Tag team wrestling is a hot topic in modern wrestling from WWE to AEW and beyond. Some fans feel certain companies don’t promote the genre while others actively use multi-man matches on a regular basis. Tag teams have shown time and again that they can headline shows with The Rock ‘N’ Roll Express regularly doing so in the eighties. With teams like The Road Warriors, The Midnight Express, The Freebirds, and The Fantastics, tag team wrestling was a cornerstone of the heyday of the territory system. The Attitude Era brought tag team wrestling to the fore once more as The Hardy Boyz, The Dudley Boyz, and Edge and Christian battled in instant classics that are as revered today as they were then. Fast forward to today and teams such as The New Day, The Young Bucks, and FTR are aiming to prove that tag team wrestling is alive and well.
But what about the other tag teams, the ones thrown together for a one-night-only match before realising the team was doomed from the start? What about those legends from the dim and distant past that shared a tag rope with a young whippersnapper on the rise to everlasting glory?
Here, in no particular order, we take a look at the oddest one-off tag team combinations in WWE history.
10. D’Lo Brown and Test – WrestleMania 15
Two mid-card talents no stranger to a tag team that were both in the WWF at the same time, what’s so strange about this pairing? Well, Brown was already in an established tag team with Mark Henry and Test was part of The Corporation. Most shockingly, the two men paired up to face the WWF Tag Team Champions in a title match…at WrestleMania!
The pairing came to be after a battle royal on Sunday Night Heat to find number one contenders for Jeff Jarrett and Owen Hart’s WWF Tag Team Titles. The last two men, friend or foe, left in the ring would team up later in the evening at WrestleMania 15. The final four saw D’Lo Brown battling Test while The Godfather fought Droz. Droz and Godfather managed to eliminate each other and themselves leaving Brown and Test the victors. Jarrett and Hart retained their titles at WrestleMania and the two men went back to whatever they were doing before the battle royal.
9. Orlando Jordan and The Undertaker – WWE SmackDown
One of these things is not like the other. The Undertaker is the Phenom of WWE. Despite perhaps wrestling long after his best days were behind him he will go down as one of, if not the all-time great WWE Superstar. However, he is not especially known for his tag team heroics despite being a six-time WWE and, improbably, a one-time WCW Tag Team Champion. Teaming with current or future WWE Hall Of Famers the Deadman held tag team gold with Stone Cold Steve Austin, Big Show, The Rock, and of course his Brother Of Destruction, Kane. Such glory was not in the offing when Undertaker teamed with rookie Orlando Jordan on SmackDown in 2003.
Jordan made his SmackDown TV debut in June answering an open challenge issued by John Cena. This was Cena aping his own debut on the blue brand the year before where he displayed Ruthless Aggression against Kurt Angle. Unfortunately for Jordan, his career did not quite pan out the same way as Cena’s. The Undertaker took Jordan under his wing after that encounter as he feuded with a villainous Cena at the time. For the match itself, Jordan and ‘Taker faced another unlikely duo in Cena and A-Train. The Doctor of Thuganomics and the future Lord Tensai picked up the win when A-Train used a chain to punch Undertaker in his injured ribs and Cena capitalised for the pin.
8. The Shield featuring Kurt Angle – TLC 2017
At TLC 2017, WWE gave the fans one of the most bizarre pay-per-view main events of all time. An event where the only titles defended were the Raw Women’s Championship and the Cruiserweight Title was headlined by a five-on-three handicap match. Braun Strowman, The Miz, Kane, and The Bar – who could very well be on this list themselves – were due to face the reunited Shield. Roman Reigns was then pulled from the event due to a reported virus sweeping the WWE locker room, leaving Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins down a big dog.
The replacement? The Olympic gold medallist Kurt Angle. Angle had been acting as Raw General Manager since the night after WrestleMania 33. But now for the first time in eleven years, Angle was going to take part in a match in a WWE ring. Now for a third member of a team, you could do a lot worse than a multiple-time world champion but this trio took a turn for the surreal when they made their entrance. Entering through the crowd in their trademark style, Ambrose and Rollins were decked out in their black Shield gear looking ready for a fight. Then from behind, like a proud uncle, a beaming Angle joined them with his own tactical vest to boot.
The surrealism reached new heights as the trio hit their triple powerbomb on The Miz with Angle giving the Roman Reigns roar to put away The Miz.
7. Shawn Michaels, Ahmed Johnson, The British Bulldog, and Sycho Sid vs. Owen Hart, Yokozuna, Razor Ramon, and Dean Douglas – Survivor Series 1995
The Wildcard match at Survivor Series 1995 is worthy of both team’s inclusion because it’s a real “can they co-exist?” moment in time. Now parts of each team are perfectly reasonable, Michaels and Johnson went on to team up plenty of times. Owen Hart and Yokozuna held the WWF Tag Team Titles. But by randomly mixing heroes and villains, who is the crowd meant to be cheering for?
