A Mark’s Eye View is a weekly look at some of the things that made me a huge fan of professional wrestling.
Some people argue that Shawn Michaels killed tag teams, but the Rockers were far from the first team to split up. As a matter of fact, there were plenty of bloody feuds built on these breakups and to this day, pretty much every brother tag team has eventually feuded against one another.
The Heartbreak Kid was a different type of groundbreaker. Other teams had seen a team member go on to some success after parting ways. Bobby Eaton went on to win the WCW World Television Title, for example. Some even went on to become legends like Bret Hart. But no one cemented what a tag split does quite like HBK.
After Michaels superkicked Marty Jannetty through that barber shop window, the question would forever be asked of tag team break ups: who’s the Shawn, and who’s the Marty?
(A strong argument can be made that Marty was the better of the two. His moveset, timing, and psychology were just as impressive. Much like Shawn, the promo ability may have come with time. I know the “who is Shawn” question refers to who is better, but it can also be taken as who wasted the most potential.)
The flip side is not really worth asking. When tag teams end, it just seems to be a wrestling law that only one will be a huge success. This article does not include stables like The Shield or teams that saw two established singles wrestlers get thrown together, like the Hollywood Blondes, who went on to even greater success after their run ended. With apologies to The Hardyz, here is the one team that broke up and saw both members go on to unquestioned success as singles stars:
The most successful tag team partners after their break up was the Blade Runners.
There is no team that saw its individual members do better than Sting and the Ultimate Warrior. As a team, they were doomed to be Road Warrior ripoffs. There were already duos that had done that and once Demolition hit the scene, no one would be able to do it better. The best the Blade Runners could hope for was a feud with the LOD at some point.
With time, Sting and Warrior may have become a formidable duo. Both were bursting with charisma, Sting became a passable worker, and Warrior was physically imposing. It just never seemed to be in the cards. Warrior was too much of an individual (or a wack-job), while Sting would have ended up wanting more. The day Warrior pissed off Bill Watts and left Sting on his own was the best thing that could have happened to both men.
What they ended up doing was incredible. Sting managed to compete in some of the most memorable matches of the late 1980s and ’90s, while Warrior is fondly remembered for his impressive WWF run. The two managed to attract non fans and worked their way up the card to become world champions.
Their eventual runs with the top belts in professional wrestling did not have the lasting impact expected, but are still very impressive accomplishments. Within a few months of each other, the two former partners toppled the icons of the previous decade. A clearer picture of the future had never been painted.
The two are more than just former world champions. They are bona fide legends of the sport. At a time when it seemed like Hogan and Flair were nearing the ends of their careers (in 1990. Go figure.), they seemed to be the two who would rule the next decade. While the two never reached the heights of the men they beat, they still left their stamp on the sport.
Other teams have seen both team members win world titles, but no team did with as much impact as the Blade Runners. They beat two of the biggest stars in wrestling history while seeming like locks to rule the next decade. No tag team has ever done better after going their own ways.
Next week: The xenophobia of WrestleMania.
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