- Series: Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame series
- Paperback: 293 pages
- Publisher: ECW Press (April 1, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9781550226836
- ISBN-13: 978-1550226836
- ASIN: 1550226835
- Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 0.8 x 9.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 10 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,011,711 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Tag Teams (Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame series) Paperback – April 1, 2005
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Team-ups have been a part of human culture from the beginning of time and become a part of our tradition whether it's Jason teamed with Hercules and other Greek heroes to form the Argonauts, Batman and Superman forming the World's Finest Team or two scrawny wrestlers named Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson teaming up to form the Rock and Roll Express. Through teamwork the task that stumped one person becomes possible for a team whether it's acquiring the Golden Fleece or defeating monster heels Ivan and Nikita Koloff for the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) World Tag Team Championship.
Tag team wrestling has been a mainstay of the sport for decades. While historians have no clear idea when exactly tag team wrestling began, the book's authors document that it was probably sometime in the 1930's when promoters first started pairing wrestlers together. At first, the matches were formatted like "Texas Tornado" matches in which all four men battled in the ring together. Eventually, the idea of tagging in your partner was developed as wrestlers fought in "relay" matches (as they were known then). Like wrestling itself, tag team wrestling's popularity seems to be cyclical. According to the authors, tag team wrestling really took off during the 1950's when the advent of television helped increase wrestling's popularity. While tag team wrestling never disappeared from wrestling (and in some promotions such as Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling it was the focus of a promotion), it wasn't until the 1980's that there was a renaissance of tag team wrestling as the national expansion and a reevaluation of what could be done in the ring with tag teams led to an explosion of tag teams. Surprisingly, tag team wrestling languished during the height of competition during the Monday Night War and despite the amazing number of workers capable of performing tag team maneuvers; tag team wrestling became more of a sideshow attraction in WCW and the WWF. Still the value of tag team wrestling to a promotion is clear to promotions other than the WWE and tag team wrestling continues to provide exciting action throughout the world.
The Wrestling Hall of Fame: the Tag Teams by Greg Oliver and Steve Johnson is a 293 page book which analyzes tag team wrestling and selects the greatest tag teams in wrestling history. This follow-up to The Wrestling Hall of Fame: the Canadians is a well researched book which covers tag team wrestling from its infancy up until today and ranks the greatest tag teams of all time.
Looking at the criteria, it's plain that the authors are serious about evaluating and ranking the tag teams of today and yesterday. Whether it's music, movies, sports teams, or wrestlers, it's often fun to put together a list of the all-time greatest. Where these lists run into problems is that the criteria for ranking the picks are often unclear or arbitrary. Everyone has their own opinion and tastes can vary which makes it all the more important to establish certain measuring sticks when rating the best. This becomes particularly problematic when evaluating the greatest performers in wrestling due to the fact that some of a wrestler's accomplishments aren't the same tangible measures found in sports. For example, if you want to consider who the greatest running back is, you might use measures such as pass completions, rushing yards, and touchdowns scored. What do you measure in wrestling? Wins and title wins aren't meaningless but they have to be examined in a special context due to the fact that wrestling is a scripted event. How do you measure the accomplishments of a wrestler when much of what they accomplish in the ring is determined by someone outside the ring?
Thankfully, the authors have covered the bases when it comes to measuring the best of the best. In their own words:
In developing this list we've consulted with a number of historians, trainers and wrestlers to help us assess teams according to more than a dozen standards. Among the most heavily weighed were: longevity and sustained excellence; position as headliners in the U.S. or various territories; ability to work different styles of matches; responsibility for significant innovations in and out of the ring; influence on later generations of tag teams; ability to draw a sizable gate or headline a card of consequence on their own, regardless of opponents; and the factors for their success, such as charisma, sheer ability, gimmickry, nepotism, and so on.
Using the above criteria, the authors of Tag Teams then proceed to select the Top 20 teams of all time in order of the importance. As with any "Best of" list, there is always going to be debate about the selections but whether or not you agree with all of the authors' picks (and the authors make it clear that they hope the book opens up lively debate about who the greatest tag teams were), it's clear that the choices were well thought out. The authors stick to the criteria they start with and the book doesn't fall into the trap often seen when comparing today's stars to yesterday's stars i.e. our generation was good, yours was crap. Despite the tremendous difference between the days when promoters carved the U.S. up into individual fiefdoms, the days of national promotions like World Championship Wrestling and the World Wrestling Federation, and today's virtual monopoly by the WWE, the book uses a very even measuring stick in gauging the success and accomplishments of tag teams throughout the sport's history. You may not know be familiar with the names of some of the teams but you will by the end of the book and have a good idea of why the authors feel they deserved to be ranked with the best.
Following the top twenty, the authors select five teams that didn't quite make the top 20 but whom they think are pretty important. After selecting the greatest twenty wrestlers of all time, the book's structure changes dramatically. Rather than selecting teams in order of importance, the authors break their remaining choices down into the following categories: The Golden Era (1950's to mid 60's), the Brothers (Jack & Jerry Brisco, etc.), the Territorial Era (1960's to mid 80's), the Evil Foreigners (Mr. Fuji & Professor Tanaka), and the National Era (mid 1980's to present). Why the authors felt the need to break the categories down thusly is puzzling (although not nearly as puzzling as what prompted the use of the truly awful photo used for the book's cover) given the book's early methodical approach to rating the best.
The other flaw of the book is the author's occasional mention of a tag team such as the Heavenly Bodies which has had more than one incarnation without mentioning other incarnations. At the beginning of the book the authors state that they aren't going to list every version of tag teams with the same name but different lineups (such as the Midnight Express) but yet they do. For example, the authors give two separate entries to the Kangaroos, one entry which mentions the various incarnations of the Midnight Express, and one entry which mentions the original Heavenly Bodies (Al & Don Greene) but fails to mention the other teams that adopted the name.
Despite these inconsistencies, the book is a real treat to read. One of the things that impressed me about this book was the amazing amount of information contained on each team. Most of the profiles are only a couple pages but they contain lots of fascinating information on the wrestlers, their place in wrestling history, key angles that they were involved in, and "Where are they now" pieces. To keep things interesting, the book occasionally delves into topics such as father/son tag teams, important historical matches such as the Riot of 1957 and the famous Tupelo Concession Stand Brawl, and the incredible proliferation of copycat tag teams based on the success of the Rock and Roll Express (who were actually created to duplicate the success of the Fabulous Ones).
The research involved in this book is evident by the incredible amount of information condensed into it. The profiles on the tag teams feature comments from the wrestlers themselves as well as their colleagues. Reading this book, I gained a greater appreciation for the finer points of tag team wrestling and a deeper knowledge of the many teams of yesteryear that influenced the sport. One of the things that really intrigued me was how many tag team wrestlers springboarded from tag team action into world champions. I was also impressed with the longevity of some teams. It's also funny to see how angles have been replayed successfully in various territories and modified to keep fans coming back for more.
This book is a great way to familiarize yourself with wrestling's top teams but more importantly it's very entertaining. Wrestling books are usually either such light fare that they border on fluff (The Rock Says) or they are so incredibly dense that readers struggle to get through more than a few pages at a time (Chokehold). The Tag Teams is no fluff piece but it's set up in a way that you can read it at your leisure or sit down for a crash course in tag team wrestling. .
If you love wrestling and want to read about the boys from the past and now and want to hear their stories in and out of the ring get this book... and anything else Greg Oliver and Steve Johnson put out.