The art of a faction in professional wrestling is among the most underrated aspects of the industry. A faction can make numerous performers better by aligning them. Most of the better groups have a strong leader that is already an established main-eventer or someone with the potential to move up into a top spot. The big name adds credibility to the purpose of the faction with the other members gaining relevance by the uniting of the talents. Not every faction has the same intentions. Most try to dominate the promotion by acquiring all of the old while others just have fun.
We’ll look at all sides of the historical wrestling factions. The best ones left an impact that lives on today through fans remembering them fondly or even wanting a reunion in some cases. The worst ones fall between disappointments and disgraces that hurt the product. Each story has a reason for the success or failure that gave them the legacy associated with the groups. The infamous groups in wrestling history for better and worse will be discussed here as we break them all down. These are the eight best factions of all time and the eight worst factions of all time.
16. Best: Evolution
The purpose and structure of a faction is pivotal to how fans view it and how it can be presented. Evolution is the perfect simple formula for a group benefiting everyone involved. Triple H represented the present, Ric Flair represented the past, and Randy Orton represented the future. Batista joined the group as another future star a little later on. They all united with similar goals that made them a well-functioning stable.
Triple H continued to reign as the world champion with his new allies helping protect him. Flair found relevance with his career winding down by serving as a mentor, manager and part-time wrestler. Orton and Batista saw their potential fulfilled with both men becoming future world champions. Evolution worked to perfection getting everyone over. They were hated villains that set up many feuds during their tenure. Fans still remember Evolution fondly and they reunited for a few shows in 2014 for two great matches against The Shield.
15. Worst: nWo 2000
The final incarnation of the New World Order in WCW ended up being the worst of the legendary group. WCW was on its deathbed with nothing looking up so they decided to go back to the nWo well one more time. Bret Hart was facing Goldberg for the WCW Championship that culminated in Scott Hall, Kevin Nash and Jeff Jarrett attacking Goldberg. The heels aligned with new leader Hart to form the nWo 2000.
They used silver spray paint this time around and were united to feud with Goldberg. An injury to Goldberg when he punched the limousine window to break his hand forced it to completely change. nWo 2000 were forced to face off with less popular faces but nothing mattered. No one cared about the latest version of the New World Order and it came off rather embarrassing. Hart left the group to injury and things fell apart worse causing them end the faction in a couple of months.
14. Best: Nexus
Nexus is not remembered well due to the fact it ended in disappointing fashion, but they were an absolute force at their peak. The first season of the NXT competition show saw Wade Barrett win a spot on the WWE roster. Everyone else from the cast joined him on his first night on Raw to give one of the most memorable moments in WWE history. The young group delivered a brutal beat down to John Cena, CM Punk and all of the ringside employees.
It truly felt like a hostile takeover and provided optimism for a great storyline. Nexus had a couple of very strong months being a top act feuding with Cena and other various top faces. Things started to go downhill when they lost numerous big matches on PPV to Cena. Wrestling pundits have criticized Cena for not going to bat for the right result. Still, the best days of Nexus were extremely special in making them an elite faction.
13. Worst: The Corre
The low point of Nexus was when the group officially split with some of the members moving from Raw to Smackdown. Wade Barrett, Heath Slater and Justin Gabriel formed their now faction known as The Corre. What could possibly be worse than that awful name? The addition of the talentless Ezekiel Jackson, that’s what. Barrett, Slater and Gabriel just ended their time in a historically significant faction and were now goofs.
The Corre came off as midcarders not to be treated seriously. It all came to fruition at WrestleMania 27 when they suffered an embarrassing defeat in three minutes to a team of faces in a glorified squash match. Luckily, WWE cut bait with the faction rather quickly but it damaged everyone involved. A successful stable is supposed to benefit everyone involved but this one did the complete opposite.
12. Best: Nation of Domination
Ron Simmons signed with WWE following a great success in WCW. As the first ever African-American WCW World Champion, Simmons changing companies was an important deal but WWE introduced with a horrible character. The company changed courses quickly to save his career there by having him form the Nation of Domination. WWE went the controversial route of the pro-black group having disgust towards the white wrestlers and fans oppressing them.
