strength

The 16 Best Stables in Wrestling History

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WWE

"The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team." – Phil Jackson

Recite that quote to a devoted wrestling fan and their mind will probably concoct images of the sport’s best tag teams or stables. In the case of this article, we’re going to showcase the latter. Wrestling has played host to a group of individuals that have come together to dominate the competition and stake their claim as the most unstoppable force in their respective companies.

If you followed any era of the NWA/WCW, WWF/WWE, ECW, TNA/Impact Wrestling, etc., then you were no doubt treated to the reign of some of wrestling’s greatest stables. We’ve gathered here today to highlight those dynamic groups and expose some of you to some awesome international ensembles that you may not have known about beforehand.

Throw up the Four Horsemen hand signal, “2 Sweet” your nearby homies, and tell a random passerby to “SUCK IT!” as we gush over the 16 best wrestling stables of all time.

1. The Four Horsemen

Once the sound of horse hooves enters a wrestling fan’s earlobes, they already know who’s coming into the arena. Before the famous theme song that marked The Four Horsemen’s arrival came to be, they had their Rolex watches, designer clothes, and championship belts get everyone’s attention as they strolled out to the ring. And when it came time to talk down on their enemies and handle business in the ring, they simply couldn’t be matched. There are so many variations of this famous NWA/WCW stable - the OG ensemble included Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Ole Anderson, and Tully Blanchard. Later incarnations featured other in-ring legends, such as Barry Windham, Lex Luger, and Sid Vicious. The Four Horsemen are the measuring stick when it comes to legit wrestling stables and will continue to be until the end of time.

2. New World Order

The 1996 Bash at the Beach will forever be embedded in old-school wrestling fans’ memories. And that’s because it marked the evening of the initial formation and reveal of the New World Order. Hulk Hogan shocked the world and shat all over his family-friendly credo by hooking up with The Outsiders, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash. The black and white menace that tried to destroy WCW from within was just too damn cool (too sweet?) to hate. Once they added Syxx (Sean Waltman) and Eric Bischoff to the mix, the nWo became even more of a juggernaut collective that dominated fans’ attention. Now did the nWo balloon to insane proportions and become less likable over time? Hell yeah! But you just can’t deny the impact the initial version of the nWo had on the wrestling business as a whole. The spray-painting street gang that made it cool to watch WCW back in the day will forever remain one of wrestling’s GOAT’s.

3. D-Generation X

“Are you ready?” When Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Chyna, and Rick Rude joined forces, D-Generation X was born. As a rebellious teenager, it was easy to love DX’s childish antics and adult humor. The ways in which they hilariously tormented Sgt. Slaughter, The Headbangers, and The Hart Foundation are the stuff of legend. Once HHH took the reins of DX, the group became even better. Sean Waltman joined in as X-Pac, plus “Road Dogg” Jesse James and “Bad Ass” Billy Gun decided to strengthen their ranks even more. What followed soon after was an assortment of gut bustingly funny parodies, crowd popping group promos, and a wealth of good to great matches from DX’s charismatic roster. The black and green button pushers that were D-Generation X defined the Attitude Era with their approach to comedy that definitely pushed the envelope on a weekly basis.

4. The Shield

Seth Rollins. Dean Ambrose. Roman Reigns. Three NXT developmental talents got called up together back on November 18,  2012. They came to be known as WWE’s “Hounds of Justice” aka “The Shield.” Their theme music was badass, their group tactics commanded everyone’s attention, and the classic matches they participated in are still talked about to this day. The Shield’s run at the top from 2013 to 2014 made WWE worth watching and put all three men in a prime position to do big things as solo acts. That’s exactly what happened once they split up, of course. But even though their run was short compared to the other stables on this list, The Shield garnered plenty of praise and notched some major achievements as WWE’s three-man destructive force.

