Way back in 1989, I was at a Saturday Night’s Main Event taping in Worcester, MA, when Demolition lost the WWF Tag Team Championship to Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson (the Brain Busters). It was the first time I had seen a title change hands live.
That loss marked the end of one of the WWF’s all-time greatest records, as the face-painted Ax and Smash had held the tag titles for 478 days and cemented themselves as a classic tag team, albeit one with unlikely origins.
Now, current WWE Raw Tag Team Champions New Day are in line to break Demolition’s record if they retain they titles through Dec. 14, 2016. Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods, and Big E have held the tag straps since Aug. 24, 2015. By the way, Kingston grew up in the Boston suburb of Winchester, MA, which at one point was also the home of Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake.
The New Day: Kofi Kingston, Big E, and Xavier Woods
Even back in the ’80s, it was rare to see tag champs go so long holding the belts, but Vince McMahon had made it his mission to put Demolition in the same league as their real-life competition, the NWA’s Road Warriors.
Meanwhile, Smash was Barry Darsow, who had previously had success playing Russian characters Krusher Khruschev in the Mid South territory and the NWA. In a trivia note, the original Smash was Randy Colley, who many will remember at Moondog Rex. Reports back in the late ’80s suggest that Colley was removed from the role of Smash because McMahon felt too many fans would recognize him.
Demolition and New Day are about as far apart as characters as possible. Demolition played it straight as ass kickers who just beat the shit out of people. They were heels for a while with the late Mr. Fuji as their manager before a memorable babyface turn at the 1988 Survivor Series. New Day, by comparison, play it mostly for laughs with their entertaining ring entrances and banter with the crowd, while throwing in some cool high-flying and power moves. And Woods as always cracks me up playing his trombone at ringside.
In a funny poll conducted by the Pro Wrestling Torch, as of early this morning, 45% of respondents said they do not want New Day to break the record, compared to 38% who are rooting for Woods, Kingston, and E (another 17% just plain don’t care).
Does either Demolition or New Day deserve to have this prestigious record? I doubt it. Neither truly would be considered the greatest tag team in WWE history. The third place for longest reign was held by Jimmy and Johnny Valiant in 1974-75 at 370 days, and that duo could at least lay claim to being the best ever in WWWF history. There’s plenty of other guys — the Samoans, Hart Foundation, Rockers, Hardy Brothers — who would could also make an argument.
Regardless, it sure looks like New Day will break the record, and they deserve hearty congratulation in terms of longevity and being goddamn funny. I suspect it will be a long time before any other team approaches New Day’s tenure.