Factions, groups and stables have been mainstays of professional wrestling organizations for decades. Perhaps the first that comes to mind is the famous Four Horsemen that dominated the National Wrestling Alliance and who were also featured in World Championship Wrestling.
While The Four Horsemen may remain the best of the bunch, the contributions made by the D-Generation X and the New World Order should not be forgotten when thinking about all-time great factions. D-X and the nWo helped forge what became the “Monday Night Wars,” and those groups were both successes and failures, in their own ways, during what has become wrestling’s most romanticized period. Plenty went right and also wrong with D-X and the nWo, but there are valid reasons why promotions such as World Wrestling Entertainment and Total Nonstop Action Wrestling repeatedly attempted to resurrect those storylines over the years.
The WWE could use another big faction that mirrors the accomplishments of those that came before it. New Day did well to make what began as a horrible gimmick into a babyface stable that got over among fans, but it appears as if that group has hit its ceiling. Factions could breathe some lift into both of the WWE's cable programs, and they could help lead the company into what is being referred to as the “New Era,” so long as those factions are not ripoffs of each other. A faction could also be used to turn a new act into one embraced by fans or it could allow a wrestler to change his character en route to becoming a legitimate Superstar worthy of holding one of WWE’s two major championships.
15 15. The Miz
We know what you’re thinking. The Miz is already a played-out character and should not be holding any championship, let alone be responsible for leading a new faction that is taken seriously in the WWE Universe. The Miz does a lot of good for the WWE as it pertains to press and media relations. He is an experienced veteran in the WWE, solid in the ring and can draw major heat on the microphone whenever he is not tasked with cutting laughable promos.
Nobody will ever confuse The Miz with Ric Flair, but that doesn’t mean that Miz could not lead a faction that protects him until one of its members sees the writing on the wall and turns on the group’s leader. Such a feud could even propel an act not on television into a main event role. Then again, the WWE would probably just squander the whole thing as the company did when Damien Sandow got himself over as a babyface.
14 14. Roman Reigns
As much as those running the WWE may not want to admit it, they must eventually realize that there is money to be made in turning Roman Reigns heel if only for a brief amount of time.
One idea the company could run with is to make Reigns the leader of a heel faction. Reigns is better on the microphone than some give him credit for, whenever he is not trying to be this generation’s version of John Cena from a decade ago. His mannerisms inside of the ring are already heelish every now and again, such as when he is working with an undersized babyface such as Sami Zayn.
Reigns should be booked as the company’s next big star, but this time as a heel and leading a group of other wrestlers could, so long as the storyline is written properly, draw massive amounts of heat at shows and among fans watching on TV. It may be what helps Reigns take that next step into the fall of 2016.
13 13. Dolph Ziggler
Dolph Ziggler is already a poor knockoff of The Heartbreak Kid, Shawn Michaels. Instead of allowing this to continue far past its sell-by date, why not, instead, make Ziggler a better Shawn Michaels ripoff?
Some of Michaels’ best work during his first stint in the WWE occurred after he turned heel and after the formation of the original D-Generation X faction. Ziggler does not need to form his own version of D-X, but he could become the leader of a group that fights against babyface authority figures such as Shane McMahon, Daniel Bryan and Mick Foley.
With a main event match on the horizon, Ziggler's character needs a change, and this could be a way to light a spark under that character and help Ziggler become more than a wrestler who is a darling among only some viewers who post in Internet forums.
12 12. Bobby Roode
The wait was a bit longer than some hoped and expected considering when we first saw Bobby Roode appear on a version of NXT, but it appears that Roode will finally be working underneath the WWE umbrella in some capacity during the second half of 2016.
While we know that the idea has been beaten into the ground time and time again, we can envision Roode leading a faction of invaders from outside companies into the WWE. This group would not have to be confined to only former TNA Wrestling stars. How about Ring of Honor wrestlers such as Austin Aries? Roode is a tremendous worker inside of the ring and Roode’s abilities on the microphone improved dramatically from when he first worked in TNA. We admittedly wish that Roode would have had an opportunity to work in the WWE a decade ago, but what’s done is done.
