Some of my best memories as a wrestling fan involve stables or factions: The nWo invasion, the Four Horsemen running roughshod all over the NWA, D-Generation X and Austin vs. McMahon's Corporation.
Recently, WWE has been seeing an influx of new stables beginning with the formation of Legacy, then came Nexus, and now we have the Corre on Smackdown.
While most fans wouldn't say they have been runaway successes, I believe there are merits to factions and the good far outweighs the bad.
That video right there is from early 1998, when the Rock was poised to explode out of the Nation of Domination and become the megastar that he is today. Watching that promo 13 years later, it's easy to see the kind of charisma and talent the man possessed.
Jim Ross once said that stables only exist for one reason—for one guy to split off and become a star.
The Rock is the most obvious example of this, carrying the Nation before no faction could contain him.
Batista went through something similar with Evolution, as did Randy Orton, and Triple H himself was the star of DX once Shawn Michaels retired.
Stables serve as a vehicle for many guys to apply their talents and see if the fans latch on to one of them in particular. In recent history, factions have produced four huge main event stars and that makes them well worth the effort.
Think about this: WWE was stagnating and the June 10, 2010 episode of Raw wasn't going to win any awards. Wrestling fans just expected another predictable episode in a long line of them.
However, in the main event, Nexus appeared and wrestling fans EXPLODED in excitement. I honestly could not remember the last time I saw the jaded internet fanbase be so pumped about a new angle.
Overnight, the NXT guys had gone from no-name rookies to the hottest heel stable in the promotion with an angle that could draw huge money.
Now, we could argue for hours about how they booked Nexus, and if it was successful or not, but think about it: They took guys that no one had ever heard of (outside of Bryan Danielson) and made them instantly recognizable.
Stables allow promoters to introduce new talent and immediately give them a way to get over. Fans usually take awhile to become attached to a worker who is new but stables allow them to instantly associate the worker with something tangible and that can only help in their career.
One of (if not the) biggest wrestling angles in history took place at the 1996 Bash at the Beach, when Hulk Hogan turned his back on fans and joined the New World Order.
It was a risky move that completely changed the wrestling business forever and made WCW the number one promotion in the world.
As a face, Hulk Hogan was boring and not over with the fan base anymore. However, "Hollywood" Hulk Hogan was a hated heel who captivated the wrestling world with his year-long feud with Sting.
If you already have an established heel group, turning a longtime face to that stable can immediately make him a hot property yet again.
The same thing happened when CM Punk joined Nexus, and instantly he was a top heel on the Raw side of things. Admittedly, it wasn't to the same success that Hogan had, but the nWo angle was one of the biggest of all time.
Freshening up characters is something that every wrestling company has to do, and giving the turn a support faction group only helps and supports the booking even more.
To piggyback on the last slide, not only does a faction allow you to freshen up characters, but they also aid in extending the careers of older workers.
Hulk probably never would have lasted in WCW without the New World Order. Vince McMahon could not have maintained his heel level without the help of the Corporation and his hired goons. Older wrestlers can't go out and work 300 days per year without it taking a major toll on their bodies.
However, with factions, you can have them hide behind their henchmen and save the big matches for the pay-per-views. You get more anticipation for the bout, and the older workers get to save their bodies for the money-drawing matches.
Newer fans to WWE are probably saying "Managers? Who needs those?" And I just think, "those poor children, they have been deprived for so long."
Managers, a longtime staple of professional wrestling, have almost become extinct thanks to WWE's creative team scripting out promos word-for-word. It has made cutting a promo a lost art and makes every single segment sound exactly the same.
It's very hard for a wrestler to find his voice when he's reading the words of someone else, someone who has never stepped foot in a ring and is most likely a failed television writer.
But I digress—managers serving as the mouthpiece of stables does wonders for both parties. It allows the manager to speak for a large group of workers who might not be able to all get promo time and the wrestlers are put over by the manager's words.
JJ Dillon was a key part of the Four Horsemen and people remember him just as much as they do Tully Blanchard, Arn Anderson, or Barry Windham.
