The world of professional wrestling has seen a great deal of factions come and go throughout the years. Some more memorable than others. But, whether they succeed or failed, the concept of factions remains a consistent part of wrestling, in any company. Often times a group of wrestlers are thrown together and put out in front of the audience in an attempt to get over. And, that's when it doesn't work – when it feels forced. For a great stable to get over with the crowd it needs to be appealing.
The fans must relate in some capacity to the group they are watching each week. There needs to be something there that represents their point of view, their circumstance, their fears, their frustrations. Ultimately, it is all about the connection.
When you're watching D-Generation X, it makes you feel like you're back on a class field trip and you just happen to be sitting on the bus behind the two class clowns. Waiting for them to agitate the teacher a little more or pull off their next prank.
When you're watching The Corporation, it makes you feel like life isn't fair for the lower-class citizen. It stirs up your emotions and angers you to the point where you are yelling at your television, like those smug suits can hear your voice.
The best factions come from an organic place. Somewhere real. Fans of the product can see straight through the downtrodden gimmicks. They can tell you better than anyone behind the curtain when something is not working The question now is who are the factions with whom the fans have made a true connection? The groups who the people have related to and welcomed into their homes for years. The best factions we can find.
Let's take a look at the top 20 greatest factions in wrestling history …
20 The Wyatt Family
The Wyatt Family are lead by their charismatic, well-versed leader, Bray, who since emerging on the scene in WWE has help bring to the forefront a collection of characters unlike anything the WWE Universe has seen before. That eerie feeling you get when the lamp is blown out and the Wyatt's make their way to the ring is unmatched. It feels less like watching three guys playing a part and more like a real life cult. Bray Wyatt is Manson-esque in his approach. The Wyatt Family are the only faction on this list that are still together today. They are still relatively new but can already be considered one of the greatest stables of all time … as long as you follow the buzzards.
19 The Shield
The debut of The Shield was one that left a resounding impact on the WWE. Arriving on the scene at the 2012 Survivor Series pay-per-view and helping CM Punk retain the WWE Championship, they would then run rickshaw through the roster, leaving a path of destruction in their wake. Standing up to whatever they perceived as an “injustice,” the young trio of Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, and Roman Reigns were seemingly unstoppable during their year-and-a-half run before Rollins turned his back on his former allies on the June 2, 2014 edition of Monday Night Raw. Rollins joinied forces with The Authority and effectively put an end to the Shield.
18 The Mean Street Posse
The upper-class, sweater-vest wearing, Mean Street Posse. That's right, from the mean streets of Greenwich, Connecticut. All right, so these three guys may have been a bit of a schtick but it was a great schtick. The Posse was initially brought in to aid Shane McMahon and two of them were real life school friends of Shane. They were obnoxious and annoying and they looked like a bunch of goofs but really, that's what made them so enjoyable and irritable. Everybody went to high school with somebody who would fit in perfectly with The Posse. They reminded you of that one guy in class who you would love to punch in the face.
17 The Legacy
The product of mutli-generational wrestling families, The Legacy, which was lead by Randy Orton was a group that set out to prove their superiority in the WWE. With Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase by his side, Randy Orton would win the 2009 Royal Rumble Match, solidifying the group as a force to be reckoned with while still in their infancy. The Legacy's eventually split would culminate with a triple-threat match at WrestleMania XXVI, where the three sons of past legends would face off on the grandest stage of them all. Fittingly enough, the victor of said bout would be none other than “The Viper” himself, Randy Orton.
16 The Nexus
The Nexus was a really strong idea at the time. Originally formed as all eight rookies from NXT decided to gang up and cause a volatile scene in WWE, in search of contracts. The group would direct their focus at the company's top star, John Cena, even forcing him to join their stable following a loss to Wade Barrett at Hell in a Cell 2010. However, the group would be shifted around and members were lost and gained causing the fans to loss focus. Eventually, The New Nexus was formed with CM Punk at the helm. The group's new direction seemed to rejuvenate the whole concept until Punk abruptly split from the group, leading to is dissolution.