5. Evolution

Evolution is indeed a mystery and always will be. The combined strength of Triple H, Ric Flair, Randy Orton, and Batista immediately spring to mind whenever great early 2000s stables enter the conversation. Like the Four Horseman before them, Evolution ran roughshod over their enemies with calculated attacks. And when it came to acquiring championships, they made it look so easy. HHH maintained a stranglehold over Raw’s World Heavyweight Championship at the time, Orton got his hands on the Intercontinental Championship, and Flair & Batista captured the World Tag Team Championship. Evolution was a clear throwback to the classier stables of the past and mixed in a bit of modern-day heel dom to come across even cooler. You just can’t deny the greatness of Evolution.

6. Nation of Domination

Their theme song? FIRE! Their entrance? Awe-inspiring! And their impact during the Attitude Era? Monumental! The Nation of Domination produced a few different variations, but the most powerful tandem of them all included Farooq, The Rock, D’Lo Brown, and Kama Mustafa. The group was clearly the WWF’s version of The Nation of Islam, but it was so easy to get caught up in their badassery and mission statement. Farooq put the fear of God into everyone’s hearts, The Rock’s cockiness propelled him to greatness, D’Lo Brown & his chest protector ruled, and Kama Mustafa...well, he was better as The Godfather. The Nation of Domination kicked so much ass during their reign of terror and fans still look back fondly on their time together. *puts fist up* ONE NATION...UNDER FAROOQ!

7. Bullet Club

When Prince Devitt, Karl Anderson, Bad Luck Fale, and Tama Tonga cliqued up in New Japan Pro Wrestling, no one figured their association would change the wrestling landscape. The international stable that owes its influences to the nWo became a force to be reckoned with and introduced more American wrestling elements to the traditionally sports-based New Japan presentation. Over time, the Bullet Club came to include the very best of the indies/Japan, such as AJ Styles, Kenny Omega, The Young Bucks, Jay White, etc. The Bullet Club impacted the current wrestling landscape and kickstarted a golden era of wrestling thanks to its “Elite” members. Chances are high that you spotted random folks rocking the classic Bullet Club shirt during this stable’s run at the top. 2 SWEET ME, BRO!

8. The Dangerous Alliance

One of the more slept-on WCW stables was the one that was ruled over by Paul E. Dangerously. The contingent of “Ravishing” Rick Rude, “Stunning” Steve Austin, “Beautiful” Bobby Eaton, Arn Anderson, and Larry Zybysko presented one of the best lineups in wrestling history. Their combined in-ring acumen was extremely high, their manager was at the top of his game, and their female valet (Madusa) made sure to lend a hand or two from time to time to help them succeed. Sting certainly had his hands full when he clashed with The Dangerous Alliance, that’s for sure. Paul E’s stable existed across many wrestling feds, but the WCW iteration always sticks out as the finest one. 

9. The Fabulous Freebirds

When a historic wrestling rule is named after you, then you know your footprint within the business is massive. The “Freebird Rule” allowed three-man collectives to defend the tag team titles amongst each other thanks to the efforts of Michael “P.S.” Hayes, Terry “Bam Bam” Gordy, and Buddy Roberts (big shout out to Jimmy Garvin, too!). The Fabulous Freebirds provided WCCW’s Von Erich brothers with the perfect foils during the Texas-based promotion’s legendary run. With a fiery entrance, an incredible theme song, and a whole lot of attitude behind them, the Fabulous Freebirds staked their claim as one of the best to ever do it. Badstreet USA ain’t nothin’ to mess with!

10. The Hart Foundation

Bret “Hitman” Hart and Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, which is the OG rendition of The Hart Foundation that ruled the tag team division alongside manager Jimmy Hart, was beloved. Years later, Bret got the band back together and added three more loved ones to the fray to create the strongest pink and black attack of all time. Bret took over the lead role as the vicious technician, Jim & the British Bulldog stepped into the role as heavies, Owen Hart owned his spot as the speedy veteran, and Brian Pillman was the unhinged stablemate of them all. The Hart Foundation made history as they competed during a time where the USA despised him and Canada held them up as conquering heroes. They looked cool as hell, wrestled in an all-time classic at In Your House 16: Canadian Stampede, and added to the greatness that was the year 1997 in WWF.

