[Feature] Buff Bagwell: A Tag Team History
Some professional wrestlers were meant to be tag team specialists, and in “Tag Team Histories”, The Pro Wrestling Nerd will pay tribute to/explore the wrestlers whose careers all but revolved around the art of team warfare.
In the ten years that Marcus “Buff” Bagwell wrestled for WCW, he was a part of six different tag teams. Some were successful while others continue to be maligned to this day for one reason or another (like, say, a woefully painful theme song). But either way, Bagwell is one of the most prolific tag team wrestlers of the 1990’s (and really of all-time, although old school fans would rather jump off of a bridge than agree with me) and it’s a career that’s worth looking back on. Buff Bagwell, Buff the Stuff, Buff Daddy, Buff the Magic Dragon, Buffy McBufferson…this is your Tag Team History.
Partner in Crime: Too Cold Scorpio
# of Title Wins: 1
Bagwell made his WCW debut in 1991 as a clean cut babyface meant to make all the ladies in the audience squeal with delight. His first couple of years were unremarkable, as he ended up on the losing end of many singles matches. Eventually the powers that be in WCW decided to throw Bagwell in a tag team, and he formed short-lived partnerships with fellow babyfaces like Tom Zenk and Brian Pillman. In early 1993 Bagwell teamed up with Too Cold Scorpio who had debuted the year before as Ron Simmons‘ partner and was turning heads of the fans with his 450 Splash and other high-flying moves. The team quickly hit it off with the fans, their two styles meshing well together (as well their hilarious “dance routine”, where Scorpio would break dance and Bagwell would do the whitest white man dance on the planet) and as 1993 progressed, they built towards making a run a the Tag Team Titles. They finally achieved that goal on October 4, 1993 when they defeated The Nasty Boys (Brian Knobbs/Jerry Sags) for the belts on TV. Their first and only title reign was short-lived, however, as the Nasty Boys took the belts back 20 days later at Halloween Havoc 1993. Bagwell and Scorpio continued to team together, splitting their wins and losses, until early 1994 when Scorpio left, leaving Bagwell without a partner and someone to awkwardly gyrate with in the ring.
2. Stars and Stripes
Partner: The Patriot
# of Title Wins: 2
Mid-1994 saw the WCW debut of The Patriot, the masked hero and lover of the good ol’ United States who had previously been the top star in the independent Global Wrestling Federation (the Dallas-based promotion in which Bagwell got his start in as The Handsome Stranger before making his way to WCW). Patriot and Bagwell quickly formed a team called Stars and Stripes, with Bagwell trading in his ring gear for something a bit more, day I say, patriotic (sigh). Although not as fun of a team to watch as Bagwell/Scorpio, Stars and Stripes quickly ascended the ranks of WCW and won their first Tag Team Titles on September 25, 1994 by defeating the team of Pretty Wonderful (Paul Orndorff/Paul Roma). The two traded the belts back and forth over the next couple of months, with Stars and Stripes eventually coming out on top. But before they could savor the moment of being the top team in WCW, they were nipped in the bud by Harlem Heat (Booker T/Stevie Ray) who defeated them for the belts in December to begin their years-long dominance of the WCW tag team ranks. Stars and Stripes continued to compete for a few months after, mostly competing in dark matches, but in mid-1995 The Patriot left WCW for good and once again Bagwell was back to being a singles wrestler…for the time being.
3. The American Males
Partner: Scotty Riggs
# of Title Wins: 1
Bagwell’s next foray into the world of tag teams is not only the one most wrestling fans hate the most, it’s also the one that Bagwell stayed in for the longest. The American Males debuted in August 1995, with the gimmick of essentially being wrestling pinups (in suspenders). It wasn’t enough that their prettyboy personas already alienated them in the eyes of hardcore wrestling fans; they had to go and adopt one of the worst wrestling themes on record (WARNING: listening to this song all the way through will cause you to immediately whip yourself afterwards like Paul Bettany in The Da Vinci Code).
But despite the bad gimmick, lack of enthusiasm from the fans, and a theme song that was catchy for all the wrong reasons, The American Males still managed a 5 day reign as WCW World Tag Team Champions, beating Harlem Heat on an edition of Monday Nitro and losing it back to them on the following Saturday Night. This marked the end of the American Males’ relevancy and in a boom period for the division that saw teams like The Road Warriors and The Steiner Brothers fighting for the gold, they were relegated to dark matches and meaningless wins over other lower mid-card tag teams.
