Inaugural 5 AEW World Tag Team Champions, ranked
From the very beginning, AEW and their EVP’s Matt and Nick Jackson, the Young Bucks, promised that tag team wrestling could matter and be the main event again. While their tag division has since expanded and developed immensely, it has yet to produce more than a handful of great rivalries, nor reached and maximized its main event goals and potential. But one way to measure a division’s success is by evaluating its champions: What has each unique champion brought to the table? Who progressed and legitimized the division the most? Let’s rank them all: AEW’s first 5 World Tag Team Champions.
It’s crazy to think that FTR sits at the bottom of a tag team champions list, but in the year 2020, like many others, they were not dealt a good hand at all.
They would serve as an auxiliary part to the Adam Page versus the Elite saga, then very quickly become World Tag Team Champions at All Out that same year, defeating the most dominant tandem in AEW thus far, Adam Page and Kenny Omega. FTR would go on to have a handful of defenses on Dynamite, most notably against SCU later that same month, in a highly spirited contest between two teams that just matched well together, especially with the exchange of roll-ups in the closing stretch.
On top of all this, obviously, is the fact that these moments would all, unfortunately, take place in front of an absent or limited live audience, which dampens this reign; which, to be fair, is also outside of anyone’s control. But the best moment of this brief 2-month title reign would come at the very end, when the two best but stylistically-opposite teams of the last decade, FTR and the Young Bucks, finally squared off at Full Gear, in what can be best described as a love letter to tag team wrestling, which not even a limited live audience can hamper.
Both SCU and Lucha Brothers’ title reigns suffer from somewhat of a champions’ sickness, in that both had an air of intrigue around them before they won the belts, but once they attained the status of champion, it felt as though their runs became less eventful.
In the case of SCU’s Frankie Kazarian and Scorpio Sky, however, one additional factor on top of that is that the depth of the tag team division in 2021 is not what it was late 2019, when they were at the top. And with the Young Bucks losing in the first round of the inaugural championship tournament, not many other teams felt like potential champions before being in title matches. SCU would be one of those few, but with a very last-minute switcheroo from Christopher Daniels to Scorpio Sky representing SCU (rather than just promoting Kazarian and Sky from the get-go), the eventual championship win felt somewhat off. But all things considered, with the duo having more prominent and exciting defenses against the likes of the Inner Circle, and the men they would drop the titles to, Adam Page and Kenny Omega, SCU ranks just ahead of the last spot.
(3) Lucha Brothers
What separates the Lucha Brothers from SCU is that the Lucha Brothers had already felt like champions before the latter had even won the gold from the Young Bucks. Of course, the Lucha Brothers had much more time to be established in that light, but their crowning moment alone is enough to land them higher than the teams previously listed. That cathartic championship coronation took place following one of the most memorable steel cage matches in wrestling history, with the Lucha Brothers conquering their greatest rivals, the Young Bucks, at All Out 2021.
Rey Fenix and Penta El Zero Miedo would mostly defend their titles thereafter on Rampage against teams lower on the card like the Acclaimed and the Butcher & the Blade, but none of these matches would once again catch fire, until their series with one of the top teams to hit their stride in the 2020s, FTR, which would hit its peak with a stellar defense on Rampage, with both teams just on that night.
(2) Young Bucks
It’s tough to argue against the Young Bucks being the most complete tag team in all of AEW. As champions, the Bucks have gone toe-to-toe against any combination of teams involving the most impressive and dynamic athletes on the roster; Pac, Rey Fenix, and Penta El Zero Miedo. But none more so than when they got the world talking with their intense steel cage title fight with the Lucha Brothers at All Out 2021. The Bucks also produce compelling matches against teams with styles vastly different from theirs, namely their classic first encounter with FTR at Full Gear 2020, and maybe their best match in their entire run as champions against AEW’s most prominent brawlers, Jon Moxley and Eddie Kingston, at Double or Nothing 2021.
On top of all their longstanding athleticism and string of compelling matches against top teams, the Young Bucks connect with the fans in a way that perhaps isn’t best seen in traditional wrestling promos. Maybe it’s the popular BTE vlogs, or maybe it’s because they’re just forces in modern tag team wrestling. Whatever it is, we cannot deny that their connection to the audience—along with the rest of The Elite—is strong, whether they align themselves in the ring with questionable people like Don Callis, or whether they get the job done on their own merits.
The Bucks are not simply reliable, or coast on their longevity and EVP status, but as the World Champions (and even when they’re not), we know that when it comes right down to the big matches, they steal the show and exceed expectations.
(1) “Hangman” Adam Page and Kenny Omega
It’s tough to argue against it, but maybe we can. The Young Bucks may have been and may still be the most complete tag team, but “Hangman” Adam Page and Kenny Omega were the most complete and outright best tag team champions among the company’s first five holders.
They were two great, somewhat similar power-based singles wrestlers that managed to have unbelievable chemistry as a team. Both men had the size and explosivity for their bread-and-butter moves, but they also had the diversity in their moveset to be comfortable throwing bombs using the ropes, or in the center of the ring, or on the outside. Since winning the titles on a boat from inaugural champions SCU, Page and Omega put on vigorous performances against a wide selection of tag teams, from consistent top tandems like Best Friends to younger and newer teams like Private Party. Page and Omega really took care of AEW’s tag division and gave it fire during the early pandemic days with their dominant, quality performances.
But of course, ahead of all of that is the Revolution match. Page and Omega versus the Young Bucks at Revolution 2020 for the World Tag Team Championship is still regarded as one of AEW’s best matches, and even one of the best tag team matches in wrestling history. While that is also a testament to the Young Bucks’ talent, it goes back to the connection with the fans that all of The Elite have. At the end of the day, they all built these stories together, of the triumphs of some in the Elite coming at the cost of turmoil for the others. But what the Bucks didn’t have was the Elite’s biggest hero, the relatable “anxious millennial cowboy,” Adam Page, and the former gaijin ace of New Japan Pro Wrestling, Kenny Omega, wrestling on the same team. Page and Omega were dominant in a way that had a beginning, middle, and end in sight; and boy did we strap in for the ride, with the greatest World Tag Team Champions that AEW has had.