11. The Heenan Family

Bobby “The Brain” Heenan is wrestling royalty. And that’s mostly due in part to his strong managerial services (his commentary was top-notch, too!). Beginning in the 1970s, Bobby built up an amazing stable of Hall of Famers across the American Wrestling Association, Georgia Championship Wrestling, World Wrestling Association, and World Wrestling Federation. Just look at some of the names Bobby aligned himself with - Nick Bockwinkel, Ernie “The Cat” Ladd, Big John Studd, André the Giant, and “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff are just a sample size of who were a part of The Heenan Family. This collective of Hall of Fame talent points to Bobby’s knack for picking the very best early on in their career.

12. The New Day

What started out as a tease for a new-age interpretation of The Nation of Domination turned into a super corny three-man stable full of choir boys. But once Xavier Woods, Kofi Kingston, and Big E started injecting their own flavor into the gimmick, The New Day finally realized its true potential. The fun-loving antics attached to all three men endeared them to the crowd that once despised them - The New Day is known for delivering hilarious inside jokes, sporting creative in-ring attires, and adding a whole lot of energy to any segment they participate in. Their in-ring chops aren’t anything to scoff at as they’ve produced classics with The Usos, The Shield, The Revival, etc. And when it comes to singles affairs, all three men are amazing all on their own. The New Day brings a smile to everyone’s face and will continue to do so until they give their final hip-swiveling farewell.

13. Main Event Mafia

TNA has had its fair share of memorable stables - Triple X, World Elite, Fortune, and Team Canada are definitely among the best. But the greatest of them all is undoubtedly the clique that featured some of the biggest names in professional wrestling history. The Main Event Mafia went full Soprano's mode as they wore custom-tailored suits and handed out vicious beatdowns when the situation called for it. Kurt Angle, Sting, Kevin Nash, Booker T, and Scott Steiner introduced the first incarnation of the group and instantly captured everyone’s attention. Their legitimacy was never in question and their reign of terror was entertaining as hell in hindsight. The Main Event Mafia was one of the very best stables TNA had to offer. 

14. Undisputed Era

“SHOCK...THE SYSTEM!” When Adam Cole came through the crowd and attacked Drew McIntyre at the close of NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn III, no one knew just how major his tenure with the black and gold brand would be. Cole, Kyle O'Reilly, Bobby Fish, and eventually Roderick Strong dominated NXT as they held all of the brand’s championships at the same time. And all the while, they used classic guerrilla tactics to get the jump on their foes and got embroiled in some of the best matches the NXT brand has ever seen. Their theme song slapped tremendously, they always delivered once the bell rang, and their footprint on the NXT brand will forever be embedded there. BOOM!

15. Nexus

If it wasn’t for what happened at SummerSlam 2010, we’d probably be speaking of even more amazing Nexus moments. But after they were handily defeated by John Cena, it was hard to care about anything they did afterward. But you still have to acknowledge just how much of a monumental force Wade Barrett’s band of rookie mercenaries were during their stranglehold on Raw. Everyone was in awe when Nexus first showed up on Raw and destroyed everything within their vicinity. And whenever they hit the ring and surrounded their latest hapless victim, you couldn’t help but feel for whoever was about to get stomped out. The concept behind Nexus was so dope since it focused on featuring fresh faces that actually got over WWE’s already established talent. Even the CM Punk variation of the Nexus had some cool moments here and there! The Nexus era was an amazing moment in time.

16. CHAOS

Back in 2009, Togi Makabe faced the ultimate betrayal when members of his Great Bash Heel stable turned on him. The group that formed from that shocking moment ended up being CHAOS and still runs roughshod over the NJPW roster to this very day. Shinsuke Nakamura’s role as the first leader of the group made way for New Japan’s top stars at the time - Toru Yano, Giant Bernard, Karl Anderson, and Black Tiger V came together like Voltron. And once Kazuchika Okada took over the reins of the group, CHAOS became even more of a force to reckon with. The powerhouse pitbull Tomohiro Ishii, Alex Koslov & Rocky Romero (Forever Hooligans), Hirooki Goto, and Will Ospreay played a huge part in keeping the CHAOS brand strong. The Bullet Club may be NJPW’s most recognizable stable, but CHAOS will forever be held up next to them in terms of historical relevance.

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