11 11. Austin Aries
Take a look at what was just written about Bobby Roode. Much of the same hold trues for Austin Aries. Aries is spectacular inside of the ring and it seems that the WWE realized that the Aries character is better as a heel than as a babyface.
Any faction that involves Roode should also include Aries and vice-versa. In this version, however, it is Aries and not Roode who works as the leader of the stable. That makes sense in a way, as Aries is undersized when compared to many of the wrestlers on the current WWE main roster. Aries will need some help if the company is to use him outside of the resurrected cruiserweight division.
Making Aries the leader of a heel group could be one way to introduce him to audiences who are not all that familiar with his work in companies like TNA Wrestling and Ring of Honor.
10 10. Shinsuke Nakamura
Upon making his debut in the WWE at the NXT Takeover: Dallas show earlier this year, Shinsuke Nakamura instantly became the most charismatic worker in all of the WWE. While Nakamura can unquestionably go on his own and as a solo act, the WWE could also choose to package him with other wrestlers upon bringing Nakamura up to the main roster. After all, English is not Nakamura’s native language.
While Nakamura has proven in NXT that he can hold his own on the microphone, making him a leader of a faction could be a way to eliminate what some casual fans may consider to be a flaw. Nakamura could even lead a babyface group to feud with one or more of the heel factions imagined in this very piece. Of course, we hope that Nakamura eventually receives a real opportunity to shine on his own and carry multiple WWE Championships during his time with the company.
9 9. Chad Gable
The truth of the matter is that either member of the tag team American Alpha would make a great leader for the next big faction to hit the WWE. There are a few reasons we are picking Chad Gable over Jason Jordan for this role. For starters, Gable is, from what we have seen from the two in NXT, better on the microphone as of the summer of 2016. Gable also happens to be smaller than Jordan, and thus the storyline could be that Gable formed a faction of his own to serve as his protection similar to how The Horsemen used to protect Ric Flair.
Either way, we would not run with such a storyline until well into the future. American Alpha need to dominate as members of the WWE main roster up through the summer of 2017 before anybody gets any ideas about what Gable and Jordan should be as solo acts.
8 8. Seth Rollins
This one is rather self-explanatory if only because we have already witnessed it play out. Seth Rollins technically was not the leader of The Shield during the group’s run, as none of the three members were ever mentioned as being ahead of the others. With that said, Rollins is the best overall performer of the three when you consider all that those running WWE want to see from a superstar. Rollins has a great look. He is an incredible athlete who can work a variety of styles regardless of the opponent. Rollins can flip the switch from babyface to heel and then back to babyface without missing a step.
We would not be all that surprised to see Rollins become the leader of a faction that is similar to the original Shield at some point down the road, perhaps even before the end of 2016. For all we know, such a stable may even include Roman Reigns working as a heel.
7 7. Kevin Owens
Here is a hot take for your consideration: Kevin Owens is the best overall worker the WWE has signed to its main roster in 2016. Owens has had roles in some of the best WWE matches of the past 18 months. No proven heel on the roster is better on the microphone than Owens. The Owens character could, however, use something different as part of this “New Era” so that he does not become just another guy on the Raw brand.
Making Owens the leader of a faction could be what elevates him to the top of the mountain. Yes, the Owens character is one that only cares about himself, but that is what makes the storyline so promising. The time would eventually come when one member of the faction realizes why the group was assembled and then turns on Owens. Make this a slow burn, WWE, and you could have a money feud down the road.
6 6. Charlotte
It is almost hard to believe that it was nearly one year ago, as of the posting of this piece, when the WWE went out of their way to tease the Four Horsewomen faction at the NXT Takeover: Brooklyn show. That crowd in attendance on that night popped huge as each of the four women held up four fingers to flash that famous wrestling gesture. Such a move would receive a similar reaction if the WWE were to run with a female faction that dominated both the Raw and SmackDown rosters.
