Wrestling is known for nursing several stables across the sport's history. The Four Horsemen, nWo, Evolution, DX, The Shield, you name them. Yet, no matter how great those groups were, none were more notorious than one backstage group in particular. The most controversial group in wrestling history were not a scripted, on-screen group. They were The Kliq. Consisting of Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Scott Hall (aka Razor Ramon), Kevin Nash (aka Diesel), and Sean Waltman (aka 1-2-3 Kid, aka Syxx, aka X-Pac), The Kliq dominated the wrestling world throughout both WWE and WCW. They were of such high status in both companies that they had a big influence on the booking for not only themselves on television, but also the booking for just about all of the wrestlers on the roster. As much as their backstage influence worked in favor of all of their careers, it proved to be a detriment to the careers of several other superstars.
One of the reasons why these 5 friends clicked so well with each other was because they looked out for each other backstage as much as they looked out for themselves. If anyone got in the way of any of The Kliq member's success, The Kliq would make sure to find a way to damper that person's success. It has led to plenty of ruined careers of plenty of superstars and even more burials suffered by members of the roster. In WWE, when they were all working together, it was either The Kliq's way or the highway. Unfortunately for wrestler's working around that time, if a wrestler wanted to avoid The Kliq's politics, it wasn't as simple as to leave WWE for WCW given that Kevin Nash and Scott Hall were top bookers in WCW during the late 90s. No matter where a wrestler found themselves working, they were likely to become victims of The Kliq's politics. Here are 15 times The Kliq used their backstage power to bury wrestlers.
13 IRS and Bam Bam Bigelow
This one is more of an indirect burial than a direct burial on behalf of The Kliq. Or, if nothing else, The Kliq only extended a burial started by The Headshrinkers. Going into SummerSlam 1994, The Headshrinkers were the WWE World Tag Team Champions and scheduled to defend their titles against Bam Bam Bigelow and IRS, who were representing The Million Dollar Corporation. However, at a house show the day before the big pay-per-view, The Headshrinkers' title reign would come to a surprising end at the hands of Diesel and Shawn Michaels. Apparently, the Headshrinkers didn't want to lose their titles to a randomly coupled together tag team. They would rather lose to a real legitimate team and so The Two Dudes With Attitude took The Corporation's spot as the next champions. The Kliq had nothing against IRS or Bam Bam Bigelow, especially Bigelow. Kevin Nash even said in a shoot interview not too long ago that him and the rest of The Kliq were big fans of Bam Bam at the time. Him and HBK just had no problem taking their spots as Tag Team Champions. The Headshrinkers and The Corporation still had their SummerSlam match without the titles on the line and The Corporation won, albeit by disqualification.
For 2 years, from 1991 until 1993, Tatanka was undefeated. He was highly protected as a wrestler and even when he suffered his first televised loss to Ludvig Borga, he still managed to float around the main even picture. Strangely enough, that all changed in 1995. From then on for the next couple years, Tatanka lost several of his matches and was kept out of major feuds. It isn't a coincidence that 1995 was when The Kliq's booking influence kicked into high gear. Tatanka has stated in a few shoot interviews that for his last couple years in WWE, The Kliq frequently buried him. More than anyone else, it was Shawn Michaels who was doing the burying as The Heartbreak Kid frequently told bookers that Tatanka had a "bad attitude," which only stemmed from a beef the two had. Tatanka's star power was never the same because of The Kliq and he ended up leaving WWE in 1996.
11 Chris Jericho
Chris Jericho is one of the few stars to suffer Kliq buries in both WCW and WWE. During his final years with WCW, Jericho felt like he was being held back and wasted in the Cruiserweight division. Every time he tried to break through into the main event, he was being pulled away from those booking the show. Considering that Hall and Nash had key influence on backstage decisions and Nash himself was a chief booker, it is easy to see where the problem lies. He left WCW in 1999 and joined the WWE roster that same year. After a rocky climb up the company's mountain over his first couple years, Jericho achieved superstardom when he became the first Undisputed WWE Champion in the company's history. Although, it wasn't exactly a glorious title run as he spent much of it playing second fiddle to Stephanie McMahon during her angle with Triple H that overshadowed both Jericho and his title. Triple H eventually beat Jericho for that title at WrestleMania X8 and soon after, Jericho was pushed significantly down the card for the next couple years.
10 Adam Bomb
Though he has wrestled under many names—including The Nightstalker, Wrath, and his own real life name of Bryan Clark—WWE fans will remember him best as the survivor of the Three Mile Island nuclear meltdown incident, Adam Bomb. Strange character backstory aside, Adam Bomb had potential to become a top star in WWE and in the mid-90s, he was on his way to becoming just that. However, backstage influence on behalf of The Kliq put Bomb's push to a screeching halt. In a 2008 shoot interview, Bomb claimed that he was one of the top victims of The Kliq's backstage politics and even backstage pranks, citing Razor Ramon and 1-2-3 Kid as his biggest bullies. Their presence backstage not only kept Bomb from reaching the pinnacle of the WWE mountain, but also made his life working in WWE miserable until he left in the summer of 1995.
