2022 Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame Ballot Review Part 5(Tag Teams)
In one of the biggest changes to the Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame in its 26-year existence, its curator Dave Meltzer has added 23 tag teams to the ballot and opened up the possibility of double inductions for some wrestlers like Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels and Dusty Rhodes amongst others. One bit of small print to this new rule is tag teams that have both members already on the HOF will not be included in the ballot. That means The Funks, Dick the Bruiser/The Crusher and John Cena/Shawn Michaels (OK, maybe not the last one) will not be up for the vote.
Instead of including the new teams on the ballot in their respective categories when reviewing their candidacy, I have included them in a separate article. So, let's look at the most interesting tag teams that are new to the ballot.
Akira Taue/Toshiaki Kawada (Japan)
Whether Akira Taue should have got into the Hall of Fame on his own has been a question among voters that has been debated as much as “should Big Daddy be in the Hall of Fame”. The Taue question can be answered by a question about another sport and its Hall of Fame.
Should Andy Murray be in the tennis Hall of Fame?
The similarities between Andy Murray and Akira Taue are striking. Both part of their sport's greatest era. Three of them going on to be part of conversation to being on the Rushmore of their sport while one gets left behind in the conversation but has genuine HOF credentials. Some would argue that Taue was just along for the ride in the Holy Demon Army vs Mitsuharu Misawa/Kenta Kobashi classics but in singles matches, but Taue’s singles matches would get regular 8.00+/****½ ratings. But when Dave revealed that more tag teams would be added to the ballot, the Holy Demon Army team of Taue and Toshiaki Kawada were obvious inclusions in the list even if it meant Akira’s individual nomination was rescinded.
Holy Demon Army are on the Rushmore of greatest tag teams. While they had an incredible dance partner for the majority of their tandem in Misawa and Kobashi, their matches are up there in the conversation for greatest series of matches ever with one of their matches selling out the Budokan Hall in their annual early June card seen as their biggest of the year.
Taue and Kawada are a no-brainer for the HOF with their workrate alone being the main factor. Their box office numbers are up there and as pioneers, if you watch the King's Road era, you will see their fingerprints on the modern-day storytelling in wrestling.
British Bulldogs (Historical)
Another case of one of member of a team already in the Observer HOF, Davey Boy isn't a good enough case for the HOF even with the interesting spectre of Smith being the face of the upsurge of British interest in WWE being the foundation of many people (including me) being fans to this day.
But when you weigh up the Bulldogs case, it makes a great one. They were in-ring the best tag team in the world until Dynamite’s back gave out in 1987 and they also drew being the main event act in the B-House shows in the multi ring circuit that was WWF in the Hulkamania era pulling great numbers in the process.
Their work in Japan doesn't get the publicity that their work in New York did with their matches against Masa Fuchi/Toshiaki Kawada and Kobayashi/Teranishi changing the way tag team wrestling was viewed in Japan.
The Bulldogs were great in the ring, drew in the box office and were pioneers in the ring. The only negative to their case is the short time they were at their peak. That argument goes away when you look the longevity of the other team up for the vote.
Hart Foundation (Historical)
Shawn and Bret will always be linked together even in this HOF article and while Shawn vs Bret was remembered more for their singles feud, their competitive rivalry started in the tag ranks with the competition to be the top team in WWE.
However, with Demolition and Legion of Doom being the top babyface team in the late 80s/early 90s, both teams would fight it out for second in the tag ranks. It would be Shawn and Marty that would be the better in-ring team with The Rockers being the best team in WWE in 1989 and 1991 with The Hart Foundation winning those honours in 1990. Add The (Midnight) Rockers’ work in 1986 in AWA keeping the Midwest territory’s head above water before its eventual downfall and its Shawn that has the best shot of the pair for a double HOF induction but with many more teams with better drawing resumes a HOF spot for either Marty Jannetty or Jim Neidhart seems unlikely.
Dusty Rhodes/Dick Murdoch (Historical)
In a case of “before they were really famous”, Dusty was teaming with Dick Murdoch as the Texas Outlaws. The pair had success in Central States, Florida, Texas and the AWA but with the vast number up for selection, The Texas Outlaws feel like an unlikely pick for the HOF.
The argument is should Dick be in the HOF on his own? Murdoch is one of those that fell afoul of the 15 year/50% rule being booted out of the ballot in 2014 after 17 years on the list from the first ever ballot in 1998 with Murdoch being 1% shy of the 60% threshold in 2006. One of 10 people to have charted more than 55% and not gone into the HOF (Mistico, Cien Caras, Enrique Torres, Fabulous Moolah, Jesse Ventura, Sputnik Monroe, Sgt. Slaughter, Bobby Davis and Rollerball Rocco being the only other ones) you’ve maybe noticed the list just mentioned is including names endorsed in this series and wrestlers now in teams on the ballot except for Moolah.
I’m not going to lie; I don’t have an opinion on Murdoch and the HOF. My knowledge of Murdoch is limited which is something I need to work on but there is a reason he got 59% of the vote, which only Mistico has gotten without induction is the reason he should get above the 60%. His career is HOF worthy and maybe he should get in.
Argentina Rocca/Miguel Perez (Historical)
In a field where no-brainer picks are few and far between, Rocca and Perez are no-brainer picks.
