Wrestling

The 10 Best Tag Teams of 2017 (So Far)

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The 10 Best Tag Teams of 2017 (So Far)

That even WWE is now trying to cultivate a strong tag team scene as part of its brand is a sign of the times: Tag team wrestling is back, and at a high point. But did it ever leave? Some of the names below have made names for themselves for years as tag team specialists. Others have just burst onto the scene, ready to test the limits of what tag team wrestling can be. And still others have only just been given the opportunity to shine on a larger stage. There are lots of names in the conversation when you’re talking about the best tag teams, but here are 10 teams having the best year (so far.)


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10. The Carnies

Technically, the Carnies are a stable of three men: Kerry Awful, Nick Iggy and Tripp Cassidy. Maybe you heard of Nick and Kerry becoming the inaugural AWE Tag Team champions last June, or Tripp and Nick winning those same titles back from KRAKEN in December. If you’ve only heard the Carnies mentioned as something bubbling just below the surface of the indie scene in the US, know that you’re in for a surprise: There is nothing quite like them on the planet right now. Their gimmick is unique, their ability to function as a team is nearly unequalled, and on top of everything else, they are three of the nicest people you’d ever have the pleasure of meeting. What’s next for the Carnies? My guess would be conquering the whole world. And my money’s on them succeeding. – The Lady J


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9. CCK

You’ve probably seen #CCK all over Twitter lately, and with good reason: Chris Brookes and his two (very different) partners, Kid Lykos and Travis Banks, are taking over the UK tag scene. Whether they call themselves Calamari Catch Kings, or whether that first C stands for Commonwealth, Brookes, Lykos and Banks have gone toe-to-toe with some of the biggest names in the independent scene and taking them to their limit. With an exquisite moveset that varies from high-flying to grappling, they’ve amassed a laundry list of tag team match-of-the-year contenders with the likes of Penta El 0M and Fenix, or Ryan Smile and Shane Strickland. While they may be nasty, spitting heels most of the time, CCK is coming for the spot at the top of your favorite teams list, so make room (idiots). – J


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8. Roppongi Vice

We probably didn’t need to see Beretta take a superkick with a mouth full of thumbtacks, but nobody could deny that Roppongi Vice were every bit as important to the excellent three-way tag match at Ring of Honor’s 15th Anniversary show as the Young Bucks or the Hardys. Beretta and Rocky Romero started the year off with a fine match against the Bucks at Wrestle Kingdom XI, and have continued to shine despite being restricted to lower card multi-man tag matches in New Japan or bouts with shakier junior heavyweight teams from Suzuki-gun. Whether it’s in ROH or New Japan, RPG Vice is a highlight of pretty much any card they’re on. – Garrett Martin


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7. Chris Dickinson and Jaka

EVOLVE is a promotion with a stacked roster, so sometimes it’s easy for names to slip from your mind. Two names you should make sure to remember are Dickinson and Jaka, the current EVOLVE Tag Team Champions and part of Catch Point. You might even know them better as a part of Team Pazuzu, but whatever you call them, the two men should be on the tip of your tongue. After smartly aligning themselves with Tracey Williams, Fred Yehi and Matt Riddle as part of Catch Point, they climbed the ranks against everyone in Evolve, and even the South Pacific Power Trip at the EVOLVE vs. Progress show in Orlando, before eventually capturing gold from their own faction-mates. Two men with this much talent deserve all of the success in the world—and it looks like it’s headed their way. – J


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6. War Machine

Powerhouse tag teams aren’t always the most exciting guys to watch. Then again, few can do what War Machine does. Hanson and Ray Rowe are extremely athletic for men their size, perfectly mixing their smashmouth offense with the occasional high-risk dive. And while they’ve made a name for themselves in Ring of Honor, it’s been their run in Japan that has made 2017 a standout year for Hanson and Rowe. The two arrived in New Japan Pro Wrestling last year with a strong showing in the World Tag League, and this year they continued that momentum, first putting on surprisingly strong matches against Guerillas of Destiny of the Young Bucks at Honor Rising, then winning the IWGP Tag Team Championship from legends Hiroyoshi Tenzan and Satoshi Kojima. With a somewhat stagnant tag division in NJPW, War Machine is hopefully just the boost the company needs. – Paul DeBenedetto


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5. Trent Seven and Tyler Bate

