Who’s the greatest tag team in the history of wrestling? Depending on who you ask, you might be told that Demolition holds that honor. Others might give the nod to the Road Warriors, while you might encounter some who would peg the innovative Hardy Boyz as the greatest of all time. Some younger fans would surely put the reigning WWE Tag Team Champions the New Day in the conversation as they continue on their historic run with the straps, which has now been underway for one year and counting. If you ask me though, I’m going to give you an answer without hesitation, of which I am certain. That answer is the Dudley Boys.
On Monday night, we saw the Dudleys retire from the WWE in what I fully expected to be an angle when it was announced on social media earlier in the day. Alas, it seems now that it signaled their legitimate departure from the company. The consummate professionals, the Dudleys put over the Club in what will likely go down as their final WWE appearance, being driven through tables by Gallows and Anderson. Wrestling fans, of course, won’t remember the Dudleys as we saw them on Monday, laying in defeat. They’ll remember the Dudleys as the most decorated tag team to ever step inside the ring.
On October 23, 2001, months after the WWF’s acquisition of WCW, Bubba and D-Von won the WCW tag team titles from the Hardy Boyz on an episode of Smackdown. In doing so, they became the first and only tag team to ever hold the WWF, WCW, and ECW tag team titles, the three most important tandem belts of the 1990s. They’d ultimately be the last WCW tag team champions, as they defeated the Hardyz again the following month in a unification match to fold the WCW belts into their WWF counterparts. Years later, they won the newly introduced WWE Tag Team Titles, the ones that are still in use today, becoming one of the only tag teams ever to hold both versions of the WWE’s team-based belts. In addition to the ECW, WCW, and both sets of WWE titles, the brothers from Dudleyville have also held tag team gold in NWA, TNA, and IWGP during their storied carry. Let that sink in for a moment. This team has won the top tag team prize in the WWF, WWE, WCW, ECW, NWA, TNA, and IWGP. They have climbed to the top of every mountain that exists in professional wrestling. They’ve both also captured singles gold in TNA, with Bubba Ray notching two reigns as World Champion and D-Von enjoying a stint with the TV title.
The staying power of those damn Dudleys has also been tremendous. No tag team in the history of professional wrestling has ever competed on more pay-per-view events than the Dudley Boys have over their 20-year career. Further, if you exclude the early weekly TNA pay-per-views, the record for most PPV matches for any wrestler, singles or tag, is also held by Bubba Ray Dudley, who has wrestled on an astonishing 181 pay cards. There has never been a tag team with more WrestleMania appearances than the Dudley Boys, nor has any team ever topped their 24 tag team championship reigns. They’ve won the PWI Match of the Year award twice, been named tag team of the year twice by the same publication, and were also proclaimed Tag Team of the Decade for the 2000s.
The Masters of the 3D have certainly been worth more than these by-the-numbers achievements, mind you. The entertainment they’ve provided over the past two decades has been unparalleled by any other team over that span. From the oversized Dudley clan in ECW, to their power bombing of Mae Young through a table in the WWE, to the Aces & Eights stable in TNA, the Dudleys have been providing wrestling fans with their money’s worth for a long time. As their WWE career wraps up, there’s already speculation that these free agents will show up elsewhere in the near future to continue their dominance. That said, one has to wonder, what’s left to do for the tag team that has already done it all?