Welcome back to SteelChair’s Countdown of the best tag teams, male and female, of 2021. If you’ve already checked out Part One, then you’ll know that we’re bringing you our definitive rundown of the best and brightest tag teams in a year jam-packed full of them.
We let you find out who are our 10 best teams of the year. More than ever, we are pleased to say that this list represents SteelChair fully. Happy New Year to all of you.
Editor’s note: This list is based on accomplishments between September 2020 and September 2021. Men and women are treated equally as wrestlers.
10. Dangerous Tekkers (NJPW) – Were #11 in 2020
The IWGP Champions have run the division in 2021 and their personal relationship has blossomed. Not bad considering when Suzuki Gun were exiled in NOAH Zack wouldn’t even touch Taichi. Dangerous Tekkers were founded in the summer of 2020 to take on the superstar team of Kota Ibushi & Hiroshi Tanahashi. Dangerous for Taichi’s temper-driven alter ego and Tekkers for Zack’s wrestling propensity. They took the titles from Golden Ace in July of 2020, and have been on top of the division ever since dropping and regaining the belts from perennial rivals GoD and the LIJ tandem of Tetsuya Naito and SANADA. Kinda babyface these days, as most of Suzuki Gun are, they are currently having, as I write this, a stellar World Tag League and look to roll into Wrestle Kingdom as defending IWGP Champions. They recently brought out a Pride T-Shirt cementing their place as the industry’s premier wrestle-husbands.
9. Proud ‘N Powerful (AEW) – Were #14 in 2020
Some call them “Proud & Powerful”, others simply call them Santana and Ortiz. Nevertheless, the Inner Circle duo continues to stand out in a packed AEW tag team division. While tag team gold hasn’t been round their collective waists just yet, Santana and Ortiz have become fan favourites over the past 12 months. Thanks in part to their street-tough attitude.
September 2020’s parking lot fight against the Best Friends duo of Chuck Taylor and Trent become one of AEW Dynamite’s highlights of the year. While a tag team title opportunity against The Young Bucks in February 2021 did not disappoint.
Alongside their Inner Circle brethren, the duo battled MJF and The Pinnacle throughout the spring and summer of 2021. Their rivalry against FTR became personal in the process, leading Santana and Ortiz to call upon an old friend, Konnan.
8. RK-Bro (WWE)
Few could have predicted RK-Bro would even be an act, let alone a successful one in WWE. The team is a wonderful example of two Superstars organically coming together and the fans getting behind them due to the pair complementing each other so well, both in and perhaps more importantly, outside of the ring. RK-Bro does fall into the category of a Rock ‘n’ Sock Esq. tag team, as they often leave fans smiling thanks to Riddle’s hilarious comments and mannerisms (e.g. singing Randy Orton’s theme song), which leads to the Orton character looking annoyed or Orton (the man) trying to contain his laughter. However, unlike Rock ‘n’ Sock, RK-Bro has consistently delivered in the ring, be it in a fantastic RAW bout with The New Day in June or their fun PPV clashes with AJ Styles & Omos. RK-Bro is undoubtedly the complete WWE tag team package.
7. MSK (WWE/NXT)
For many wrestling fans, they were a true surprise when they debuted in NXT. As their long-time partner, Trey Miguel decided to stay on Impact Wrestling, Wes Lee and Nash Carter signed with NXT and made their debut on January 13, 2021, when they defeated Jake Atlas and Isaiah “Swerve” Scott in the first round of the Dusty Classic tournament, a month after signing. The duo immediately impressed the NXT fans with their high-flying and innovative style. At NXT TakeOver: Vengeance Day, MSK defeated the Grizzled Young Veterans in the finals to become the 2021 Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classics Winners, an absolute no-surprise. At NXT Takeover: Stand & Deliver, MSK became NXT Tag Team Championship, less than 3 months after their debut. After some successful defences, at NXT: Halloween Havoc, Imperium would end their reign at 201 days. But the love story between MSK and NXT is not meant to end soon.
6. Street Profits (WWE) – Were #5 in 2020 and #19 in 2019
Drafted to SmackDown at the 2020 WWE Draft in October, meaning they had to switch championships with The New Day. Becoming SmackDown Tag Team Champions made them Tag Team Triple Crown champions in WWE. Lost the WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championships to Dirty Dawgs, Dolph Ziggler and Bobby Roode. Failed to win them back on the SmackDown before WrestleMania. Entered a feud with Alpha Academy where Montez Ford picked up at the hands of Otis. Profits missed the majority of the summer while Dawkins had a series of matches against Otis and Gable.
