Welcome back to Part Two of my Heel Stable Retrospective. In case you missed Part One, you can find it right here. I’m actually quite proud of the turnout from Part One, as it seems to have gotten a great response from the Pulse Community. Before I move on to the second half of this look back into wrestling history, there are a couple of things I have to address.
First of all, there seems to be some controversy around my grade of the effectiveness of the Heenan Family. Keep in mind that I rated a stable’s effectiveness by their impact and who gets over the most due to it. Yes, Hogan did indeed seem Immortal whenever he went up against Heenan’s boys. And yes, Heenan was an amazing manager who put over talent like no one else. However, the revolving door aspect of Heenan’s Family coupled with the amount of wrestlers he managed at any given time diluted the stable’s rating (in my eyes). Many of his wrestlers were already over (see Flair, Andre, Race) and once they left the fold, most of his stablemates were either done with the major leagues or lowered in status. You can argue with me all you want about how wrong I might be, but that’s the beauty of my opinion: it’s mine, not yours. I enjoy reading various viewpoints and I will always continue to welcome them. With that said, the rating remains: A-.
Secondly, this next installment is going to be huge, as I not only cover nearly 20 more factions, but some require breakdowns as they either produced offshoots (nWo) or made comebacks years later (DX). Get ready for a doozy of a read.
Straight Edge Society
Notable Members: CM Punk, Luke Gallows, Serena Deeb, Joey Mercury
I really wanted this group to do better in the long run. It was a great idea and Punk was an awesome motivator, willing to do the job in favor of saving face for his teammates and he used his mic skills to bring mucho heat to the faction. Unfortunately, it looked like Creative didn’t have much for Gallows and Mercury once Serena screwed up and the Big Show squashed whatever credibility the team had left. CM Punk’s heel status went from upper midcard to main eventer, though, so in a way the SES was successful.
Million Dollar Corporation
Notable Members: Ted DiBiase, IRS, Nikolai Volkoff, The UnderFaker, Bam Bam Bigelow, Tatanka, Kama, Sycho Sid, The 1-2-3 Kid, Stone Cold Steve Austin
DiBiase’s Million Dollar Corporation was built off of his successful tag team run in Money Inc with Irwin R. Schyster. Looking at the list of wrestlers that worked for DiBiase, each had his own varying degrees of success, though not directly because of the Million Dollar Man. Tatanka never surpassed the midcard, Sid, Bigelow, and X-Pac all found their own niche, and Kama eventually became the Godfather. One man stood out amongst them all, however: a man by the name of Austin. While the wild Stone Cold character first appeared back in ECW, it was in the WWE where Austin rose to prominence as the protege of Dibiase. The Corporation wasn’t as memorable as another well-known Corporation, but perhaps it’s due to the mid-90s slump the ‘E was going through. Some of you may complain about my rating, but remember that I’m basing the stable on how well it put over not just its own wrestlers but its opponents too.
1. Original DX
Notable Members: Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Chyna, Rick Rude
The original DX was Vince McMahon’s answer to the nWo. It was rude, it was crude, and I don’t think I recall ever seeing more women flash the camera than when I watched Raw in the late 90s. Shortly before his death, the Ravishing One would head to the ring with a briefcase to introduce HBK and Triple H. I definitely was not a fan of them, which I suppose was their goal since they were heels. They most certainly and unequivocally left a mark on the business and are deserving of their grade.
2. DX 2.0
Notable Members: Triple H, Chyna, X-Pac, Road Dogg, Billy Gunn, Tori
The second incarnation of DX started right where the previous version left off: the night after Wrestlemania XIV. They continued as heels until the Gang Wars began, where they battled the Nation of Domination and became tweeners. They were the epitome of the Attitude Era and had a very lengthy run, holding every belt the company had at the time. The death knell for DX came when Triple H joined the Corporation; effectively ending an era.
You’ll note that I haven’t mentioned the DX Reunion. This is because they were not heels.
Right to Censor
Notable Members: Steven Richards, Ivory, Val Venis, The Goodfather, Bull Buchanan
Vince McMahon is a very vindictive human being. Case in point: When the PTC attacked the WWE for its hardcore violence and objectification of women, McMahon stuck his tongue out at them and created the Right to Censor, an ultraconservative band of midcarders who dressed in button-down white shirts, slacks, and ties. Their goal was to rid the ‘E of smut and filth much like the PTC but the only thing they had in common was their failure to do so. Ivory had a good run as Women’s Champion but the RTC didn’t amount to much in the long haul.
