Ranking the Greatest Stables and Trios in WWE from the Last 20 Years

Erik Beaston@@ErikBeastonFeatured ColumnistApril 20, 2022

Ranking the Greatest Stables and Trios in WWE from the Last 20 Years

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Factions and trios have long been a part of WWE history.

    Groups of Superstars, bonded by common goals and themes, dominate the company en route to main events, championships and Hall of Fame inductions. Fans engage with them and genuinely want to see where the united collection of talent goes, what they accomplish and whether they can change the industry as so many say they will.

    Over the last 20 years, the company has produced its fair share of factions and trios that have produced future Hall of Famers, around whom entire shows are currently booked.

    So, which 10 factions or trios rank as the best of the last two decades? Let's take a look.

10. King Booker's Court

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    Throughout the summer and fall of 2006, the SmackDown brand revolved around King Booker.

    The world heavyweight champion at the time, Booker T was a heel who took his role as King of the Ring a bit too literally. Accompanied to the ring by his Queen Sharmell's repetitive demands that "All hail King Booker," he infuriated fans and Superstars alike.

    He also wisely surrounded himself with the double-tough Finlay and William Regal to become King Booker's Court. A faction that fought the likes of Batista, Rey Mysterio and Bobby Lashley, the group headlined many an episode of the blue brand and were a significant element of storytelling efforts at the time.

    It is the shortest-lived stable on this list, but it was also one of the most entertaining groups in the history of SmackDown and the first time Booker really felt like a Superstar the creative team was completely behind.

9. The Nexus

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    The Nexus exploded onto the scene in the summer of 2010, attacking John Cena and everyone in their path before destroying the ringside area and creating major buzz about a WWE product that had grown stale. 

    Wade Barrett, Michael Tarver, David Otunga, Heath Slater, Justin Gabriel, Skip Sheffield and Darren Young made up the group of NXT invaders who were disenfranchised with WWE after the humiliating tasks and challenges they had been put through as part of the black-and-gold brand's first season.

    They wreaked havoc on a weekly basis and made life a living hell for Cena and Co...until SummerSlam 2010.

    The only reason The Nexus is not listed higher on this list and viewed as a greater success is because they had their momentum snuffed out fairly quickly. Barrett and his minions lost to Cena in the main event of SummerSlam, despite a significant numbers advantage late in a 14-man tag team elimination match. 

    From there, it became clear The Nexus existed solely to give the top star in the company new villains to vanquish. By the time January 2011 rolled around, the stable had been changed into something that no longer resembled the original group of just six months earlier.

8. The Authority

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    The Authority was the evil heel faction around which WWE revolved midway through the 2010s.

    Led by the vindictive and manipulative Triple H and Stephanie McMahon, and featuring Superstars such as Randy Orton, Kane and Seth Rollins, they made life rough for top Superstars, most notably Daniel Bryan.

    They cheated The Beard out of championship matches every which way possible. When he finally defeated John Cena to capture the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at SummerSlam in 2013, The Game revealed a partnership with former Evolution protege Orton and quickly screwed him out of the gold via a Money in the Bank cash-in.

    The most powerful couple in WWE necessitated the breakup of The Shield by promising Rollins the world in exchange for his loyalty, threatened Big Show's job security and made him cry on live television, and they made examples of any Superstar who dared oppose them.

    Bryan ultimately overcame their oppressive rule and captured the top prize in wrestling at WrestleMania 30, but a neck injury cut his run short and allowed The Authority to retain their dominance in WWE for the better part of two more years.

    The faction continued the history of heel authority figures and helped propel stories forward while also creating stars of The Shield's Rollins, Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose.

7. The Wyatt Family

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    The Wyatt Family really should rank higher on this list.

    A trio of monsters apparently from the swamps of Florida, they arrived on the scene in 2013 and were met with eager anticipation by the WWE Universe.

    Led by the engaging Bray Wyatt and featuring bruisers Luke Harper and Erick Rowan, the faction was an intimidating force that meshed Cape Fear's Max Cady with a southern cult.

    Wyatt's promos engaged the audience, while Harper and Rowan physically punished those who their leader set his sights on. Kane, Bryan, Cena and The Shield all felt the wrath of The Wyatt Family.

    By the time the trio added Braun Strowman to the mix, it appeared the only thing that could stop them was bad creative.

    And it did.

    Instead of becoming a WWE-threatening presence, the faction lost more than it won and devolved, thanks to a creative team that never fully understood what Wyatt had laid the groundwork for in his days in NXT.

    Wyatt would win the WWE Championship during his time with the company, but the stable went through so many twists and turns that they lost sight of what they had been initially.

