Summerslam is fast approaching and with some potentially great tag matches on the offing, I thought it best we have a retrospective on some of the greatest tag matches at the Biggest Party of the Summer
The order of these matches is determined on the basis of how good they are as ‘Tag Team Matches’. This consists of the following criteria: How well the teams perform as a cohesive unit; how they utilised the ring as a tag team (such as cutting the ring in half) and finally, the entertainment value of the match. All of these conditions lead to what I have now dubbed ‘Sully’s QUALITY TAG TEAM WRESTLING seal of approval’.
These matches, unfortunately, didn’t make the list but they’re definitely worth a watch!
The Mega Powers v. The Mega Bucks (First SummerSlam main-event, build to Mania 5, Miss Elizabeth <3)
The Steiner’s v. The Heavenly Bodies (Pre Big Poppa Pump Scott Steiner and Jim Cornette)
Chyna and Eddie Guererro v. Val Venis and Trish Stratus (Mostly for the finish)
5) DX v.Legacy – SummerSlam 2009
This match is an unexpected tag team gem. Let’s be honest, neither team (despite what WWE say) will go down in the annals of wrestling history as one of the ‘greatest tag teams’. However, they 20-minute match these two teams put on, is one of the best in SummerSlam history.
The bulk of the praise goes to Rhodes and DiBiase, for they showed of great heel team work. For example, the majority of the match took place in their half of the ring. This gave them the chance to display their tag team chops, from making frequent tags, and utilising the fact the referee was distracted to get in a few extra blows.
Furthermore, when it came to near chances both teams were on the balls of their feet in breaking up pinfalls and submissions. This increased the entertainment value of the match. Not only that, DX’s entrance really set the bar for the level of entertainment that match would give the fans. From the HUGE tank, which required the entrance ramp to split in half, to the crowd going wild for the ‘Suck It’ chant.
My main criticism of this match, as a tag team bout, would be the fact DX wasn’t really working as a cohesive team. They had some moments of ‘tag team wrestling’ such as the spot where HHH flips Micheals to the outside. Other than that spot, and the pinfall break ups, the two acted more like two singles competitors throw together, which they essentially were.
All in all, an exciting match which really showed off Legacy’s talent as wrestlers. It’s a shame WWE let them slip through their fingers. (DiBiase to AEW confirmed???)
4) The Hardy Boyz v. The Dudleys v. Edge and Christian – SummerSlam 2000
This is going to be seen as a controversial placement by many of you, as TLC 2000 is heralded as the greatest TLC matches of all time. I don’t disagree with that statement, but that doesn’t mean it’s worthy of being called the greatest tag team match in SummerSlam history.
The match no doubt was entertaining from start to finish. Even the pyro from The Dudleys entrance get’s you pumped. From then on its spot after spot, keeping you on the edge of your seat. The match is truly a product of the Attitude Era.
However, this also works against the match. The match is as some would call ‘a spot-fest’. At the time wrestling was evolving and as we can see now, these huge spots are what crowds are looking for as opposed to technical wrestling. In my opinion, just because you’ve got 30+ hardcore spots in a 20-minute match, it doesn’t make it a good match. The continuous use of spots makes the match, as JR describes it whilst on commentary, ‘A car wreck’.
Furthermore, watching the match is pretty painful. Having the benefit of hindsight, some of the risks these guys are taking are certainly not worth the repercussions. The unprotected chair shots, the cringe inducing ‘see-saw ladder’ spot, makes one’s body shiver. Quality Tag Team Wrestling, really shouldn’t require superstars shorten their careers (like Edge) and lives for our entertainment.
There’s no doubt this match had cohesive work between teams and was certainly entertaining. Yet the fact the match was basically ‘how can we hurt each in new and inventive ways’ really diminishes the quality of the wrestling for me.
3) Hart Foundation v. The Brainbusters – SummerSlam 1989
Going into this match, I was expecting some big b*****s (and Bret Hart) but on a barn burner, and I wasn’t disappointed. When you think of great tag teams, the Hart Foundation and The Brainbusters (or at least Arn and Tully as the Horsemen) come to mind. The Harts were a beautiful mix of technical wrestling and crazy hoss strength. The Brainbusters were basically The Revival before The Revival, big tough guys who were exceptionally athletic.
