in the mid to late 80’s. Taking a bit of style from the Rock n Roll express and a bit from the Midnight Express, the team of Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty tore the tag team scene up in the AWA and WWF from 1985 to 1991. After some backstage heat, the pair split up with one famous kick through a plate-glass window (or escape through a plate glass window, depending on perspective). The two could have had the hottest feud of the early 90’s, but Jannetty’s demons got the best of him and he was released (over and over again). Shawn Michaels went on to become the Heartbreak Kid and one of the most famous wrestlers ever. In 1996, Janetty returned and formed “The New Rockers” with Al Snow, then known as Leif Cassidy. The duo basically became a comedy team and they never made it past the lower card before the idea was flushed.
Tag Team Reboot #1 – The New Midnight Express (Bob Holly and Bart Gunn)
“The Midnight Express” is considered by some to be the greatest tag team of all time. The Midnight Express formed in 1980, and by 1983 settled into an amazing tag team consisting of “Beautiful” Bobby Eaton and “Loverboy” Dennis Condrey. Under the direction of one of the greatest managers of all-time, Jim Cornette, the duo set fire to the tag team scene winning championships in every territory they went to. In 1987, Condrey left Jim Crockett Promotions and was replaced by “Sweet” Stan Lane. The team did not miss a beat and continued winning championships throughout the remainder of the 80’s. There is often debate on which incarnation of the two teams was actually the best. In 1998, as the WWF was in the middle of getting whipped in the ratings by WCW thanks to the nWo invasion, creative decided to come up with an NWA invasion angle of their own. During this time, The “New Midnight Express” was formed from a team of “Bombastic” Bob Holly and “Bodacious” Bart Gunn. Having Jim Cornette become their managers was no help as the fans were not buying it, nor was Jim Cornette. He has stated that he does not even consider this team to be part of “The Midnight Express” lineage. Ouch.
Wrestling Tag Team Reboots – Honorable Mentions
The New Rock ‘n’ Roll Express
Throughout the years, whenever one or the other was not available, Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson would grab another partner and wrestle as the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express. Ricky Fuji, Brad Armstrong and Kid Cash were all, at one time, teamed with one of the members of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express. No one could ever come close to the original, however.
The New Dream Team (as Dino Bravo and Greg “The Hammer” Valentine)
Brutus “the fucking Barber” Beefcake and Greg Valentine formed “The Dream Team” in 1985 and quickly became tag team champions. As Beefcake became “The Barber” and went on a singles run, Valentine partnered with Dino Bravo to become “The New Dream Team.” It didn’t work and fans weren’t buying it.
The American Express (as Mike Rotunda and Dan Spivey)
In the mid-80’s, every tag team seemed to be an “Express”. The US Express team of Barry Windham and Mike Rotunda won the WWF Tag team titles on two occasions while becoming super popular with the fans during a time of the cold war and great national pride. In 1986, Windham left the WWF and Rotunda teamed with Dan Spivey as the American Express with the same patriotic gimmick and outfits. The redux didn’t work and the team split fairly quickly.