by Ryan Plant
Hello RP readers, and welcome once again to The Wrestle Ranks.
In this second blog, I’d like to take a look at the best factions throughout wrestling history. There have been many times where not one individual wrestler has made you gasp or applaud, but instead by a group coming together or reigning supreme in their prime. The following are perhaps some of the greatest examples in the industry.
5. The Nexus
Original Members: Wade Barrett (Original Leader), David Otunga, Daniel Bryan, Skip Sheffield, Justin Gabriel, Michael Tarver, Darren Young, Heath Slater.
Additions: CM Punk (New Nexus Leader), Michael McGillicutty, Husky Harris, John Cena (reluctant), Mason Ryan
The most recent faction on this list, when the Nexus debuted on June 7, 2010, it was unlike anything we had ever seen before. Eight “rookies” who were not a part of the main WWE brands, competitors in WWEs half-third-brand, half-competition, NXT, took down two of the biggest stars in the business: John Cena and CM Punk.
Now there are many famous beat-downs made by factions, but what sticks in my mind about the Nexus’ debut is not just the fact that they took down two huge names, but the other damage they inflicted. The arena was torn up, the ring was destroyed and even the commentary team, to their credit, did a great job to sell the chaos by fleeing their seats. Justin Roberts was even choked out by his tie which later saw Daniel Bryan legitimately briefly fired due to WWE’s PG guidelines.
Unfortunately, not much more can be said after the debut. The Nexus were a legitimate force for only six months before breaking into two groups across two brands: Raw’s The New Nexus (with new leader CM Punk) and Smackdown’s The Corre (featuring original leader Wade Barrett). Many pinpoint the demise of the group happening after Cena’s team beat the Nexus in a 7 on 7 match at Summerslam 2010, although Wade Barrett received multiple title opportunities after that match and Cena himself was recruited as a reluctant member due to a stipulation, they even recruited new members Harris and McGillicutty. However with Cena gaining the upper hand in the feud, the group fizzled out with The New Nexus making very little impact and the Corre gaining just moderate midcard success.
4. D-Generation X
Members: Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Rick Rude (briefly), Chyna, X-Pac, Road Dogg, Billy Gunn, Tori
The WWE were rocked in the late 90′s by the emergence of WCW’s New World Order. How did they remain alright in the eyes of the fans? DX was how. With their numerous catchphrases like “Are you ready?” or “Suck it”, the unforgettable stunts such as invading WCW and their success as both a heel and a face faction, DX captivated the 90s audiences. In the Monday Night Wars, the tyrannical figure Mr. McMahon was a key component in keeping the interest (and ire) of fans and, alongside Stone Cold Steve Austin, it was DX’s feuding with the boss and his corporation that helped Monday Night Raw stay afloat against the challenge of WCW. However, they did join the boss at one point… Let’s just gloss over that.
Original Members: Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash
Additions: NUMEROUS others.
When Scott Hall and Kevin Nash first appeared on WCW television in the late 90′s speaking of an invasion, it was not enough to grab everybody’s attention. When they announced a third man was joining them, the world listened. When it was revealed to be perhaps the biggest face in the history of professional wrestling, Hulk Hogan, turning his back on the fans, the world was absolutely stunned. In fact, this world was then ruled by a New World Order, well, WCW territory at least.
The group is perhaps more famous for Hulk’s betrayal than many of their moments, but there were still some stellar times within the group. They took over Nitro, they had their own PPV, their own referee and spray-painted titles. Despite the hazardous reception for Hulk, fans soon enough started supporting the bad guys after they appeared just too cool to hate.
Though what really hurt the group was the split into nWo Black and White and nWo Wolfpac. Before fans could truly choose a side, the “fingerpoke of doom” between Kevin Nash and Hulk Hogan led to the two sides getting back together. What also hurt the group was the amount of members. By the time the group had dissolved, there were over 30 members and 7 incarnations. There was then 4 incarnations in the WWE, and a further eight within TNA under “The Band”. Their motto “nWo 4 Life” sadly turned out to be true which has left the broken legacy of the group beyond repair.
Members: HHH, Ric Flair, Randy Orton, Batista
The past, the present and the future.
A simple concept defined Evolution, though this simplicity also set them apart from numerous other groups. Rather than a group of men all in their prime looking to dominate, Evolution were perhaps more legit because they had a plan in motion to be dominant for several years to come. Led by Triple H and seconded by Ric Flair, Evolution was the training programme for one Randy Orton and one Dave Batista. Throughout their two year history, from 2003-2005 Triple H was on top of RAW for the majority of that time thanks to his protégés. At the height of the group’s success, they held every title on RAW at Armageddon 2003.
The reason why I chose to not only include this group, but also to include it so high up the list, is because unlike many other stables, the break-up of the group actually helped to create stars. When Randy Orton won the World Heavyweight Championship from Chris Benoit at Summerslam 2005, he was shunned from the group the next night before HHH reclaimed the championship a month later. Whilst many at first said that Orton had been “buried”, this move provided a storyline reason for Randy Orton’s sadistic shift in character that would last for several years, and it was perhaps his feuding with Triple H that really put Randy on the map.
When Batista won the 2005 Royal Rumble, he chose to challenge HHH for The Game’s World Heavyweight Championship and won the belt, going on to defend it against The Game several times in a title reign that only ended in July due to injury.
Through the group’s dissolution, the goal of Randy Orton and Batista reigning WWE was achieved a lot faster than what was originally intended. If anything, Evolution is remembered rightly just as much for it’s de-evolution as the group broke down, and that to me is the sign of a good stable.
1. Four Horsemen
Members: Ric Flair, Ole Anderson, Arn Anderson (arguably the most successful three), managed by JJ Dillon. Tully Blanchard, Barry Windham (arguably two of the most successful “fourth members”) Numerous others including: Lex Luger, Sting, Sid Vicious, Paul Roma, Brian Pillman, Chris Benoit, Steve Mongo McMichael, Curt Hennig, Dean Malenko.
Just the name. The name alone sends shivers down your spine. Whether you know of the Horsemen through NWA, WCW or have simply heard of them, the group’s legacy is astronomical. Without the Horsemen, you would not have big stable beat-downs. They broke arms, necks, noses… Any part of the body that stood in their way. They left a trail of famous victims in their path: Dusty Rhodes, Magnum TA, Nikita Koloff, The Road Warriors, to name but a few.
They reformed when the time was right, mostly as heels but with a few face runs (arguably the most successful of these face runs was in order to feud against the New World Order). They helped create a ratings boom for WCW as one of the most famous factions at that point and the cool new faction found themselves fighting to claim their turf.
Then there was the theme tune, the sound of horses obviously enough filling the arena before the serenading western guitar rung aloud. Though it wasn’t just western connotations that the group fulfilled… they were as modern and stylish as you could imagine! They were known to ride in limousines and fly in jet planes, living the gimmick as such. From the way they presented themselves in the ring, to out of the ring, their reasons for reforming and the constant discussion on who should have been in the group and who shouldn’t, the Horsemen have left a legacy that no faction can match right now. Everything they touched turned to gold and seemed to have a purpose.