Factions are a staple of professional wrestling. Putting talents together opens up all sorts of possibilities. There are those groups that form in the tradition of the Four Horsemen, built first and foremost around a gang of heels helping a main eventer cheat to win, while also associating all of the group members with a sense of excellence. There are also those big groups like The New World Order that compiled elite talents for the intrigue of what they might accomplish together, not to mention ultimately associating more guys with the crew to afford them greater credibility by association.
Not all stables are destined for main event glory, though, or involve top guys. Titus Worldwide, for example, operates under the premise that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Titus O’Neil himself has great charisma and an impressive presence but isn’t a great worker, while Apollo Crews has tremendous athletic skills but has struggled to find his footing as a character; Dana Brooke doesn’t seem to have much direction at all. As a unit, the three at least have some identity, direction, and the ability to fluidly move between and bolster the tag team and singles ranks as they are needed.
What stables might the future hold for WWE? Vince McMahon notoriously isn’t a big fan of stables, favoring singles stars, but has seen the concept result in some big successes in the past, and would surely be willing to revisit the concept for the right collection of talent. Triple H’s old school NWA sensibilities make him more predisposed to groups. Perhaps most interestingly of all, the fans have their own concepts of what stables might look like, and not unlike fantasy booking matches, fantasy booking stables is a popular pastime. This article looks at five stables that Vince might want, five Triple H could get behind, and five fans would be excited to see come together.
15 Vince Wants: The Shield Reloaded
While there are infinite combinations of stables that could happen, Vince is nothing if not a champion of what he already knows works. The Shield was a success by just about any measure. First the trio of Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, and Seth Rollins got over as an elite heel unit, rooted in their in ring talents and charisma. Then they got over as top tier faces, most memorably feuding with Evolution. From there, the unit split, creating three upper card to main event level talents. And their 2017 reunion? It was a fun angle to capitalize on nostalgia and fantasy booking. While the concept got derailed by Reigns’s illness, followed by Ambrose’s injury, the good news is that their momentum getting cut short invited the group to get back together again sooner than later.
Vince loves revisiting a success, as evidenced by the number of DX reunions over the years, or reprising Evolution years after its heyday.
Reloading The Shield as a main event all star team will probably always make sense on the WWE landscape, and always result in big merchandise and viewer numbers.
14 Triple H Wants: The Four Horsewomen
Of all of the success stories to come out of NXT, one of the most surprising and undeniable is the rise of the female roster, anchored by the so-called Four Horsewomen, Bayley, Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks, and Becky Lynch. While the foursome was never an actual stable in NXT, their backstage camaraderie and the classic matches they put on against one another transcended the locker room to arrive as a hugely popular group with fans.
Given Triple H’s love of tradition, and well documented admiration of Ric Flair and the Four Horsemen, the idea of reprising the stable with a female cast has to appeal to him. Put Flair’s daughter at the fore, and this faction makes perfect sense to cater to The Game’s pro wrestling aesthetics.
13 The Fans Want: The New Nation
One of the best remembered factions of the Attitude Era was the Nation of Domination. With Faarooq at the helm, the group represented a gang mentality before going more explicitly black in identity, warring against other race or culture based groups Los Boricuas and the Disciples of Apocalypse. While Faarooq and D-Lo Brown were featured members, the group became better remembered for the evolution of The Godfather, Mark Henry, and most of all The Rock.
When word leaked that Kofi Kingston, Big E, and Xavier Woods were forming a group, rumors abounded about a new Nation of Domination.
It’s probably for the best that they went in a very different direction with The New Day. Nonetheless, there’s still something intriguing about the possibility of a more serious group that leans into social issues, particularly in our current political climate. WWE may well want to steer clear of such associated controversy, but WWE could do a lot worse by its talents, especially when groups like New Day and Titus Worldwide have already quietly built their identities on being black.
12 Vince Wants: The Bullet Club
While Vince McMahon notoriously prefers to create its own intellectual property over pushing talents who were created elsewhere, recent years have seen him soften on that. In particular, McMahon seems to recognize the value of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s properties, having signed AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura based on their NJPW work. Additionally, rumor has it that Vince actually put out a feeler about buying off the intellectual property to the group’s most famous stable, The Bullet Club.
While New Japan rejected the offer, WWE has still walked a line on it, including booking first AJ Styles, and then Finn Balor with the tag team of Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows to be billed as The Club or The Balor Club. These informal factions have not subtly made their nods to The Bullet Club, and if Vince ever can get his hands on the group name, there’s little question he would put it to high profile use.
11 Triple H Wants: The New Evolution
For all of Triple H’s accomplishments as a wrestler and on air character for WWE, there may be none that he can better hang his legacy on than the Evolution stable. The combination of himself, Ric Flair, Randy Orton, and Batista artfully paired the preeminent greatest champion of yesteryear in Flair, with himself as the top heel star of the day, and Orton and Batista as young lions who sat under the learning tree on their way to the main event. The group was entertaining, and collected more than its share of gold in its day. More so, they succeeded in their mission of helping establish two new top guys for the next generation of WWE programming.
