Tag Team Time
at Wrestling Heritage
Tag Team wrestling had been around for several years in Britain and even longer elsewhere when Ivan Penzecoff & Alan Colbeck took to the ring to face The Royals at Trowell in September 1963. The bout caused a sensational reaction up and down the land, with fans eager to see more of this mayhem on tv, and live at their local halls.
The concept exploded onto the national scene and, by the time the Royal Albert Hall had bestowed its belated regal blessing on the format, with the 13th May 1966 match in which the Cortez Brothers scored a victory over the continental pairing of Julien Morice and Zoltan Boscik, we knew tag wrestling was here to stay. The glory days of tag matches would continue for no more than ten years, no national championships ever came to fruition, but the genre was established further even by having the occasional clean match – even if this wasn’t really what the public wanted!
Of course, where eight wrestlers had worked on most bills, ten were now needed. Promoters carefully ensured that undercarders could pair up and become a top-of-the-bill union. Affordably.
We look back and wallow in that typically precise sixties organisation that meant most tag teams comprised regular partners with matching gear and catchy names. Partners were usually of similar or adjacent weight categories, ensuring balanced matches could be billed. The delightful spice in the mix was having a callow youth partnering a seasoned pro.
We can single out once again that top tag man Penzy, top right, for his magnificent partnership with Tiger Jimmy Ryan in the Rebels: their team ended after a controversial in-ring falling out. This was professional wrestling at its best, but after tag’s inception, the promoters seemed to have little creativity in taking the format to other similarly exciting levels. Just think how the halls would have been packed to see McManus versus Logan singles matches after a similar televised bust-up.
The Royals and the Black Diamonds and others had equal tag expertise, of clean and unclean natures, but all their artistry seemed to lead nowhere in the bigger picture of wrestling things.
In this countdown of the Top 50 Tag Teams of the Heritage Years, in most cases we restrict ourselves to teams that had a combined ring name, not because we are fixated on these names, but because they are a sign of a considered ongoing pairing, thereby capturing the public’s imagination. Without going into too much unnecessary detail, let’s just say that we do not consider hastily fudged together pairings, no matter how appealing on paper, so there is no space for the all-conquering pairing of Les Kellett with Masambula.
And there is most certainly not any room for mis-teamings of a super-heavyweight with a much lighter weighted partner, since this was surely a sign of an improbable bout, and actually played a large part in the ultimate decline of British wrestling.
Five individual wrestlers appear twice in the Top 50 Tag Teams. A prize was offered to the Heritage Member who most closely predicted these five in the forum before the countdown started, and congratulations go to the winner, Heritage Member Chris Newman.
By now, you’ll know our qualifying requirement for inclusion of a Tag Team in the Top 50: each team must have been active in British rings during the Heritage years for an appreciable amount of time, so several visiting international teams are eligible. But in terms of ordering these 50 teams, where on earth do we start with this motley bunch?
Well, we felt it was high time such a compilation was made, but understand why all other wrestling publications have steered clear of this trappy decision-making process.
In the end we have considered their excitement value as the most important factor. Beyond that, we acknowledge these are gut-feeling rankings, drawn up by just two fans.
Let us have your own thoughts in the Talk Wrestling forum as the countdown progresses – nothing is set in stone and we can always change the order at the end, if we find there is a groundswell of different opinions.
Ready to roll? Hold onto your tag rope!