In a sport like professional wrestling that is over 150 years old; tag-team wrestling is a relatively new invention. First introduced in the 1930s, Southern California wouldn’t see its first tag-team match until 1940. In the 76 years since, Southern California has seen its share of great tag-teams. With voting currently ongoing for the 2015 tag-team of the year award, and in honor of the 15th anniversary of SoCalUNCENSORED.com, Let’s talk about the best tag-teams of the last 15 years.
I want to start with a few disclaimers. I mainly focused on teams that have a multi-year history of teaming with each other. I also only considered the teams during the 15 year period starting in 2001, if I would have considered a tag-teams entire body of work some teams, like the Ballards, would be higher.
10. Los Chivos (Kayam & Engima de Oro)
9. Los Luchas (Zokre & Phoenix Star)
8. PPRay (Peter Avalon & Ray Rosas)
7. Mexico’s Most Wanted (Damien 666 & Halloween)
6. RockNES Monsters (Johnny Goodtime & Johnny Yuma)
5. Los Cubanitos/Havana Pitbulls (Ricky Reyes & Rocky Romero) – If we extended the time period back further, Reyes and Romero would undoubtedly be higher up the list. They began tagging in 1999, and won their first EWF tag team title that same year. They captured the UPW tag-team titles in 2000. By 2001 they were clear and away the best team in Southern California, and were named 2001’s Southern California tag-team of the year. They were still a dominate team in 2002, but began to work less as a team and more as singles. In 2003 Rocky Romero debuted for CMLL in Mexico. They faced each other in a really good match at New Japan’s American Super Junior tournament in early 2004. They also made their Ring of Honor debut in 2004. They continued to tag through 2004 to early 2005, but more and more frequently they were wrestling in singles matches. They have had several reunions over the years, but nothing sustained. Both have gone on to have great singles careers, with Romero becoming one of the best wrestlers in world. To this day their match with the Beautiful People at MPW in 2001 is the stuff of legend.
4. Aerial Express (Scorpio Sky & Quicksilver) – Both Scorpio Sky and Quicksilver made their debuts in 2002, coming out of Revolution Pro’s Rudos Dojo. Scorpio Sky finished as runner-up for 2002’s Southern California rookie of the year award, and Quicksilver was awarded the rookie of the year award in 2003. Teamed together, they had a very strong showing in 2003, wrestling primarily in Revolution Pro and AWS, they also teamed on Pro Wrestling Guerilla’s debut show, defeating the Ballard Bros.
Quicksilver also teamed a few times in PWG with Chris Bosh. At the end of 2003 Aerial Express was named the Southern California tag-team of the year, beating out the last year’s winners Joey Ryan and Scott Lost.
In 2004 they had another strong year as they wrestled all over Southern California. They also had their first match for the PWG tag-team titles as the defeated the champions Arrogance (Scott Lost & Chris Bosh). However they defeated them by disqualification and the title did not change hands. They once again were named tag-team of the year in 2004, becoming only the second team at that point to win the award twice.
In 2005 they defeated Los Luchas (Zokre & Phoenix Star) to become the number one contenders for the PWG tag-team titles. They finally won the PWG titles on July 9, 2005 defeating Arrogance in a match that was awarded the 2005 Southern California match of the year. After the match Chris Bosh, Scott Lost and Joey Ryan unmasked Scorpio Sky and he disappeared from PWG for several months, causing them relinquish the tag-team titles.
Quicksilver later team with El Generico to form Cape Fear and then retired in 2007. Scorpio Sky continues to be one of the best technical wrestlers around, and won the award for Southern California’s most outstanding wrestler in 2011 and 2013.
3. Ballard Brothers (Shannon & Shane Ballard) – Like the Havana Pitbulls, the Ballards would be higher up if this list covered a bigger time period. The Ballards have been one of the backbones of tag-team wrestling in Southern California for almost 20 years.
Trained by Alex Knight they began their careers in 1997 at AIWA as singles wrestlers. It was when they began wrestling for WPW at the Anaheim Marketplace they began to team up under the name Los Rojos Locos. They weren’t really fans of the gimmick, and when someone suggested they do a Hanson Brothers gimmick from the movie Slap Shot they ran with it. As they were both real life hockey players, they already even had the jerseys.
The Ballards quickly became mainstays in Southern California and were taking bookings in Mexico and Northern California’s APW as well. In 2000 they made their debut in Revolution Pro, and the WWE wrestling against the Hardy Boyz in a dark match. They were named the Southern California tag-team of the year for 1999 and 2000.
