Stables in professional wrestling are quite well known for one thing: take a group of wrestlers with a common cause or who are buddies with one another and have them plow down their opposition for championships, personal rivalries, and/or attempt to take over whatever wrestling organization they happen to occupy.
Reflecting back on the days of yesteryear, these five stables stood out enough for me with what they represented during their formation, the dominance they gained in the time they were around, their chemistry with one another, and the legacy they left behind for future stables to follow.
5. Hart Foundation (WWE)
Notable Members: Bret Hart, Owen Hart, Jim Neidhart, British Bulldog, Brian Pillman
Following Wrestlemania 13 in 1997, Bret Hart turned heel and recruited Owen, Bulldog, Neidhart, and Pillman to create a stable revival of the Hart Foundation.
The group dominated the WWE throughout the year as they held onto every title that was within the company at the time and had an ongoing rivalry with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin.
Having anti-American sentiments, the Hart Foundation was immensely booed in US arenas yet hugely over in other countries, especially in Bret’s home country of Canada.
The group would fall to shambles by the end of the year when Brian Pillman died from a heart condition plus Bret, Bulldog, and Neidhart leaving for WCW following the infamous Montreal Screwjob incident at Survivor Series.
4. Bullet Club (NJPW/ ROH)
Notable Members: Cody Hall, A.J. Styles (third leader), Adam Cole, Chase Owens, Cody Rhodes, Bad Luck Fale, Kenny Omega (Fourth leader), Doc Gallows, Hangman Page, Jay White (fifth leader), Jeff Jarrett, Karl Anderson (second leader), Leo Tonga, Matt Jackson, Marty Scurll, Nick Jackson, Prince Devitt (first leader), Taiji Ishimori, Tama Tonga, Tanga Roa, Yujiro Takahashi, EVIL.
The Bullet Club started was a little-known faction that performed in New Japan Pro Wrestling (NLPW) that went on to become an international phenomenon. It was none other than Prince Devitt (aka Finn Balor) who started the group back in 2013.
At one point or another, The Bullet Club featured just about every top wrestler who wasn’t signed by WWE. The faction was also prominently represented in Ring of Honor Wrestling (ROH). Notable alumni include A.J. Styles, Cody Rhodes, and Kenny Omega.
Today, it’s nearly impossible to go to any wrestling event without seeing a sea of Bullet Club t-shirts in the audience. The factions success proved that there was a significant market for pro wrestling outside of WWE and helped pave the way for promotions like AEW
3. Four Horsemen (NWA/ WCW)
Notable Members: Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Ole Anderson, Tully Blanchard, James J. Dillon, Lex Luger, Barry Windham, Sting, Sid Vicious, Paul Roma, Brian Pillman, Chris Benoit, Steve “Mongo” McMichael, Curt Hennig, Dean Malenko
Honestly, this is the stable that most other stables attempt to be. We already talked about Evolution, but the Dangerous Alliance, D-X, The Hart Foundation, even The Shield all owe a debt to the template established by Ric Flair and his compatriots, of a group that existed to win titles, protect their leader, and look good doing it. They lived largely, and they did so loudly, and being a Horseman meant a certain level of quality that few could attain. So why aren’t they #1 on our list?
Well, the group’s long existence almost hurts them in this regard, as over the years there have been legendarily strong Horsemen groups, but by the same token, there have been Horsemen that dragged down the stable’s good name.
WCW also did them no favors in later years, where they were made to look like ineffective jokes against the dominant nWo. While they were among the first, and often among the best, the stable also had some fairly rough patches that keep them just out of the top spots.
2. D-Generation X (WWE)
Notable Members: Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Chyna, Rick Rude, Mike Tyson, X-Pac, New Age Outlaws, Tori
D-Generation X began life as a controversial pair in Shawn Michaels and Triple H (along with their associate Chyna), and evolved into the Attitude Era’s most dominant stable, thanks to the addition of the New Age Outlaws and X-Pac.
From their State of the Union speech to their parody of the Nation of Domination to their “invasion” of a WCW Monday Nitro event, many unforgettable moments were coming from the antics of the group.
The group also had its fair share of successes in acquiring championships and accolades such as multiple Tag Team title reigns from the New Age Outlaws, Shawn Michaels as WWE Champion, and Triple H winning the Intercontinental title.
1. New World Order (WCW/ NJPW/ WWE)
Notable Members: “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Ted DiBiase, The Giant, nWo Sting, Syxx, Vincent, Miss Elizabeth, Eric Bischoff, Buff Bagwell, VK Wallstreet, Masahiro Chono, Big Bubba Rogers, Scott Norton, Randy Savage, Dennis Rodman, The Great Muta, Konnan, Curt Hennig, Rick Rude, Dusty Rhodes, Scott Steiner, Hiro Saito, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima, AKIRA, Tatsutoshi Goto, Brian Adams, Big Titan, The Disciple, Bret Hart, Horace Hogan, Stevie Ray, Curt Hennig, Lex Luger, Sting, Rick Steiner, David Flair, Torrie Wilson, Disco Inferno, Barry Windham, Jeff Jarrett, Harris Brothers, Booker T, Shawn Michaels
No stable had as large an effect on professional wrestling as a whole as the New World Order. Hall and Nash debuted in WCW as one of the most dominant teams in the world, and the infamous “Third Man” reveal of Hulk Hogan was the most shocking heel turn in wrestling history.
As the stable expanded, they quickly became the most powerful force in WCW, overrunning the roster while simultaneously raising the company to new heights, to the point that WCW defeated WWE in the ratings for over a year and a half, competing directly with the massive international promotion and winning, something that had previously been thought to be impossible.
The splitting of the group into two factions with a heel NWO Hollywood and tweener NWO Wolfpac made the faction fresh for a time. But, following a controversial event involving Kevin Nash and Hulk Hogan known as the Fingerpoke of Doom, where Nash intentionally allowed Hogan to pin him for the WCW World Title, WCW’s ratings began to tank, and the company never fully recovered from their losses.
Current stables and factions to this day still do the “Too Sweet” hand gesture, 30 years later.
Who do you have as your top five or ten factions of all time? Did I miss a group that should be on my list? Let me know in the comments below or reach out to me on Twitter.
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