Recently, WWE.com released their list of the Top 10 Best Factions of All Time, and some of the results floored me. It never ceases to amaze me how much back patting and audience influencing the WWE tries to do. Just look at the list they put forth.
Right off the bat the WWE ruins their credibility and any impartialness they might have tried to demonstrate by listing The Undisputed Era as their Number 10 best faction of all time.
We’re talking almost 50 years worth of wrestling history here, at least! And a faction that is not even on the main roster, is not seen on television, is currently down one injured member, and is only months old is considered by WWE as a top ten best faction OF ALL TIME?!
So, while I don’t usually write articles like this, these results and the fact that the WWE has actually tried to pawn them off as legitimate have motivated me to create my own list this week of the Top 10 Best Factions of All Time. I based my list and rankings on the group’s impact on the wrestling business at their peak, their level of focus or involvement in their company’s top angles and storylines, the accomplishments both of the group and the individuals within them while members, and the effect that association in siad group had on the future careers of its members.
So here is my list of the Top 10 Best Factions of All Time:
Ministry of Darkness
10. New Day– The New Day are the epitome of what a faction is intended to do for its members. The group is greater than the sum of its parts. Individually, Xavier Woods, Big E, and especially Kofi Kingston seemed destined for mid card mediocrity. In Kofi’s case, he had already spent many years in limbo already, never able to quite crash the glass ceiling and reach that “next level.” Together, in addition to adding a record tag team title run to their resumes, they have become bigger stars than any could have ever hoped to become on their own at the time of their formation. Like others on this list, their initial run as heels was so well done and entertaining that it got them over as one of the biggest babyface acts in the company, not to mention a top merchandise seller, and did so without any member gaining a singles title to their credit. All three men have become so identifiable as a unit, it’s hard to see them being truly split up or seperated any time in the near future- which for the sake of their careers, might be best. “Power of Positivity” indeed!
9. Bullet Club– The OGBC makes my list not only for its prominence and longevity as a top faction in New Japan, but also for the way its impressive roster brought new American eyes to NJPW and the influence its alums are currently having on the wrestling world today. When you have names like AJ Styles, Finn Balor, Shinsuke Nakamura, Cody Rhodes, Kenny Omega, The Young Bucks, Gallows and Anderson, among others, on your roll call, you’ve had an impact. Plus, when is the last time you have seen a group from a foreign promotion have such a commercial presence when it comes to merchandise in the States?
8. Nation of Domination– The Nation is underrated as an all-time faction. Though it might not quite be on the level of other top groups, the NOD were a core focus of the WWF during the Attitude Era (the height of the company in terms of overall relevance), had memorable feuds with the likes of DX and the Undertaker, and helped to launch the rise of one of the greatest superstars of all time. Without the Nation, Rocky Maivia may not have found that perfect vehicle for a needed heel persona at the time that the Nation provided, and ultimately helped to catapult him into superstardom as The Rock. Plus, if you were watching the product at the time, you can’t discount how much heat and controversy Faarooq and his original Nation cohorts were creating. It was uncharted territory for the WWF in that era.
7. Shield– I must give credit where credit is due. The Shield burst onto the scene, were immediate main event players upon their debut, and the success that its members have had individually in their careers cannot be discounted. There are very few factions that can claim that every one of its members has been WWE Champion. While the jury may still be out on Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns are arguably the top two faces of RAW and possibly the company itself. Their current success has to give due reverence to the popularity and impact the Shield first had as a threesome.
6. Hart Foundation– The WWF struck gold with the Hart Foundation in 1997. And the dynamic of being THE heel stable of the year and huge heat magnets in the US, while at the same time the biggest baby faces ever in Canada was unprecedented. Don’t believe me? Go back and watch some of those episodes of RAW from the summer of 97, and especially the Calgary Stampede PPV. The roster of members fit perfectly and they played off of each other very well. Even the addition of Brian Pillman, who wasn’t technically a relative of the family, made sense and gave the group a bit of an edge that they needed for their era. They were perfect foils for guys like Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels. Heck, they even got The Patriot a run in the main event! While their lack of longevity knocks them down a few notches (the group only lasted about seven months), their impact and contribution to the eventual birth of the Attitude Era can’t go unnoticed.
5. Evolution– when your group consists of Triple H, Ric Flair, Randy Orton, and Batista, can you NOT be in the top five of all time? Not only was Evolution a mainstay in the main event during its heyday, holding all three major titles at once (World Heavyweight, IC, Tag Team), as well as cementing the careers of group number 7 on my list during a comeback tour in 2014, it was the launching pad that Orton and Batista needed to elevate themselves as future big time players in the WWE- potential that both men clearly delivered on eventually as singles stars.
4. Heenan Family– there is no denying the level of stardom Hulk Hogan achieved in the 80’s in the WWF. However, what is a superhero without super villains? Enter Bobby Heenan and the Heenan Family! The Family was the source of a steady supply of challengers for Hogan and other top stars of the 80’s and early 90’s, such as Ultimate Warrior and Big Bossman. Names to Heenan’s credit include Rick Rude, King Kong Bundy, Haku, Barbarian, the Brainbusters, Mr. Perfect, and of course the man who challenged Hogan at the most important wrestling event ever at WrestleMania 3, Andre the Giant. This stable wasn’t even included in WWE’s list!
3. Four Horsemen– while I admit that my list is WWE/F heavy because of the fact that is the product I grew up on, no one can dismiss the impact of the Horsemen. Throughout all of their various incarnations, they were always a focus of the show and a presence in the main event- which happens when your leader is Ric Flair. They were part of some of the most memorable angles in wrestling and no doubt held, and continue to have, a special place in the hearts of NWA and WCW fans. They were the standard bearer for all other factions to come after them. Not all of their roster combinations were as great or as successful as the originals, but memorable nonetheless.
2. D-Generation X– when you talk about impact, you have to look at a group that were both the top heels and then the top babyfaces in the company during its hottest run. The original HBK/Triple H/Chyna/Rude version of DX almost single handedly brought the Attitude Era to the WWF in 1997 as its top heel act, only to then become one of the biggest acts in the company as baby faces after WrestleMania 14 when they added the New Age Outlaws and X-Pac after the departure of Michaels. It also launched Triple H into the next level in 1998, as he was no longer seen as HBK’s sidekick. They remained relevant as a faction through the year 2000 and were part of many memorable moments, such as the “War on WCW” and Nation parody. While what they did in wrestling was historic, not to mention the positive effect the association had on the careers of X-Pac, Gunn, and Road Dogg, the cultural impact the group had may have been just as big. DX shirt sales were through the roof, and the crotch chop and “Suck It” catch phrase became part of the lexicon for the male demographic the WWF was targeting.
1. nWo– no group has had a bigger impact in wrestling as the New World Order. The departures of Scott Hall and Kevin Nash to WCW from WWF. The heel turn of Hulk Hogan. The 83 week win streak in the ratings war. When the nWo was on fire, it was an inferno. Plus, without the nWo’s success, how do the careers of the likes of Sting and Goldberg unfold? Yes, there were some blunders and mistakes made down the road involving the group, but during the most competitive time in the business, no one faction single handedly turned the tide for its company the way the nWo did.