The wrestling faction has been a staple to sports entertainment for ages. There’s an obvious strength in numbers, so it’s only natural that competitors would choose to band together to get ahead in a promotion. Perhaps the first collective to ever truly show the potential of what a faction could be was the Four Horseman. Led by The Nature Boy Ric Flair, those men laid waste to the competition throughout the 1980s and did so in such a way that still projected them as some of the coolest guys on the planet.
There have been a plethora of stables in the years since and many have accomplished big things in the business. The nWo pushed boundaries between what’s scripted and what’s reality, making fans truly question if there was a direct WCW/WWF war at the time. Evolution pitted past, present, and future together in a way that benefitted each member more effectively than possibly any other group before or after. More recently, The Shield took three relatively unknown faces to the mainstream WWE audience and got them all over huge while relying heavily on the 6-man tag format. Depending on the traits of each member, stables can find diverse paths to success.
The faction is alive and well in the current pro wrestling landscape and the following 10 are some of the most important right now. Across several countries, promotions, and even continents, these groups are carving their impacts in their own unique ways.
10. Mount Rushmore
The villainous stable from Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, Mount Rushmore was originally founded in 2013 by the foursome of Adam Cole, both Young Bucks, and the man now known as Kevin Owens in WWE. One common discussion among wrestling fans is who would be the faces on a wrestling version of the presidential Mount Rushmore – these men were staking their claim to those spots.
A second incarnation of the group, appropriately named Mount Rushmore 2.0, formed in 2015 between The Young Bucks, Super Dragon, and the much-hated Roderick Strong. By the end of that year, Adam Cole also joined the group. Even though the fifth member strayed away from the Mount Rushmore theme, the Young Bucks have since appropriately displayed new t-shirts with all five heads and proclaimed that five heads are better than four. It’s hard to argue with that logic.
9. The Decay
Comprising of TNA’s Abyss, Rosemary, & Crazzy Steve, these three have emerged as one of the brighter spots of the PopTV wrestling promotion as of late. They first came together at the beginning of 2016 when they attacked the TNA Tag Team Champions The Wolves and have since claimed those belts as their own. The two male members of this group have changed their standings in this company by leaps and bounds by becoming a unit. Steve was a lacklustre entertainer one year ago, performing odd carnival gimmicks while Abyss felt like he was years past his prime. Since uniting with the creepy Rosemary and donning a fitting Marilyn Manson theme song, their devilish presence has become a worthy opposite for any babyface team.
While The Wolves as a team are currently out of commission due to injury, The Decay are currently holding it down in the TNA Tag Team Division without much established competition.
8. House of Truth
One name has been synonymous with this Ring of Honor stable that’s existed since 2009 and that’s Truth Martini. This manager has had many renowned athletes under his tutelage including Roderick Strong, Michael Elgin, and currently Jay Lethal. Recently notable for Martini is that he’s led Lethal to both an ROH Television Championship as well as an ROH World Championship reign. Lethal even had a brief period as double champion when both of those reigns overlapped.
In addition to the ROH champ, Joey Daddiego and Taeler Hendrix currently round out the faction. Donovan Dijak is the most recent performer to vacate Martini’s crew, violently kicking him out of commission. Dijak remains a thorn in the group’s side, particularly Jay Lethal.
7. The Club
Being the one of only two WWE groups on this list, The Club is likely one of the more well known ensembles out of these factions. Currently, The Club consists of only AJ Styles, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson – all former Bullet Club members. With another former BC member in NXT waiting for a long overdue main roster call-up, a shakeup could be coming to this crew in the very near future. Finn Balor would be an easy addition considering he is a founding member of Bullet Club.
WWE’s choice of how they’ve branded this trio indicates that there’s plenty of desire to capitalize on their super-popular former stable and that’s smart. Also, if there’s ever a usurpation by Finn Balor against AJ, tweaking the name to the already merchandised ‘Balor Club’ would be a pain free transition.
6. Los Ingobernables (CMLL)
Originating in Mexico’s CMLL and translated to mean “The Ungovernables,” Los Ingobernables is one of the most hated stables in Mexican history. There was an initial refusal by the group to acknowledge their rudo (or heel) status, instead referring to themselves as ‘tecnicos diferentes’ (a different kind of babyface). La Mascara, Rush, and La Sombra founded the group and would later include Marco Corleone (WWE’s Mark Jindrak) and Tetsuya Naito. Naito would be an integral part in taking the faction international…more on that in a moment.