15 Blue World Order
The Blue World Order were ECW's parody of the New World Order over in WCW. Formed in 1996 at the November to Remember event, the mockery was meant to be a one-off deal. However, fans took a liking to the blue imitators and thus the Blue World Order was established. Stevie Richards, who was the leader of the group (the blue Hulk Hogan if you will) would find the greatest success of his career while running a muck with the knock-off stable, having been thrust into the main event picture in ECW. This just goes to show how far a joke can be taken … all the way to the extreme. Without question, a hilarious and timeless faction.
14 Right to Censor
The WWE were not ones to shy away from a good parody. The Right to Censor was a blatant caricature of the Parents Television Counsel who were protesting and threatening to boycott several of the companies sponsorships dues to the graphic violence and sexual nature of their programming. And, just who happened to be the leader of RTC? Steven/Stevie Richards, also of bWo. While this satirical gimmick would not elevate him to main event status in WWE, much like his previously mentioned faction in ECW, it was certainly compelling. Perhaps Richards should have gone into comedy instead of wrestling.
13 Straight Edge Society
The “Second City Savior,” CM Punk introduced the WWE Universe to the Straight Edge Society while competing exclusively on the SmackDown brand. Preaching on a weekly basis and displaying a messiah-complex while his loyal disciples would shave there heads as a sign of good faith towards Punk, The Society was in all forms, an original and brash concept. Being on SmackDown, this allowed Punk to come across with more edge and attitude than might have been allowed on the flagship show of Raw. The Straight Edge Society was a faction that could have left a major mark on the business. It's a shame it ended so soon, but it was great while it lasted.
12 The Brood
The ring of fire would burn atop the stage as The Brood would rise up through the flames and their dark leader, Gangrel, would sip blood from his chalice before spitting it out towards the crowd. What a great entrance. The Brood and their Gothic lifestyles garnered a lot of interest during the Attitude Era. Their consistent use of blood was definitely something disturbing to watch. Unfortunately, when the faction broke apart, Gangrel would get lost in the mid-card and released by WWE soon after. Of course, we all know the fate of the other two Brood members … Edge and Christian went on to become one of the greatest tag teams of all time.
11 The Fabulous Freebirds
The Fabulous Freebirds were more than just hair, leather, entrance music, and Southern pride. They were the first faction to actually have a rule named after them when the NWA declared the “Freebird Rule” into existence. The group has wrestled all over the world for a multitude of different promotions. They have helped influence numerous wrestlers, especially those of the tag-team variety. Michael P.S. Hayes, the ex-leader of The Freebirds been a longtime employee of WWE. Sadly, past members Buddy Roberts and Terry Gordy have passed on but The Fabulous Freebirds remain strong in the memory of their fans and those they have inspired … their flock.
10 The Dangerous Alliance
The Dangerous Alliance has seen incarnations in the AWA, WCW, and ECW. While the wrestlers may have changed, one thing remained the same, Paul E. Dangerously (Paul Heyman). Yes, Paul Heyman has been managing and trash-talking long before there was a Brock Lesnar. Using the same impeccable mic skills that he maintains to this day, Heyman helped lead members of his faction to success. One of whom, “Stunning” Steve Austin, later became the biggest star in wrestling. Paul Heyman has never missed a beat as he seems to be getting better and better as the years go by like some sort of sleazy fine wine.
9 The Heenan Family
The Heenan Family is yet another faction that has seen its fair share of members. Dating way back to the early days of the AWA before finally ending up in WWE in 1984. Bobby “The Brain” Heenan was the unequivocal mastermind behind the longstanding faction. Heenan managed to lead a number of his “family” members to glory and gold as they captured championships. The Brain not only knew how to run a faction but he knew how to fuel a crowd. Time after time he was capable of drawing some of the best heel heat you have ever heard. When the Family dissolved, Heenan decided to take a seat at the announce table, where he also excelled.
