Best tag teams of the year in professional wrestling

Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson had stellar matches at all four NXT TakeOver events in 2016, with two showdowns each against American Alpha and #DIY. Their style is as old-school as it gets, and their level of work is undeniable. Nick Laham/ESPN

No matter what kind of wrestling you've been watching in 2016, there have been a number of undeniable shifts at the very core of the industry. One of the most noticeable changes is a move back toward making tag team wrestling more prominent.

That's been thanks mostly to the work of the wrestlers themselves. From The New Day's risk-taking on the microphone, and a run that carried them to a seemingly untouchable record, to The Young Bucks establishing that there can be a lucrative career outside the boundaries of the WWE, to everyone in between, tag teams no longer feel like filler acts and also-rans.

Both of those tag teams had years for the ages, and our WWE on ESPN panel has recognized that, but our first selection (and the most popular pick among our contributors) is an NXT team that produced some of the best matches of the year through attention to detail -- and they made themselves relevant through sheer willpower and effort.

The Revival (Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder)

Talk about taking your game to a whole new level: Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder are unrecognizable when put side by side with The Revival of 2015. "Which one's Dawson, which one's Dash?" chanted the Wembley Arena crowd just over 12 months ago at NXT TakeOver: London. But the NXT universe certainly knows who these two are now. Dawson and Wilder have put themselves on the tag team map with memorable title feuds against American Alpha and DIY. With DIY in particular, they put on a tremendous match in Brooklyn and then a rematch that's widely considered a match of the year candidate in Toronto. A throwback to the old-school style of Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard, the Revival have had veterans such as Stone Cold Steve Austin singing their praises.They might just have a point in calling themselves "top guys." -- Nic Atkin

As two-time NXT tag team champions, The Revival has anchored the tag team division at Full Sail University for over a year now. 2016 saw Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder utilize their "no flips, just fists" mantra to drive some of the fiercest rivalries in all of WWE -- and they got the best of their clashes with Enzo and Big Cass, American Alpha and #DIY. Due to the intensity of their rivalries, especially the last of them, the NXT tag team championships have never meant more than they do now. The Revival has produced some of the very best matches of the year, chiefly their 2-out-of-3 falls match against #DIY in Toronto and their previous clash at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn II. The Revival has to be poised to join the main roster in 2017, where they will undoubtedly be in immediate contention for either the Raw or SmackDown tag team championships. -- Nick Irving

It is hard to pinpoint a match that this NXT duo had in 2016 that could be categorized as a dud. They were involved in meaningful feuds throughout the year and delivered with high-quality matches on almost all of the NXT TakeOver specials. The most under-appreciated aspect of The Revival is their in-ring psychology. They've won a number of big matches by capitalizing on their opponents' "injured" body parts rather than working up toward their finishing move. They defeated Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn by submission seconds after Scott Dawson took out Gargano's knee with a chop block and a top-rope strike. They lost their NXT tag team titles a few months later to Gargano and Ciampa after they both tapped out to the same crossface submission, but not before grabbing each other's hands to try to prevent their partner from tapping out. It's the subtle details that make The Revival the tag team of the year. -- Andy Smith

The New Day (Big E, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods)

When a tag team achieves a historic milestone like becoming the longest reigning tag team champions in WWE history, it's hard not vote them in as the tag team of the year. The New Day were able to surpass Demolition's 478-day reign, which has stood as the benchmark since 1989, and impressively etch their names in history. For a trio that started out with mixed reviews at best in 2014, to create something so different and refreshingly entertaining, and to achieve something so monumental in 2016, is extraordinary. Not too many superstars can get trombones and unicorn horns over while branding their own breakfast cereal. The New Day did that and a whole lot more -- and 2016 was certainly their best year to date. -- Sean Coyle

I was going to sit this category out under the assumption that everyone already picked The New Day. Alas, it was only one colleague at the time who did what was right and picked Kofi Kingston, Big E and Xavier Woods, so I had to step in and include my support. The only thing that hurt The New Day all year was the lack of other great tag teams on Raw. It was almost as if they were a lone tag team operating in their own bootylicious world. When you really think about it, though, you realize that there has not been a tag team with their level of importance in years. The Wyatt Family is huge, of course, but Bray and his teammates are not the equal parts that The New Day is -- and they cannot tag team a promo in the same way, much as they try. With the titles finally off The New Day, the real fun begins -- and I'm very excited to see where this team is come 2018. -- Peter Rosenberg

The Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson)

There are great arguments to be made about almost every team on this list (and DIY deserves an honorable mention too), but for my vote, The Young Bucks did more to change the perception of tag team wrestling and the wrestling business in general in 2016 than any other act going today. They've reached such a staggering level of popularity without the WWE machine behind them that Matt and Nick Jackson have been able to secure better financial compensation than they would if they signed with the biggest company in the world. That's thanks to merch sales, a two-year contract with Ring of Honor (and New Japan Pro Wrestling) and the ability to work a number of nonconflicting international dates. Oh, and they get the job done in the ring too, consistently innovating with their own style and approach that makes them one of the most polarizing acts in the business. In the spirit of this season of giving, I'll throw up a couple "too sweets," hit a couple of crotch chops and declare that The Young Bucks hit a Meltzer Driver on 2016 and undeniably killed it. -- Tim Fiorvanti

Everybody loves parties, and there was no bigger party than the superkick party of Matt and Nick Jackson, better known as The Young Bucks. The year started out at WrestleKingdom 10 with their fourth reign as IWGP junior heavyweight tag team champions. A month later, the Bucks and fellow Bullet Club (and ELITE) member Kenny Omega won the NEVER Openweight 6-Man tag team titles. While they'd eventually lose both titles over the course of the year, the Bucks regained the IWGP junior heavyweight straps for the fifth time, setting a new record for that title. While dominating on the tag team scene in Japan, the Young Bucks also performed regularly for Ring of Honor in the United States. At the All-Star Extravaganza VIII pay-per-view in September, In Ladder War VI, the Jacksons defeated The Motor City Machine Guns and reigning champions The Addiction to win the ROH world tag team championships for the second time. The Young Bucks still hold those two titles heading into 2017, along with the Pro Wrestling Guerrilla tag titles they've held since June 2015 -- holding court over arguably the three most prolific non-WWE tag team divisions in the world. -- Andrew Davis

Cesaro and Sheamus

They may not be the most conventional team, but they're arguably the most entertaining, given their unique pairing. After a best-of-seven gauntlet between the two came up empty, the decision to pair up Sheamus and Cesaro looked like a disaster in waiting. But their divisive relationship created compelling matches and strong fan engagement. With the "you look stupid" chants resonating, Sheamus plays the villain role brilliantly by egging on fans who are equally as passionate in their support of Cesaro. The partnership slowly began to strengthen, and they've become a formidable tag team -- and as 2017 begins, they're the tag team champions on the biggest show in wrestling: "Monday Night Raw." -- Matt Wilansky

Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho

Considering their record-breaking WWE tag team championship streak alone, it would be difficult to give this nod to anyone but The New Day. But if we're being fully honest here, The New Day hit their comedic peak in roughly the first quarter of the year and, in some ways, limped to the finish line the rest of the way. The only duo to upstage them consistently, from an entertainment standpoint, was Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho, who solidified their union as best friends before their SummerSlam match against Enzo Amore and Big Cass. JeriKO, as they were called at the time, dominated the second half of 2016 on Raw -- often taking segments that were very poorly written and turning them into gold through improvisation, execution and sheer willpower. -- Brian Campbell

Enzo Amore and Big Cass

They haven't won any gold, and their L's have become more common than their W's, but I don't think there was a bigger pop this year (outside of AJ Styles' Royal Rumble debut) than when these two debuted the night after Wrestlemania. No matter what their current storyline is, their entrances and promos have become must-see TV every week on "Monday Night Raw." It's cliché to say "the sky is the limit" for Enzo and Big Cass, but they have so much cross-audience appeal. My wife ordered a ZERO DIMES shirt off of WWEShop a few months ago. Let me type that again, MY WIFE, who never watched WWE TV till recently, ordered a catchphrase-based T-shirt online. And you can't. Teach. That. -- Steve Braband