This week’s inductees had something that every great tag team had.
In fact, it was also something that every bad or mediocre tag team had: Two people.
Say what you will about Double Trouble, but as the name said, there were certainly two of them.
Double Trouble wrestled at WWF house shows periodically from 1991 to 1994 but made little impact (figuratively).
While a name like “Double Trouble” would imply that both teammates were identical, brothers Tony and Val Puccio were far from it; the numerically-correct team consisted of one fat guy and one reeaally fat guy.
The teammates’ lack of resemblance precluded any illegal swaps, “Twin Magic”, or secret switcheroos, but it’s just as well — they had enough trouble getting in and out of the ring after legal tags.
Starting off their WWF career in 1991, the brothers from the Bronx scored two victories against West Virginia’s finest enhancement talents. The following year, they started facing name talent in big markets like Philadelphia, Boston, Red Deer, and Yakima. And while they never again tasted victory in the Federation, they gave it their all against the likes of The Bushwhackers, High Energy, and one of the Road Warriors.
In 1993, they were one of the first teams to wrestle the newly arrived Steiner Brothers. Thanks to the miracle of bootlegging, fans even thirty years later have a definitive answer why Double Trouble never made it to TV: They sucked.
I mean, how many teams had the ring announcer laughing at them?
They also weren’t always keen on bumping or selling or leaving their feet unless absolutely necessary. When Single Trouble #2 slapped Scott on the shoulder, the younger Steiner sold it like a gunshot…
…but when Rick punched Puccio in the face, Val reeled for a single second before carrying on like nothing happened. He left his feet only to squoosh Scott.
When Tony launched Val into the corner, the big man casually shambled across the ring. Barely fazed by the subsequent boot to the face, Val then moseyed over to meet Rick.
With Val beached on the canvas, Rick tried in vain to drag him out of the ring; had this match taken place in Florence, Oregon, he could have used dynamite. Meanwhile, Tony struggled just climbing to the second rope.
Finally, Rick got Tony onto his shoulders for the finish. Legs splayed straight out, Single Trouble #1 hung onto Rick’s face for dear life, as if the impending bump would kill him.
Double Trouble somehow performed even worse the next year against the Headshrinkers.
Hoping to win the tag titles for himself and his partner (there were two of them, remember), Val Puccio ascended the ropes for a possible Vader bomb.
Instead, he slipped, falling sideways on his ass and clipping Fatu in the head as the Samoan tried to escape.
As if one messed-up spot weren’t enough, Puccio went right back to that corner to try again. Unbelievably, this second attempt would produce an even more baffling outcome. Just look at this: Does anyone know just what the hell happened there?
Near as I can figure, Fatu headbutted the big guy in the groin but somehow ended up the worse for it. Rolling to the center of the ring in agony, Fatu clutched his head and, even more confusingly, his own groin. It appears the island boys’ notoriously hard heads had finally met their match.
The bout ended with a double-thrust kick that dropped Val like a quarter-ton of bricks; he fell so quickly and convincingly, I’d swear they knocked him out for real.
Samu capped off the match by using Puccio as a bean bag chair.
You might be wondering how Double Trouble kept getting matches with the WWF. I mean, what could these guys possibly have that Vince McMahon wanted?
The answer: a trademark.
Back in 1990, the Puccio brothers started appearing in International (World Class) Championship Wrestling as “The Undertakers”.
Years before Brian Lee and Mark Calaway ever faced off…
…the original Undertakers ran (or jogged) roughshod over the ICW/IWCCW.
Wearing black robes, KISS-style face paint…
…and the worst haircuts this side of Death Valley, the ‘Takers captured the tag team titles with a revolving door of managers.
Individually, they were known as The Punisher and (this is true) The Henchman, although even manager Tony Rumble couldn’t remember which was which.
Like their more famous WWF counterpart, these Undertakers stuffed their opponents into body bags. But these guys were much scarier than the Federation’s Undertaker. Don’t believe me?
While the details are a little murky, the The Undertakers apparently agreed to abandon their trademark in exchange for Federation house show dates.
It’s just a shame ICW’s Natural Disasters never got the same deal.
Big thanks to Armstrong Alley and Richard Land for key footage.