At this point, Michaels was two months away from winning his second Royal Rumble in a row and this time making the boyhood dream come true at WrestleMania 12. Ahmed Johnson was making his pay-per-view debut, having arrived on television a few weeks before. Bulldog was firmly entrenched in Camp Cornette with brother-in-law Owen Hart and Yokozuna. Sid had named his price and had been bought by the Million Dollar Man after turning on Michaels immediately after WrestleMania 11. Razor Ramon was heavily involved in a feud with 1-2-3 Kid and the Kid had turned on him and joined the Million Dollar Corporation. And Dean Douglas also happened to be there.
The match between the strangest of bedfellows went on for nearly an excruciating half-hour. Michaels team managed to co-exist the most and he, Johnson, and Bulldog were the three survivors.
6. Billy Kidman and John Cena – WWE SmackDown
Ah, 2002 SmackDown, what a time to be alive! Brock Lesnar, The Undertaker, the SmackDown Six, and the ringmaster par excellence, Paul Heyman running the show. One of the highlights of this time was undoubtedly the tag team scene on the blue brand. This came to the fore when a tournament was announced to crown the first-ever WWE Tag Team Champions. Los Guerreros, Angle and Benoit, Edge and Rey Mysterio, even Billy and Chuck would go on to provide one of the most memorable three minutes in blue brand history. It was also at this tournament where a young rookie by the name of John Cena teamed with Cruiserweight legend Billy Kidman.
Now all these years later that team seems jarring. Cena would go on to have arguably the most successful career of all time, winning his first of sixteen world titles in 2005. It was also in 2005 that partner for one night only Billy Kidman would have his last match on SmackDown. As for the match itself, a rookie Cena sported an unfortunate purple and luminous orange wardrobe and Kidman lost the match by tapping out to Chris Benoit. Angle and Benoit went on to win the tournament and become the first Smackdown-era WWE Tag team Champions. Kidman and Cena would go on to face each other in a number of mixed tag team matches. Kidman teaming up with girlfriend Torrie Wilson and Cena teaming with ECW icon Dawn Marie.
5. Brock Lesnar and Tajiri – WWE SmackDown
This tournament for the WWE Tag Team Titles really was wild. Whereas Cena was still a rookie and his pairing with Kidman looks odd with the benefit of hindsight. Lesnar and Tajiri were odd right from the start. Lesnar entered the match as WWE Champion after spending his evening antagonising The Undertaker and his then-wife Sara. Brock Lesnar has never exactly played well with others so had no real will to be in this tournament or this match with the Japanese Buzzsaw.
In the first round match against Rey Mysterio and Edge, Lesnar was typically dominant. Tajiri tagged himself into the match which was probably his second mistake of the night. The first being to turn up as Lesnar’s partner at all. Mysterio and Edge claimed the decisive advantage after an errant kick from Tajiri [his third mistake] took out his partner. Mysterio followed up with a 619 on Tajiri and Edge followed up with a spear for the win. After the match, Brock Lesnar took it upon himself to attack the three other men involved in the match. There’s probably a good reason why Lesnar has never held tag team gold in WWE.
4. ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper and Sean O’Haire – WWE SmackDown
One of the great ‘what ifs’ in wrestling was Roddy Piper’s involvement with Sean O’Haire on SmackDown in 2003. O’Haire had some success as a tag team wrestler in WCW prior to that company’s demise in 2001. He held the WCW Tag Team Championship twice with Mark Jindrak and once with Chuck Palumbo. However, in 2003 O’Haire emerged on SmackDown with a new ‘Devil’s advocate’ character where he encouraged the watching public to commit adultery and not pay their taxes amongst other things.
A few months into that character’s debut O’Haire came under the tutelage of WWE Hall Of Famer Piper. With Piper pulling his strings O’Haire gained victories over other WWE Hall Of Famers such as Rikishi at Backlash 2003 and Eddie Guerrero on an episode of SmackDown. Now there’s nothing unusual about a wrestler and a manager combination but O’Haire and Pipe did actually team up for one match, and it was for tag team gold no less.
On the 26th of June edition of SmackDown O’Haire and Piper faced Eddie Guerrero and Tajiri for the WWE Tag Team Titles in Madison Square Garden. Much like the original WrestleMania that was also held in the Garden, Piper came up short in the tag team bout. Tajiri spat the green mist in Piper’s face allowing Guerrero to finish him off with a frog splash. On the night that this episode of SmackDown aired, Piper was released from his WWE contract bringing his alliance with O’Haire to an end.
