The 1980's was a great decade of tag team wrestling for a number of reasons. First, it featured a plethora of tag teams. Second, many of these teams stayed together for a long time, focusing on tag team competition. Third, the number of quality teams from this era was significant. Last, the nature of tag team matches was opened up, impacting the industry to this very day. Two teams were instrumental in lighting the fuse to the tag team explosion of the 1980's. The first we will discuss this week.
The 1980's was a boom decade for professional wrestling. Any review of history will lead to the conclusion that wrestling has its ups and downs. Some people believe the business to be cyclical in that wrestling is a recurring fad that captures the public's imagination, sparking a boom in business only to lose its novelty and lose its mainstream audience. Again, a careful review of history will lead to the conclusion that wrestling doesn't just magically become popular. Spikes in popularity are based on unusually popular stars, innovative promoting techniques, and innovations in how to reach your audience.
Wrestling blossomed during the 1980's because of all of these factors. Stars like Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan stood out head and shoulder above an already star-studded array of wrestlers. Promoters came up with explosive angles that led to capacity crowds. Wise promoters also tapped into the expanding cable television industry as well as closed circuit broadcasts, the precursor to pay-per-view (PPV). All of these factors contributed to the boom that wrestling experienced throughout North America.
Interestingly enough, the success in singles wrestling translated to tag team wrestling as well. Promoters took the aforementioned steps by creating superstar tag teams, changing the way that tag team matches worked, and promoting them in new ways to capitalize on the proliferation of these teams.
As discussed before, tag team wrestling has always been popular and specialty tag teams have been around nearly as long. By specialty teams I mean that have their own unique identity rather than just being two random pairings of wrestlers. For example, the legendary Minnesota Wrecking Crew of the 1970's consisted of any pairing of Gene, Lars, or Ole Anderson. Contrast a team between two wrestlers who might team up for a night or two but then moved on to something else. In some promotions such as Jim Crockett Promotions (JCP), tag team wrestling was the promotion's mainstay as opposed to most promotions where one on one competition was highlighted and tag team wrestling promoted as more of a special attraction. While some fans may look to the 80's and conclude that this was when specialty teams like the Road Warriors, Fabulous Freebirds, Midnight Express, Rock-n-Roll Express, and British Bulldogs first came to prominence, that is not the case. Just check out the book The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Tag Teams and you will see that specialty teams were around for a long time. Whether it was brother teams like the Tolos Brothers or Graham Brothers or name teams like the Heavenly Bodies or the Hollywood Blondes, tag teams competed for a long time.