The American Males officially split in November of 1996 when Bagwell joined the New World Order, turning his back on Riggs in the process and blaming him for their team’s failure. Bagwell won the subsequent (and short) feud between the two and moved on from his time as an American Male. Bagwell was now known as “Buff” Bagwell and was a part of the biggest stable in WCW. But he still could not outrun his destiny to be a tag team wrestler.
4. Vicious and Delicious
Partner: Scott “Flash” Norton
# of Title Wins: 0
Bagwell soon joined forces with fellow nWo recruit Scott Norton to form “Vicious and Delicious”. But although Bagwell was nearing his peak in terms of notoriety, Vicious and Delicious ended up being his least successful team. This happened for a variety of reasons; the nWo already had a main tag team (The Outsiders, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash) that competed for the Tag Team belts so there was no room for Vicious and Delicious to move up. They were essentially the nWo’s mid-card tag team and they would handle the dirty work that the higher ranking members didn’t have time for (many times alongside fellow nWo mid-carder Konnan). Norton’s commitments to New Japan Pro Wrestling also kept him from WCW for long periods of time, which meant Vicious and Delicious would go on random hiatuses and Bagwell would go back to singles competition for the duration. So even if Vicious and Delicious built up any momentum, scheduling issues would slap them right down.
However they did continue to compete well into 1998 until the team was dissolved for very real and very serious reasons: on an April 1998 edition of WCW Thunder, Bagwell’s spine was seriously injured due to a botched flying bulldog attempt by Rick Steiner.
By the time Bagwell returned later that year, Vicious and Delicious was a distant memory and Bagwell moved on to play Scott Steiner‘s lackey in his feud with his brother Rick (which I guess counts a team, but not really guys c’mon).
Partner: “The Franchise” Shane Douglas
# of Title Wins: 1
Bagwell spent 1999 as a singles competitor, feuding with “Diamond” Dallas Page and a host of other wrestlers and competing primarily as a babyface. The singles push for Bagwell was on…or so it seemed. In 2000, a year that will live in infamy for every WCW fan, Vince Russo returned to the company and thus began the “New Blood Vs. Millionaire’s Club” storyline that was supposed to revitalize the ailing company. Bagwell joined the New Blood side, turning heel once again, and formed a tag team with fellow New Blood member Shane Douglas. At that year’s Spring Stampede, the first under Russo’s new reign, they defeated Team Package (Ric Flair/Lex Luger) to become the new Tag Team Champions.
Their title reign barely lasted a month, as Douglas and substitute partner The Wall (Bagwell was suspended for racial statements made to a WCW official backstage) lost the belts to Kronik (Brian Adams/Bryan Clarke) on an edition of Thunder. The team dissolved shortly thereafter and they had a brief feud which culminated at a match at Bash at the Beach 2000. Bagwell went on to singles feuds with Chris Kanyon (resulting in a “Judy Bagwell on a Pole” match which is as ridiculous as it sounds) and David Flair (who accused Bagwell of impregnating his girlfriend Miss Hancock). He would soon enter another feud towards the end of the year with Lex Luger and from that would form his final tag team in WCW.
6. Totally Buff
Partner: “The Total Package” Lex Luger
# of Title Wins: 0
Bagwell and Luger began feuding towards the end of 2000, but Bagwell soon turned heel and joined forces with his hated enemy to form “Totally Buff”. Their goal: rid WCW of Goldberg. Surprisingly they were successful, defeating Goldberg and his partner “Sarge” Dwayne Bruce (WCW Power Plant instructor and friend of “Da Man”) at the January 2001 PPV Sin. With this win, Goldberg had to “leave” WCW for good, a storyline which ended up never getting a conclusion for a very big reason (gimme a second to get to that). With their chief threat out of the way, Totally Buff joined up with Ric Flair’s stable “The Magnificent Seven” (which formed at Sin later that night) and focused their sights on the WCW World Tag Team Titles and its holders at the time Chuck Palumbo and Sean O’Haire. But their pursuit never yielded results, because in March the unthinkable happened: WCW and all of its assets were purchased by Vince McMahon and the World Wrestling Federation. WCW was effectively dead and soon enough the WWF would spend the next ten plus years spitting on its grave (but that’s another story for another time).
Bagwell had a long run in WCW, and leaves a legacy as one of the most prolific tag team competitors of the modern era, plus one of the more successful; 4 out of his 6 teams captured tag team gold at least once and one of his teams (Totally Buff) was involved in one of the last big angles in WCW’s history (the “retirement” of Goldberg). Whether this says something good or bad about WCW is up to you.
Which Bagwell team was your favorite? Least favorite? Do you hate me for getting the American Males theme stuck in your head again after you spent years in therapy trying to forget it? Leave a comment below and tell me about it or email me at theprowrestlingnerd[at]live[dot]com.