I’m not saying this as a way of saying that the WWE tag team division is never going to get better. They’re a few teams away from really having something, but, just the same, things will probably never be the way they were when tag team wrestling served as a platform for new wrestlers to hone their craft and get comfortable in front of an audience. Point in case, this match right here. You might not realize it, looking at the men in the ring before most of them had established their personalities and chisled their physiques, but two of the participants in this contest — Bret Hart and Davey Boy Smith — would go on from their respective teams and be main eventers for much of the 90s. The other two went down completely different roads — Neidhart was, for lack of a better term, a career tag team specialist (say what you will about the New Foundation, but Owen Hart was a star shortly thereafter), and the Dynamite Kid, who was at this point already the godfather of lightheavyweight wrestling, wound up mentally and physically ravaged and was mostly out of the business by the early 90s.
But forgetting all of that, what this match, what the WWF tag team division had that it currently lacks, are teams with a) a sense of continuity and b) personality. You look at the Bulldogs and the Harts, and you’re looking at two of the best teams ever, two teams who seem to have been built to their partner’s specifications. Hart was small, still nervous on the microphone. Neidhart was large and charismatic. Davey Boy was powerful. Dynamite Kid was lightning quick. Tag teams used to compliment each other. Now they’re thrown together because two dudes had nothing better to do.
Not only were the Harts and Bulldogs great tag teams, they were great opponents. They feuded for much of the time the Bulldogs were in the WWF, and each match felt fresh and unique, regardless of time or place. The Bulldogs and the Foundation would later compete over the WWF Tag Team Titles, but here they’re merely in it to win it, two teams testing each other and trying to prove to each other who the better men are. Few tag team divisions in history were well-stocked enough to handle a feud of this magnitude concurrent to what the champions were doing, but both the WWF and the NWA/WCW had that going for years. Moreover, the tag teams of that era were just as over as some of the singles stars. Listen to the reaction the fans have for this match. Realize that the Road Warriors are one of the best draws of all time, that a feud like the Midnight Express could have a 15 year run without growing stale.
It’s true, both the Hart Foundation and the British Bulldogs broke up, but they left an indelible mark on wrestling before splitting up, so much so that you could argue for their inclusion in any reputable pro-wrestling hall of fame without Bret Hart’s magnificent run as a top singles star, or the height of Davey Boy’s popularity, or Dynamite Kid’s series against Tiger Mask. The problem with the WWE tag team division today isn’t so much a lack of focus, but that the tag teams that might draw people’s interest are so often temporary pairings. It’s a near-miracle that a combination like Big Show and Chris Jericho went on as long as it did, and who knows how long Air Boom were meant for this world. Until the powers that be decide to find a few more teams like the Usos and Primo and Epico, teams that wouldn’t rightly function with anybody else at the helm, teams made up of something more than interchangeable parts, the division will continue to flounder, and the best examples of great tag team wrestling will continue to be the past, Japan, and the independent scene, where a good tag team or a good match can still draw a response like the one the Bulldogs and the Foundation got above.