Ten Best Tag Teams of All Time: Number 7
“Ooooh, you didn’t know?” Upon hearing this, you knew you were about witness one of the most unique tag teams ever seen in the business. The “Road Dogg” Jesse James and “Bad Ass”Billy Gunn formed one of most charismatic teams WWE history as well as be members of Degeneration X.
The team formed in 1997 after ending feud between the two as Rock-a-Billy (Gunn) and “The Real Double J” Jesse James. James walked out to the ring on an episode of Shotgun Saturday Night after Rock-a-Billy lost a match and asked him to turn on his manager Honky Tonk Man and team up with him. Rock-a-Billy became “Bad Ass” Billy Gunn and James re-dubbed himself The Road Dogg. They made a splash by attacking other teams. Having no entrance music, they made their entrances by James speaking on the mic as they made their way to the ring.
In November 1997, they defeated the Legion of Doom for the WWE Tag Team Championship. After they “stole” the win and ran to a waiting car to escape, they earned their names by escaping, as Jim Ross would state, like outlaws running from a robbery. The newly christened New Age Outlaws, would become one of the most hated teams in WWE while continuing to feud with LOD. They would even join Triple H and Shawn Michaels– Degenaration X– in attacking LOD, shaving Road Warrior Hawk’s mohawks and slamming Road Warrior Animal through the announce table.
Shortly before the 1998 Royal Rumble, NAO began feuding with Mick Foley. First they took him on as Dude Love, then Mankind and, finally, as Cactus Jack. While fighting as Cactus Jack, Foley recruited a partner in Chainsaw Charlie (Terry Funk) when it became clear he needed help. After a disqualification to Legion of Doom at Royal Rumble, DX confronted the New Age Outlaws and told them they needed to start making waves in the company.
That conversation led to the New Age Outlaws attacking and locking Cactus Jack and Chainsaw Charlie in a dumpster and push off the entrance stage. After first looking concerned, the Outlaws would continue to attack Jack and Charlie before WWE officials intervened. At Wrestlemania XIV, the Outlaws lost the tag titles to Cactus Jack and Chainsaw Charlie. On Raw the next night, however, they regained the titles from Jack and Charlie in a steel cage match and would be joined by Triple H and X-Pac in beating down Jack and Charlie. They would officially DX at this point.
As the popularity of DX grew, the faction would change from heels to tweeners. DX would play a huge part in WWE’s eventual victory over WCW in the Monday Night Wars. The New Age Outlaws would ride the wave to tag team success. After losing the tag titles to Kane and Mankind in 1998, they regained the titles from the same team after Kane no-showed at SummerSlam. After declining an invitation to join Vince McMahon Corporation, they lost the tag titles to Corporation members Ken Shamrock and Big Boss Man.
As 1999 began, the team began to drift apart with both members chasing individual gold. James won both the Hardcore and Intercontinental titles early in the year. Gunn also held the Hardcore title during the year. They still teamed up to take on the team of Jeff Jarrett and Owen Hart at Backlash. One week later, Gunn turned on James that led to match Over the Edge.
After a short reunion with the now heel DX, the team’s run ended at No Way Out 2000. Gunn suffered a serious arm injury in a match against the Dudley Boyz– requiring surgery for a torn rotator cuff. James was released by 2001 due to issues with drugs and Gunn would be let go in 2004 after ten years with the company.
The two would reunite in Total Non-Stop Action Wrestling, first as members of 4 Live Kru and then as the tag team of The James Gang. By 2006, they changed their name to Voodoo Kin Mafia (a play on Vincent Kennedy McMahon’s name). As part of VKM, they would verbally attack WWE and tried to “invade” WWE headquarters– as DX once did to WCW during the Monday Night Wars.
After several years away from WWE, the entirety of Degeneration X would reunite for one night on the 1,000th episode of Raw on July 23, 2012. On March 4, 2013 episode of Old School Raw, the New Age Outlaws would reunite for their first televised tag team match on WWE in over 13 years– defeating Primo and Epico. A week later they answered a challenge by the Rhodes Scholars, but were attacked by Brock Lesnar during the match.
On the January 6, 2014 Old School Raw, they stood in CM Punk’s corner as he faced Roman Reigns. They team up with Punk in a six-man tag match versus The Shield, though they lost. The following Monday Night, they again teamed with Punk against The Shield only to abandon him and allow The Shield to beat Punk down.
Four days after their “betrayal” of CM Punk, they were awarded a tag title shot against the team of Goldust and Cody Rhodes. The New Age Outlaws won the Tag Team Championship for the first time in 14 years– the longest period of time in between title reigns in WWE history. After they lost the tag titles to The Usos, the New Age Outlaws would team up once more with each other and Kane against The Shield at Wrestlemania XXX. They have appeared since that event.