5. New Day (WWE) – Were #7 in 2020 and #24 in 2019
In a world where tag teams and stables aren’t designed to be long lasting – they’re usually a steppingstone to advance singles stars – The New Day has bucked the trend, by surviving as a team for over seven years. Not only are they a combined eleven-time Tag Team Champions, but they’ve also found the balance to pursue their singles ambitions. Of course, we’ll never forget Kofi becoming WWE Champion at WrestleMania 35, but the last twelve months saw Big E become Intercontinental Champion after he was drafted separately from Woods and Kingston. So, they’re together, but not together, and they sadly had a WrestleMania to forget this year, when Big E lost the Intercontinental Championship while Kofi and Xavier lost the Raw Tag Team Championships. But we’ve all learnt something from the Power of Positivity, the New Day always find a way to pick themselves up again and chase Championships again. For that reason, they more than deserve this spot in our rankings.
4. The Usos (WWE)
Few names are more synonymous with the pinnacle of the WWE tag team scene than The Usos, and the last year has been no exception. While Jimmy Uso was on the shelf, Jey continued to have very strong singles matches first as a babyface opposing the newly turned heel Roman Reigns who he faced in two very strong matches at Clash of Champions and Hell in a Cell, and later as a heel aligned with his cousin. However, once his brother Jimmy returned from injury, and after some initial resistance, the two quickly became aligned with Reigns as a unit. Back together, The Usos captured the SmackDown Tag Team titles at Money in the Bank defeating Rey Mysterio and Dominik Mysterio in a very enjoyable match before defeating the former champions in a rematch at SummerSlam to once again cement their rightful place as WWE’s top tag team.
While Jimmy was absent for a large portion of the year, it was interesting to get a look at both brothers as individuals as well as a unit during that time, showing that while they are undoubtedly a great partnership, but also very strong competitors on their individual own merits also.
3. FTR (AEW) – Were #4 in 2020 and #14 in 2019
Highlight: Winning the AEW World Tag Team Championship at All Out
Few tag teams have the in-ring abilities of Cash Wheeler and Dax Harwood, AKA FTR. Mixing both old-school work ethic and power, FTR are always in perfect harmony when it comes to executing precision and skill regardless of the opposition. At All Out last year, they captured the AEW World Tag Team Championships from “Hangman” Adam Page and Kenny Omega in an incredible showdown. Although they only held onto the belts for two months, they defended against the likes of Jurassic Express, SCU, and Best Friends. In March, they formed The Pinnacle alongside MJF, Wardlow, and Shawn Spears, and played an important part in their feud with the Inner Circle, competing in a war at Blood & Guts and the Stadium Stampede match at Double or Nothing. What’s more impressive, however, is they are the only team in professional wrestling history to capture the gold in both AEW and WWE.
2. Lucha Bros (AEW) – Were #9 in 2020 and #1 in 2019
Highlight: Defeating The Young Bucks in a Steel Cage to capture AEW gold
The Lucha Bros are by far one of the most diverse tag teams to ever step foot in the squared circle. Regardless of the promotion, Penta El Zero Miedo and Rey Fénix are a joy to watch in the ring. They defeated countless teams the past year including Los Mercenarios, The Sydal Brothers, and Hybrid2. By far their greatest achievement came when they beat both The Varsity Blonds and Jurassic Express to earn a shot at the AEW World Tag Team Championships. They then defeated The Young Bucks in an exceptional Steel Cage Match at this year’s All Out to capture the gold, making them both champions in AEW and AAA. What makes them even more dangerous is their allegiance with PAC as part of Death Triangle. With PAC stuck in the UK due to travel restrictions, The Lucha Bros were able to flourish on their own, stamping their place in the pantheon of AEW as one of the greatest duos to compete in the company.
Our Tag Team of The Year – Young Bucks (AEW)
Were #2 in 2020, #3 in 2019, #4 in 2018 and #1 in 2017
They were our very first #1 team when we launched this top in 2017. Ever since they have never left the top 5 of it. Nick and Matt Jackson have become a standard when it comes to tag team wrestling, with their absolutely unique style.
At Full Gear 2020, The Young Bucks defeated FTR to win their first AEW Tag Team Championship. If they had lost this match, they would’ve been banned from wrestling for future AEW Tag Team Championships. On the December 25th episode of Dynamite, they successfully defended the AEW Tag Team Championships against The Acclaimed. Two weeks later, on night 1 of the New Year’s Smash episode of Dynamite, The Young Bucks joined Kenny Omega and The Good Brothers, suggesting a reunion. After months of verbal jabs with Don Callis, The Young Bucks would be forced to choose whether to join Kenny Omega and The Good Brothers or not. At first, they would choose not to align with Omega, however, on the April 7 episode of Dynamite, The Young Bucks would ultimately choose to join Omega, turning heel. They would display many heelish tactics during their match again Death Triangle, including removing the mask off of Rey Fénix. The Lucha Bros would end the Bucks’ championship reign at 302 days, defeating them in a bloody steel cage match at All Out 2021.
Whether you like their flashy and high-flying wrestling style or not, the Bucks remain undeniably on top of tag team wrestling.
All pics courtesy of WWE, NJPW, AEW, Impact Wrestling, Ring of Honor, H2O, GCW, ICW NHB, TJPW, and Gatoh Move – Feature image courtesy of David Garlick