The Rock eventually replaced Simmons as the leader of the faction. The career of Rock was going downhill until he joined the Nation and found his voice as a charismatic heel. D’Lo Brown, Kama Mustafa and Mark Henry also found their new roles contributing to the Nation of Domination. They had a great rivalry against D-Generation X and almost everyone in the group saw their stock rise. The storyline was always a bit tough to pull off but the execution worked to make the Nation a huge success.
11. Worst: Truth Commission
One terrible idea WWE tried to pull off in the late 90s was the Truth Commission. The unspoken controversial replication was of a white separatist group known as the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission. All of the wrestlers in the faction were giant dudes that lacked the in-ring skills or charisma to become stars. WWE added the loud personality of Don Callis as The Jackal to speak for them.
Jackal’s promos were the only form of entertainment to come from the Truth Commission. All of the wrestlers flopped badly with the group tanking lower and lower each week. Jackal moved on to other projects with the wrestlers getting repackaged and the group completely ending. Any wrestling fan that can name any distinct memory from the Truth Commission deserves to be commended for not finding a way to block it from their memory.
10. Best: The Shield
The most recent faction to dominate the wrestling world was The Shield. WWE found out how successful it could be to allow talented young wrestlers to run with the ball if you protect them in the booking. Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose were all in the WWE developmental system for years from the days of FCW into the early stages of NXT. They each clearly possessed great potential and harnessed it with the main roster call up as The Shield.
WWE introduced them in a big way by having them interfere in main events and battle against the top faces. The great matches and legitimacy established with the clean victories made fans view them as the future of the business. The Shield was the best thing on WWE television for a couple of years until they split up. Rollins, Reigns and Ambrose have all become world champions and are now among the top singles stars in the company. Everything to come from The Shield delivered greatness.
9. Worst: Spirit Squad
The idea of male cheerleaders in a world like WWE is likely not going to work out and it didn’t for the Spirit Squad. WWE placed five of their top prospects in the gimmick as annoying heels that delivered cheers to antagonize the crowds before their matches. They won the WWE Tag Team Championship and had a few noteworthy moments against D-Generation X. Sadly; they were just used as glorified jobbers for DX to destroy on a weekly basis.
Once the feud with DX ended, they were literally put into a box with the comical segment mailing them back to OVW. Dolph Ziggler is the only man from the five to rebound from it and have a booming career in WWE. The brand split has seen Kenny Doane and Mike Mondo return on Smackdown Live to reform the Spirit Squad tag team but it is part-time with them putting over the current stars. Four of the five talented wrestlers were squandered away thanks to the poor execution of the stable.
8. Best: D-Generation X
The original rise of D-Generation X gave WWE one of their best factions in company history. Shawn Michaels and Triple H decided to start showcasing their natural personalities as juvenile jokesters. DX pushed the envelope forward in making the product more edgy. WWE was so impressed with it that the entire show started to progress with content aimed towards the adult audience rather than hokey storylines and characters.
Michaels returning caused DX to have to completely rebrand and it actually worked out for the best. X-Pac and the New Age Outlaws joined Triple H and Chyna to make up the new version of DX and it was outstanding. Fans loved them to the point that they changed from a heel group to popular faces. D-Generation X was one of the bigger draws at the time helping WWE gain its massive popularity during the Attitude Era. A few corny reformations with Michaels and Triple H in older years harmed the legacy but everyone remembers the glory days.
7. Worst: X-Factor
X-Pac saw his best faction moments come in D-Generation X but his worse WWE stint came with another group. WWE decided to pair X-Pac, Albert and the newly signed Justin Credible into a stable known as X-Factor. All three men were lost in the shuffle and needed some sort of direction. The faction wasn’t a bad idea on paper but the execution and booking saw them come off extraordinarily lame.
X-Factor walked to the ring to the theme of an Uncle Kracker song and it somehow got worse from there. The trio lost to the noteworthy talents in the midcard with their wins coming over people no one cared about. WWE refused to utilize Credible well and turned X-Pac into an irrelevant figure leading to the “X-Pac sucks” era of chants following him every week. The WWE vs. WCW and ECW storyline saw the group end with nothing of note to come from being together.
6. Best: The Hart Foundation
The Hart Foundation deserves to be mentioned among the greatest heel factions in wrestling. Hell, they could be considered faces to the international audience and many Americans today dissatisfied with the latest Presidential Election results. Bret Hart turned on the United States after fans started booing him in favor of anti-heroes like Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels. The family reunion with heels Owen Hart, Davey Boy Smith, Jim Neidhart and Brian Pillman formed the top faction.
