Stables are a central part of pro wrestling storytelling. They can offer performers clearer identities. Based around a main event level heel, they can add to their leader's intimidation factor. Stables can also offer a vehicle for getting young talent over, and placing them under one or more veteran talents’ wings, with Evolution serving as a prime example.
For every New World Order, DX, or The Heenan Family that had significant influence and remains well known to this day, there are plenty more lost to the sands of time. This article recalls five great forgotten stables of the 1990s and five current stables that may be even better.
10 Forgotten '90s Stable: The Dangerous Alliance
When fans think of WCW stables, two supergroups tend to come to mind.
First, there was The Four Horsemen, a stable that predated the WCW name and spanned much of the brand's history as an inveterate heel faction led by Ric Flair, with Arn Anderson as his lieutenant, and that later returned as a face group. Secondly, you have the New World Order, a group instrumental in pushing WCW ahead of WWE (WWF) thanks to its star power and intrigue.
The Dangerous Alliance falls between these two groups’ heydays, sadly limited to about a year’s span in the early '90s. The group, led by manager Paul E. Dangerously, now better known as Paul Heyman, was criminally under-watched given WCW’s relative lack of popularity during that era. Nonetheless, it had remarkable talent with Rick Rude, Steve Austin, Bobby Eaton, Arn Anderson, Larry Zbyszko, and Madusa. Had the group lasted longer, operated during a more popular era for WCW, or eventually made a comeback, The Dangerous Alliance might be better remembered today.
9 Better Current Stable: The Undisputed Era
The Undisputed Era has been a key part of NXT programming for—as of the time of this writing—the last two years. The group is set up on a simple principle of collecting exceptionally talented in-ring performers, giving them some swagger, and letting them run wild.
The group has been frequently afforded the spotlight, including different permutations opening TakeOver cards with sensational tag team matches, and Adam Cole working top tier singles matches. They’re a special group that’s more than ready for the main roster, though many NXT fans would say they’re happy to keep them in developmental, lest they go as underused as many NXT graduates have on Raw and SmackDown.
8 Forgotten '90s Stable: The Hart Foundation
D-Generation X became the most iconic WWE stable of the late '90s and later was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. However, there was another WWE main event level stable that launched months ahead of DX: The Hart Foundation.
Led by Bret Hart, with a roster of his real-life family and friends, The Hart Foundation was great in the ring and unique for working as heels in the US and getting a hero’s welcome in Canada and other international shows. Among others, the faction feuded with Shawn Michaels and Steve Austin, offering a new spin on the evil heel foreigner dynamic from earlier eras.
7 Better Current Stable: The Elite
The Bullet Club felt like a breath of fresh air for wrestling fans who followed New Japan Pro Wrestling. The group featured great workers and intriguing storylines, with a noteworthy roster of past leaders that includes Finn Balor, AJ Styles, Kenny Omega, and Cody Rhodes.
The Elite spun out of The Bullet Club and established the foundation of All Elite Wrestling. Boasting the best of the recent incarnations of the group - Cody, Kenny Omega, The Young Bucks, Hangman Page, and Marty Scrull - the group has entertained not only in the ring and via traditional promos, but also through their celebrated web series, Being the Elite.
6 Forgotten '90s Stable: The Jersey Triad
Amidst a bevy of factions that WCW featured in the '90s, and under the shadow of the New World Order, stood a unique small faction known as The Jersey Triad. Featuring Diamond Dallas Page, Chris Kanyon, and Bam Bam Bigelow; the group offered up a unique combination of talents, with Bigelow as the established veteran, Page a top star of the day, and Kanyon seemingly on the rise with his innovative offense.
The trio from New Jersey never quite got out of the box, with a run that was cut short and never reached the top of the company. Nonetheless, the potential and attitude they demonstrated ranks Jersey Triad among the best stables of the ear that never got their due.
5 Better Current Stable: The Horsewomen
It is probably a symptom of the larger issue of women’s wrestling not getting featured enough, but American wrestling has seen relatively few all-female stables. The groups we have seen - Team BAD, Team Bella, and Team PCB - were short-lived and came across as contrived. However, in NXT, a more organic female group has taken shape.
The Horsewomen consist of real-life friends Shayna Baszler, Jessamyn Duke, and Marina Shafir; who, along with Ronda Rousey, had taken to calling themselves the Four Horsewomen of MMA. Now together in WWE’s developmental system, there’s a nice synergistic relationship at play. Relative veteran Baszler can mentor and help cover for her inexperienced friends, while they have become trusty henchwomen to help her hold onto her NXT Women’s Championship.
4 Forgotten '90s Stable: Camp Cornette
While stables in which one wrestler is the leader and has heaters, young mentees, a cast of fall guys, or eventual rivals behind him have come into vogue and largely dominate the wrestling stables of the last twenty years, there are other kinds of groups. Take the Heenan Family, the Dangerous Alliance, or, yes, Camp Cornette.
The mid-'90s aren’t a very celebrated era in WWE programming. The company had fallen on hard times and was still trying to find its way post-Hulkamania and after the steroid trial. For all of the limitations of this era, there were bright spots, which included Jim Cornette emerging as the top heel manager and cutting loose with some inspired promo work. Featuring a cast of Owen Hart, Davey Boy Smith, and Yokozuna (later replaced by Big Van Vader); they were an imposing heel crew that is too often forgotten for the lackluster period in which they starred and for only ever capturing the WWF Tag Team Championship.
3 Better Current Stable: Imperium
WALTER is an old school bruiser: A big man who works a stiff style and has won over fans for his brutality. As the NXT UK Champion, he is set up as a dominating force, and while his character certainly could thrive on his own, WWE has built a faction around him.
Fabian Archer and Marcel Barthel were introduced as his teammates, while Alexander Wolfe has since shown up as a fourth member. The faction only adds further credibility and heel heat to WALTER’s act, while giving his partners the rub by association. Moreover, Wolfe was more or less dead in the water due to WWE not doing anything with his Sanity stable, and Imperium feels like a better use of his considerable talent.
2 Forgotten '90s Stable: The Stud Stable
Not every stable was built to headline and, in the mid-1990s, WCW’s Stud Stable was a fine example of a mid-card group that lent its members greater identity and credibility by association. The common thread was manager Colonel Robert Parker at the helm, and the stable included a mix of veterans like Terry Funk, Dick Slater, and Meng, alongside Arn Anderson and Steve Austin as steady hands in their physical primes. The group even include characters that were less familiar to audiences like Bunkhouse Buck and The Blacktop Bully.
The stable derived from similar factions that went by the same name that Parker had worked with as Robert Fuller, combining old school and southern sensibilities. They devoted a lot of their energy to feuding with Dustin Rhodes and associates, producing their share of rock-solid mid-card matches that catered to WCW’s more traditional fans as an influx of former WWF stars started working the top of the card.
1 Better Current Stable: New Day
It’s easy to look at New Day as a tag team, particularly given that they devoted most of their attention to the tag title competition over their first three years plus. However, they are a three-man crew, which Xavier Woods described as coming together for the purpose of positioning Kofi Kingston as a world champion.
That ambition may have seemed like a pipe dream for years, but when Kingston won the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 35, it became a reality. Kingston has come across as the group's breakout singles star and in-ring leader of the group, while Woods and Big E are excellent supporting players both from bell to bell and on the mic.