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 - Bill Camp

This month I have chosen to write about the history of the federationís tag team titles. Most of this monthís information comes once again from Royal Duncan and Gary Willís priceless piece of wrestling information, Wrestling Title Histories.

When the World Wide Wrestling Federation was still called Capitol Wrestling, their first tag team titles were the U.S. Tag Team Titles, starting in 1958. The first champions were Don Curtis and Mark Lewin, two men who had enormous success all over the country in both tag team and singles competition. It is said they defeated Has Schmidt and Dick the Bruiser for the titles, but this is believed to be a phantom title change. Shortly after they traded the titles several times with another highly successful team in the Graham Brothers, Dr. Jerry and Eddie, but soon after Eddie retired leaving the straps vacant until Dr. Jerry found a new partner in Johnny Valentine. They became champions through a tournament defeating Don Curtis and Mark Lewin. Eddie Graham eventually returned and they traded the belts with Red and Lou Bastien several times until the original Fabulous Kangaroos, Al Costello and Roy Heffernan, found themselves as champions starting in mid 1960.

The Kangaroos are generally considered the originators of tag team wrestling, being from Australia at a time when the matches were still called "Australian tag matches." They held the U.S. Tag belts on and off until being defeated by Johnny Valentine and "Cowboy" Bob Ellis in 1962, with their final reign lasting over a year. Then "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers and Johnny Barend, whom Rogers teamed with regularly, defeated Valentine and Ellis in a match where Ellis arrived late, leaving Valentine to team with Arnold Skoaland, who was pinned in the first fall. Ellis arrived in the second fall to defend the belts, but they were defeated and Rogers and Barend became champions. They ran the same angle when Rogers and Barend lost the straps with Buddy Austin subbing for Pete Sanchez to team with Great Scott in March of 1963.

By mid 1963, another big bruising team with a lot of success found themselves as champions, Skull Murphy and Brute Bernard. These were two large bald men who looked as intimidating as they fought. It took the team of Gorilla Monsoon and Killer Kowalski to upend Murphy and Bernard for what was by now finally called the "WWWF U.S. Tag Team Championship." But Monsoon and Kowalski werenít champions for long, as the Tolos brothers, John and Chris, made their way to the East Coast to upend the champions in Teaneck, NJ (most titles changes at this time took place in Washington, D.C.) In 1964 the Graham brothers got yet another reign as champions, and in 1965 Monsoon found another partner to hold the belts in Bill Watts, who were defeated by the Miller Brothers, Bill and Dan later that same year. 1966 found Baron Mikel Scicluna and Smasher Sloan as somewhat unlikely champions, but were defeated by Greek wrestler Spiros Arion and Antonio Pugliese (Tony Parisi) but Arion was actually subbing for the injured Miguel Perez in the third fall to find himself as champion. When Pugliese left the WWWF, he was replaced in the team by Arnold Skoaland.  More...

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