5 WWE teams whose careers were propelled by breaking up
The WWE Universe saw the shocking end of The Usos last week. Jimmy Uso's betrayal of Main Event Jey shook the wrestling world, leaving fans wondering what's next for what we thought was an unbreakable duo.
Whenever a popular duo breaks up, fans start to wonder which member will move on to have great solo success and which one will fall behind. It's easy to feel negative about tag team splits, as more often than not, we've seen a great talent fall by the wayside because their counterpart got the better push.
But fear not! It's not all thumbtacks and legos in your feet! In fact, sometimes a broken team leads to WWE making two top superstars. Here are five such examples.
#5. WWE Tag Team Champions John Morrison and The Miz
Ah, yes, the Shaman of Sexy. The Mizard of Lust. While John Morrison may have had some success prior to this team-up, having won the WWE Tag Team Championship as part of MNM as well as capturing the Intercontinental and ECW Championships, his popularity as a star exploded when he and The Miz began airing The Dirt Sheet.
On Tuesday nights, The Miz and John Morrison brought their web series to the ring, and the WWE Universe booed them out of the arena every week. These two came together in November 2007, initially as rivals. However, when they won their first set of tag titles off of MVP and Matt Hardy, the two went on to become one of the greatest pairings of the Ruthless Aggression Era.
(Bonus: peep a certain "Elite" tag team working as fake D-Generation X in the video above)
Racking up two tag title reigns for a total of 316 days, Miz and Morrison held tag gold for half of their run as a team, which is quite impressive. In 2009, Miz was drafted to RAW while Morrison went to SmackDown. The Miz made the first move, attacking his former best bro and splitting a wildly hot act for WWE seemingly at its peak.
Thankfully for both, that was not the case. John Morrison's run on SmackDown saw him capture the Intercontinental Championship while also challenging for the World Heavyweight Championship on several occasions. The Prince of Parkour became a fan favorite for his flashy moves, entrance, and something my nephews call "rizz."
Despite never being a world champion in WWE, Morrison hit his peak in the promotion at this time and could've been a great top guy had the company gone that route.
As far as The Miz goes...well, he'll be sure to remind you every Monday night. The A-Lister is the first-ever two-time Grand Slam Champion in WWE, meaning he won every major title there is to win twice. However, his runs with the Intercontinental and United States Championships are what many remember him for.
Sometimes it's difficult to keep a mid-card belt interesting, but The Miz made it his goal to raise any championship he's held to the prestige of the WWE Championship and has done so on several occasions. The Miz will go down as one of the greatest Intercontinental Champions of all time.
#4. WWF Tag Team Champions Shawn Michaels and Diesel
A tag team list with Shawn Michaels that doesn't involve the Rockers or D-Generation X? Shocking, I know. Back in 1993, The Heartbreak Kid recruited Big Daddy Cool Diesel as his personal bodyguard. Diesel helped Michaels win his second Intercontinental Championship from Marty Jannetty on June 6th of that year.
In 1994, after the historic HBK and Razor Ramon feud, Diesel would be the one to take the belt off of Razor. On August 28th, the duo won the WWF Tag Team titles off of The Headshrinkers. Unfortunately, at SummerSlam, Shawn accidentally took out the big man with Sweet Chin Music which was intended for Razor Ramon in a rematch for the belt. Razor regained the Intercontinental title from Diesel, leading to the split between these two.
Considering the way HBK's old tag partner Marty Jannetty's career went after the split of the Rockers, did Diesel suffer a similar fate? No, not in the slightest. In fact, after their break-up, Diesel would capture the world title before Shawn.
While Diesel stood atop the mountain, Shawn won the Royal Rumble in 1995, leading to a match for the gold between the former friends at WrestleMania XI. Diesel retained and would hold the title for 358 days before losing it to Bret Hart. During that time, HBK took a leave of absence as Vince McMahon planned a big babyface run for Shawn.
Michaels would end up winning the 1996 Royal Rumble as well before beating Bret Hart for his first WWF Championship at WrestleMania XII. He would face Diesel again at In Your House on April 28th. A month later, fans would witness or hear about the infamous "Curtain Call" incident where Shawn Michaels, Hunter Hearst Helmsley, Razor Ramon, and Diesel all embraced in the ring at Madison Square Garden.
Diesel and Ramon would leave to form the nWo in WCW, while Shawn and Hunter united and brought a new attitude to WWE with D-Generation X. The rest is history.
#3. NXT Tag Team Champions DIY
Let's take a look at a more recent tag team. After working for several months without contracts, Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa both signed with WWE in 2016. Prior to this, they worked as a duo in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, and fans quickly got behind them.
The rise of the eventual DIY to the top of the tag team division was one of the greatest stories told in NXT history...until their breakup. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Prior to any championship success, both men competed in the Cruiserweight Classic, facing off in the first round. Gargano defeated Ciampa, leaving fans in attendance quaking in their boots, wondering if the Psycho Killer was about to turn on his friend.
