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 - Bill Camp

Last month I began discussing the history of the World Wide Wrestling Federation’s Tag Team Championships. While I already got through the U.S. and International Tag Team Title holders and changes, this month my task will be to continue on with the Federation’s own version of the tag team titles, now simply called the WWWF Tag Team Titles.

The first tag champions were a wild pair of brawlers named “Crazy” Luke Graham and Tarzan Tyler, who won the titles in a tournament beating Dick “the Bruiser” Afflis and The Sheik (Ed Farhat) in New Orleans, La.  However, there is some speculation that this tournament was another phantom tourney, and Tyler and Graham were simply recognized as champions starting in June of 1971.  By the way, the tandem was also managed by Lou Albano.  However, their title reign was short lived as Rene Goulet and Karl Gotch (proving the Gotch name still had some recognition by the early 1970s) caught up with the champions winning the belts in New York, N.Y. on December 6, 1971.

And if Graham and Tyler’s title reign was short, Goulet and Gotch’s reign was even shorter, as a scant two weeks later, King Curtis Iaukea and (one of my all time favorites) Baron Mikel Scicluna won the belts in Philadelphia (probably at a TV taping, since that’s where they taped then).  Scicluna and Iaukea were also managed by Albano.  

But only 3 months after that, Chief Jay Strongbow won his first of what would eventually become three title reigns, this time teaming with Sonny King in New York’s Madison Square Garden.  But this title reign would also be the beginning of one of Strongbow’s hottest feuds of his career, one that would be rekindled many times over, as his tandem would eventually drop the tag straps to Mr. Fuji and Prof. Toru Tanaka.  The title change came on television at the Philadelphia Civic Center.

Then in 1973, a new wrestler hit the WWF circuit and was good enough to tie with “Cowboy” Bob Orton for Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s “Rookie of the Year” award.  He was Tony Garea from Auckland, New Zealand, and he hit the scene fast enough to pick up (if memory serves as to how this run went) a mystery partner to meet Fuji and Tanaka for the tag belts on TV.  The mystery man turned out to be giant Haystacks Calhoun and together they ended Fuji and Tanaka’s 11-month reign.  However, Albano’s latest tandem would not be denied and in just four months they were on top again, regaining the title on television.  But Garea was also a game competitor and a terrific tag team wrestler.  So he went out to get another partner to challenge for the belts, and found one in Dean Ho (apparently the WWWF was cashing in on the success of the highly successful TV show Hawaii 5-O).  They did what most teams did back then; won a few squashes, then received a non-title match against the champs on TV, and soundly defeated them.  This led to a title match on TV a few weeks later (after Albano made some weak excuse that his team were sick or something to that effect in the initial match).  Well, in the return match for the titles, the result this time was no different, and Garea and Ho ended the Japanese team’s second title reign.

I should also point out, that many of the matches where the tag titles changed hands on television was usually very formulaic during this time.  Usually, the team who was scheduled to lose took most of the offense during the match.  And when the team who was to gain the belts finally took the offensive, they usually beat on the tougher member of the losing team before pinning the weaker member.  More...

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