Top 5 Most Influential WWE Factions in Wrestling History | Smark Out Moment

Top 5 Most Influential WWE Factions in Wrestling History

Posted by Cayden Parkhurst Saturday, August 22, 2015
Professional wrestling has seen its fair share of dominant factions. Factions—or stables as they are sometimes called—put together three or more wrestlers to form a team. They've always been a great way to introduce a new superstar or catapult a current one to stardom. From the early days of NWA to the Attitude Era to modern day WWE action we see on our televisions today, factions and stables have stolen the show. Let's take a look at some of the greatest that wrestling has ever seen.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

These three teams were great factions, but not great enough to make it into my top five. Remember this is merely opinion and personal preference, and I'm not downplaying the role they had in professional wrestling's history.

The Wyatt Family

Faction WWE Wyatt Family
The Wyatt Family (Luke Harper, Bray Wyatt, Erick Rowan)
The Wyatt Family is a trio made up of Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper, and formerly Erick Rowan. Rowan is currently out due to injury, but he was a large part of their good run. The group debuted in July of 2013 as an evil family out to strike down the heroes of WWE. Their most memorable match was easily against another faction we will talk about later, The Shield, at Elimination Chamber pay-per-view in 2014. They also had a very memorable run against Daniel Bryan where they even recruited him for a short time. The downfall of this group is that they separated too early. They didn't get a championship of any kind within their stable the first time around, and still had many great matches and moments ahead of them. Will the current run be different? I hope so, so that the WWE Universe can continue to "follow the buzzards".

The Legacy

Factions WWE The Legacy
The Legacy (Cody Rhodes, Randy Orton, Ted DiBiase Jr.)
The Legacy was a group ran by Randy Orton and had the tag team of Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase Jr. They were all multi-generational superstars as Orton was the son of Cowboy Bob Orton, Rhodes was the offspring of the late, great, always charismatic American Dream Dusty Rhodes, and Ted DiBiase Jr obviously was preceded by the original Million Dollar Man himself, Ted DiBiase Sr. The Legacy doesn't get enough credit, in my opinion. This was a huge boost in the career of Cody Rhodes and would've been big for DiBiase had he stayed in the business. The group helped Orton win the WWE Championship three times over the course of 2009. The most memorable moments from The Legacy come from their rivalry with another group we will talk about, DX. They main-evented multiple pay-per-views in several different matches—one being a Hell in a Cell match.

The Nation of Domination

WWE Factions
The Nation of Domination (D-Lo Brown, The Rock, Faarooq Asad, Kama Mustafa)

This may come as a surprise that these guys didn't crack the top five. It was a very hard decision between these guys, and the group that'll come in at number five. The Nation of Domination was a big part of arguably the greatest period for professional wrestling, the Attitude Era. The group debuted on November 18, 1996, originally starting out with Faarooq, Clarence Mason, J.C. Ice, and Wolfie D. They didn't really catch fire until the man who would soon be the most electrifying man in sports entertainment, The Rock, joined and led the group, and really took off as a star. The group not only helped The Rock become a main eventer, but skyrocketed the careers of Farooq, Mark Henry, and how could we forget D'Lo Brown and The Godfather? Owen Hart was also a part of the group for a short time before "retiring", and coming back as the Blue Blazer. They held a couple championships—The Rock being a one-time Intercontinental Champion, and D'Lo a two-time European Champion all while being in the Nation of Domination. The downfall of this stable started when The Rock turned face. He was at the point of his career he was being adored by just about every crowd and had no place in a heel faction. Soon after, The Rock was attacked by Henry and D'Lo marking the end of The Nation of Domination.

THE TOP 5

5. The Shield

The Shield WWE Factions
The Shield (Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins)
This is where it got really hard for me. Choosing between The Shield and The Nation of Domination really could've went either way, but the pure dominance The Shield had over WWE for nearly two years was just too much to overlook. The Shield was a group of three upstart NXT Superstars by the names of Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, and Roman Reigns. They debuted November 18th, 2012 at Survivor Series and are best known for the path of destruction they'd leave, usually using their patented triple powerbomb and putting opponents or unsuspecting victims through the announce table. These guys were a forced to be reckoned with in a six-man tag match, holding an undefeated streak from December to May of the following year. They've had multiple incredible moments and amazing matches, such as one with The Wyatt family at Elimination Chamber in 2014, and two unforgettable matches with a reunited Evolution. They held two titles in their two year run—Seth and Roman were tag team champions, and Dean the United States Champion. Basically, The Shield did everything there was to do as a unit. On the June 2nd, 2014 episode of Raw, the Hounds of Justice met their demise. Beating Evolution for a second time the night before on Payback, Triple H came out to the stage while The Shield was in the ring. The head of The Authority announced that he always has a "Plan B", and that's when The Architect of The Shield, Seth Rollins, tore apart the very thing he created by striking his former Shield brothers with repetitive steel chair shots and revealing his joining of The Authority. Since then, all three members have gone on to be very successful singles competitors. Dean Ambrose is a crowd favorite, Roman Reigns won the Royal Rumble and main-evented WrestleMania. At that very same WrestleMania, Seth Rollins cashed in the Money In The Bank contract and took home the WWE World Heavyweight Championship he still holds today.