Notable Members: Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Ole Anderson, Tully Blanchard, JJ Dillon, Barry Windham, Lex Luger, Steve “Mongo” McMichael, Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko
What needs to be said about the Four Horsemen that hasn’t already been said? They lived the fast life both onscreen and off, they had legendary feuds with everyone from Dusty Rhodes to the Road Warriors to Sting and the Steiner Brothers, and they were wrestling’s premier bad boys. Their prime was spent in NWA feuding with the top babyfaces of the time until Crockett was bought out by Turner and WCW was born. The Horsemen had several stops and starts since then but were finally laid to rest in 1999. The Horsemen were the epitome of a heel stable: they were easily able to get under the skin of the fans, they had a great talker and wrestler in Flair, they used gang mentality to swarm their opponents, and (most importantly of all) they helped make their enemies into stars. Despite the half-assed version that died in WCW, the Horsemen are still the most revered stable in wrestling history, heel or otherwise.
1. Team Canada (WCW)
Notable Members: Lance Storm, Elix Skipper, Mike Awesome, “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan
WCW’s version of Team Canada was mildly successful as a midcard stable which at one point held three of the company’s championships and renamed them (such as the US title becoming the Canadian Heavyweight Championship). The team’s biggest moment was the heel turn of “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, but other than that their impact was minimal as the stable thrived during a time when WCW was on its way out the door.
2. The Un-Americans
Notable Members: Lance Storm, Christian, Test, William Regal
Lance Storm’s second iteration of Team Canada was unique in that his stable was not pro-Canada; it was merely anti-America. They carried around an upside down American flag as their symbol and started as a trio, adding Regal to their ranks toward the end of their run. They held the WWE Tag Team Championship but only lasted for three months in 2002, due to fears that their on-air agenda would not be well-received by fans who still believed the angle to be legitimate (akin to the fear that Sergeant Slaughter’s heel turn brought on, though not anywhere near as intense).
3. Team Canada (TNA)
Notable Members: Petey Williams, Eric Young, Robert Roode, Johnny Devine, Scott D’Amore
The final and most recent incarnation of Team Canada made its mark in TNA a few years ago. The group feuded with Team 3D and 3 Live Kru in their three year tenure and they also held the X Division Championship as well as the Tag Team Championship. Of all its members, Roode is the only one who has made something of himself since as one half of Beer Money. Eric Young…is just Eric Young. In comparison to the other versions of Team Canada, TNA’s version made the largest impact (no pun intended) as they were featured prominently during TNA’s shows from 2004-2006. Battling the former New Age Outlaws and the Dudleys made them a powerful heel entity during their run.
The Hart Foundation
Notable Members: Bret Hart, Owen Hart, British Bulldog, Jim Neidhart, Brian Pillman
The Hart Foundation is a unique stable that formed when fan sentiment turned away from Bret Hart and toward Stone Cold Steve Austin after Wrestlemania XIII. This particular version was truly something special: across the country they were the most hated heels in the WWE. However, in Canada and Europe they were treated as faces because of their anti-American stance and the influence of the much revered Hart family. This led to an intriguing storyline during the Attitude Era that has never been duplicated since. The stable held every title in the company at one point or another and served to boost Austin’s status as the top star in the company. With the advent of DX, the Harts fell out of favor with McMahon and the infamous Montreal Screwjob sealed the faction’s fate.
Nation of Domination
Notable Members: Faarooq, Crush, Savio Vega, The Rock, Mark Henry, D-Lo Brown, The Godfather,
Owen Hart, Clarence Mason
The original NoD was a trio of superstars led by Faarooq. They feuded with Ahmed Johnson when he returned from kidney surgery. This version did not hold any titles but led to a falling out between the members, spawning Los Boricuas and the Disciples of Apocalypse. The second run of the Nation gave birth to the People’s Champion and saw more success in its feud with DX, Ken Shamrock, and Steve Austin. The Rock held the Intercontinental Championship and D-Lo was European Champion twice. The stable is most notable for the emergence of The Rock as a major player in the WWE.
NOTE: I’m sure I’ll get some grief for this rating :p
Disciples of Apocalypse
Notable Members: Crush, Chainz, Skull, 8-Ball
This stable arrived during the WWE’s “gang war” era and was formed after Faarooq dumped Crush and Savio Vega on their keisters. A motorcycle gang in the style of Hell’s Angels, the DOA would head to the ring on their Harleys (pre-American Badass) to feud with Los Boricuas and the Nation. Needless to say, with so many “gangs” roaming the WWE, this particular team didn’t carry much weight and fell apart after Crush left for WCW.
