Since the Fabulous Freebirds first came to mega-fame, the idea of factions has been a popular one in wrestling. The Four Horsemen, the New World Order, the Hart Foundation and more have made their mark and elevated things wonderfully. It’s mostly heels and it makes sense, a band of bad guys joining forces to run roughshod and when done properly, they can be huge winners and shift up the wrestling landscape. Sadly, pulling it off correctly is tougher. The NWO was great in its early going but fell apart because of how many guys joined up and going on far longer than it should have. At least they had a run as quite a lot of would-be major factions fail to make the impact they were planned for.
TNA have been guilty of this majorly as the company appears obsessed with “evil group trying to take over,” going to that well so many times, it’s dried up. WWE can be just as bad pushing some factions as major deals but they never live up to that hype and WCW had more than a few bad groups as well. Here are 15 wrestling factions that never lived up to their potential and how just throwing guys together doesn’t work out.
15. The Un-Americans
Even by WWE’s own standards, this angle was pretty tasteless. Just months after 9/11, Test, Christian, and Lance Storm were gathered together, pushing how much better a nation Canada was and taking cheap shots on WWE. Coming out in shirts with the American flag turned upside down, their trash talking was pushed by the announcers as epic and shocking but actually came off childish and insulting. They would hold the tag team titles yet their antics pushed the envelope too much as when they threatened to burn the flag in the ring and stopped by Goldust, Booker T and Kane. All three guys were nervous about the backstage heat over this and afraid to really go all out so it faltered from the start. They were disbanded after a few months and showing how trying to push patriotism as hate is a bad idea anywhere and all three guys suffered for it.
14. Sports Entertainment Xtreme
Typical Vince Russo logic: push a group whose initials he claimed spelled “SEX” when, in fact, they do not. It began with Russo (as the masked Mr. Wrestling III) helping Jeff Jarrett regain the NWA title. Jarrett then turned on Russo who formed the group with David Flair, B.G. James, Erik Watts, the Harris Brothers and seemingly whoever else Russo could grab at any time, devoted to destroying Jarrett and taking over TNA. This led to a match between Jarrett and Raven where, despite odds that would make John Cena cringe, Jarrett retained the NWA title. Russo then did a bit where his children begged him to stop this and he threatened to beat them only to announce a week later he was stepping down to be a better father. After that, the ‘Extreme’ fell apart, the members drifting into different teams and factions to make this a waste and only the first of (many, many) times TNA went to the “evil group out for control” angle over its existence.
13. The League of Nations
The most recent addition to this list, this group came together with Sheamus winning the WWE World title and joining with Rusev, Wade Barrett and Alberto Del Rio. The idea was how they all hated America and wanted a push as foreign heels but the group had little in common and didn’t gel as well in the ring. Being the flunkies for The Authority didn’t help as the League didn’t stand on its own but just used as cannon fodder against Roman Reigns. Sheamus lost the title and the others came up short in quests for other belts and they were made to look weak losing to Austin, HBK and Mick Foley at WrestleMania.
The next night, they turned on Barrett and then a short feud with the Wyatt Family that ended with them disbanded. A rough grouping from the start and only lasted a few months, a great showcase for how rough 2016 has been for WWE.
12. The Million Dollar Corporation
Forced to retire due to back injuries, Ted DiBiase still had heat as “the Million Dollar Man” and WWE decided to use that by having him create his own stable. Bam Bam Bigelow was the first and then Nikolai Volkoff who was made out to be broke and so his tight just had a cent icon instead of a dollar. DiBiase soon “bought” Tatanka, pushed the Fake Undertaker and added Kama, IRS and King Kong Bundy to the mix. They were supposed to be a big deal but just didn’t take due to the ages of the guys and not making them a serious threat. Bigelow was dropped after losing to Lawrence Taylor and adding Sid and 1-2-3 Kid did nothing to elevate the group even more.
The last gasp was when DiBiase brought in Steve Austin as his Million Dollar Champion in 1996 with Austin soon becoming “Stone Cold” and pushing DiBiase away. Despite his great work on the mic and the talent involved, DiBiase’s Corporation ended up a creative bankruptcy.