Statistically, Argentina and Miguel were the top draws in wrestling in 1958 and 1959 when wrestling in the Capitol Wrestling Corporation in New York being the only tag team to get top spot in a calendar year and are the third highest drawing team ever in North America behind The Road Warriors and The Crusher/Dick the Bruiser. Rocca/Perez were the kings of Madison Square Garden before Bruno Sammartino. Without Argentina and Miguel, CWC doesn’t become the WWWF and Vincent J. McMahon doesn’t find the formula of babyfaces with ethnic ties to various nationalities in the city of New York main eventing at MSG. We don’t get Bruno, Pedro Morales or even Hulk Hogan without Argentina Rocca and Miguel Perez.
People like Jesse Collings have pointed out that Perez was just along for the ride but that is doing Perez down (to be fair though, the fact that Dave Meltzer's obituary about Perez spending 50% of it about Rocca does help that argument) Miguel's babyface-in-peril work was said to be some of the best in wrestling history and played its part for the team's success. If today, the modern face in peril is "playing Ricky Morton" then Ricky Morton was "playing Miguel Perez".
Black Gordman/The Great Goliath (Historical)
Gordman and Goliath were a top drawing act in a LA territory that didn't do tag team wrestling. Their lucha style would change the game, setting a new standard of excellence in tag wrestling.
The pair would become the first Latin heel act to hit it big in California with their schtick of insulting their fellow Latinos making them the top heel act of the seventies in the west using the “insult the local fans” as part of their heat.
Goliath and Gordman are an interesting act on the ballot and are an interesting discussion for the HOF inclusion and after reviewing their resume they are a worthy addition to the HOF ticking all three boxes in the criteria.
Ricky Steamboat/Jay Youngblood (Historical)
In the historical section, we talk about Sgt. Slaughter and his abilities to draw and his feud with Steamboat and Youngblood. While I can talk about that if you induct Slaughter on the basis of that feud, you need to induct Steamboat and Youngblood.
But it isn’t that feud alone that warrants the pair a spot in the HOF, Steamboat and Youngblood were the top tag team in wrestling from 1979 to 1983 in the ring and in the box office and was Carolina's greatest ever team and that includes The Rock n’ Roll Express and The Midnight Express. Their feuds with the Briscoes and Gene Anderson's army were the foundation for Mid-Atlantic's claim to be the premier territory in the early 80's.
Jay would end up being one of the tragedies of the 80’s dying in Australia in 1985 from a heart attack while Steamboat would be one of the greatest in-ring workers ever but the years before the national expansion are something not talked about widely by some and in looking at Steamboat and Youngblood, you would see how influential the pair were as a team.
Von Erichs (Historical)
There was no hotter babyface act in wrestling during the early 80s than the Von Erich trio of David, Kerry and Kevin.
World Class Championship Wrestling’s big shows in the Reunion Arena and Texas Stadium would draw big numbers on the back of Fritz’s sons and their feud with the Fabulous Freebirds and with the Freebirds being Hall of Famers, it seems weird that the face team in the feud isn't in as well.
The reason to be fair is that the Freebirds also sold-out arenas galore in other territories like Florida, Georgia and Mid-South with the Von Erich boys just staying in Dallas.
The Von Erich run would be limited due to the tragedies that befell the family and it's a case of what if? with David as he was being primed for an NWA Worlds Title run before his death in Japan in 1984 but dealing with the actual happenings, their 18-month run in Dallas is a probable cause for HOF induction if you believe their run was exemplary enough in its short-term.
Kevin Nash and Scott Hall (Modern US/Canada)
As you've probably gathered, there is a bit of a formula to these entries for this HOF ballot review. I write about their strengths as a candidate then their weaknesses and then I say whether they should make it and if they will.
In a break to this formula, I'll say it now. Hall and Nash won't and shouldn't be in the HOF. But add Hulk Hogan to the equation and we can have that conversation.
The nWo helped change the wrestling industry. WCW became the leading company in America in all the metrics whether it was ratings or attendance. The nWo to this day makes money for the people that own it IP. The famous t-shirt brandishing the logo is still a best seller on wweshop (even if people buying a shirt with the words new world order in 2022 might have a motive away from wrestling) and YouTube and Patreon creators see content made on the nWo as their most viewed/listened. Of course, they spoiled it by adding members by the bucket load and doing remakes so bad that it made the Wicker Man go “really” but it makes you wonder what if they kept the nWo club exclusive? Maybe they would be amongst the Freebirds and Los Brazos as the only trios in the HOF.
New Age Outlaws (Modern US/Canada)
If you think the New Age Outlaws shouldn’t be in the Observer Hall of Fame, I have two words for ya. Fair point.
The Outlaws were over. Billy Gunn was over just as much as he is now when fans sing about scissoring Daddy Ass and RoadDogg was also super-over, but they were not ticket shifters. That was Steve Austin’s job in 1998. Work rate-wise, they are behind even Hall and Nash. As pioneers, while they were the archetype of the sing-along with the wrestler style of presentation that The Rock, Enzo and Big Cass and even The Acclaimed have used to get over, they didn’t change the style of tag teaming like the Bulldogs or Rocca/Perez and maybe looking with hindsight Gunn’s biggest contribution to the industry was normalising scissoring which can only be a good thing to be fair.