9 The Rock
This is more of an attempted burial than an actual burial considering that The Rock went on to become one of the biggest stars in WWE history. Still, it's worth mentioning given how the star potential of a young Rocky Maivia could have been erased if The Kliq had a stronger influence. When Rocky entered WWE with a rocket push on his back, Michaels and Trips had it out for the young upstart as they believed that he had an unearned push on his back. As much as the two disagreed with backstage management on Rocky's push, there was nothing they could do or say to change anyone's mind. At one point, Michaels tried to politic to get Maivia to drop the Intercontinental Championship to Bret Hart—likely to keep Bret out of the World Title picture while simultaneously stalling Rock’s momentum—but Hart turned it down. Even after The Rock had won the WWE Championship, Michaels almost ruined the Wrestlemania 15 match by trying to get Austin to face Triple H in the main event for the title instead. However, The Rock was so over that he just had to main event the show according to backstage figureheads.
10. Spirit Squad
Even when the two reached their older, matured years and even after Shawn Michaels had become a born again Christian, him and Triple H were still handy with a golden shovel. That shovel certainly came in handy in 2006 against The Spirit Squad. The Spirit Squad, a group of evil cheerleaders, were quite possibly the most hated team on the WWE roster at the time. All of the heat that garnered together as Mr. McMahon's preppy enforcers helped them win the World Tag Team Championship under the Freebird rule. All of that success came crashing down when they entered a feud with a reuniting D-Generation X. On multiple occasions throughout the year, the two would humiliate and defeat the stable in the ring. There's something about watching 5 young men in their prime failing to topple 2 40-something year old men every week that is embarrassing to watch. The final nail in the Squad's coffin came when DX stuffed all 5 men in a box and literally shipped them off to OVW, WWE's developmental territory at the time. None of the male cheerleaders were able to recover following the burial. It took Nicky having to repackage himself completely as Dolph Ziggler to wipe away the stench he suffered after being buried by DX.
9. CM Punk
We're not even taking into account the time where Triple H defeated CM Punk at Night of Champions 2011 just as the Straight Edge Superstar was on the heels of his hot streak. While a case probably can be made to dub that instance as a burial, we're talking specifically about the alleged burial done at the hands of both Trips and Shawn Michaels during Punk's WWE tryout. According to former WWE creative member Court Bauer, when CM Punk had his tryout in 2005, The Game and The Heartbreaker buried Punk for his look and in-ring skill in front of Vince McMahon during the tryout. Bauer knew in that very moment that the two Kliq buddies were up to their old shenanigans and being jerks. He looked at them like "You just sunk the guy in front of The Chairman!" Luckily for Punk, the supposed burial (if it did take place) didn't hurt his chances too badly as he did sign a WWE contract that year and made his televised debut in 2006.
After achieving international success in NJPW and WCW, there were high hopes for Big Van Vader to duplicate that same success in WWE when he joined the company in 1996. However, the one thing standing in his way was Shawn Michaels. The two often found themselves not seeing eye to eye both in front and behind the camera and despite Vader's imposing size, Michaels' can be described as a bully to the The Mastodon. At one point, The Showstopper verbally assaulted Vader backstage so badly, it brought the big man to tears. The last straw for Michaels came during the main event of Summerslam 1996 after Vader failed to get in the right position for Michael's patented elbow drop. Michaels landed on his feet off the top rope, kicked Vader repeatedly in the head, and screamed "MOVE!" repeatedly in the face of the Baby Bull. After that night, Vader was out of WWE's main event scene.
7 British Bulldog
Shawn Michaels at the height of his career, and The Kliq as a whole, were all notorious for enforcing what could only be described as "dick moves" against members of the roster. Probably the biggest dick move that anyone in The Kliq subjected anyone to came at the One Night Only 1997 pay-per-view. The original plan was for British Bulldog to retain the European Championship in his home country of England. Knowing the plans in place, Bulldog announced he was dedicating the match to his cancer stricken sister, Tracy, who was in attendance for the main event. Unfortunately, at the last minute, Michaels decided he didn't want to lose the match. Perhaps it was due to his own ego or due to his longstanding backstage feud with Bulldog's brother in law, Bret Hart, but Michaels ended up winning the European Championship (which he didn't even need and rarely defended) to the outrage of a venomous British crowd and more importantly, the disappointment of Bulldog's ill sister. Geez, Michaels. What a dick move.