11. The Mexicools
The idea was great: A trio of Latino wrestlers sick and tired of the stereotypes whites had about their culture and trying to do something about it. Super Crazy, Psicosis and Juventud had the skills to do it and ready for a push. Sadly, WWE decided the best way of them railing about these stereotypes was….to live out each and every one of them. Thus, the Mexicools came out on lawn mowers, dressed in blue jumpsuits, ranted about “gringos” and acting out all the stuff they claimed to be against. Race and wrestling rarely mix very well and here’s an excellent example as fans were way too turned off to give this group a chance and Juventud would soon be gone after a backstage incident to crush the group more. Trying to mix race and the business is a recipe for disaster and these is a key reason why it’s best not to try.
10. The Millionaires Club/The New Blood
With things going bad in 2000, WCW decided to try something daring by pairing up Vince Russo and Eric Bischoff, believing together they could come up with something big. Their entrance had the titles vacated and soon pushing the Club (Hogan, Flair, DDP, Sting, Kevin Nash and Lex Luger) as a bunch of old guys trying to hang onto their slot over the New Blood (basically everyone else in the company). It was a fair idea but WCW blew it thanks in no small part to Russo’s short attention span and failure to properly book things. So while Kidman got a win over Hogan, it was seen as cheap and not meaning a lot so instead of being cheered by fans, the New Blood was booed badly while the older guys kept dominating. One segment had Nash beating seven New Blood members at once, hardly a way of getting guys over. Thus, after just a month, the whole experiment was abandoned and rather than rising higher, WCW fell apart quicker as even acknowledging how the older guys were on top did nothing to stop their damage.
9. West Texas Rednecks/No Limit Soldiers
WCW really had a chance to do something with this but of course, they had to blow it. In 1999, the company paid rapper Master P a hefty sum to come on board, pushing a stable based on rappers and given some major TV time. The problem being WCW’s Southern base didn’t take to this at all and the Soldiers were booed regularly despite being faces. They soon tangled with the Rednecks, made up of Curt Hennig, Barry and Kendall Windham and Bobby Duncum Jr who soon got the fans cheering as they were outnumbered by the Soldiers. The group also cut a terrific song “Rap is Crap” that got serious air time on radio stations and the fans going for them more. Of course, rather than see the potential in this, WCW killed it as the Rednecks were meant to be the heels and the feud ended despite how the Rednecks were more over than most in WCW of the time.
The Soldiers disbanded and the Rednecks faded and thus WCW blew hundreds of thousands of dollars on a group that fans hated while crushing the one they loved. And folks wonder how they went out of business.
8. The Truth Commission
A pretty daring idea, the Commission first showed up in the USWA, pushed as a group of heels from South Africa who hated the way things were going in the country. It was a dicey act but Bret Hart recommended them to WWE to make their debut, cutting down the race angle a bit and just being hard-nosed guys. Led by The Jackyl, they came out in fatigues and red caps and seemed ready to get a major attack going on other faces. However, the group fell apart fast as Recon and Sniper were attacked for losing matches and Jackyl soon pushing Kurrgan, leading to the formation of the quirky Oddities.
WWE just didn’t seem to get how fans would find a group representing such a racist system as apartheid-era South Africa insulting and despite a decent push, the truth was these guys just weren’t good.
When Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff joined TNA in 2010, they decided the best way to duplicate the success of 1996 WCW was…to do the exact same thing. For months ahead of Bound For Glory, Abyss would talk about a mysterious “them” coming to TNA and afraid for it. The main event of the show had Jeff Hardy, Mr. Anderson and Kurt Angle battling for the title. Hogan and Bischoff seemed ready to fight each other but instead helped Hardy win the belt and revealed they (along with Abyss) was the mysterious “them” all along. The following “Impact” opened with 40-minute segment where the group took the name Immortal with Ric Flair and his Fortune stable joining for no reason.
What followed was a confusing mess as Hogan and Bischoff boasted of being in charge yet a “network consultant” was able to beat them at various angles (Mick Foley was named the figure just weeks before leaving the company), Anderson joined, left, beat Hardy for the belt, Hardy had his infamous one-minute PPV match with Sting, more members came and went and fans were getting sick of the whole thing. It culminated with Hogan turning face to attack Immortal and Dixie getting the company back but the whole thing showcased how TNA’s obsession with the past hurt its future too much.
6. Misfits in Action
Here is Vince Russo’s WCW mentality on full display. Tossing together a bunch of B-list guys, Russo gave them all bizarre names and a lame military theme. You had Hugh Morrus as General Hugh G. Rection (say it out loud), Chavo Guerrero as Lt. Loco, the Wall as Sgt. AWOL, Tylene Buck as Major Gunns (because of her chest) and Van Hammer as Major Stash (he was to be “Private Stash” over a drug issue but he insisted on being a major instead. Only in wrestling.) Booker T was also given the lame “G.I. Bro” gimmick to work with them as they would fight it out with Team Canada, Reaction U.S. champ but not doing too well and Gunns turning on them.
