Pro Wrestling

12 Greatest Wrestling Stables In History Source:

Stables are one of the foundations of professional wrestling. Formed by groups of wrestlers gathered together to advance a shared interest, stables make creating feuds, writing storylines, and elevating talent easier on a large scale. It also helps to disguise weaknesses in a wrestler that can be compensated for by other, stronger members, and provides a place for inexperienced wrestlers to learn in close proximity to established stars. When done properly, as in these examples, the best factions have created some of wrestling’s biggest stars, influenced the direction of wrestling companies, and even changed the industry itself.

12. The Corporation

One day, Vince McMahon realized that he had a problem. He really, really hated “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, but as a fairly old man who had no wrestling training, it was essentially impossible for him to defeat Austin physically on his own. Fortunately, Vince also had a lot of money, and a bunch of wrestlers more than willing to take on the abrasive Austin, so he assembled a Corporation full of some of the baddest heels in the company, all with the goal of screwing with Austin, and any other babyfaces that got in their path. At times, the stable contained some of the biggest stars in the company during the Attitude Era, including The Rock, Triple H, Chyna, Kane, The Big Show, Test, and Ken Shamrock. Oh, and the Big Boss Man was there, too. Unfortunately, they never really succeeded at keeping Austin down, because he was awesome, and eventually they morphed into the darker (and far sillier) Corporate Ministry, a move which also led to significant turnover within the ranks and saw The Rock finally make his long-awaited face turn, becoming the People’s Champion in more than just name. Source:

11. The Hart Foundation

Although the Montreal Screwjob led to the group being short-lived, during their brief period of existence in 1997 the Hart Foundation was one of the most decorated and talented stables on the planet. Made up of Hart Family members and Brian Pillman, who was associated with the Harts through his time in Stampede Wrestling, it was a faction with no obvious weak links, as everyone in it had been champions of some sort over their legendary careers. They also benefited from having massive amounts of heel heat, thanks to Bret Hart’s war with Steve Austin and his hatred of America, while also being hailed as heroes in Canada and the global market, which WWE had started seriously exploiting, including running UK Pay Per Views. The convenient timing of an In Your House Pay Per View in Calgary led to one of the greatest PPVs in WWE history, and the Foundations battles with both Austin and D-Generation X helped establish them as serious main event talents, which would lead to both becoming huge factors in carrying the company in the Attitude Era. Sadly, Brian Pillmans tragic death and Bret Hart’s contentious departure to WCW brought an end to the group, limiting their long-term effectiveness. Source:

10. The Fabulous Freebirds

The scourge of World Class Championship Wrestling, the Freebirds positioned themselves as the biggest opponent of the legendary Von Erich family, promoting the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle in staunch opposition of the “family values” Von Erichs. For a time, they were legitimately the most hated wrestlers in the Texas-based territory, and their battles with the Von Erichs were legendary. After a lengthy period of success (which included short runs in the AWA and WWF), the Freebirds moved into WCW when World Class collapsed, and faced off against some of the greatest teams in the world, such as the Steiner Brothers. They are also the originators of the “Freebird Rule”, which let the stable hold the tag team titles as a unit, allowing any two members to defend the championships in matches, an now-accepted rule of pro wrestling which other multiple-wrestler groups have used to their own advantage over the years. After years of waiting, the Freebirds were finally inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2016. Source: wrestling

9. The Heenan Family

Bobby “The Brain” Heenan gets plenty of credit for being one of the greatest commentators of his time, but he often doesn’t get enough for his creation of The Heenan Family, a stable that spanned three wrestling promotions and lasted, in one form or another, for nearly a decade, and included some of the greatest heels of that era. After originally running stables in the AWA and Georgia Championship Wrestling under the Heenan Family moniker, The Brain debuted in WWE in 1984 and quickly set about assembling a group of wrestlers whose main target for the longest time was, of course, Hulk Hogan. The desire to take down the WWE Champion was so powerful that Heenan was able to fill his Family with some of the top talent in the company, including Big John Studd, Harley Race, King Kong Bundy, Paul Orndorff, and in one of the most shocking heel turns of all time, Andre The Giant. While the Family never really succeeded in their goal of ending Hulkamania, they would find success in other areas. In later years, Heenan would add talents like The Brainbusters, Mr Perfect, and Ric Flair, all of whom would become champions under his banner. Eventually, the Family disbanded when Heenan retired to become a full-time commentator, but in WWE in the 80’s and early 90’s, they were possibly the most dominant faction in the company. Source:

8. Bullet Club

If there’s one non-WWE faction from the modern era that deserves to be on this list, it has to be the Bullet Club. Formed in what some might call an homage to the New World Order, which itself was based on an idea first done in Japan, Bullet Club was a stable created by the non-Japanese wrestlers working in New Japan Pro Wrestling. The Bullet Club were portrayed as heels that were rebelling against the traditions of Japanese wrestling (which focuses more on the technical as opposed to the soap opera-esque storylines of North American pro wrestling). It was something not really seen in NJPW before, and Bullet Club became a big deal very quickly, drawing the eye of WWE, who would first sign the original leader, Prince Devitt (now known as Finn Balor in NXT) to a contract, and then would also grab AJ Styles (who had become a two-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion during his time in the club), Karl Anderson, and Doc Gallows, early in 2016. Source:

7. The Shield

It’s hard to find many three-man groups that can dominate a promotion, because it just seems like such a small group that they should be easily outnumbered by any group banding together to fight them. But The Shield, consisting of Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, and Roman Reigns, was one of the few exceptions, as they absolutely ran roughshod over WWE for nearly two years, destroying basically every single top star that tried to go against them, including John Cena, CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton, Kane, and even The Undertaker. As a unit, they were nearly unbeatable, losing less than a handful of matches when they fought as a team, and even beat a reunited Evolution team of Triple H, Batista, and Randy Orton on consecutive Pay Per Views, a feat not thought possible. In addition, they were all accomplished wrestlers, putting on spectacular matches, including several that were considered Match of the Year candidates. Although many feel the group ended too soon, when Rollins betrayed Ambrose and Reigns to align with Triple H and The Authority, the level of talent of the group is undeniable, as within two years of the group’s dissolution, all three would hold the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at least once. Source:

6. The Dangerous Alliance

The Dangerous Alliance in WCW is one of history’s most underrated factions, and was where Paul Heyman (then known as Paul E. Dangerously) first established his credentials as one of the best non-wrestling personas in the business. The main target of the Dangerous Alliance was, of course, Sting, and they assembled some of the best wrestlers in the world in service of their goal of taking down WCW’s ultimate babyface, including Rick Rude, former Horseman Arn Anderson, and some guy named “Stunning” Steve Austin, who had been making waves as one of the potential future stars of the industry. The Dangerous Alliance was ruthless, talented, and very effective, winning several titles during their existence and generally establishing themselves as a powerful force in WCW. Their far-too-brief existence culminated, as many feuds in WCW did at the time, in a War Games match that is considered one of the very best of that type to ever occur. Sadly, the Dangeorus Alliance did not have the longevity of WCW’s more famous factions, like the Horsemen or the New World Order, but in their time, they were absolutely one of the best. Source:

5. Nation of Domination

Let’s get it out of the way from the start and note that the Nation was fairly politically incorrect (to put it mildly) and is definitely best left as a relic of the era in which it existed. With that said, it’s hard to argue the influence of a stable full of members who would win multiple titles in WWE, include two WWE Hall of Famers (with two more almost certainly to join them in the future), and that also gave rise to the Most Electrifying Man in Sports Entertainment. After surviving the horribly racist Gang Warz, the Nation thrived when more important stables like the Hart Foundation and D-Generation X replaced the lame factions like Los Boricuas and the Disciples of Apocalypse. The Attitude Era also forced the Nation to all gain distinct personalities, leading to some of WWE’s most memorable gimmicks, like The Godfather. After the Nation split up, all the members went on to various degrees of success, and most of them actually had some incredibly long and memorable careers in WWE. Source:

4. Evolution

While most stables are attempting to copy the success of the legendary Four Horsemen, few were as blatant as Evolution. Led by Triple H at a time when he was running absolutely rampant over Raw, the faction literally contained Ric Flair as a member and made no secret that they were trying to be the second coming of one of wrestling’s greatest stables. Evolution has a rare distinction of being a stable that never changed, containing the same four members for its entire run (after a couple of false starts due to ill-timed injuries). It also literally dripped with gold, containing a 16-time World Champion in Flair, eventual 14-time World Champion Triple H, and two young Superstars who would win their fair share of World titles in Randy Orton (12) and Batista (6), in addition to a litany of other, lesser championships. In another rare occurrence, Evolution actually served a purpose beyond allowing Triple H to recreate the stable of his idol, as it legitimately elevated Orton and Batista into main event stars, who would become cornerstones of WWE over the next decade after the group split up. Source:

3. The Four Horsemen

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 large, 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. Source:

2. D-Generation X

Seen by many as a direct response to the cool heels of the New World Order, 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. Much like Evolution, D-X maintained the same lineup for most of its existence, especially once Michaels retired, until a combination of injuries and Triple H’s ascendance to the top of WWE rendered them basically irrelevant. While they didn’t change the business forever like the nWo, they were definitely an influential group, and were probably the most popular act in WWE aside from Austin and Rock. When Michaels made his triumphant return years later, he and Triple H would temporarily re-form D-X, and while it was a far more cynical version that was blatantly about selling merchandise and letting two aging Legends act like teenagers, it still provided a certain level of entertainment supplemented by some truly great matches involving two of the best in the business. Source:

1. The New World Order

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 rise of the nWo forced WWE to step up their game in response, resulting in the Monday Night Wars, and the cultural peak of professional wrestling in North America. The nWo was responsible for the greatest heights of WCW, but the promotion’s over-reliance on the faction would ultimately play a part in the company’s ultimate demise, thus securing their position as the faction that had the greatest influence on pro wrestling in history. Source:
Stephen Randle

Stephen Randle

Stephen Randle is an avid wrestling and film fan. He's been writing about WWE, movies, and video games for Goliath since 2015.