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JerryvonKramer

Greatest Tag Wrestler ever

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I saw the claim made that some people think it is Kawada.

 

Arn Anderson might be a de facto go to choice and before thinking about things, I thought it might be also.

 

But it has just occurred to me that it might just be ... Jumbo Tsuruta.

 

He had four legit great tag teams who ALL had matches in the ****3/4+ range.

 

Jumbo and Baba - some real classics in the 70s, especially vs. Funks.

Jumbo and Tenryu - some real classics vs. Choshu and co.

Jumbo and Yatsu - really great team in 88-9.

Jumbo and Taue - awesome swan song and the six mans with Fuchi also all-time best level matches for their type.

 

Could even argue that the Jumbo and Fuchi combo might stretch it to a fifth great team, but I don't know how regularly they tagged.

 

But the point is that if you count it all up, I think Jumbo had more great tag matches than any other wrestler. He wins on Great Match Theory here.

 

But I'm really interested in where this might go and what sorts of argument people will put forward.

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First name to pop into my head was Dustin Rhodes. You've got the Windham team from WCW, the BookerDust run (which featured one of my favourite redemption stories, with the "weak link" of the team finally winning them the tag titles) and the Rhodes Brothers team, who put on my WWE MOTY in 2013 vs Reigns/Rollins.

 

I also think he's a guy you can slot into a team with anyone, and he's aware enough of tag psychology to make it work. He even had a short-lived duo with Snitsky that was better than you'd expect. He's also good at working tag as heel or face. Great FIP in both BookerDust and the Brothers, but also able to cut off the ring and work heel doubleteams. In the opener of Survivor Series last year, him and Cody are in a 4-way tag match, and they don't just cut the ring in half, they work over a matador in their quarter of the ring, doing their best to keep him from tagging out to anyone. Love that kind of stuff.

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I think I have to go with Eaton. For an unconventional pick how about Rey Jr. He was never in any real long term teams, but his tag matches were always fun as shit. Perfect FIP and the perfect hot tag guy all in one.

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Kawada is also in the discussion. He was in two legitimately great standalone tag teams.... with Fuyuki and Taue. He has the great tag matches with Misawa and Hansen as his partner. I like his team with Fuchi too so yeah... Kawada.

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Yea I'm going with Bobby Eaton on this one. Great teams with Koko Ware, Dennis Condrey, Stan Lane heck apparently he even made a tag team with George Gulas work.

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I don't know that I think of Jumbo-Baba or Jumbo-Tenryu as great tag teams, even though they were in a lot of great matches. I'm not sure either pairing featured chemistry that elevated the team beyond the sum of its parts. I'd say the same about Misawa and Kawada.

 

Which is not to say Jumbo wasn't a great tag wrestler. He was, especially as he got older (and double especially if you consider his trios work).

 

But I'd probably take Kawada in that comparison because he formed a great, lasting team with Taue and because he had a completely different run in a really good cruiserweight team. I'd also rate his very best tag performances--12/16/88, 12/3/93, 6/9/95--as better than Jumbo's very best.

 

Choshu was a great tag wrestler. Eaton is probably my favorite of the Americans, though I can't believe no one has mentioned Ricky Morton.

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Bobby Eaton and Ricky Morton are the two who I immediately think of, and in the end I don't think there have ever been two better tag team wrestlers than those guys. Another guy I thought of that I'll probably be the only one to mention is Matt Hardy. His actual work is great, but his ability to layout straight tag matches and gimmick matches so that they are almost always different causes me to rate him very highly.

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Terry Funk, Windham, Eaton, Morton, Rhodes, Anderson. I don't see jumbo as a great tag wrestler at all. He seemed to lack direction in tags until it was time for the finishing run or big preplanned sequences. He would come in do his running knee, hit a body slam, tag out.

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I think Dustin Rhodes is the best tag worker. He doesn't have the matches or amount of great teams that some other might have due to the long singles run, but damn was he a great hot tag and damn was he a great FIP. He made teams with Booker T and Cody Rhodes great and that is not an easy feat.

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For the absolute top tier I would say these guys for sure

 

Terry Funk

Bobby Eaton

Ricky Morton

Dustin Rhodes

Barry Windham

Arn Anderson

Toshiaki Kawada

 

In no particular order

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Eaton is probably my favorite of the Americans, though I can't believe no one has mentioned Ricky Morton.

 

The original tone of the thread kind of took Ricky out of the equation. His most famous Gibson-less match is with Rich at Havoc '90, which I actually watched yesterday in a case of excellent timing, and he is great-great-great but it's barely a tag match, of course.

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I feel like this was discussed before recently. I think at absolute peak the answer might be Windham, but could see arguments for Rose, Kawada, Eaton and Morton. I also really think Yatsu excelled in tag matches and deserves to be held in high esteem. Dustin is an obvious pick who has already been mentioned, the only thing that hurts him slightly in my eyes is that I never thought he looked right working as a heel in tags, but he was brilliant as a face to the point where I'm not sure how much that matters.