The Wrestling Observer’s Dave Meltzer has specifically mentioned in the past that it was Rush’s embracing the CMLL’s crowd negativity after being rejected as a tecnico, establishing him far better as a main eventer. As will be seen in a later entry, this model would be repeated successfully in another promotion.
5. New Day
WWE’s current Tag Team Champions are likely the most recognizable collective on this list because of their popularity in Vince McMahon‘s company. There was a breaking-in period when this three-man team initially debuted as they struggled to find their connection with the crowds, but success did finally come for them in an overwhelming way.
New Day were the biggest merchandise sellers during WrestleMania 32 and recently became the longest reigning WWE Tag Team Champions (adding up multiple reigns). There are still bigger goals still out there for them, including the longest single reign for those specific tag straps (set by Paul London & Bryan Kendrick) as well as the company record for a tag reign of any belts (set by Demolition). With a brand split looming, Xavier Woods, Kofi Kingston, and Big E could potentially hold their championships for quite a while longer.
4. The Elite
Similar to The Club, The Elite’s roots are in New Japan’s Bullet Club. Unlike WWE’s offshoot version of the crew, this faction is comprised of three New Japan wrestlers who are still in the parent organization. Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks are the only three members of this sub-group and they’re a highly successful unit. They are currently the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Champions, in their second reign. They’ve had battles with the ilk of quality three man teams like Elgin, Hiroshi Tanahashi, and Yoshi Tatsu, but it’s perhaps a currently impossible rivalry that sparks the most interest in this group…
Omega & The Jacksons have worn replica versions of WWE’s New Day t-shirts, and have referenced them in promos. New Day have offered similar response shots like when Big E mocks Kenny by carrying a broom around and complimenting his own cleaning skills. A match between these opposing teams only exists in fantasy booking at this point, but we can all hope.
Founded in 2009 by Shinsuke Nakamura and Toru Yano, CHAOS was formed with the goal of resurrecting Strong Style. Judging by the influence New Japan Pro Wrestling has had on the industry in the years since, it looks like they’ve more than accomplished that goal.
While Nakamura has moved on to WWE, the current lineup of the group features Yano alongside the likes of “The Rainmaker” Kazuchika Okada, Tomohiro Ishii, Gedo, Roppongi Vice, Hirooki Goto and newcomer Will Ospreay, among others. Ospreay recently won the 2016 Best of the Super Juniors Tournament at only 23 years of age, garnering a significant amount of attention in his short time in the faction. Will is the youngest – as well as the first – English winner of the popular tournament. Talk about a blue chipper!
2. Los Ingobernables De Japon
As described earlier, Tetsuya Naito briefly spent time in CMLL and aligned himself with the original Los Ingobernables faction. After departing back to his home promotion of NJPW, he decided to take the group name with him. He formed the Japanese version of the popular Mexican stable with much of the same attitude. Joined by BUSHI, EVIL, and Seiya Sanada, this faction succeeded in getting Naito over with the Japanese crowds when he wasn’t so successful in the past.
Naito and his cohorts have an extreme lack of care for much of anything and that even includes the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. He defeated Okada for that strap earlier in 2016, only to throw the storied title high into the air with irreverence while walking away. Despite being a heel crew, fans love sporting their merch and cheering for them.
1. Bullet Club
Possibly the most influential faction of this era of wrestling, Bullet Club maintains a strong presence across multiple promotions. Originally founded in 2013 by the now-Finn Balor, Karl Anderson, Bad Luck Fale, and Toma Tonga, this New Japan faction is currently lead by Kenny Omega.
Ring of Honor maintains a working relationship with NJPW and as a result has recently seen the addition of Adam Cole and Adam Page to Bullet Club. In WWE, former members Finn Balor, AJ Styles, Doc Gallows, and Karl Anderson still bring the spirit of their past faction to Vince McMahon’s company if even they can’t legally use the official Club name.
Across the many wrestling companies that they have a presence in, they constantly are paying tribute to iconic factions of the past with their D-X crotch chops and Wolfpac-style “Too Sweet” hand gestures. As the group adds members and expands its reach it’s avoided a past faction peril a la nWo and that’s oversaturation. Their merchandise still sells strong and the various changes to the NJPW lineup have kept the crew fresh in its short existence. Even more pro wrestling dominance of influence can be expected from Bullet Club in the foreseeable future.