Despite some odd popularity, the group were never the huge deal WCW made them out to be as Booker left to take on his old act and stands as yet another sign of how bad WCW got in its last year.
5. The Dungeon of Doom
You can’t do a list like this and not mention what may well be the single most ridiculous stable in wrestling history. Driven by his “father,” the Wizard, Kevin Sullivan decided to unite a group dedicated to the destruction of Hulkamania in 1995: The Zodiac (Ed Leslie in weird makeup), the Shark (the former Earthquake), Meng (in a cheap mask), Kamala, the Giant and Loch Ness (who was so huge that he was barely mobile in the ring) along with Braum (a leprechaun who was about five and a half feet tall). The attacks on Hogan were featured in skits in a “cavern” that looked like a C-movie sci-fi set and the infamous moment at Halloween Havoc when the Yeti (really a mummy) attacked Hogan.
WCW pushed them big but they came off so ridiculously cartoonish that you couldn’t take them seriously and even linked with Ric Flair didn’t help them out. They faded as the NWO took over but remarkable how they even got a shot at all.
4. Straight Edge Society
The potential with this was pretty strong. After long pushing his “straight edged” lifestyle, CM Punk began doing promos that bordered on cult leader, talking of leading a group to push that lifestyle no matter what. Luke Gallows joined as his muscle and that led to Serena coming out of a crowd to pledge herself and her head shaved in the middle of the ring. The group had a lot of promise but were soon undercut by the numbers, as proven when Punk threatened to “bring the strength of the Society down on you” and HHH replied “you mean, all three of you?”
Supposedly, WWE was worried of fans going too far to shave their own heads and such and when Serena was videotaped drinking, that led to her dismissal and Gallows was soon lost in the shuffle. Punk would rebound of course but the push for the SES could have been even bigger if given the chance.
3. The Dudes With Attitudes
In 1990, Sting finally won the NWA world title off of Ric Flair and it seemed set for rematches. However, Ole Anderson was in charge of booking for WCW and had to deal with massive budget cuts that led to the loss of talent in exchange for older and lesser guys. With the Four Horsemen an issue, Sting declared he was forming his own group and pairing him with the red-hot tag champion Steiners and popular Leg Luger was a good move. The rest of the group? Paul Orndorff, a guy who’d been around for years; Junkyard Dog, a fat shell of his former self whose feud with Flair was horrible; and El Gigante, considered the worst wrestler of all time.
These “Dudes” looked foolish together, a mess in tag matches and would soon fall apart with JYD and Orndorff leaving the company. Face factions can work but just lumping a mash of guys together doesn’t gel and the only attitude was how much fans hated this.
2. The Nexus
Few angles have started off so well and then fallen apart like this. The debut of these NXT rookies on RAW in 2010 was terrific as they beat down everyone and tore up the ring and set. They were set up as a major deal, taking on all comers and crushing anyone in their path. But rather than have the patience to see the long-term benefits, WWE instead rushed the whole thing, The Nexus soon losing matches and only getting a boost by adding John Cena to their ranks. That, of course, set up Cena’s eventual victory over them and then the split of the “New Nexus” and “The Corre” that just weakened the entire thing up even more. This could have been a huge deal, really a way to elevate not just these guys but WWE as a whole yet the company never had them live to their potential, a true loss of a great start.
1. The Alliance
So much has been written about the failure of the Invasion yet it still astounds how WWE had the greatest angle ever presented to them and blew it. Granted, so many big names of WCW (Hogan, Hall, Nash, Sting, Goldberg) weren’t going to come over so the whole thing was weakened off the bat. But the refusal of Vince McMahon to give WCW equal standing hurt it from the start, the guys booked as losers to WWE’s and fans not pushed to care for them. Linking them with ECW seemed a good idea, both companies wanting payback on put out of business but then came the idea of having them led by Shane and Stephanie. Thus, the battle fans had dreamed of for years became yet another entry in the endless McMahon family feud.
The only way the Alliance could get ahead was with defections from WWE guys like Stone Cold and Kurt Angle. It all ended with WWE winning (of course) and showcasing what may be the greatest missed opportunity in wrestling history that still aggravates fans for how much potential was blown.
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