Triple H has played not only real life mentor, but kayfabe ally to new stars like Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens.
All signs point to the idea that he wouldn’t hesitate to have a new take on Evolution, perhaps playing the Ric Flair role himself now (or maybe bringing the Nature Boy back as a manager) and adding in guys he’s already been associated with, as well as NXT favorites like Finn Balor or Sami Zayn.
10 The Fans Want: The Woken Universe
Now that Matt has been allowed to pursue the Woken gimmick in WWE—a riff off of his previous Broken work—he’s seen mixed results. To be fair, Vince seems to have given him a long leash to do his thing. However, WWE has still seemed gun shy about fully committing to Hardy’s vision. There was no real storytelling to set up his WWE transformation, and WWE went so far as to have Michael Cole apologize for Ultimate Deletion before it aired, and cut the segment from the Hulu version of the show.
While the Woken/Broken gimmick isn’t for everyone, it really only works at all when a company is ready to commit to it, including involving a larger cast of characters, and fitting those characters into The Hardy Compound and broader mythology, rather than having Hardy work within theirs. It will be interesting to see if Hardy’s fans get what they want with a deeper dive and broader stable of personalities associated with the Woken Universe in the months ahead.
9 Vince Wants: Evil Foreigners
For all of his forward thinking and business practices, at heart Vince McMahon still has his attachments to old school wrestling storytelling devices. Among them is the idea of all American heroes facing down evil heel foreigners. We saw McMahon push stars like The Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff in his early days of running WWE, and later Yokozuna as an ostensibly Japanese heel (despite truly being Samoan), for a time aligned with Finland’s Ludvig Borga. Moreover, he pushed not just Sgt. Slaughter as an Iraqi sympathizer during the Gulf War, but put had him head up a small faction with Colonel Mustafa and General Adnan. His recent stabs at foreign powers wreaking havoc? History saw The Un-Americans come and go, too. The half-baked League of Nations faction was the most recent attempt.
While the whole evil heel foreigner concept feels outdated in 2018, when you look around the WWE landscape, The Bar and Rusev still represent the aesthetic, Andrade Cien Almas just moved up to SmackDown, and Shinsuke Nakamura’s recent heel turn puts him in the same territory. It’s unclear if Vince has imminent plans of assembling a new stable of talent from abroad, but he seems to keep circling back to the idea and the more international talent WWE accumulates, the more realistically he could pull the trigger again.
8 Triple H Wants: The Four Horsemen
Triple H loves classic Ric Flair, and it’s generally agreed that he patterned his run as heel world champion—particularly during the original Evolution run—off of the way Flair carried himself as NWA Champion. Now that WWE owns all of the intellectual property, enough time has passed, and Triple H is increasingly in power, you have to assume he’d relish the opportunity to properly relaunch the Horsemen in WWE.
So who would make up the stable now? That may be the most intriguing part, because with Flair retired and Triple H working an increasingly part time schedule, there aren’t so many obvious choices.
With The Game in charge, the group would probably center on NXT alum that he helped foster along.
Bobby Roode is a heel turn away from a main event run, while Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn have already proven themselves as up to the spotlight. A veteran heel presence like Dolph Ziggler or The Miz could also fit the bill heading up the squad. From there, a team like The Revival is built so much in the Brainbusters mold and could really flourish with the extra attention and push a Horsemen run would afford them.
7 The Fans Want: The Sami And Kevin Show
One of the most delightful surprises on the WWE roster this past year was the emergence of Sami Zayn as an excellent heel after so many fans had assumed he could only work as a face. His partnership with Kevin Owens, too, has been excellent for recapturing some of the Jeri-KO magic, while feeling fresher for the natural chemistry between the real life friends, and less clearly being used to set up an eventual feud.
With Owens and Zayn back on Raw, WWE already teased the formation of a super faction with them and the Miztourage.
The Miz left for SmackDown, but there’s still the potential for Owens and Zayn to be more than a two man unit, but rather build supporting stable around them, perhaps even including Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas. The two-man unit was largely successful on SmackDown; pushing them further with the credibility, outside interference, and designated jobbers that come with a stable could really help them to the next level on Monday nights.
6 Vince Wants: The Dysfunctional Family
One of the cornerstones of the Attitude Era and the years to immediately follow was the extent to which Vince McMahon featured his own family in WWE programming. Whether it was his on again off again partnership and rivalry with his son Shane, his daughter Stephanie playing victim to The Undertaker and Triple H’s machinations before turning heel herself, or a tumultuous kayfabe relationship with his own wife, there was never a shortage of McMahon family madness.
The funny thing is, though, that by a variety of accounts Vince actually wanted to push things further. Rejected stories included a romantic relationship between Shane and Stephanie, or the idea that Vince was the father of Stephanie’s first child. For those who may dismiss the ideas as folklore, let’s not forget Vince’s pet project with the Burchills was Paul and Katie Lea were set up as romantically charged siblings themselves.
