By Goose Mahler, Columnist
I love the idea of NXT having the Undisputed ERA holding all the major titles in the men’s division. Adam Cole is the NXT Champion. Roderick Strong is hunting for the North American Title and Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly are chasing the Tag Titles. To me this would be a huge step for the next big faction in wrestling. Remember when we had dominating factions in the wrestling?
I’m not talking about failed groups that had a lot of people but did very little or only held one belt and thought it belong to all 10 members like say the Oddities. I’m talking about true brothers in arms that amounted to more and helped ascend wrestling into more mainstream media talk by being a dominating group that people wanted to see.
It’s laughable that are one point this year people said the best faction they have ever seen is…wait for it…The Shield. WTF are you watching? Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and the Jon Moxley the former Dean Ambrose were a good faction no doubt about it, but the best? Please people I beg you do more research or dig into the archives to see what real factions were before claiming to see a great faction in the last 10 years, because there isn’t one.
There were glimpses of hope that the WWE, TNA might break the fourth wall down, but it never really happened. The Bullet Club was super close, but you can’t say it was a great faction for a couple months here and there and then guys jumped shipped and faces changed. These groups still had the same impact because it really doesn’t. The original members of a faction can make or break it.
When I think of good factions I think of Raven’s Nest, Nexus, the Shield, Evolution, The Corporation, the Ministry of Darkness. The Dangerous Alliance, The Hart Foundation, The Heenan Family, The Nation of Domination, the list of solid good factions is there no doubt about it. but the greatest of all time? This is up for debate on many levels, but here is my top 4, because 5 is over played, 10 is too much credit and 20 is overkill.
Let me get to it and what makes these Factions GREAT.
- The Fabulous Freebirds: (WCCW, AWA, WCW, NWA, UWF, and WWF): Members: Michael P.S. Hayes, Terry Gordy, Buddy Roberts and sometimes Jimmy Garvin.
What a solid group that were living rock stars and they were heels! The fact that these rowdy wrestlers were so good they got a rule named after their faction speaks volumes with the “Freebird Rule” which allows any member to be part of the championship defense of their tag belts on any given night. This rules has been adopted and used with no less than 20 different tag team champions across wrestling.
Their feud with the Von Erich’s is without a shadow of a doubt top 5 feuds in the history of wrestling. The night Gordy slammed Kerry Von Erich’s head into the steel cage door and damn near set off one of the biggest wrestling arena riots of all time. People absolutely loved to hate the Freebirds in WCCW and their bloody feuds with the Von Erich’s is the stuff legends are made of.
Michael P.S. Hayes, Terry Gordy and Buddy Roberts mark on the wrestling industry is without question. Their arrogance, charisma and ability to get the crowd going is at time unmatched and that makes them one of the best Factions of all time, bar none.
- Degeneration X (WWE): Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Chyna, X-Pac, Road Dogg and Bad Ass Billy Gunn
People might question why DX isn’t number 2, but without nWo Vince doesn’t have the balls to form DX. That is my brutally honest opinion. But I’m digressing, DX was a rebel group that the WWE needed. Michaels, HHH and Chyna mooning the audience, the spit shield, the sausage party were exactly what the doctor ordered to help save the WWF from WCW.
After Michaels took time off for injuries, X-Pac returned from WCW, the New Age Outlaws were added to the mix and the rest is history. DX not only broke the rules they set the bar in the WWE. The Nation of Domination and DX had a memorable feud that lasted long enough for us to see the growth of HHH and the Rock into main event players.
Along the way the importance of DX was evident in the WWE. From mocking the Nation, to blowing up Vince McMahon to dousing the Spirit Squad in crap, DX set a tone in the WWE that has not been matched since. DX along with some guy named Stone Cold kept the ship sailing and helped turn the tide against WCW back in the WWF’s favor.
- The New World Order aka nWo (WCW, NJPW, WWE): Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, and Hollywood Hogan:
Before you go off and say what about…Scott Steiner, Marcus Bagwell, Curt Hennig, Scott Norton, etc. The added members of the nWo were overkill and ended up destroying this faction. But as they grew from Hollywood Hogan and the Outsiders to Syxx Pac, The Giant, name it this was the IT faction that took it to the big bad WWF and dethrone Vince from his ratings hill in the 90’s.
Why did this work so well? No one knew what the hell was going on. People thought Razor Ramon on WCW TV was a storyline with the WWF. When you have people talking about alliances and if things are real, you got a gold ticket to ratings. Kevin Nash shows up and now you have mass chaos on casual fans minds. When did Diesel move to WCW and start using his real name? And the coup de gras is Hulk Hogan coming out at Bash at the Beach and turning on all of WCW as the Outsides mystery partner. Aka the night Hulkamania truly died.
The buzz the nWo had in all wrestling circles was amazing. But the big downfall was too many members, too quick to join and no reason behind some of them joining. It was the death of WCW, but it was also one of the most talked about wrestling spectacles of all time and always will be.
- The Four Horsemen (NWA, WCW): Ric Flair, Tully Blanchard, Arn Arderson, Ole Anderson, JJ Dillion, Barry Windham, Lex Luger, and Sid Vicious.
Yes, I remember Paul Roma, Mongo, Benoit, and other, but the Four Horseman to me will always be Flair, Blanchard, Arn Anderson, Ole Anderson or Barry Windham. All of them held titles at the same time. You had the Champ, the tag champs, the TV champ, name it. They were the gold standard of wrestling factions and they had the money, the brains and the brawn to rule the wrestling world.
Whether they were wrestling Dusty, Sting, the Road Warriors, the Steiner Brothers, it didn’t matter. The suits were on when they weren’t in the ring and the blood and sweat was pouring when they hit the ring and their opponents. They were masters of their own fate, telling stories in the ring and weren’t afraid of losing on TV because it made the fans want to watch them more. They were what almost ever faction past and present wants to strive to be. The best in the world.
The Horseman were so good and their incarnation of War Games so popular the WWE resurrected the structure and match for NXT Takeover. If that isn’t influence on the wrestling world, I don’t know what it. But one of the most telling signs of this group being the greatest of all time is the fact that rarely since then has a group been put together that rivals, money, brains, muscle, technical excellence and a truly great enforcer. You got that with the Four Horseman and the term often duplicated, never replicated is so true with this faction.
The Undisputed ERA needs a little more time to get to that next level because they do lack a little of what the Horsemen had. But with O’Reilly, Fish, Strong and Cole, they are in my opinion headed the right direction and a good direction for all of wrestling to see what a real faction is again.
Until next time. Woooo!