Charlotte is mentioned as the leader of this group because it only makes sense that she would play the Ric Flair of the stable. The WWE has already had Charlotte feud with other members of the Four Horsewomen, but some creative storytelling would allow us all to forget about those matches and move forward. Besides, Four Horsewomen merchandise would fly off of shelves.
5 5. Samoa Joe
Remember years and years ago when it seemed as if Samoa Joe was going through the motions and visibly frustrated while working in TNA Wrestling? Those days are now well into the past, as Joe has found a fire and his former form as a member of the NXT roster. Joe’s days in NXT are hopefully numbered, as he deserves to be on the WWE main roster even before this piece sees the light of day. Joe is everything one could want from a monster heel leading a group of wrestlers who destroy everything that is put in front of their path.
One idea presented here for your approval, an idea not all that new among diehard wrestling fans, involves Joe linking up with Roman Reigns and The Usos to create their own version of a Four Horsemen. Instead of “stylin’ and proflin,” however, those four men would simply wreak havoc on other members of the roster.
4 4. Bray Wyatt
There was so much excitement for the original Bray Wyatt character who led a group of monsters years ago. It was a storyline straight out of the 1980s, but one that had enough of a modern twist that allowed a fan to suspend his disbelief every now and again. Then, the WWE had The Wyatt Family feud with Kane, and the entire saga went off of a cliff form there.
Wyatt did not forget how to wrestle, nor did he lose his ability to cut promos and get over among fans. The WWE, for whatever reasons, decided to make the faction a forgettable group and turn Wyatt into a heel who lost all the time. Wyatt does not need to lead a “family” to have a stable or faction to call his own. Having Wyatt work as a solo act at this point seems like quite a waste of what could have been for the character and also for the WWE. Give it one more shot, WWE, but this time get things right with Wyatt.
3 3. John Cena
Oh, to think back to the days when fans chanted “you can’t wrestle” at John Cena and to when fans flocked to the Internet to complain about the Cenation. Sorry, all of those who are refusing to see the light in the summer of 2016, but Cena is one of the best guys the WWE has today. Like other fans who watch the product, we would like to see Cena eventually make the transition to heel one last time before he hangs his wrestling boots up for good, if only to give him something different to do during one of his last major runs in the WWE.
Perhaps making Cena as the leader of a heel faction could be what the character needs. If the WWE chooses to never make Cena heel because of all of the good he does for the company outside of the ring, however, Cena could become the leader of a babyface group that feuds with a heel “club.”
2 2. A.J. Styles
Some may want to point out that we already saw this storyline play out on WWE television. Not exactly. A.J. Styles was linked up with his former Bullet Club teammates for only a short time and a “big three” does not make for a big faction that runs a brand. Besides, none of the three members of The Club ever held a championship while the trio was together.
Styles has since been split apart from Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows thanks to the WWE brand split. That may simply mean that it is time to try something new with the man who is truly phenomenal. Nobody can lash out at Styles’ work on the microphone these days, as his promos in the WWE were spot-on over the past couple of months after he turned heel. There remains a lot in the tank of Styles’ run as a top heel.
1 1. Finn Balor
We end this piece with Finn Balor for the obvious reasons. The WWE is well aware of what fans want to eventually see, as the company teased “Balor Club” merchandise for months while Balor was holding the NXT Championship. If that wasn’t enough, his “Balor Club” Titantron screen is even used now that Balor is called up to the main roster. This is a brilliant way for the WWE to sell shirts at shows, but the hope among fans is that there is more to the idea.
Balor needs to work as a babyface on the Raw roster for now. Most reasonable viewers understand that. In time, however, Balor should take his rightful spot as the next leader of “The Club,” this one a faction that shares the name of his character. We have yet to see Balor work as a heel in the WWE, but we can only assume that it will be too sweet.