6 Shane Douglas
In 1994, Shane Douglas lit the wrestling world on fire when he cut a scathing promo where he besmirched his newly won NWA Championship in favor of declaring himself the brand new ECW Champion. From then on, all eyes were on Douglas as he electrified audiences as The Franchise of ECW. It's no wonder why WWE came knocking at Douglas' door with an offer and it's no surprise that Douglas accepted. In 1995, Douglas was in WWE with a new teacher oriented gimmick under the name Dean Douglas. As hokey as a teaching gimmick may sound—no offense to Matt Striker—Douglas’ brash and pompous personality made it work. He made it work so well that WWE wanted Shawn Michaels to drop the Intercontinental Championship to Douglas. However, after Douglas passed on an offer to join The Kliq, the group of hooligans did everything they could to bury him backstage with complaints against him to management calling him "overrated" and "the drizzling sh_ts." When it came for Michaels to do the job, HBK avoided doing so by citing an injury as a reason and instead surrendered the belt to Douglas at In Your House 4. Conveniently, Douglas lost the title to Kliq member Razor Ramon 11 minutes later. By time 1996 rolled around, Douglas was back in ECW.
After winning the King of the Ring tournament in 1995, Mabel was on the cusp of a big push that would solidify him as a main eventer and a top WWE Championship contender. Plans for Mabel's push were quickly changed and stopped because of the WWE Champion himself, Diesel. As Nash admitted in a shoot interview from 2015, he thought that Mabel was a reckless worker. By time the two had their main event WWE Championship match at Summerslam, Nash claims that Mabel had already injured "six or eight" guys by that point, including Fatu of The Headshrinkers. The worst part of it all was that despite prior warnings that he didn't want to take Mabel's big sitdown splash, Mabel did it anyway and injured Diesel's abdomen. Big Daddy Cool thought that their match was so sloppy that he complained to management backstage that Mabel wasn't ready for the main event scene and thus ended Mabel's main event push.
Mabel's partner in crime for their Men on a Mission tag team, Mo, was also a victim to The Kliq's backstage antics. During a verbal backstage altercation with Shawn Michaels that started because Michaels was mad that Mabel had to go home early from an event due to sickness, Mo tried to walk away from the fight. Instead, Michaels hit the big man in the back. A furious Mo told Michaels "Don't ever put your hands on me again or I'll beat your f_____g ass," Michaels used his backstage power to get Mo kicked off of television for 9 months. Mo stated in an interview that with all the time he was forced to spend at home living off per diem checks, Mo grew suicidal. It took words of encouragement from British Bulldog and Macho Man Randy Savage before Mo could be pulled out of his mental slump.
3 Jean Pierre Lafitte
After top 90s WWE tag team, The Quebecers, were disbanded due to Jacques' brief retirement, Pierre used the opportunity to elevate himself as a singles star. After Quebecer Jacques departed the company, Quebecer Pierre was repackaged as pirate Jean-Pierre Lafitte. As ridiculous as it sounds, Pierre actually got pretty over with the pirate gimmick. The highlight of his career came during a 3-month long feud with Bret Hart that saw the two have a show stealing match at In Your House 3. All things considered, Lafitte was on his way to become a brand new top star in WWE. That was until The Kliq had a say in the matter. When Diesel was booked to face Lafitte in Montreal, the planned finish was to end with a double countout. Shawn Michaels tried to politic for his friend Diesel to win definitively by pinfall, but Lafitte refused to be pinned in his hometown and the countout finish went along as planned. Since Lafitte refused to play ball with The Kliq, The Kliq made sure the booking committee wouldn't play ball with Lafitte. The Kliq buried him backstage and not only did it end Lafitte's push, it ended his WWE career as he was released soon after.
2 Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart
In light of the infamous Montreal Screwjob that convinced Bret Hart to exit the company in favor of WCW, his fellow Hart family members were also keen on following Bret out of WWE's doors. Though Owen Hart's contract obligations forced the 2-time Slammy Award winner to stay, British Bulldog had to buy out his own contract to leave. Jim Neidhart, on the other hand, was allowed to leave on his own, but only on his own merits. He had to get embarrassed on WWE television before leaving at the hands of Kliq members, Triple H and Shawn Michaels. In the wake of the 1997 Screwjob, on the November 24th episode of Raw, DX invited The Anvil to join their stable and The Anvil accepted. Only, before the night was over, DX turned on him in a set-up that made Neidhart look like a complete doofus on his way out. While Neidhart did get his wish of going to WCW, he was rarely used and achieved no success there. Whether that was due to backstage influence from Michael's buddies, Hall and Nash, is open to speculation.
1 Owen Hart
As stated earlier, Owen Hart was forced to stay in WWE following the Montreal Screwjob. He didn't return to WWE television until a month after when he attacked Shawn Michaels at In Your House: D-Generation X. The King of Harts was never hotter in his career and WWE had the opportunity to do something truly interesting by capitalizing on a hot angle started by the Screwjob. Unfortunately, it never manifested in a serious main event push for Owen Hart. Rumor has it that Shawn Michaels was afraid that Hart would shoot on him and legitimately try to hurt The Heartbreak Kid. So they quickly had a blowoff match for the WWE Championship on the December 29th episode of Raw, which ended by DQ. Eventually, The Black Hart came out on the losing end of a feud with Triple H and he faded into the midcard from then on out.