It’s a simple formula that’s worked time and time again since the birth of the Four Horsemen.
Stables = money + ratings + success
Just take a quick look through wrestling history at the Horsemen, the NWO and D-Generation X, just to name a few, and you’ll see these three results: success, ratings and money. But wait, there’s more! How about great storylines? How about the wrestlers whose careers were started, defined or rejuvenated through being in a stable? Not to mention how stables have defined wrestling in each decade.
Stables= money + ratings + success and you can’t blame a company for trying when it’s worked so many times before...however....while TNA has turned this formula it overly-complicated, bizarre wrestling version of E=MC2, WWE has turned it into 2+2=5.
In the last ten years alone, WWE has formed countless stables from the New Breed to the Straight Edge Society...pretty much all have failed and will not be remembered. As for TNA...well, if you liked WCW then you’re guaranteed one NWO-style faction every year. From Main Event Mafia to Immortal and to Main Event Mafia again? What? Again? Really? Thankfully not.
The problem? The stables of recent memory just don’t count. Why? Because they are missing something their predecessors had. Perhaps another formula...perhaps lost in some sort of office fire. A formula, which creates a stable with enough credibility to earn the company money, ratings and success. Maybe this formula never even existed, but all the parts that make it have in my view made stables like the Horsemen, the NWO, DX and Evolution (the last memorable stable) successful because they had:
Originality + Purpose + Dynamic + Staying Power + Timing = (A Successful) STABLE.
Originality: Whether it’s with films, TV shows or books, people don't likes to see the same things over and over again. It’s the same in wrestling. What’s memorable and watchable is originality. The Hart Foundation was memorable because they were a family while D-Generation X was memorable because of their antics. To begin with, so were Nexus. They did something we hadn’t seen before by being little-known rookies who beat the crap out of everyone in sight. Ex-world champions, commentators, even choking out a ring announcer with his tie.
But after that first beat down...things got stale quickly. These style of beat downs we have seen before. With the NWO? Evolution? And every other heel groups before? After that first night of destruction they did nothing that was truly shocking for both fans new and old. Repeats become boring. The group became stale and was one dimensional. The same with TNA’s Immortal, except they recycled the storyline and key parts of the NWO. Recycling may be good for the planet, but not for pro-wrestling.
Going back to the Harts or DX, there were the obvious things which made them stick out, but there was more too their characters and the group that just family and fun.
Purpose: Every big stable had a sole purpose for existing and often, each stable's purpose was original in its formation and aims. Evolution was a trophy cabinet of wrestling’s best, representing the past in Flair, the present in Triple H and the future in Orton and Batista.
A living timeline of wrestling’s greatest out for themselves. Nexus started off with a purpose of getting all the rookies from NXT WWE contracts or else. Then, they got their contracts and then what? Still doing the same beat downs and act? Like every other heel group before them?
Again, one-dimensional in comparison to Evolution, who although beat down every wrestler who stood in their way, fans could see the group was protecting Triple H and his title. When Triple H wasn’t the world’s champ, they were doing everything they could to get his title back. It got you wondering if these guys realised they were being used or if they’d revolt? This kept their storylines fresh and why they survived for so long.
Dynamic: The chemistry behind Evolution on-screen made these guys look like a believable family of friends. Whether beating down Goldberg or celebrating in style, or whoever was speaking each man complimented the other perfectly. Their dynamic organically changed and helped the group’s storylines, like when Evolution began to fall apart after Orton won the world title and when Batista won the royal rumble and faced Triple H at WrestleMania 21 for a big payoff.
With Nexus and the Corre, the problem was and still is that the members lack chemistry together. NXT hindered the factions in exposing the lack of in-ring skill held by members meant they did not seem impressive when actually wrestling. Also with Justin Gabriel, Heath Slater and Darren Young, we saw these guys as obvious babyfaces who had no reason to go suddenly psycho. Also, after the first beatdown when everyone looked good and tough, the promos and actions in the following weeks showed the group didn’t really gel well as a team.
Do you think the New Nexus under Punk has done anything to improve the groups legacy?
Staying Power and Timing: When you think of all the great stables, they were often well suited to their time (I.E. the NWO in the mid-90s and DX in the "Attitude Era"). Partly because when these groups emerged they represented the feelings of the time and something the fans could get behind. The NWO represented a break from tradition, similarly DX and the other "Attitude Era" groups represented everything either the fans wanted to be or hated. Timing was perfect.
Stables were successful at times when the fans believed in the stables. Someone should try telling that to WCW – I mean TNA – as they keep trying to put a square into a triangular-shaped hole. The angle isn’t going to come back in style anytime soon. WWE, likewise, could without creating another new stable in the next few years given the bad taste that’s been and being left by numerous failed/failing stables.
We’ve not seen the last of the stable, but neither promotion is going to churn out another success story like the Horsemen, NWO or Evolution until they learn from their mistakes.