For whatever combination of reasons, the idea dysfunctional families seems to fascinate McMahon. While he’d have to tone things down in this PG Era, it’s not outside the question that he’d like one more stab at a stable built along these lines before he retires.
5 Triple H Wants: The Authority’s Vanguard
While Triple H has his detractors who will claim he’s ego-driven and only pushes himself, the last five years have legitimately seen him take more of a backseat to younger talents. When he turned heel to launch The Authority at the helm of Raw, it was with Randy Orton as their chief in ring representative and Kane in a supporting enforcer role. Later, Seth Rollins became the central in ring star to be pushed, with Kane and The Big Show and J&J Security backing him.
Debates may well rage on about The Game’s motivations and his ego, but between the way The Authority operated in those years and his work in NXT, there’s reason to believe Triple H is invested in using his clout to pusher younger guys. Revisiting the Authority as a stable would make reasonable sense to use his and his wife’s credibility to put a proper spotlight on a talent or talents who are at the cusp of great things, but need that extra push by affiliation.
4 The Fans Want: The Horsewomen Of MMA
One of the most exciting sub plots of the Mae Young Classic was the arrival of the Four Horsewomen of MMA. While Shayna Baszler was a featured tournament competitor, Jessamyn Duke, Marina Shafir, and most of all Ronda Rousey captured the crowd’s imagination. They had billed themselves years back as the Four Horsewomen of MMA, and were particularly captivating during the MYC when they got confrontational with the self proclaimed Four Horsewomen of NXT.
Vince McMahon reportedly put the kibosh on the angle, probably because he already had other plans for Rousey’s eventual WWE debut, and building her the way he ultimately would for WrestleMania 34.
It may be that Vince sees Rousey, individually, as too big of a deal to want to cluster her with a stable of talents he has less faith in.
However, particularly for those fans who crossover between MMA and pro wrestling, the idea of four of MMA’s baddest women running roughshod over WWE has its appeal. The faction could be particularly successful if or when Rousey turns heel and is presumably the leader of the group. Baszler has been coming along nicely in NXT and would be an excellent second to her; if Duke and Shafir, who have reportedly been training, can perform at at least a passable level, this stable could be a lot of fun.
3 Vince Wants: The Avengers
It’s no secret that Vince McMahon wants for his roster to come across as larger than life heroes. But super heroes? While the idea might seem silly and juvenile, it’s not inconsistent with WWE’s focused attempts at catering to kids and families.
Vince notoriously has his finger on the pulse of what’s happening in pop culture and frequently takes a stab at borrowing from it in the eintrest of wrestling storylines and characters. Given the massive success of the Avengers franchise for Marvel, it’s not such a reach to think of him trying to emulate that in WWE. Group Roman Reigns with John Cena, The Undertaker, AJ Styles, and Kurt Angle and you could have a fun all star, super hero team for a short angle or a match at Survivor Series. Give them a catchy name, and Vince would be all too eager to watch that t-shirt revenue roll in.
2 Triple H Wants: D-Generation X
If there’s one dimension of Triple H’s on air career that truly put him on the map and set him on the course to be a long term, big time star for WWE, it’s being a charter member of D-Generation X. Paired with main eventer and real life close friend Shawn Michaels, Triple H garnered new exposure and credibility that set him up as a fixture in the Intercontinental Championship scene. Then, when Michaels left the business for his first retirement, Triple H took over the group and ascended to main event stature for the first time.
The cutting edge group, built on elite stars, outlandish antics, and mixing rebellion, comedy, and violence was truly one of a kind. If Triple H were to envision a stable as a vehicle to let the next generation of stars find their voice in a cutting edge way, there’s little doubt it would look something like a modern day reimagining of DX, catered toward fitting what’s cool today, and defying authority in fresh ways.
1 The Fans Want: The Dangerous Alliance
Vince McMahon is notoriously neither a proponent of stables, nor managers. This is confounding to a lot of fans who look back at WWE history and, in particular, how successful a group like The Heenan Family was, collecting main event stars and rising heel talents, all bound by their association with manager Bobby Heenan.
It’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation nowadays to consider whether there aren’t many managers operating in WWE because there aren’t many good ones available, or if there aren’t many good ones because WWE hasn’t facilitated their presence. Despite the ways in which this trope has largely faded from WWE, Paul Heyman has transcended it, primarily in his role representing Brock Lesnar.
Heyman is a skilled orator, particularly adept at communicating heel arrogance and, most importantly of all, selling big matches.
WWE experimented with putting Curtis Axel, Ryback, and Cesaro with Heyman in recent years but in truth, Heyman has only really had success with Brock Lesnar and CM Punk. That’s not necessarily a knock on Heyman so much as the other pairings WWE tried. Looking back through time, Heyman had a genuinely great run with WCW in the early '90s as the figurehead for the Dangerous Alliance stable. Revisiting the concept in WWE with a main event heel or two, and some up and comers who can sit under the learning tree could go a long way toward creating intrigue and getting some fresh heels over.