When a group is formed in professional wrestling, the goal is to bring talent together and let the cream rise to the top. Whoever stands out from the group usually goes on to be the big star. When the group is together though, and it works, the faction usually becomes cool as a unit. The best groups usually become dominant, have great chemistry, connect with fans and individual stars are made as a result of the group forming.
Here are the 10 most successful and most entertaining factions in the history of professional wrestling.
10) The Heenan Family
Not a stable in the traditional sense. Just a bunch of guys Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan put together, in hopes that he could find a contender to take the title away from Hulk Hogan. The group spread across three promotions, as Heenan began managing in the AWA, then in GCW and finally WWE.
The group had many incarnations, and had countless great members, many hall of famers, including Andre the Giant, Harley Race, Mr. Perfect, Nick Bockwinkel, Big John Studd, King Kong Bundy and many others.
Heenan never succeeded in the WWE in dethroning Hulk Hogan. In fact, the first champion he managed was when Rick Rude defeated the Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania V (with the Brain’s help of course).
Heenan’s wit, charisma and weasel-like persona made him a great leader for a group and he was able to manipulate wrestlers into carrying out his deeds.
9) The Nation of Domination
The Nation of Domination began a trend of several stables popping up in WWE. It was originally formed as a way to help Faarooq become a star after dressing him in ridiculous spartan-like attire didn’t work.
The group was controversial, as it was loosely based on the Nation of Islam and the Black Panther Party. Controversy was all a part of the era, and the group succeeded in generating heat wherever they went.
Soon, Faarooq was leading Crush, D’Lo Brown and Savio Vega, but we all know which version of the group was the memorable one.
The stable soon became a black supremacy group of sorts, which led to Kama Mustafa (you now know him as the Godfather) joining. Ahmed Johnson joined briefly, but was soon replaced by a much better option.
Rocky Maivia was floundering as a babyface, so he joined the Nation, turning heel and launching his career. He was finally able to be creative on the mic and we all know how well that turned out for The Rock.
The Rock rose from the group, stealing every segment the group was involved in. When one of the biggest stars in wrestling history emerges from a stable, you know the group was a success. The Rock actually impeached Faarooq as leader at one point and Owen Hart was part of the group.
We are the Nation, of Domination!
8) Dangerous Alliance
Wrestling fans of today are getting to see Paul Heyman‘s masterful work as a manager, or an ‘advocate’, but Heyman started doing this long ago.
Back in WCW, he was known as Paul E. Dangerously and managed a group known as the Dangerous Alliance, with some names you might recognize: Rick Rude, Arn Anderson, Larry Zybyszko, Bobby Eaton, Madusa and of course, “Stunning” Steve Austin.
The original group was in AWA, but this WCW version was the more successful one.
The group was originally formed when Dangerously was fired as an announcer, but still had his manager’s license and formed the group to exact revenge on the company that fired him.
Anderson and Eaton held the tag titles, Austin held the Television title, and Rude won the US title.
7) The Corporation
McMahon named The Rock his corporate champion and soon many wrestlers sold out to McMahon’s conglomerate. The Big Bossman became the enforcer of the group, and the group soon had Ken Shamrock, Test, The Big Show, The Mean Street Posse, Triple H, Chyna and even Kane for a brief period. Of course, we can’t forget the Corporate Stooges, Pat Patterson and Gerald Brisco.
Many members failed to find success after the group disbanded but Triple H really solidified himself as a top heel. The Rock was great, but simply became too popular with the fans. He left the group, turning babyface and becoming a top star alongside Stone Cold.
The group eventually aligned with the Ministry of Darkness to become the Corporate Ministry, but as anything in the Attitude Era, it didn’t last long.
Ultimately, there was no group hated more than this one and it made Stone Cold look all the more badass for standing up to the entire group.
6) The Fabulous Freebirds
The Fabulous Freebirds were pioneers of sorts, as they really started to make stables popular.
The Freebirds consisted of Michael Hayes, Terry Gordy and Buddy Roberts. The group also began a trend of coming to the ring with entrance music, coming down to Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird” and evoking the image of southern pride.
The group made for great antagonists to the Von Erichs in the Texas territory. They ended up wrestling in several promotions and set the tone for stables to come.