Many people believe Sean O’Haire had been destined for bigger and better things in the wrestling business. Had his partnership with Piper been able to fully blossom he may have gone on to fulfill his potential. But then again, I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know.
3. André The Giant and The Rockers – WWE Live Event
There’s nothing odd about Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty teaming up as The Rockers as they did for many years in the CWA, AWA, and then the WWF. There’s also nothing strange about finding The Eighth Wonder Of The World, André The Giant as part of a tag team. As his career wound down and sadly his body began to break down André was more and more tag team matches to protect him from having to do too much. What’s jarring about this pairing is the fact that Shawn Michaels once teamed with André The Giant in what appears to be a clash of generations.
In fact, The Rockers both shared a ring with André three times in total. Twice in 1990, The Colossal Connection of André and Haku defeated Michaels and Jannetty. But then with André returning to being a hero once more late into his WWF run in 1991, the giant Frenchman teamed with The Rockers and defeated The Orient Express – Kato and Tanaka- and Mr. Fuji. The match took place at a live event in the King’s Hall, Belfast, Northern Ireland on the 26th of April 1991. It turned out to be André’s second last match with the WWF, his final bout coming the next month in May where he took part in a number one contender’s battle royal for the Intercontinental Title. That match was won by The Texas Tornado Kerry Von Erich. While this marked the end of André’s WWF career, Shawn Michaels was just getting started.
2. Braun Strowman and Nicholas – WrestleMania 34
Possibly the most famous instance of a mismatched team came in bizarre circumstances at WrestleMania 34 when Braun Strowman teamed with a ten-year-old child to challenge for the Raw Tag Team Titles.
With nothing in the works as far as a singles match went for The Monster Among Men heading into WrestleMania 34 in 2018, Strowman involved himself with the tag team division on WWE’s red brand. By himself, Strowman defeated the great and good of WWE’s tag team scene in a Number One Contender’s Battle Royal on the 12th of March edition of Raw. Strowman outlasted Gallows and Anderson, Heath Slater and Rhyno, The Miztourage, Titus Worldwide, and The Revival to claim his shot against The Bar.
With no one rushing to team up with the volatile Strowman and the man himself seeing no real need to have anyone watch his back, Strowman headed to the ring alone in the Mercedes Benz Superdome. His opponents Sheamus and Cesaro were incredulous at Strowman’s insistence he would go it alone, but that was nothing compared to when the giant Strowman gave in and picked his partner – from the crowd.
Baun Strowman found young Nicholas, who turned out to be WWE referee John Cone’s ten-year-old son, and his choice was made. An apparently terrified Nicholas even tagged into the match but quickly retreated when faced with The Bar. In the end, the team was successful – in a large part due to Brawn Strowman and Nicholas became the youngest champion in WWE history. The new champions then relinquished the titles the next night on Raw due to Nicholas being a ten-year-old child and not quite ready for the rigours of the road and the wrestling world. Maybe one day he’ll be back to claim back the championship he never lost.
1. Shawn Michaels and God – Backlash 2006
Ok, this in fact is the most famous instance of a mismatched team in WWE history, or certainly the most bizarre. In 2006, Vince McMahon had given new meaning to the word insanity with his antics on WWE television. Long since his days of feuding with Stone Cold Steve Austin were over, McMahon turned the volume up on his character even more and then broke the dial when he decided to make Shawn Michaels’ life a living hell.
The two men met one-on-one in a Street Fight at WrestleMania 22. Perhaps the bout is best remembered today for Michaels giving McMahon a DX crotch chop with Triple H doing the same to John Cena in their main event WWE Championship match. Indeed the two men would reunite later in the summer but before that Michaels had to deal with McMahon and his family by himself. Shawn Michaels won the match at WrestleMania but the worst was yet to come for the Heartbreak Kid.
The next night on Raw as Michaels tried to move on and make a claim for the WWE Championship he was once again interrupted by Vince and Shane McMahon. Vince then claimed that Michaels had divine intervention on his side at WrestleMania with The Lord Almighty helping HBK get the win. McMahon then challenged Michaels to a tag team match at Backlash with Vince and Shane taking on Michaels and God. Really.
At Backlash the McMahons entered with Vince doing the ring introduction for God. Some harp music played as a spotlight signified ‘The Hipster From Heaven’ [McMahon’s words] had arrived. McMahon stopped the music and challenged God to ‘get jiggy with it’ and if you thought zombies were bad then watch this. Mcmahon then made the match No Holds Barred before Michaels made his way to the ring. The Spirit Squad involved themselves late on throwing Michaels high into the air for Vince to make the pin and gain a victory over Shawn Michaels and God. On commentary, Jim Ross couldn’t help himself exclaiming ‘That’s bullsh*t’ at the pinfall, and that’s hard to argue with.