Whether you know them as British Strong Style or Mustache Mountain, it would be hard to argue that Trent Seven and Tyler Bate aren’t having one of the best years as a tag team. Though it was recently revealed Mustache Mountain lost their Chikara tag titles (called the Campeonatos de Parejas) during the secret season, Bate and Seven are still 119+ days into their Progress Wrestling Tag Team title run. They even debuted the brand new Progress Tag Team belts at Chapter 46. Having incredible matches with the likes of The South Pacific Power Trip and Ringkampf in Progress, as well as CCK and Bullet Club members Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks in Fight Club Pro demonstrate that these two are among the most talented men in both the British and International scenes. – J


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4. DIY

When American Alpha were called up to Smackdown last year, Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa smoothly slipped into their role as the Revival’s top rivals. Their excellent 2016 has continued into 2017, peaking with one of the best matches of the year so far, the three-way with the Revival and the Authors of Pain at Takeover Orlando. As great as the actual work in the match was, what made it so great were the character beats and storytelling during its first half, when DIY and the Revival teamed up to take out their gargantuan opponents, even pulling off some of their signature tag team moves with their mortal enemies. Gargano and Ciampa quickly gelled into one of the best tag teams today; hopefully they can keep that momentum going when they’re called up to the main roster. – GM


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3. The Revival

From a couple of guys you could barely tell apart to arguably the best tag team in WWE’s entire system, the Revival have so far been a true tag team success story in an era when those are seemingly few and far between. Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson don’t just play the old school tag team gimmick, they live it, embracing a type of ring psychology so seemingly forgotten in modern pro wrestling that it’s refreshing all over again. Their feud with DIY was of course their highlight of the year, culminating with a triple threat tag match against the Authors of Pain in which the rivals put aside their differences to take out the bigger team. It was a brilliant piece of storytelling, and a perfect send-off for a team who, true to their name, helped make tag team wrestling relevant again in WWE. It’s a shame to see WIlder injured so soon after their debut on the main roster, but if their long journey to the top of NXT is any indication, nothing is going to hold them back. – PD


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2. The Young Bucks

We contain multitudes here. Sure, Paste might prefer the old-fashioned, more realistic wrestling that typified the southern style up until the 1990s, but we can also love the gleefully absurd real-life cartoons that are the Young Bucks. Few wrestlers can match their athleticism and gracefulness, or their ability to combine such a ridiculous, videogame-style offense with match layouts that still retain at least a semblance of internal logic. The highlight of their year so far was the feud with Matt and Jeff Hardy, a team that the Bucks will always be compared to. Their battles for Ring of Honor’s tag team titles included two of the best matches of the year so far, including a tremendous three-way with Roppongi Vice and a brutal ladder match at Supercard of Honor the night before WrestleMania. Meanwhile the Bucks continue to have fantastic matches with a litany of different opponents in New Japan and PWG, and starred with Kenny Omega in a memorable six-man match for Over the Top on the FloSlam app. With main event matches around the world and news of a merchandise deal with Hot Topic breaking last week, the furor over the Young Bucks clearly isn’t settling down anytime soon. – GM


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1. The Hardy Boyz

Matt Hardy did the unthinkable last year, creating an entirely new gimmick to become arguably as popular as he was during his peak WWE days—perhaps even more so, as far as being a singles wrestler in concerned. Hardy’s “Broken Universe” made TNA briefly relevant and helped both him and his “Brother Nero” Jeff become major names in pro wrestling roughly 25 years after their debut, ultimately winning the TNA World Tag Team Championship in the latter half of 2016.

But while all of that was impressive enough, the team’s “Expedition of Gold” this year was truly inspired. Matt and Jeff traveled the world, winning the CRASH tag titles from Psicosis and Super Crazy in Tijuana, as well as tag belts in Peru, some U.S. indies, and, in a bout of fantasy booking, Ring of Honor. And while it was their ROH feud with the Young Bucks that showed the Hardys could still go—their two ladder matches for the belts were some of the best work in recent Ring of Honor history—it was their triumphant return to WWE at WrestleMania 33 that really catapulted them into the stratosphere. A TNA gimmick had burst through the imaginary walls that separates wrestling companies in the United States, and the reaction from roughly 70,000 fans showed that somehow two veterans hovering around 40 years old are the most relevant tag team in the world today. The Hardys’ historic “Exhibition of Gold” spanned the three largest promotions in the U.S., the first tag team to do so since perhaps the Road Warriors, and they’re set to have a year as untouchable as AJ Styles was last year.

But beyond accolades, Matt’s brainchild was an artistic accomplishment unheard of in modern pro wrestling history. For two wrestlers to think up and enact their own storyline independent of any company’s control is something we should be talking about for years to come, and only two stars the caliber of the Hardys could pull off something like that. Time will tell if the brothers will become “Broken” once again, but no matter what, the Hardys are in a league of their own. – PD

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