 

Tracy Smothers hasn't been mentioned, but he would rate very highly for me in this category. Smothers was involved in four tag teams that I would consider no worse than very good w/Steve Armstrong, w/Tony Anthony, w/Little Guido, and w/Chris Hamrick. All four teams were drastically different both in terms of how they worked, who they were presented, and where they were working. He was an excellent heel tag worker, and an excellent face tag worker. You could argue that maybe those teams don't have a ton of classic matches, but they have some, and they are different kinds of matches at that. Being able to work as a blowjob baby face, bad ass babyface, sneaky turncoat heel, sneaky comedic heel, hard nosed tweener, and crazy old mean spirited veteran in a tag context is pretty impressive range.

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Arn, Eaton, and Taua jump to mind as guys who had skills that stood out tag team matches and proved it by having success with multiple partners.

 

Hansen, Morton, Dustin, Gordy, T. Funk, Kawada, and Misawa are sort of in that next tier for me, at least on face value.

 

I definately need to watch more Buddy Rose and more Jumbo tags.

 

I also always thought that Jimmy Jacobs was a pretty good tag team wrestler. He made me care about about partners and oponents that I didn't before.

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Stan Hansen had some good tag matches in his career. Brody, Gordy, Dibiase, Spivey.

 

I actually think tag worker is a weakness in Hansen's resume. He has been part of great tag matches but I always look at Hansen as a partner for hire instead of a true partner. When he had a "true" partner, Brody, they just guzzled opponents and both played the alpha bully. Not appealing to me at all.

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I always thought Steamboat should be mentioned. He had the team with Youngblood, Dustin, Shane, and tons of one or 2 offs. Tito, Jake. JYD, Flair, Arn, Sting, Nikita,Gilbert, and Barry.

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Arn, Eaton, and Taua jump to mind as guys who had skills that stood out tag team matches and proved it by having success with multiple partners.

 

Hansen, Morton, Dustin, Gordy, T. Funk, Kawada, and Misawa are sort of in that next tier for me, at least on face value.

I always think of Eaton and Arn. I sometimes forget Dustin, but he is in that class for sure. And while Morton did not do it with a variety of partners he is amazing at what he does. This is not a slight on the Japan guys, I just haven't watched enough to comment.

 

I've been thinking about this and want to ask: when we talk about skills that stand out in tag matches, what are we talking about? I have some ideas, but I want to hear from you all so as not to frame the discussion.

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Morton really only doing it with one partner is why he is on the second list and not the first. I think he is probably the best selling baby face that makes his opponents and his partner look better than they generally are. I imagine he could have done that with multiple partners if he had been given the chance.

 

I was pondering this and I think a few things come to mind to me right now.

 

The ability to keep track of a variety of moving parts. Sometimes you see tag matches (especially like 6-8-10 person matches) where people sort of wander around and don’t know what to do or how to respond to what is in front of them and behind or beside them.

 

The ability to shine two opponents and a tag partner at once. That means different things depending on what your role on the team is. The way Arn and Eaton do that is very different than the way Morton does it. The best wrestler are good at making both their opponents look good and make their partner look good.

 

The ability to run the psychology of a tag team match. Working down two opponents and knowing when to come in and when to sit out. Knowing when the structure needs to break down and when it should be reestablished. I think some people are better at thinking through the structure and psychology of a tag match and some are much better at doing that for a singles match.

 

I would say those are the things that stand out to me. Interested to see what other people mean.

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I feel like this was discussed before recently. I think at absolute peak the answer might be Windham

 

Barry is a pretty interesting tag guy because he could play so many roles well. He could eat up the FIP perfectly so someone else could get the hot tag, as Barry was a terrific seller, could work hope/near tag spots, and then get ripped back down into peril. He could let someone else FIP and work extremely well both on the apron, run all those spots of losing his cool coming into the ring with the ref working to get him out, then work the House O' Fire hot tag kicking the heels asses. He could heel, both working on top putting a face in peril with all the cool stuff he could do, and bumping & selling his ass off. He could work Big Man, but also was just about the best Big Man ever at working where size didn't matter. He could work where his storyline (i.e. Barry vs Somone On The Other Side) was the central one, but was quite good at taking a back seat when someone else's storyline needed to be front & center (Steamer & Gilbert vs Flair & Barry). He could work Vet Partner to Dustin's Young Gun. He could do a turn angle in a tag. As a face he could make a heel look better than just about any face good, and as a heel he could make a face look like gold. Able to stooge and bitch.

 

He wasn't quite as blessed as Eaton or Arn with a longer term partner that he could work out a load of spots with, but he worked enough tags over the years, and worked with and against enough top tag wrestlers, that he was pretty quick in putting stuff together with partners, or working standard spots/sequences.

 

Pretty much everything you'd want out of a tag worker, he could do.

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It's like Parv has been listening to Grimmas' and mine's conversations over the past couple days or so. :)

 

Arn is tops for me. Agree on Smothers, Eaton, Kawada, Windham, but DUSTIN right now might be my #2. Gotta think it over.

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Arn Anderson and Dennis Condrey. They woulda made a hell of a team as well.

 

I really liked Ole. He and Gene were super. I've heard great things from folks about his team with Koloff. He had the team with Hansen which was short lived. And the team with Arn of course. I watched Ole and Gene in real time and they great. I think Arn was better then Gene though. I know a lot of folks don't like Ole based on his later years in Georgia and Charlotte. In the 70's and early 80's he was fuckin gold though. He'd kick YOUR ASS.

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