Evolution and the 8 Greatest Factions in WWE History
WWE Superstars must keep their heads on a swivel at all times: As the old saying goes, "Anything can happen in WWE."
You can be walking backstage, minding your own business, when someone jumps you from behind with a sledgehammer. You can be in the ring and about to submit your opponent, when his manager throws salt in your eyes.
There are so many ways you can get cheated and screwed, and the company you work for doesn't seem to care. In fact, the authority figures seem to encourage it.
That's why most successful wrestlers join a stable or a faction—a collection of three or more people who have high aspirations for championship gold. They watch each other's backs, avenge their members' misfortunes and conspire to get the best opportunities.
Here are the eight greatest factions in WWE history. When you're in one, you don't have anything to fear from the rest of the roster—it's your fellow members you might want to keep a closer eye on, though.
Ministry of Darkness
There was a year-long stretch in the Attitude Era when The Undertaker took the whole death gimmick a little too far. He began dressing in increasingly foreboding costumes, conducted dark, quasi-Satanic rituals and crucified/sacrificed his opponents.
This culminated in a series of increasingly horrifying segments in which Paul Bearer and Undertaker attempted to embalm Steve Austin while alive, hanged Big Boss Man from a Hell in a Cell at WrestleMania XVI and attempted to "sacrifice" Stephanie McMahon.
At its height, The Ministry was nine-men strong and included sub-faction The Brood: a trio of vampires comprised of Gangrel, Edge and Christian.
Nation of Domination
Professional wrestling isn't a place where political correctness thrives.
The writers go for the easy marks, which is why we get factions such as The Nation of Domination, based on black activist groups like the Black Panther Party and the Nation of Islam.
At one point, The Nation of Domination feuded with Los Boricuas (an all-Puerto Rican faction) and The Disciples of the Apocalypse (an all-biker faction), which fed into racial tensions even further.
The Nation went through several lineup changes, but its greatest accomplishment was during its last incarnation, when it served as a proving ground and protection agency for intercontinental champion The Rock.
He eventually left the group, and the remaining members—such as Mark Henry, The Godfather, and D'Lo Brown—shuffled into tag team and midcard singles competition.
The Hart Foundation
In 1997, after years of being the most traditional of white meat babyfaces, Bret Hart turned heel.
He reinvented himself as a preening, entitled jerk and linked up with fellow Hart/Dungeon family members—Owen Hart, Jim Neidhart, Brian Pillman, Davey Boy Smith—to form the Hart Foundation faction.
The group received nuclear heat in the United States, where they feuded against American wrestlers like "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and The Patriot. They were, however, beloved faces in their native Canada.
This was not the first incarnation of the group. The original Hart Foundation was a WWE tag team in the 1980s, featuring Bret and Neidhart. The most recent version of the group was The Hart Dynasty in 2009, comprised of Tyson Kidd, David Hart Smith and Natalya.
The Heenan Family wasn't as unified a stable as the Nation (bound by values) or the Hart Foundation (bound by blood). The only common element between the men in the Heenan Family was their affiliation with Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, who was possibly the most charismatic, love-to-hate-him heel manager of all time.
The Heenan Family and its affiliates were numerous and ever-changing, including wrestlers such as Paul Orndorff, Big John Studd, Mr. Perfect, Rick Rude and King Kong Bundy.
Their primary mission was making Hulk Hogan's life hell, and they succeeded most memorably by recruiting Andre the Giant (who they also tormented) as a monster heel. Hogan and Andre would square off in a now-legendary main event at WrestleMania III.
With the exception of the top entry on this list, The Shield probably has the highest member-to-gold ratio out of everyone on this list.
With their combat vests, entrances through the crowd and take-no-prisoners approach to wrestling, Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns have a dark glamour about them. All three men have gone on to be WWE champions.
The Shield originated as heel protectors and enforcers for CM Punk, and they lasted as a trio for two years: a lifetime in current WWE storytelling.
They have linked up sporadically since then, usually to defend Reigns from outside enemies and interference.
It was counterintuitive that the most evil heel faction of the Attitude Era was the WWE itself.
Led by Mr. McMahon, The Corporation started the now-common meta-narrative that the McMahons want a corporate champion who they can control, rather than a rebel who looks out for himself.
The Corporation's most famous feud was with "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, which became a vicarious wish-fulfillment narrative for anyone who hates his or her boss. It reached its peak at WrestleMania 15, where corporate champion The Rock was defeated by Austin in the main event.
The group later merged with The Ministry of Darkness (after Vince revealed he was controlling them), which was poorly received and spelled the end of both groups.
The gimmick has most recently been reinvented as The Authority, another WWE corporate faction helmed by Vince's daughter, Stephanie McMahon, and son-in-law Triple H.
Perhaps the most popular faction on this list, D-Generation X were a collection of crude shock trolls who liked to press people's buttons by chopping their crotches, making sexual innuendoes and yelling "Suck It!" on national television.
The group was originally Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Rick Rude and bodyguard/enforcer Chyna, but after HBK went on break due to a back injury, The Game reformed the group as his lackeys and added X-Pac and The New Age Outlaws to the stable.
Like The Shield, the D-X faction has reunited occasionally, mostly for anniversary shows and special occasions. They also exist as a babyface tag team comprised of Michaels and Triple H, which will face The Undertaker and Kane at Crown Jewel on Nov. 2.
The conceit behind Evolution is brilliant: Three generations of WWE Superstars, signifying the the past (Ric Flair), the present (Triple H) and the future (Randy Orton and Batista).
Until they were undone by Triple H's jealousy and constant politicking, the group was unprecedented in its successes and made bona fide Superstars out of its two younger members.
At the group's height, Evolution held all the major titles in the company and infamously posed on the ramp holding the WWE Championship, the Intercontinental Championship and the Tag Team Championship titles at Armageddon (2003).
The group recently reunited on SmackDown's 1,000th episode and foreshadowed a potential feud between Batista and Triple H. Ego ruins everything.