Notable Members: Savio Vega, Miguel Perez, Jose Estrada Jr,
Yeah, just like the DOA these guys didn’t do much of note. They were a gang of Puerto Ricans whose only claim to fame was Miguel Perez’s incredibly thick mane of body hair. Next!
Notable Members: The Jackyl, Kurrgan, Sniper, Recon
The Truth Commission was based off a South African paramilitary organization and was originally led by the Commandant and had another member, Tank, but both left shortly after the stable’s debut. They remained active for over a year but never really garnered much success. Kurrgan and Jackyl moved on to form the Oddities and Sniper and Recon soon disappeared from the spotlight altogether.
Main Event Mafia
Notable Members: Kurt Angle, Sting, Kevin Nash, Booker T, Scott Steiner, Traci Brooks
MEM was a stable of main event level talent from the past (and Samoa Joe) who dominated the end of the last decade in TNA. They held every title the company had to offer at one point and often used nWo-like tactics to defeat their opponents. They even joined with another heel stable, the World Elite (led by Eric Young), but infighting distracted the team from their primary goals and AJ Styles was able to unseat Angle as TNA Champion in 2009, thus propelling himself back to the top as the posterboy of TNA. I find it extremely humorous that TNA recently tried to reunite the team…without guaranteeing their contracts first! How do you set up a big return like that without first making sure the talent you require has resigned with you? But I digress. The Mafia was a career resurgence for Angle as one of the best in the biz.
1. Vince’s Corporation
Notable Members: Vince McMahon, Shane McMahon, Triple H, The Rock, Pat Patterson, Gerald Brisco, Big Bossman, Test, Ken Shamrock, Big Show, Chyna, Sergeant Slaughter
The Corporation was formed once The Rock was awarded the WWE Championship in the 1998 Survivor Series tournament. McMahon claimed that there were too many rebellious personalities running rampant in the company and used his loyal wrestlers to clean up the mess. The group held every title, with Bossman and Shamrock holding the Tag Team, Intercontinental, and European Championships at the same time and The Rock as the perfect Corporate Champion. The Corporation was also responsible for the end of DX as Triple H and Chyna turned on their compatriots to side with the McMahons. The faction ended when Shane forced Vince out and merged with the Ministry of Darkness to become the Corporate Ministry.
2. The Corporate Ministry
Notable Members: Shane McMahon, The Undertaker, Triple H, Vince McMahon, Paul Bearer, The Acolytes, Big Bossman, Chyna, The Mean Street Posse, Mideon, Viscera
After Shane and Undertaker formed an alliance, the Corporate Ministry began systematically attacking Stone Cold Steve Austin and even attempted to crucify him. The angle was hokey and the reveal of Vince McMahon as the Higher Power was ridiculous and nonsensical. After Taker suffered an injury, the Corporate Ministry slowly dissolved.
3. The McMahon-Helmsley Regime
Notable Members: Triple H, Stephanie McMahon, D-Generation X,
Kurt Angle, Shane McMahon
The McMahon-Helmsley Era ushered in a new age and made Triple H into a bonafide main eventer. He and Stephanie dominated the WWE, using every trick in the book to outsmart their enemies and hold onto their titles. In fact, thanks to the efforts of Mick Foley and Triple H in their bloody series of matches prior to Wrestlemania 2000, The Game was cemented as the top dog in the company, making the faction more of a success in my eyes.
Notable Members: Gangrel, Edge, Christian, The Hardy Boyz
The Brood were famous for the “blood baths” they would give opponents after matches and their attire straight out of Interview With a Vampire. They feuded with the Hardys and joined the Ministry of Darkness, but a falling out with the Undertaker caused the Brood to leave the Ministry. After Edge and Christian left Gangrel, he acquired the services of Matt and Jeff Hardy to form the New Brood. This faction did not last long, but it helped propel both tag teams into the spotlight.
The Ministry of Darkness
Notable Members: Undertaker, Paul Bearer, The Acolytes, The Brood, Viscera, Mideon
The Ministry is responsible for bringing Stephanie McMahon into the WWE and returning Undertaker to his darker roots as a Satanic cult leader. The faction was rife with controversial storylines, including attempts at crucifixion and blood sacrifices. However, the merger with the Corporation diluted the stable and it never regained the prominence it had held in 1999.