Everyone in the group had a role and each played it off perfectly. Bret put out some of the best promo work of his career and it led to incredible content on Raw every week. The feud between Hart and Austin was the most noteworthy of the time with the Hart Foundation adding so much more to it. WWE deciding to part ways with Bret ended the group but they could have easily gone on for another year or two as the top faction on the show.
5. Worst: The Millionaire’s Club
WCW had an interesting idea in 2000 to try and create interest in the declining product. Vince Russo and Eric Bischoff were forced to work together after both had horrible moments causing them to lose individual power. The backstage duo were a pair on screen leading the New Blood of young talent tired of being held down by the bigger names. This led to the formation of the older legends having their own stable known as the Millionaire’s Club.
Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair and all of the other bigger names joined together as the faces trying to stop the young heels hoping to take their spots. The story could have been something special in creating new stars but it just turned into another failure. Most of the Millionaire’s Club failed to put together the chemistry needed to be a faction. It didn’t help that most were just collecting a pay check and lacked interest in creating a great story. The angle ended with very few benefiting from it.
4. Best: Four Horsemen
The one stable most associated with greatness in professional wrestling has to be the Four Horsemen. Ric Flair was arguably the top performer in the industry and served as the ideal leader to a heel group. Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard and Ole Anderson provided outstanding depth of credible talents to join him in dominating the shows on a weekly basis. The villains were viewed as legitimate stars that provided a threat to every face on the roster.
The Horsemen would see numerous chances through the years. Many argue Barry Windham replacing Ole Anderson gave the best incarnation of the group. Fans enjoyed most incarnations of the Horsemen but they did struggle in the final years of WCW to find the right personnel. Flair is the one man to be a member of every version of the group. The legacy of Flair and many others wouldn’t be the same if not for the excellence of the Four Horsemen.
3. Worst: Sports Entertainment Xtreme
TNA has a negative reputation in the wrestling world due to the terrible ideas to come from the company through the years. From the early days, they have delivered absolutely terrible concepts. One happened to be a faction named Sports Entertainment Xtreme. Vince Russo’s brainchild saw the acronym of S.E.X. make up the heels wanting to oppose the tradition of the NWA considering TNA worked with them at the time.
Russo was the on-air leader of the group feuding with Jeff Jarrett. Sports Entertainment Xtreme wasted some good talent like Chris Sabin or the members of Triple X, but it mostly consisted of pointless talents. No one gave a damn about the likes of David Flair, Disco Inferno and Erik Watts. It felt like the worst days of WCW were continuing and turned away fans wanting to give TNA a chance. Russo thinking of a new faction is likely not a good idea and this proved that theory correct.
2. Best: New World Order
The formation of the New World Order completely changed the wrestling industry forever. WWE had strong competition from WCW for the first with the nWo helping them take a lead in the Monday Night Wars ratings battle. Hulk Hogan turned heel to shock the wrestling world by aligning with Scott Hall and Kevin Nash. Their purpose was simple – take over the WCW and rule the wrestling business. Many fans believed it was a WWE vs. WCW war considering the three names were huge WWE stars.
The battle between the New World Order and WCW made Nitro must-watch television. Wrestling started to reach new highs with records breaking every week for both companies. It all started with the nWo. A few more members joining the group were fine but they started to let seemingly anyone one rock the nWo shirts. That eventually caused its demise. However, the best days of the nWo created success like no other faction before or after.
1. Worst: Immortal
We have already touched on it a little but the most terrible thing to happen to factions is promotions trying to recapture the magic of the New World Order. It is understandable to want to replicate facets of the most successful group but outwardly ripping it off leads to failure. The biggest example of this happened in TNA when Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff joined the company.
They tried to imitate Hogan’s heel turn by having Jeff Hardy turn on the fans and align with Hogan and Bischoff to form Immortal. Ric Flair and Fortune joined the group to immediately add way too many members. Each week saw TNA sink lower and lower with fans giving up on the cheap nWo rip-off. This was the idea that exposed Hogan and Bischoff as no longer having the mind to creatively put together wrestling shows. Immortal is one of the major reasons TNA is in the terrible shape it is and deserves to be the worst faction in wrestling history.