5) The Hart Foundation
The Hart Foundation of 1997 was led by Bret Hart, who had just turned heel in his feud with Stone Cold. He reached out to his brother Owen and brother-in-law The British Bulldog to join him. They did, and so did Jim the Anvil Neidhart, another brother-in-law and Bret’s old tag team partner.
The wildcard Brian Pillman joined the group as well, providing an extra edge, and the new Hart Foundation was formed.
The group dominated in 1997, holding every title in the company and constantly feuding with Stone Cold and the American fans. What other group gets booed in the United States, but is cheered everywhere else, particularly Canada.
Their anti-American stance made for great fan interaction and made it a USA against the world type mentality, in a fun way.
Unfortunately, tragedy struck the group, when Brian Pillman died in October of 1997. The Montreal Screwjob happened a month later, leaving Bret, Bulldog and Neidhart out of WWE, with Owen forced to stay. The group probably could’ve done so much more had they been able to stay together, but they still left a huge impact.
The greatest group of the 21st century. This stable helped launch the careers of Batista and Randy Orton, allowed Ric Flair to act as the living legend and extend his career and let Triple H assert himself as the top dog in the business.
It was a modern take on the Four Horsemen. The group was aptly named Evolution, with Flair representing the past, Triple H the present and Batista & Orton, the future.
The group went on to hold all titles on RAW, even all at the same time at one point. At Armageddon 2003, Randy Orton won the Intercontinental title, Batista and Flair won the tag titles, and Triple H captured the World Heavyweight Championship.
The stable’s undoing proved to be Triple H’s obsession with the world title, first kicking Orton out when he won the title and eventually seeing Batista leave on his own when he wanted a shot at the Game’s belt.
The WWE struck gold with this stable as they set themselves up for future success with new stars.
It was the coolest thing going in wrestling. Kevin Nash and Scott Hall as the Outsiders were wrecking havoc on WCW and revealed they had a third member. At Bash at the Beach 1996, it proved to be Hulk Hogan.
The trio became known as the rebellious outsiders, forming their own entity, the New World Order, threatening to take down WCW. Countless wrestlers wound up joining the nWo, including Randy Savage, The Giant Paul Wight, Lex Luger, Ted DiBiase, Curt Hennig, Scott Steiner, Dusty Rhodes, Buff Bagwell, Brian Adams, Syxx, Miss Elizabeth, Big Titan… you get my drift.
The group constantly dominated WCW, before Sting finally beat Hogan for the world title at Starrcade 1997. The group became very stale and was split into a Hollywood nWo, wearing black and white, and nWo Wolfpac, wearing red and black.
The infamous Fingerpoke of Doom, where Hogan pinned Nash following a fingerpoke, rejoined the two sides.
Their placing on this list is hurt by the fact it became very over saturated and looking back, it hasn’t aged as well as other factions ahve.
2) D-Generation X
Eric Bischoff once said he felt D-X was a ripoff of the nWo, but they were different. While both groups were rebellious, the nWo blurred the lines of kayfabe and reality, while D-X pushed the envelope and had the FCC going nuts. They said things you thought you’d never hear on a wrestling program. Some found it offensive, some found it entertaining, but whatever it was, people were watching.
The original group consisted of Shawn Michaels, Triple H and Chyna. They played strip poker in the ring, held a BBQ with D-X sized hot dogs, etc… When HBK had to retire, Triple H took over as leader, recruiting X-Pac and the New Age Outlaws, Billy Gunn and Road Dogg.
The group became huge fan favourites, as they simply became too cool to hate. The group also held every title there was to win and had success in the ring, as well as with promos, fan interaction, and merchandise sales.
They were undoubtedly the best group in the WWE’s history.
1) The Four Horsemen
You have to go with the original. No group enjoyed the longevity and success that the Four Horsemen had in NWA and WCW. There were several versions of the group, but we’ll stick with the first version, which was managed by J. J. Dillon and headed by Ric Flair. Its members included Arn Anderson, Ole Anderson and Tully Blanchard (and/or Barry Windham).
The biggest dressed big, lived big and backed up all their talk in the ring. They won every major title and became larger-than-life figures.
The group had many great rivalries, including Sting, the Steiners, the Road Warriors and Dusty Rhodes. They started the War Games match. They helped make babyfaces into stars because fans were so anxious to see someone finally give the Horsemen what was coming to them.
The Horsemen made it cool to be the bad guys and their work stands the test of time.
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