The match from start to finish was a technical masterpiece, especially Bret and Tully. Both whipping out some amazing matt skills and athletic manoeuvres. Both teams took advantage of the ‘lax’ tag team rules at the time, with frequent interruptions and using illegal tags.
Building on the use of illegal tags, The Brainbusters were amazing heels. Using cowardice effectively, taking advantage of a distracted referee and just that amazing finish. With Arn delivering a double axe handle from the second rope as Bret was pinning Tully when Heenan had the ref distracted and then an illegal Arn getting the pin!
That finish itself makes this match worth of Sully’s QUALITY TAG TEAM WRESTLING seal of approval.
My only tiny gripe with this match would be that it took a little while to get flowing, but when it did, damn was it a good match.
2) Hart Foundation v. Demolition – SummerSlam 1990
If the previous match was big b*****s (and Bret Hart) putting on a barn burner, then this match would be the big b*****s (and Bret Hart) burning two barns! (Neither SLTD Wrestling nor myself encourage the literal burning of barns.)
This match hit all of the requirements of QUALITY TAG TEAM WRESTLING. Entertainment, using the ring and working together as a team.
The entertainment comes through Demolition’s ingenious thinking of swapping Axe and Smash (eat your hearts out Bella’s) which not only sent the crowd wild but also added an injection of energy into the match, as a completely fresh competitor was involved. The match was so exciting, that despite being a best 2 out of 3 falls match, it never seemed to drag on! The 20 minutes went by in a flash.
Once again the Harts’ mix of technical ability and impressive power, worked demonstrated amazing tag team wrestling. Furthermore Demolition, as power wrestlers, put on a good showing, switching from methodical to explosive when needed. Moreover, having the third member of the stable switch in during the match showed they team really knew how one another worked.
However, despite this match being a double barn burner, I personally wasn’t a fan of the ending. The pre-match promo made it obvious the Legion of Doom and Domination were going to enter a feud. But it wasn’t the fact LoD ran in that disappointed me. What disappointed me was how messy the run in was. LoD and Demolition seemed to flounder and the ref’s restrained reaction made it obvious he was clued in on the run in.
I recommend Steve Austin goes back in time and teaches LoD how to run-in. Then this match would be perfect.
1) The British Bulldogs v. The Fabulous Rougeaus
What’s the best way to kick off the inaugural SummerSlam? I’ll tell you how. QUALITY TAG TEAM WRESTLING TO THE MAX! The Bulldogs and The Rougeaus put on one of the best tag matches I’ve ever seen. And as you can tell, I love tag team wrestling.
The match is criticised for being ‘slow’ and having ‘too many abdominal stretches’. That’s poppycock! The abdominal stretches themselves acted as beautiful nuggets of character work from the Rougeaus.
From the offset just amazing work from both team. Lovely shifts in momentum from the Bulldogs to the Rougeaus and back. Incredible heel work from the Canadians and brilliant face work from the Brits. If you want to watch a masterclass in the art of cutting the ring in half, watch this match. The Rougeaus spent the better part of 13 minutes working Dynamite Kid in their half of the ring, with frequent tags and underhanded tactics.
If you want to learn how to perform an amazing hot tag? Study the way Dynamite Kid gets from being decimated to clawing his way to Bulldog who just runs through the Rougeau brothers. Then watch the Rougeaus fight their way back to reaching what I thought was a totally appropriate finish.
After an amazing match, both teams are on the floor in the ring and the bell goes. Why? Time. Limit. Draw. These teams gave it their absolute best and a draw meant that both teams were rewarded for their amazing performances. Finally, the post match antics were the icing on the cake. The heel Rougeaus were celebrating as if they’d won the match, with the Bulldogs being dejected. Then when the Rougeus sucker-punch the Bulldogs leading to a chase backstage. Wow. What a way to kick off the first Biggest Party of the Summer.
It’s unlikely that this year or any year in the foreseeable future will we get a match to top The Bulldogs v. Rougeaus. However, I highly recommend that you pay close attention to The Revival v. The Usos. Because those two, are arguable the best tag teams on the planet at the moment.
(This article was originally written for SLTD Wrestling)