Corrigan’s Corner: Beneficial Breakups

Still mourning from the Festival of Friendship, John Corrigan looks at splits that helped both guys.

All good things must come to an end.

It’s been a week since Kevin Owens broke our hearts and the circle of friendship. We knew it would happen eventually, but that doesn’t make the Jeri-KO split any easier to accept. For about six months, Chris Jericho and the Universal Champion offered hope that two egotistical and ambitious men could set aside their differences for a common goal.

While all tag teams come to an end, it’s not always a bad thing for the partners. As in “real world” relationships, sometimes a break up can lead to better things for both persons. Not every split causes a Marty Jannetty.

11. U.S. Express

The men who Rick Derringer originally wrote “Real American” for, brothers-in-law Mike Rotundo and Barry Windham, ran roughshod over the WWF for only a year. But it was the most significant timeframe in sports-entertainment history: the Rock N’ Wrestling Connection.

Capturing the WWE Tag Team Titles on two occasions, Capt. Lou Albano’s golden boys battled foreign villains Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff as well as a pre-barber Brutus Beefcake and Greg “The Hammer” Valentine.

The team ended when Windham fled to the NWA, going on to win the Florida Heavyweight Championship, short-lived Western States Heritage Championship, World Tag Team Championship, and World Heavyweight Championship. Oh yeah, he also joined a little group known as the Four Horsemen.

As for Rotundo, the father of Bray Wyatt and Bo Dallas followed in Windham’s footsteps, going on to win the NWA Florida Heavyweight Championship, World Television Championship, and joining the Varsity Club. In the early 90s, he’d return to WWE as tax collector Irwin R. Schyster, throwing closelines in a tie and suspenders.

10. Lethal Consequences

In 2008, X-Division regulars Jay Lethal and Consequences Creed joined the TNA Front Line, defending the company against the Main Event Mafia. That allegiance evolved into a steady friendship when Lethal won a Tag Team Title shot and chose Creed as his partner. They emerged victorious over Beer Money but lost the titles back at Genesis 2009.

Lethal would go on to become the Ring of Honor Television and World Champion, holding the belts simultaneously for four months.

And whatever happened to Creed? Well, he jumped to WWE and began what you might call, a new day.

9. Blonde Bombers

You won’t find their matches on the WWE Network, but Pat Patterson and Ray Stevens have not been forgotten. Dave Meltzer and good ol’ Jim Ross argue that the San Francisco duo were the greatest team to ever step inside the squared circle.

Throughout the mid-60s, the rule-breaking Blondes won gold and sold out arenas, delivering show-stealers for the Bay Area faithful and later won the AWA belts in 1978. When Patterson toured Japan in the late 60s, Stevens had a change of heart and became friends with “High Chief” Peter Maivia. That didn’t sit well with Patterson, who recruited “Superstar” Billy Graham to feud with them.

Patterson would go on to become the first Intercontinental Champion and creator of the Royal Rumble. Stevens continued his tag team success in the AWA partnering with Nick Bockwinkel and Bobby Heenan in a legendary trio.

8. John Morrison & The Miz

Edge and Christian wish their show had half the laughs of “The Dirt Sheet.” The Tough Enough stars shared a cynical sense of humor that made a worthwhile destination. Former Tag Team Champions and Slammy Award winners, Morrison and Miz saved the tag team division in the latter half of the 2000s.

Morrison left WWE to become the most recognizable star of Lucha Underground and The Miz went on to not only main event WrestleMania but successfully defend the WWE Championship against the fraudulent 16-time champion.

7. Thrillseekers

Jericho was probably blind to Owens’ betrayal because he still keeps in touch with his first teammate, Lance Storm. The Canadian pair debuted in the U.S. in Smoky Mountain Wrestling, starring in a series of hilariously cringe worthy vignettes featuring arcade games and failed attempts to hit on chicks.

Both went on to achieve mainstream success in ECW, WCW and WWE. Storm now runs a wrestling school in Canada while Jericho will be seeking revenge at WrestleMania 33.

6. Texas Outlaws

For any child of the 80s, it’s unfathomable that Dusty Rhodes could be a bad guy. But ask your fathers and grandfathers and they’ll wince at the thought of “Dirty” Dusty dancing with a fat polka dotted ass. Rhodes and his comrade Dick Murdoch dominated the AWA in the 1960s, riding mules and busting up pretty boys, ironically inspiring a young Ric Flair.

We all know that Rhodes moved on to become the “American Dream,” but Captain Redneck didn’t just ride into the sunset. Murdoch toured the territories, main eventing everywhere he went, eventually raising hell in Mid-South with Junkyard Dog against the Fabulous Freebirds. He’d go on to win the WWE Tag Team Championship with Adrian Adonis in 1984.

5. Edge & Christian

Childhood friends who lived their dream, Edge and Christian grew up in front of the WWE audience, emerging on the scene as misunderstood goths and eventually becoming world champions. Although Edge was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame and Christian may have to wait until Akeem goes in, the Canadian cohorts erased the Jannetty stigma once and for all.

4. Hollywood Blondes

WCW management paired “Flyin” Brian Pillman with “Stunning” Steve Austin because they didn’t have any ideas for Austin. A couple of gold necklaces and matching vests later, the hottest tag team in the business exploded onto the scene, mocking legendary figures Ric Flair and Arn Anderson and winning the Tag Team Championships from Ricky Steamboat and Shane Douglas.

Of course, once they were super hated yet universally respected, management split them up and had no further plans for them. Taking matters into his own hands, Pillman developed the “Loose Canon” moniker, breaking the fourth wall and challenging fans, peers and promoters alike to guess whether he was genuinely crazy or fooling everyone.

I don’t have to tell you what happened to the other guy.

3. The Hardy Boyz

Until 2016, you could argue that Jeff Hardy was the success of the family. The Rainbow Haired Warrior won world titles in both WWE and TNA and was at one point, the most beloved wrestler in the industry. As for his older brother Matt, well, he was an accomplished midcarder who won the United States, Cruiserweight, European and Hardcore titles.

However, the tide has leveled as Broken Matt now reigns as the most entertaining, profitable character outside of WWE.

2. Ric Flair & Greg Valentine

The “Nature Boy” and “The Hammer” tore up the Carolinas, winning the NWA World Tag Team and Mid-Atlantic titles on multiple occasions. The team split after they were stripped of the titles in April 1978 as a result of “unprofessional conduct”. After all, Slick Ric is the dirtiest player in the game.

Valentine went on to become a powerhouse in the NWA, breaking Wahoo McDnaiel’s leg and battling Roddy Piper in dog collar matches around the territory. In 1984, Valentine moved to WWE, winning the Intercontinental and Tag Team Championships. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004.

Flair went on to become God.

1. The Blade Runners

Two Herculean jocks emerged on the scene in the mid-1980s, paying their dues in Memphis before jumping to Mid-South Wrestling where they only competed for six months before going their separate ways.

One went to World Class Championship Wrestling, then the WWF and became the champion in April of 1990.

The other stayed in Mid-South, then moved to Jim Crockett Promotions and became the NWA World Heavyweight Champion in July of 1990.

No other team became bigger breakout stars than Ultimate Warrior and Sting.

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