4. Evolution

WWE Factions Evolution
Evolution at Armageddon (Randy Orton, Ric Flair, Triple H, Batista)
Evolution is one of the most decorated stables to have ever existed. Led by Triple H, Evolution ran wild over the WWE from 2003 to 2005. The Cerebral Assassin was accompanied by two young guns in Randy Orton and Batista, and then the legendary Nature Boy, Ric Flair. They represented the past (Flair), present (Triple H), and bright future of WWE (Orton and Batista). These guys all worked masterfully together. At the height of their dominance, all four members of the group held titles. At Armageddon in 2003, Randy Orton won the Intercontinental Championship, Batista and Ric Flair won the World Tag Team Championships, and Triple H won the World Heavyweight Championship in a triple threat match between Goldberg and Kane. They were the perfect heel group that WWE desperately needed at the time, and became one of the most iconic stables and stories of all time. Obviously, this did wonders for all four men's careers. It propelled Randy Orton to being the youngest World Heavyweight Champion ever, soon to be followed by an amazing rivalry with Triple H. After Triple H and Orton ended their spat, Batista went on to win the Royal Rumble and chose to challenge Triple H at WrestleMania marking the end of Evolution. The true destruction didn't happen until Triple H turned on his mentor and long time friend Ric Flair. The group did however return to fight The Shield, officially reuniting on April 14th of 2014 minus Ric Flair.

3. D-Generation X

DX Stables WWE
D-Generation X (Road Dogg, Shawn Michaels, Triple H, X-Pac, Billy Gunn)
August 11th, 1997 saw the birth of one of the most controversial, entertaining, and trendsetting groups professional wrestling has ever seen. The original DX was composed of Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Chyna, and Rick Rude, and then gained X-Pac, The New Age Outlaws, and Tori before breaking apart in 2000. They were the first group to say "screw authority" and rebel against the likes of Vince McMahon and other figures like Sgt. Slaughter, or "Sgt. Slobber" as DX renamed him. Their iconic name was given to them with a little help from the legend Bret Hart when the group was feuding with the Hart Foundation. Hart, on more than one occasion, called The Heartbreak Kid "nothing more than a degenerate". Therefore Michaels, in true Shawn fashion, named the group D-Generation X and named Hart as his inspiration. Rude soon left over displeasure of the Montreal Screwjob incident and returned to WCW. DX never failed to entertain. Many classic moments of the Attitude Era come at their hands, like when Sgt. Slaughter made Triple H and Shawn battle for the European Championship, which saw Shawn lay down and Triple H run in circles around him to pin him. Or when they gave their instant classic "State of the Union" promo, and mocked not only The Nation of Domination but also the McMahon family. Soon after that and the Mike Tyson rivalry, Triple H blamed Shawn for "dropping the ball" and introduced the new DX Army, being made up of himself, Chyna, X-Pac, and The New Age Outlaws. This is the group of men that drove an army jeep to a WCW show and tried to get meetings with the likes of Ted Turner and Eric Bischoff. At WrestleMania in 2000 DX met its end when Vince McMahon helped Triple H defeat The Rock for the title and became the McMahon/Helmsley Faction. However, in 2006, Triple H and Shawn Michaels reformed DX, torturing the McMahon family once again and putting on classic matches with The Legacy. DX is one of the biggest reasons WWE came out on top in the Attitude Era. Without them, who knows what would've happened. You set the rules, and they will break 'em.