The WCW/ECW Alliance
Notable Members: Shane McMahon, Stephanie McMahon, Paul Heyman, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Booker T, Rob Van Dam, the Dudley Boyz, Rhyno, Kanyon, Diamond Dallas Page, Nick Patrick, various ECW and WCW wrestlers
It’s pretty ironic that the number one wrestling company in the world, with all the money and resources it has acquired over the years, could stink up an angle this badly. We all knew how this story would end, as Vince clearly intended to stick it to his rivals and prove his company was superior. However, since he couldn’t get the big names like Sting, Goldberg, Luger, Flair, Savage, and Hogan, the Alliance was dead in the water. It took a heel turn from Austin to make the Alliance into a legitimate threat but all that was left when it was all said and done was a bad taste in our mouths.
New World Order
1. nWo Originals
Notable Members: Hollywood Hogan, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Eric Bischoff, Ted DiBiase, Syxx, Vincent, Nick Patrick, The Giant
The Hogan heel turn at Bash at the Beach 1996 would forever change the face of wrestling. As the nWo began its domination of WCW, the ratings skyrocketed and WCW was closer than ever to putting the ‘E out of business. There’s no question how effective the first version of the nWo turned out to be.
2. nWo and Tigger Too
Notable Members: Pretty much all of WCW’s midcarders and jobbers
Then this shit happened. Suddenly the nWo became “hip.” Most of the roster realized that if they weren’t main event talent then they’d suffer at the hands of the nWo, so what better way to beat the enemy than to join them? It was like a diluted gene pool as every wrestler under the sun had a spot in the nWo and the angle devolved from “WCW vs nWo” to “nWo vs nWo” with the emergence of the Wolfpac. What a shame. Instead of changing with the times, the company decided the nWo was the way to go and lost sight of their original goal, effectively killing WCW with the Finger Poke of Doom.
3. nWo 2000
Notable Wrestlers: Jeff Jarrett, Bret Hart, The Harris Brothers,
After WCW’s relaunch, the nWo had a relaunch as well but this didn’t last very long, as the fans were sick of the nWo by this time and the company was well into its downward spiral.
4. nWo in the WWE
Notable Members: Hollywood Hogan, Scott Hall, Kevin Nash
Vince’s “poison” that he intended to inject into the WWE subsequently backfired on him. By the time Hogan, Nash, and Hall agreed to join the ‘E train, the invasion debacle had become an afterthought and problems with Austin caused the group’s momentum to stall. The face turn at Wrestlemania X8 for Hogan sealed the trio’s fate.
5. HBK’s nWo
Notable Members: Kevin Nash, Shawn Michaels, X-Pac, Big Show
And then THIS happened. A last ditch attempt at making the nWo relevant seemed more like an undercover Kliq reunion more than anything else. If ever there was a sign that the stable needed to be put to rest, it was certainly Nash’s quad tear.
There, I’m done! I don’t care what stables I missed. Some were intentional and others may have slipped my mind. Want to talk about them? Hit me up in the comments section.
Why is the ‘E jobbing out the midcard champions? I’m talking, of course, about their current treatment of Daniel Bryan and Kofi Kingston. Bryan is barely on Raw any more (wrestling-wise) and when he does show up he either gets jumped by The Miz or the Gail Kim/Bellas feud takes center stage. And as for Kofi: WTF?! He is consistently jobbed out to Del Rio and just last week lost to a directionless Jack Swagger. Hopefully there’s a storyline reason for all this mistreatment, but I could be wrong.
TNA putting the belt back on Sting just makes me shake my head. It’s pathetic that they have perfectly good challengers in Mr. Anderson, Matt Morgan, RVD, and AJ Styles. What has Sting done to deserve the title shot and belt? He returned in a mockery of Undertaker’s 2/21/11 promo. So what?
Yeesh. I’m running on fumes right now since this column took FOR EH VER, but as always I have to give credit where credit is due.
Chantal is back with a new Hotties and Notties. Looks like she read my suggestion about the Bellas and agreed with me.
Rhett Davis returns with a brand new O’Really Report discussing how the WWE can fix the tag division.
Chris Sanders has arrived and his new column, The Rager, is all the rage. Get it?
FLEA teaches us a lesson about rewriting the days of the week in his Wednesday-posted Saturday Evening Post. Makes your head spin, eh?
That’s gonna do it for me this week. Congrats to all the new writers on Pulse and, as always……
So long, and thanks for all the fish.
Tags: Arn Anderson, bobby heenan, Bret Hart, Dusty Rhodes, DX, ECW, Four Horsemen, Hart Foundation, Jim Duggan, Lance Storm, Main Event Mafia, Mike Gojira, Nation of Domination, NWA, nWo, Owen Hart, Ric Flair, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Straight Edge Society, The Rock, TNA, WCW, WWE