Instead, they sat beside one another, embraced, and left with their heads held high. On August 20th, 2016, at TakeOver: Brooklyn II, they unsuccessfully challenged The Revival for the NXT Tag titles. After costing DIY the Dusty Classic, The Revival faced them at TakeOver: Toronto in November.
Gargano and Ciampa finally won the NXT Tag Team Championship in a fantastic two-out-of-three falls classic. As great as this moment was, it was nowhere near the height both men would achieve. After losing the gold and getting one final shot against The Authors of Pain at TakeOver: Chicago, Ciampa turned on Gargano and drove him through a table with an Air Raid Crash.
The former friends feuded on and off for a few years thanks to a few injuries to Ciampa delaying the eventual finish. During this time, both men captured the NXT Championship, and Gargano even got his hands on the North American title, making him the first-ever NXT Triple Crown Champion.
While Gargano became the heart of the Black and Gold brand, Ciampa dubbed himself Blackheart, becoming the most hated villain in the brand's history. Ciampa would also capture the NXT title a second time. With Ciampa's return this year, fans are clamoring for a DIY reunion, and WWE seems to be supportive of the idea.
#2. WWF Tag Team Champions Edge and Christian
If you weren't watching wrestling in the Attitude Era, you wouldn't really consider these two former world champions as tag team specialists. Both Edge and Christian have had Hall of Fame-worthy careers as singles competitors, but it was their time as a tag team – and their split – that propelled them to the top.
Edge and Christian have been real-life best friends for decades, but when they came into the WWF in the 90s, they were introduced to the audience as brothers. Christian initially opposed Edge, aligning himself with Gangrel before convincing Edge to "come home." The trio, known as The Brood, became one of the most entertaining acts in WWE. After splitting from Gangrel, Edge & Christian dropped the gothic vampire gimmick for a more goofy approach.
It worked, with fans eagerly awaiting their five-second poses, as well as the incredible tag team classics E&C would produce with The Hardy Boyz, The Dudley Boyz, Chris Benoit & Chris Jericho, and more.
They'd win the WWF Tag Team titles on seven separate occasions before their split. After Edge won the King of the Ring Tournament in 2001, Christian became jealous, carrying the trophy as if it was his. (Sound familiar, AEW fans?) Eventually, Christian would attack Edge, hitting a one-man ConChairto before feuding with Edge for the Intercontinental Championship.
In the following years, both men would capture the IC title a combined nine times, the same number as World Heavyweight Championships held between them. While Christian never won the WWE Championship like Edge (four times), Captain Charisma would become a major player in TNA.
During his time there, he won the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship twice. When he returned to WWE in 2009, he also won the WWE ECW Championship twice. Considering all of this success, it's hard to think of any team that has surpassed Edge and Christian when it comes to this topic. Well...except one.
#1. WWE Tag Team Champions Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins, AKA The Shield
Yes, this is a list of tag teams, so this could be considered cheating. Still, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins were the tag team of the trio, holding the WWE Tag Team titles for 149 days in 2013. Though less successful as far as tag team success went, it's impossible to deny the legendary careers of Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins, who have been locked in at the #1 and #2 spots in WWE, respectively, since the end of The Shield.
Rollins, Reigns, and Dean Ambrose ran roughshod over WWE for 562 days. They picked up major victories over John Cena, Sheamus, Daniel Bryan, Ryback, the New Age Outlaws, The Usos, the Wyatt Family, and even Evolution during their initial run. Unfortunately, The Shield was shattered when Seth Rollins betrayed his brothers to join The Authority on June 2nd, 2014.
Over the course of the next nine years and counting, all three members of the group became the biggest stars in pro wrestling. They all captured the Intercontinental and United States titles and have all held the WWE Championship. We even saw each member hold the world title on the same night at Money in the Bank 2016.
Seth Rollins defeated then-WWE Champion Roman Reigns at the event, securing his second run with the gold. That lasted...a few minutes, as Dean Ambrose cashed in the Money in the Bank briefcase, which he won earlier in the night. In a matter of minutes, the WWE Championship bounced to each member of the Shield on a historic night.
Cut to today, and each member is flourishing. While Ambrose, now Jon Moxley, is riding high in All Elite Wrestling as a three-time AEW World Champion, we're here to focus on Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns specifically.
Between Reigns and Rollins, they have six WWE Championships, four Universal Championships, one WWE World Heavyweight Championship, three Intercontinental Championships, three United States Championships, six WWE Tag Team Championships, as well as two Royal Rumble wins and a Money in the Bank victory, the latter of which was used by Seth to cash in on Roman's match with Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 31.
Roman has also held the Universal Championship for 1,081 days and counting, making him the fourth-longest reigning world champion in WWE history.
When it comes to tag teams where each member benefited from the breakup, The Shield is far and away the clear winner.