Monday, September 29, 2014

Top Factions of All Time - The WWE List (and my beefs with it)


So I was watching the WWE Network on Friday afternoon (still just $9.99!), and one of the features is WWE Countdown.  WWE Countdown is pretty cool; it's a rundown if the top 10 (or 20) all time in different categories - finishing moves, double crosses, Royal Rumble moments, you name it.  The one I was watching was top 10 factions of all time.  Now when I tell you that this was the equivalent of trolling for clicks, believe it.  Some of the choices were fine, but gotta be kidding me.  To me, an all-time great faction needs to meet a few benchmarks:

  • Longevity - Was it around for months or years?  A group that comes and goes in six months can't be considered great.  If nothing else, a short run usually means that the group wasn't getting over.  Or it could be that the key members didn't stay with the company long enough to keep it going.  Either way, a short run is a major black mark.
  • Accomplishments - How many titles did they win?  How many big matches or feuds did they come out on top of?  Some groups were little more than cannon fodder for the primary face or heel in a company, and barely scored so much as one major win over their antagonist.  Others captured and defended major gold in their respective company on a regular basis.
  • Influence - How many times has the model been replicated since the original came to an end?  The best groups get copied over and over with new names and faces, period.  Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, full stop.
  • Spawn - What comes of the individual members both during and after the faction has it's run?  Does anyone other than the lead dog get to shine?  What do the younger member go on to do afterward?


This top ten had several entries that failed one or more of these requirements.  10 through 6 were as follows:  The Heenan Family, Dangerous Alliance, Nation of Domination, The Corporation, and the Hart Foundation. The first three are fine to me.  The Heenan Family ran for a good half decade, won some titles, and had some great individual members (Andre the Giant, Big John Studd and King Kong Bundy, Rick Rude, Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard, and Curt Hennig to name a few).  They aren't the first to come to mind but when you look at it, they pass the test.  The Dangerous Alliance ran for about a year, but at one point controlled three out of five titles in WCW and had some great members (Rude, Anderson & Bobby Eaton, Larry Zbysko, and one Stunning Steve Austin).  The Nation was around for a couple of years, and was where the Rock found his sea legs as a performer.  They also included Ron Simmons (Farooq), Owen Hart, the Godfather, and Mark Henry.  The title wins were few while they were together but Rock and Henry went on to greater things.  The things got dicey.

The Corporation was a sloppily put together group that came and went in less than a year and was little more than a group of straw men set up for Austin to knock down.  The roster was never settled for more than a few weeks at a time members seemed to join and turn with no sense of timing whatsoever.  The only reason for its inclusion is that this is a WWE production put together by people who were rising in the ranks during that year.  Through their time together they cycled through Mick Foley, Rock, the Undertaker, Triple H, Chyna,Kane, Ken Shamrock, Test, the Big Bossman, and the Big Show.  There were also peripheral members who came and went quickly.  Years later hardly anyone brings up the Corporation when talking the Austin-McMahon rivalry; there's a reason for that.  The Hart Fondation's run was short, less than a year, and was ended abruptly on the night of the Montreal Screwjob.  They had great members (Bret Hart, Owen Hart) and good members (British Bulldog, Brian Pillman, Jim Neidhart) and won a lot of gold in a short time, and pulling off the whole faces in Canada/heels in America was a pretty big deal.  But as soon as they were gone, Degeneration X took their place without missing a beat.  If you're picking ten I can see having them on the list, but number six is a little too high.  I think the Heenan Family was a bigger deal than them, personally, and the Nation was almost as memorable.


Now if you had some issues with the first five, then the top five will really get to you.  There were a few obvious choices like the Four Horsemen and the NWO, but there were a couple of doozies I tell you.  Number five was Evolution.  Now my initial thought was that I could see that, but to a lot of people in my age group Evolution was nothing more than a bootleg Four Horsemen set up to elevate Triple H to icon status by sheer force of will.  They held lots of titles, and did stick around for two years.  They launched Randy Orton and Batista to heights they probably wouldn't have reached on their own, and Ric Flair got one more good run out of it.  I can't hate on that; other than the copycat thing the pass all my tests.  Number four was the Four Horsemen.  No.  The Four Horsemen ran for almost three years, held all the major titles in the company at one point or another, and are the prototype for every faction that centers around the World Champion for the company.  They had possibly the greatest in ring worker of all time in Flair and two of the greatest tag team wrestlers of all time (Anderson and Blanchard), the fourth member slot had at one time or another one of the great match workers of the late 80s in Barry Windham and one of the biggest names of the 90s in Lex Luger.  The Hart Foundation, Evolution, the NWO and every failed group with the same structure was modeled after the Four Horsemen.  To put them fourth is ridiculous.  That slight was all about not wanting to put a group on top that was never a part of the WWF/E.  Period.

The same rule largely applies to number three, the NWO.  Their best work was done in WCW, as their very brief WWE run was over in a a few months.  You can make an argument for putting them number one, even ahead of the Horseman because they drew money on a large, nationwide scale in a way that the South-based Horsemen did not and because they are the ones who sparked new interest in pro wrestling after a half decade of slow, steady decline.  Their best period lasted about a year and a half, and they stuck around too long after that, but without them you don't get the counterprogramming from the WWE that birthed the Attitude Era.  The only thing worse than having them third is having Degeneration X first.  D-X was the answer to the NWO; had the latter not taken off like they did there would have been no sense of urgency to take WWE programming in the direction it went in and gave D-X the free run they got on Monday Nights.  D-X also had some stretches were they largely irrelevant on the roster, or where every member besides Triple H wasn't over anymore.  Their most popular period was also one where no one in the group challenged for the World Championship.  But this isn't even the biggest outrage.  That would be number two......the Brood.  This was nothing more than a trolling attempt by whoever created this.  It was supposedly voted on by fans, but I'm not buying that one bit.  The Brood wasn't even around for very long, they won no titles while together, and didn't influence anybody that came later.  Edge and Christian's future success came later on and had nothing to do with the few months they spent as a trio with Gangrel.  Good grief.....  More than any other choice this one invalidated the whole damn show.  That, and the egregious omission of the Freebirds.  Major fail all around.

OK, this has been long enough so I'll end it here.  I'll throw up my own top factions sometime later.

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