2. The New World Order (nWo)

NWO Stables WWE
New World Order (Hollywood Hogan, Scott Hall, Kevin Nash)
How can we talk about the most dominating factions and not bring up the NWO? These guys were one of the most influential groups throughout the 1990s and 2000s. It's hard to say what the most memorable moment is for the NWO, but for me it has to be the most shocking heel turn of all time at Bash at the Beach in 1996. Hall and Nash were booked as two guys that came to WCW to "take over". The main event at Bash at the Beach was a six-man tag match. Hall and Nash told the world that the third member would be there, but when the match began there was no sign of a third member. As the match progressed and things slowly started to look worse for team WCW, lo and behold out comes Hulk Hogan. Although, Hogan wasn't there to save the day. The Hulkster was there to shock the world a reveal he was turning his back on his Hulkamaniacs, and was the third member of what was dubbed "The New World Order of wrestling, brother.". They were obviously set up to be heels, but it wasn't long until the world fell in love with these guys. Hollywood Hogan was arguably a bigger star than ever before, and after Bischoff joined the fray they were as charismatic as could be. From the way they spoke, the way they acted, and their classic black and white promos, the NWO was something that professional wrestling had hardly ever seen before—especially on such a global scale. If it wasn't for the NWO, WCW may have never been as big of threat or a force to WWE as they were. Thanks to them, we got to see DX's antics as a retaliation. Even though the NWO was a pillar in WCW's success, it was also a big part of their downfall. After Hogan lost his title at Starrcade, the NWO was starting to separate. Eventually, that's exactly what happened. They soon split up into NWO Hollywood and the Wolfpac. After the initial split almost seemed like a mad dash for each side to grab as many members as they possibly could. If you were in WCW there was more than likely one point that you were in one of the branches of the NWO. Soon after the mind behind NWO, Eric Bischoff, stepped down from creative and left Kevin Nash in charge, things took a turn for the worst and the NWO and WCW would never be the same again. Since then, the NWO has made several appearances with the most recent being at WrestleMania 31 when Triple H took on Sting.

1. The Four Horsemen

The Four Horsemen Stable Wrestling
The Four Horsemen (Ole Anderson, Tully Blanchard, J.J. Dillon, Arn Anderson, Ric Flair)
Now this is taking it way back. The Four Horsemen originally ran wild all over the NWA and then took their talents to WCW from 1985 to around 1999, although it wasn't always the original group. The original Four Horsemen include Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Ole Anderson, and Tully Blanchard with J.J. Dillon as their manager. They were your original classic "bad boys"—they hurt people, bragged about all their success, and held themselves higher than you. They almost always had every title NWA had to offer, and made sure everyone knew about it. The way the name came around is actually a pretty cool story. After trying to destroy Dusty Rhodes at event in Atlanta, Flair, the Andersons, and Blanchard were all backstage for an interview. After being asked a question Arn said, "The only time this much havoc had been wreaked by this few a number of people, you need to go all the way back to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse!" and thus the name was born. They not only played the gimmick to perfection on TV, but they also acted it outside the ring and arena, taking jets and limos to the arena and buying all the expensive stuff they could. Sometime around 1987, the group kicked Ole Anderson out in favor of newcomer Lex Luger after Ole cost them the NWA tag team titles. Luger, although, was later kicked out of the group after he blamed their manager J.J. Dillon for costing him the United States title after an attempt to cheat backfired. Lex then teamed with the great Barry Windham and began a feud with The Horsemen, even defeating Arn and Tully Blanchard a few times. The Four Horsemen defined the NWA in the 80's. After Arn and Tully left to join the WWF, Flair, Windham, and Dillon attempted to keep the group alive. Dillon's brother, Kendall, was set to join the group, but J.J. Dillon took a front office job with WWF and that marked the end of the first run for The Horsemen. But don't you worry, because that wasn't the end. December 1989, Ric Flair, Arn and Ole Anderson, and Sting brought the group back. They were face at the time, but then turned heel kicking Sting out so Flair could win the title and starting the amazing feud between Flair and Sting. Then Flair, Arn, Blanchard, and Sid Vicious were the group, but eventually went their separate ways. Eventually, Flair, Arn, Sting, and Lex Luger then fought the NWO, but lost. The thing about The Four Horsemen is they set the table for a stable should be. Without the original Four Horsemen, there may never have been an NWO, DX, or Shield. The way they acted, the way they fought, and the way they held themselves is everything a modern day heel should aspire to be, and that's why they are the most influential stable to ever grace professional wrestling. They are Hall Of Famers for a reason, and have even inspired people outside of professional wrestling like Ronda Rousey to form their own groups like her Four Horsewomen. There has never been, and never will be a group quite like these four.

Who do you think are the most influential stables of all time? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!
THIS POST WRITTEN BY: CAYDEN PARKHURST

Cayden Parkhurst is a journalism student at Indiana University Kokomo. Outside of his love for professional wrestling, he is a big fan of baseball and the Cincinnati Reds.

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