So if you read my last two posts on greatest factions ever you're probably wondering.....where's the love for Degeneration X? They were number one on the WWE's top 10 list, and didn't garner so much as a mention on mine. D-X is clearly one of the most memorable groups ever and a key part of the Attitude Era; next to Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock they stood out more than anyone else in the company. Even a detractor has to acknowledge their awesomeness, right? Well.......first off despite my criticism I wouldn't call myself a detractor. Like everyone else, I found them entertaining as hell and was on the edge of my seat when they came out on Monday Night RAW to engage in whatever hijinks they had in store for the night. But given a chance to look back 10 years later, and given the very rules that I set up for judging factions here they don't measure up quite so well. My criteria are longevity, influence, and in ring success. I also emphasized match quality as I spoke of other groups. So just how short do they fall? Let's see.
- Longevity - The first iteration of the group consisted of Shawn Michaels, Triple H, and Chyna. They came together in the fall of 1997 and lasted through WrestleMania 14 when Shawn lost the WWE Title to Austin and went away (seemingly for good at the time) with a back injury. That's about six months. The night after was when the D-X that people remember most came together when X-Pac came over from WCW to hook up with his old pal Triple H and the New Age Outlaws (Billy Gunn and Road Dog Jesse James) came aboard. They were together about a year, split up for six months, then reassembled in the fall of 1999 and staying together until shortly before WrestleMania 2000. So that's about two years total. Triple H and Michaels did re-form their original duo in 2006 and stayed together off an on through 2010. Since that version only featured the two of them I'm not counting that (my list, my rules). Two years isn't a bad run at all, but the last six months of the Triple H/Outlaws/X-Pac run wasn't as fun or exciting as the first year they spent together. At that point the other three were mainly Triple H's helpers and not co-equal parts of a group and the fan reactions weren't nearly as big as they had been before. It was during this time that the term 'X-Pac heat' came to be; X-Pac Heat was getting booed by the fans not because you'd gotten over as a heel but because they just didn't want to see you, period.
- In ring success - They had plenty of it. Michaels and Hunter were both World Champions, and both held the European Championship for a time. Hunter was also Intercontinental Champion for a brief period in 1998. The Outlaws had several Tag Team Title reigns and brief runs with singles titles in 1999. But once Michaels was gone, they just didn't have many memorable matches. Hunter had a great ladder match against the Rock at Summerslam 1998, and that was pretty much it. By the time he joined the group X-Pac was a shell of his former self, unable to do most of the aerial work he perfected during his time as the 1-2-3 Kid years before. And the Outlaws both had workrates made for short segments on live television and not longer matches. Road Dog wasn't very good in the ring at all, and Billy Gunn looked like a great worker by comparison right up until he got his chance later on and the mediocrity shone through. If you think I'm wrong name one match either of them had that mattered. It's pretty telling that when tag team wrestling really took off in the WWF during the Attitude Era they weren't around anymore. The fact is that the group was known more for their sophomoric antics on RAW than for anything they did in the ring. By contrast the Horsemen brought it every night in the ring and on the mic. The NWO wasn't known for great ring work but they still managed to help get both Diamond Dallas Page over and Goldberg more over by virtue of serving as their opposition. D-X made fun of people and little else; no one got elevated by working against them.
- Influence - No one has really tried to copy their model since they went away. This is probably because they were basically playing themselves during their run, and because of the stricter standards as far as what's allowed in the WWE's broadcasts now. The sexual innuendos and crass frat boy humor that was all the rage in 1998-1999 has been cast aside, and to be honest given how hard it is to do that kind of thing well without just being crude it's probably a good thing. When a D-X type group has graced the screen it's been.....D-X itself coming out for an onscreen reunion of some kind. Now you could say that their uniqueness is a mark in their favor, but the wrestling business largely depends on finding something that worked before and dusting it off with a new face. That they weren't able to create something useful in that way is a strike against them to me.