They continued to work throughout California in 2002, including a match with Road Warriors at UPW. In 2003 they made their Japan debut with Zero One and wrestled on PWG’s debut show among others. Since then they have appeared in virtually every promotion in Southern California at one time or another. They have held titles in AWS, SoCal Pro, UPW, and Vendetta Pro among others. They have been nominated for the tag-team of the year award almost every year since, including once again in 2015.
2. X-Foundation/Dynasty (Joey Ryan & Scott Lost) – Joey Ryan and Scott Lost were first put together as a tag-team in 2001 at a UPW Lite show when both of their previous partners quit training. Throughout 2002 they worked as a team all over Southern California, consistently having good matches. By the end of the year they were seen as the favorites for the tag-team of the year award, which they won easily over Mexico’s Most Wanted.
2003 was another great year for the X-Foundation, continuing to wrestle all over Southern California, with great match after great match. They also made their debut for APW in Northern California. They finished as runner up to Aerial Express for the 2003 tag-team of the year award.
The next year started off with Joey Ryan and Scott Lost making it to the semi-finals of PWG’s tag-team title tournament, defeating Babi Slymm & M-Dogg20 (Matt Cross) in the first round and Chris Bosh & Quicksilver in the second round before losing to Super Dragon & American Dragon (Daniel Bryan) in the semi finals. The next month they defeated B-Boy & Homicide to capture the PWG tag-team titles. They would later win the titles back by defeating the team of Super Dragon & Disco Machine. 2004 ended with them one again finishing as runner up to Aerial Express for the Southern California tag-team of the year.
For the next several years they would still team up sporadically, most notably at AWS. They made their team debut in CHIKARA in 2007. In 2008 thanks in part to another great run as a tag-team in PWG they once again finished as runner up in the tag-team of the year voting, this time losing out to the Young Bucks. Scott Lost however was named the 2008 Southern California wrestler of the year, with Joey Ryan finishing third.
Scott Lost and Joey Ryan continued to work as a team until 2010 when Scott Lost retired.
1. The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson) – The gap between The Young Bucks and everyone else is massive. It is not even close. The Young Bucks are a once in a generation talent that I would list among the top 3 tag teams in Southern California history, with the Fabulous Kangaroos and Gordman & Goliath. They are that good.
Originally wrestling as Mr. Instant Replay and Slick Nick, both debuted in late 2004. In October 2004 they started up High Risk Wrestling in the High Desert area, where they started to gain a following. Both brothers were nominated for the 2005 Southern California Rookie of the Year award, with Matt coming in 2nd to Joey Harder (who is no longer in wrestling) and Nick coming in 5th. As a team they finished 5th in the tag-team of the year voting. It was also in 2005 that they got the name Young Bucks, first being announced under that name in February at a FCW show at the Olympic.
Throughout 2006 and 2007 they worked all over Southern California, including their Pro Wrestling Guerrilla debut on June 10, 2007, losing to 2005’s Southern California tag-team of the year Arrogance (Chris Bosh & Scott Lost). The end of 2007 would see them win their first tag-team of the year award, and really start to cement them as something special.
In 2008 they made their Japan debut for Dragon Gate and won the PWG tag-team titles for the first time. They also won the tag-team of the year award for the 2nd time, becoming only the 3rd tag-team to win it twice. 2009 saw them make their debuts in CHIKARA, Ring of Honor, and TNA, and become the first team to win a third Southern California tag-team of the year award.
Since then they have continued to dominate tag-team wrestling in Southern California like no team before, winning tag team of the year again in 2014, and finishing as the runner up in 2010, 2011, and 2012. This isn’t a case where they are winning because they are going up against weak competition in the tag team division. They are winning because they are involved in great match after great match. They won the match of the year three times, 2011-2013, joining Super Dragon (6 times) and B-Boy (3 times) as the only wrestlers to have won it that many times. As of this writing they are currently leading the webpoll for the 2016 tag-team of the year award.
Outside of Southern California the Young Bucks have won New Japan’s IWGP Junior Heavyweight tag-team titles a record four times. They were also named tag-team of the year by the Wrestling Observer in 2014 and 2015, the first back to back winners since Kenta & Naomichi Marufuji in 2003-2004. We are looking at one of the all time great teams.
Maybe in fifteen years, when I write the best tag team of the last thirty years list some team will have surpassed them. I doubt it.