8 Ministry of Darkness
The Attitude Era brought about a large change to WWE’s content. The lines were crossed more so than ever before. One of the more controversial factions from that time period was the Ministry of Darkness. While there run was relatively short, it was marred with controversy. From crucifixions to hangings to abductions, all sensitive issues which were brought to light every Monday night. During this time, The Undertaker was indeed the darkest version of his character. When Vince McMahon called him out as Mark Calaway (his real name), for taking his gimmick too far, it helped blur that distinction between reality and fiction.
7 The Corporation
The McMahon family and The Corporation were a group of vindictive villains who set out to eliminate wrestlers who they viewed as a threat to the establishment. The ones who wouldn't play by the rules such as “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and D-Generation X. What would transpire was a boatload of epic feuds and encounters. The Corporation would merge with the aforementioned Ministry of Darkness in April on '99 for a short period of time. The two factions combining as one was a major and interesting twist in the storyline but it eventually fell apart. And thus was the end of the great Corporate Ministry experiment.
The modern day version of The Four Horsemen. Evolution was comprised of Triple H, Ric Flair, Randy Orton, and Batista. The past, present, and future of the wrestling business. The most dominant faction of the new era. During their run as members of the Raw roster, Evolution secured all the major gold by winning the World Heavyweight, Intercontinental, and Tag-Team Championship. The “passing of the torch” from Ric Flair to Triple H was monumental as the group were virtually untouchable. Their recent reformation earlier this year excluded Flair from the group which made it feel incomplete. Ric Flair is the starting point from which these guys evolved.
5 Nation of Domination
This racially-charged group of angry young men known as the Nation of Domination were a rough and enraged faction. Original leader Faarooq would often shoot off on tirades and rants about inequalities in the WWE. The group is now synonymous with the creation of a superstar. In 1997, a fresh-faced wrestler by the name of Rocky Maivia was selected to join the faction, changing his name to The Rock and launching one of the most successful WWE careers ever. In 1998, with Faarooq out, The Rock officially took over as group leader, shortened its name to The Nation and pulled away from racial discrimination while adopting a newer image.
4 The Hart Foundation
The Canadian legends and homegrown heroes. The members of The Hart Foundation were all trained in the infamous training room known as “The Dungeon” by the patriarch of the Hart family, Stu. Love them or hate them, The Hart Foundation stood for principle even during a time when the WWE was turning over a new leaf and loosening its moral standards. The Harts were a tight-night bunch who were considered wrestling royalty. Through trial and tragedy, they are loyal to each other. True wrestlers in every sense of the word. Nobody ever came out of Stu Hart's Dungeon as a “sports entertainer.” They came out as bonafide wrestlers.
3 New World Order
The most unforgettable heel turn in the history of wrestling took placed on July 7th, 1996 during Bash at the Beach when Hulk Hogan turned his back on everybody who ever believed in him and established the New World Order of wrestling along with Scott Hall and Kevin Nash, dropping the red and yellow for black and white and changing his name to “Hollywood” Hogan. The nWo went on to become the largest wrestling stable in history. Their outrageous and overt presence on Monday Nitro was WCW's biggest weapon in the Monday Night Wars against WWE, in which they helped shape the battle of the wrestling promotions.
2 D-Generation X
The most rebellious faction that has ever (dis)graced the wrestling world. DX shook up the WWE with their unabashed behavior and juvenile hijinx, having a jolly old time while breaking every rule in the book. Nothing seemed off limits or taboo with DX. Everything and everybody was fair game. Their humor was fantastic, their sarcasm was delightful, and there was never a dull moment when DX was on camera. They always left you wanting more and more each week. They made for great television that cannot be duplicated. Nothing about DX will ever be duplicated. And if you think otherwise; I got two words for 'ya … NO WAY!
1 The Four Horsemen
The undisputed greatest wrestling faction of all time, The Four Horsemen. Lead by the greatest performer in the history of wrestler, “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair. There is no real argument to the contrary. The Horsemen epitomized what being a stable is all about. The longevity, the class, the talent, and the swag. Operating in a smooth and stylish fashion, they were the first of their kind. The most significant and influential group of wrestlers to ever come together as a stable. Paving the way for an abundance of factions since their own formation. Every group since The Four Horsemen owes them some debt of gratitude.