Every faction needs to have at least one talent that stands out as a top level performer. The majority of legendary factions feature one person leading the way. Fans think of the main event star and the other members of the stable become more relevant by proxy if they have enough talent to make the most out of the opportunity. Some factions actually had multiple leaders, but one person typically rises above the rest. The groups with a plethora of younger performers with great potential are often meant to set up future main-eventers. Basically, if you are the top name in a relevant faction, you should have a great career going forward.
We will look at fifteen of the greatest factions in the history of professional wrestling and, more specifically, take a look at who the leader was. Most of the leaders had Hall of Fame worthy careers. Unfortunately, a few of them endured a decline that ruined the rub they received from leading a top faction. The lives of the former stable leaders involved are all over the place these days. Let’s glance into the good, the bad and the irrelevant. We’ll find out what the former leaders of iconic factions are up to today.
15 Wade Barrett (Nexus)
The Nexus was absolutely incredible during a short time period. Their introduction as a group saw Wade Barrett lead a variety of talents from the original NXT competition in an attempt to invade the WWE. Nexus beating down faces, heels and random employees on a weekly basis made you believe they were feuding with the company rather than just another takeover storyline. Barrett did an outstanding job as the leader exuding star power with potential to be a future world champion.
14 Kevin Nash (nWo Wolfpac)
The New World Order dominated the wrestling industry for a couple of years to start the Monday Night Wars. WCW allowed the group to have too many members that ended up diminishing the overall purpose of the nWo. The faction split into two groups with the nWo Wolfpac being the face version. We rightfully remember the nWo having multiple factions as a mistake, but you can’t argue with the popularity of the Wolfpac.
13 Raven (Raven's Nest)
Many fans think of WCW’s The Flock when the talk of Raven’s career and a faction are discussed. Raven however had a much better stint with a more compelling group in ECW. The faction known as Raven’s Nest saw him lead the odd balls of Stevie Richards, The Blue Meanie and a few others doing his bidding. Raven became the most fascinating character in ECW under the vision of Paul Heyman putting him in a position to succeed.
12 Gangrel (The Brood)
An underrated faction in the history of pro wrestling would be The Brood. Edge and Christian saw their first stints of success come working as the henchmen of vampire hero Gangrel. The trio would emerge from flames on the stage in one of the best entrances you’ll ever find. Without The Brood, the success of Edge and Christian may have been prolonged much longer. WWE ended the time of The Brood way too early by having them join The Corporate Ministry in a smaller role.
11 Paul Heyman (The Dangerous Alliance)
WCW was home to many of the best factions in wrestling history. One of those factions that don’t get the credit it deserves is The Dangerous Alliance. Paul Heyman started to develop his reputation for being one of the best personalities and non-wrestlers in the industry. The managing skills were showcased with the inception of The Dangerous Alliance group. Rick Rude, Arn Anderson, Steve Austin, Madusa and Bobby Eaton all united with Heyman leading the way.
10 TIED: Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns (The Shield)
You can usually pinpoint one specific leader of a successful faction, but it was truly an equal partnership in The Shield. Roman Reigns was somewhat viewed as a leader of the trio due to the fact that WWE pushed him to the moon and had hopes of him replacing John Cena as the top guy in the company. Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose however had equal roles during their time in The Shield.
9 Shane Douglas (Triple Threat)
ECW sparked creativity and productivity from everyone on the roster. Paul Heyman knew how to utilize his wrestlers to the best of their ability. The faction of the Triple Threat was the perfect example of that. Shane Douglas led the group as the top heel in the promotion and the ECW World Champion. Chris Candido and Bam Bam Bigelow both made up the rest of the group with extra motivation after disappointing endings in WWE.
8 Bobby Heenan (The Heenan Family)
Bobby Heenan’s work is absolutely timeless. Fans of any era can watch his managing or commentary in older shows and it still provides top tier entertainment. The Heenan Family faction in WWE may have been his most noteworthy stint as a manager. Wrestling legends such as Andre the Giant, Ric Flair, Rick Rude and The Brain Busters all joined the group at different points with Heenan as their manager speaking for them.
7 Ron Simmons (Nation of Domination)
The Nation of Domination pushed the envelope in WWE during the earlier stages of the Attitude Era forming. A group of African-American wrestlers united in a hostile feud talking down to the white wrestlers and fans of the company. The original leader was Ron Simmons wrestling under the Faarooq. The other core members were D’Lo Brown, Mark Henry and Kama Mustafa. They were always an entertaining act, but took it to the next level when The Rock joined.
6 Michael Hayes (Fabulous Freebirds)
Old school wrestling fans have an attachment to the legendary Fabulous Freebirds faction. Michael Hayes, Terry Gordy and Jimmy Garvin were the three members to take the stable to the next level. The Fabulous Freebirds had one of the most heated rivalries in wrestling history against the Von Erich Family that helped carve their legacy as an iconic trio. Their use of the “Badstreet USA” entrance theme helped show how effective the pageantry of an entrance song can be in adding to an act.
5 Bret Hart (Hart Foundation)
Bret Hart reinvented his career in 1997 when fans were starting to grow tired of him. WWE made Hart the first big main event face following the departure of Hulk Hogan. Hart was a great role model and one of the hardest working talents in the industry. The fans started to gravitate towards vulgar anti-heroes like Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels. Hart turned heel by uniting with his relatives to form the Hart Foundation.
4 Triple H (Evolution and DX)
The legendary career of Triple H has seen many chapters and two of those were leading iconic factions. Triple H took over as the leader of D-Generation X following Shawn Michaels’ retirement in 1998. The new version of DX went to achieve new highs as a fan favorite group. DX allowing fans to get in on the fun made them get to the next level as a group and they are remembered very well historically for it.
3 Shawn Michaels (DX)
As mentioned earlier, Triple H replaced Shawn Michaels as the leader of D-Generation X because Michaels was the original leader. The Attitude Era started to kick into high gear when Michaels adopted a change that introduced D-Generation X to WWE. Michaels and Triple H showcased their comedic side and more of their actual personality and it connected with the fans.
2 Hulk Hogan (New World Order)
The biggest domino to fall in setting up the New World Order for huge success was Hulk Hogan turning heel after over a decade of being the biggest face in the industry. Hogan aligning with Scott Hall and Kevin Nash provided the perfect trio to start the nWo in their hostile takeover angle. WCW achieved their most successful era overtaking WWE thanks to the nWo becoming the hottest thing in the business.
1 Ric Flair (Four Horsemen)
The personification of everything a leader of a faction should be was shown with Ric Flair and the Four Horsemen. Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard and the various other members of the Horsemen all had talent, but it was clear in every single incarnation that Flair was the leader. The in-ring work and incredible promos of Flair made him the most complete main event star in wrestling for many years.
For as great as his entire career was, the Four Horsemen is the most popular thing associated with Flair. It added a lot to his legendary career as a leader of the most effective faction to last many years. Flair retired from the in-ring world, but still has a legends role with WWE. The Nature Boy also hosts his own podcast on a weekly basis and uses his celebrity to make various appearances from sports games to viral videos. Flair is the best faction leader in wrestling history for always going the extra mile as a performer.
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