In honor of the Hype Bros’ breakup, we craved since its summer reincarnation, FRS Slam! ranks its own favorites among the hundreds of tag team betrayals in wrestling’s modern history.
5. The Festival of Friendship
Moments like this, or even the death of the Mega Powers, were always expected to happen. Whether it be the year-long build to Hogan vs Savage at WrestleMania V or the trolling warpath of Team Kevin and Chris (or Team Chris and Kevin) to a United States title match at last year’s WrestleMania, everyone knew what was coming before it actually happened.
The Owens turn was as predictable as anything in wrestling, but the Festival of Friendship was utter perfection in an era where storytelling is not the same. Jericho’s reaction when his own name appears on the list is the stuff dreams are made of.
The best tag betrayals have two factors. One, they come out of nowhere. Two, they have a memorable moment that sticks with you. The festival of friendship has the latter with Jericho’s list reveal but was not nearly as surprising as the top four that made our own list.
4. Matt Hardy Turns on Jeff … Again
Not only does Matt Hardy turn on his brother with a steel chair at the 2009 Royal Rumble, but of all the people he helped … Edge? Pick any Hardy vs. Hardy turn over the years, but this one was the most shocking. Post Edge/Hardy/Lita scandal, Matt screwed his brother (Nero) out of the WWE Championship only to see it go around the waist of a real-life enemy.
Why Matt why? As the best in the world, Jim Ross put it: “Jeff Hardy was living his dream, and now his dream has become a family nightmare.” Matt no longer wanted to share the spotlight with his brother. He’d always been “just big brother,” and it was time for Matt to hold Jeff responsible for all of his indiscretions.
3. The Betrayal of Awesomeness
This build started earlier in 2001 during the King of the Ring Tournament. In a segment with William Regal and Tajiri the night after Edge became King, Christian teased a turn on his “brother.” Christian claimed that he deserved a match with Edge in the finals before Shane McMahon screwed him in the semifinals.
Fast forward to a match where Edge pinned Lance Storm, and the official turn began. Storm attacked Edge in frustration after the loss. Christian came in with a chair for the save. The brothers hug and … BAM. Chair shot followed by trophy shot with the very King of the Ring trophy that sparked a rivalry with a conchairto to cap off a brutal attack.
The next night on Smackdown, we enjoyed the birth of Christian’s delusional, weasel-like persona. Christian called himself special, blamed Edge for his WCW championship loss and called Edge jealous of the great and might Christian.
2. Scott Steiner Becomes Big Poppa Pump
When it is a legitimate family with that pedigree, the betrayal means so much more. The Steiners’ run as a tag team dated back 10 years, but it was time for Rick to wind down and Scott to become a singles star. The Steiners did everything they could in 10 years as a tag team from Starrcades to championships to the men to stand up to the NWO. But now, it was Scott Steiner’s moment, and boy was it a moment.
And the way it went down was some of the better in-ring storytelling of the later periods of the NWO. A taunt seen 1,000 times on WCW television and pay per view, Rick Steiner crawls like a dog around a flexing Scott Steiner. Rick taunts the outsides when he crawls between Scott’s legs and dares his foes to enter the ring. A double ax handle to the back, a two-sweet and a suplex later … utter betrayal.
1. The Barber Shop Window
Often imitated, never duplicated. “There are absolutely no problems with the Rockers, whatsoever. I can assure you of that.” Some of the most famous words in wrestling history because of what came next. The superkick is the perfect move for a turn because of how quickly it strikes. Marty Jannetty was “out cold” before most fans even realized what happened. The head through the window burns the image in the minds of the fans while a helpless, out of place, Brutus Beefcake adds a level of strangeness.
As Bobby “the Brain” Heenan explained during the segment, “one without the other isn’t any good.” Thankfully, this was dead wrong with Michaels, whose heel turn in 1992 set him on a path to absolute greatness. Sadly, Jannetty was never the same.