Although certainly not exclusive to stables, managers play a key role in getting talent over and ensure that everyone knows who their clients are.
Now let's say you have two well-established faction. If you've done it right people will be clamoring for them to feud with one another, just like singles stars.
During the Attitude Era, while Austin vs. McMahon was rocking on top of the card, D-Generation X vs. Nation of Domination was keeping fans entertained in the middle of the card.
Once the stable itself gets over, then you can worry about matching up individual guys against others who will help get them over. HHH and the Rock had an awesome feud over the Intercontinental title that culminated with a ladder match at SummerSlam that shot both of their careers into the stratosphere.
You also could look at WCW vs. nWo over in Atlanta, as secondary feuds between the two sides carried the promotion while Hogan and Sting took care of the main event.
Right now, WWE has a good bit of midcard talent clogging up the pipes, so to speak. Factions could give those workers direction in their careers, and give them the chance to team up for a high profile feud that could really help the promotion.
If you're a faction, you can't dominate a promotion without a tag team.
Right now, tag team wrestling is at an all-time low. Titles are meaningless, teams are non-existent and the only time they matter is when two main eventers team up.
The New World Order had the Outsiders, DX had the New Age Outlaws, the Four Horsemen had the Andersons and the Corporation had the Mean Street Posse (OK, bad example).
The truth is that tag teams need other tag teams to go up against. If you're a dominant tag champion but you're beating jobbers every night, no one cares (see: Dynasty, Hart). However, if you have teams to play off of, then you're beating someone who matters and you matter all the more...Wrestling 101.
Stables allow tag teams to become part of a larger group and get themselves over by proxy. In recent history, they have attempted to do this with Justin Gabriel and Heath Slater to marginal success. The problem is that they need three or four more teams to compete against on a weekly basis. Why not give the faction angle a whirl?
For those of you who are old enough, think back to about 1997-98 when the nWo was the hottest thing in wrestling. How many of those nWo t-shirts did you see at the mall or in school? Tons.
The shirt was cool: It was black, looked menacing and had an edge to it that angst-filled teenagers were all about. None of that would have been possible without the formation of the New World Order.
Along the same lines, how much DX crap was out there? Shirts, jerseys, uncensored videos, posters...the whole nine yards.
Think about how much merchandise the Four Horsemen would have moved if NWA had the business acumen to do so. There would have been thousands of people walking around in four fingered t-shirts.
Factions give you something that a singles wrestler doesn't: A group identity. Wrestling fans want to identify with a group and, if that group happens to feature their favorite wrestlers, then that means money for the promotion.
For example, I would call Nexus a marginal success (in terms of storyline), and I still see a decent bit of their t-shirts on people, so I'd say it's definitely effective.
While there have been quite a few successful factions that were babyfaces, the most effective are always heels.
Why? Because factions allow heels to do what they do best: Outnumber, separate and attack.
Heels have no borders when it comes to storylines so they can attack with weapons, jump someone in a locker room and toss Rey Mysterio like a lawn dart into a trailer.
Thinking back to that Nexus attack in June 2010, those guys got instant heat because they beat up the most popular wrestler on the roster (Cena) and helpless crew members who couldn't defend themselves.
While the mechanics of booking has changed over the years, the same basic formulas always work and WWE would be wise to see that heels tables practically write themselves.
This one was the easiest to come up with. Factions simply provide some of the best moments in wrestling history.
Every single wrestling fan remembers when the nWo formed, when DX impersonated the Nation, and Austin's beer bath on the Corporation.
For us older fans, people remember the Horseman breaking Dusty's arm, the Hart Foundation hating the United States, and the Dangerous Alliance terrorizing WCW.
The time-honored tradition of man vs. man will always be there, but fans always appreciate a good gang war. Memorable groups lead to memorable moments, and that's something that WWE has been a bit short on in recent years.
While factions aren't a 100% necessity to a promotion, they do provide huge booking advantages to the company and, in the long run, can turn midcard workers into giant stars.