    Too much smoke, too many mirrors and the introduction of the supernatural devalued the faction, ultimately leading Wyatt to undergo a total makeover and become The Fiend. 

6. Undisputed Era

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    NXT makes its presence felt on this list, thanks to Undisputed Era.

    Adam Cole, Kyle O'Reilly, Bobby Fish and Roderick Strong arrived in WWE following their days in Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro-Wrestling and immediately made the black-and-gold brand must-see television.

    They were brash, cocky and dangerous, and they made a huge impression early on by beating down any babyfaces who came between them and championship glory.

    And there was plenty of championship glory.

    NXT, NXT Tag Team and North American Championships were all collected by the group as they dominated WWE's third brand for four years. Cole, Strong, Fish and O'Reilly headlined TakeOvers, competed in War Games and became the centerpieces of Triple H's attempts to build NXT into a viable third television product for the company.

    The faction's run came to an end with the betrayal of O'Reilly by Cole and three of the four making the jump to All Elite Wrestling shortly thereafter when their contracts with WWE came to an end. 

    Undisputed Era accomplished all that they set out to, dominating the industry and altering the course of NXT forever.

5. D-Generation X

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    Shawn Michaels and Triple H reunited as D-Generation X in 2006 and 2009 and, while it may not have made for the same game-changing faction that helped define WWE's hottest and most successful era ever, there is no denying they were an integral part of the company's creative efforts both years.

    Telling dad jokes, beating down top-tier heels, squashing male cheerleaders and selling a boatload of neon green merchandise along the way, The Game and HBK rediscovered the fun side of professional wrestling in both runs.

    For all of the complaints about their abundance of TV time, or jokes that did not always land, the crowd erupted every time they entered arenas and battled the likes of the McMahons, The Spirit Squad, Rated RKO, Jeri-Show and Legacy. 

    Their reunions reintroduced an element of fun to WWE programming and produced the same great tag team matches.

    While it hardly had the industry-changing impact of the faction's original run, the 2006 and 2009 reincarnations headlined significant shows and provided fans with the nostalgia they still clamor for today. Look no further than the reaction in arenas whenever the familiar "Break it Down" plays.

4. The Bloodline

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    Yes, The Bloodline is fairly high on the list despite its relative newness, but there is no denying the impact Roman Reigns and The Usos have had on WWE history already.

    The Tribal Chief has dominated the company for well over two years as universal champion, and The Usos are, arguably, the best tag team of their generation.

    With all three Superstars holding gold, they entered WrestleMania 38 and put an exclamation point on all of their recent conquests by retaining the titles they entered with while Reigns added the WWE Championship to his resume by defeating Brock Lesnar in a Winner Takes All match.

    The faces of SmackDown, The Bloodline are interesting in that they are a heel stable but also the centerpiece of WWE programming. Reigns is greeted with a thunderous ovation when he enters arenas, as are The Usos, but they are clearly the bad guys.

    It is something not seen since The Four Horseman dominated Jim Crockett Promotions and something most likely no one saw as a viable creative possibility now. Reigns, The Usos and special counsel Paul Heyman have proved that notion wrong, achieving enormous success and etching their names in the history books.

    They may be modern and still telling their story, but The Bloodline earn this spot on the countdown. 

3. The New Day

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    Kofi Kingston, Big E and Xavier Woods were never meant to have much success.

    Thrown together at their own request by a WWE Creative team that had run out of ideas for them, they took what was meant to be a preacher gimmick and turned it into one of the most entertaining and successful trios in WWE history: The New Day.

    Displaying their enormous personalities for the world to see, the trio of Superstars quickly transformed from heel characters preaching the power of positivity to babyfaces who embraced their pop-culture favorites, wore unicorn horns and experienced greatness between the ropes.

    The New Day exceeded every expectation to become one of the truly great factions in WWE history.

    That Kingston and Big E captured the WWE Championship in solo efforts, and Woods won the 2021 King of the Ring tournament, suggested they were equally as strong separated as they were together.

    Thy continue to make history, achieving success and popping crowds across the globe while cementing their status as a Hall of Fame-worthy stable.

2. The Shield

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    Sierra. Hotel. India. Echo. Lima. Delta. SHIELD.

    With that intro, Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns entered arenas through the audience, looking to unleash their brand of justice on WWE every week.

    They were initially hired guns for The Authoritybut became babyfaces who stood up to "the man."

    The trio rarely lost and collected wins against Hall of Famers and world champions along the way. John Cena, Sheamus, Big Show, Ryback, CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Kane and Randy Orton all experienced the wrath of the trio as the NXT imports left their mark on WWE programming.

    So strong were the trio that when they split in 2014, all three would go on to capture the WWE title. When they reunited in 2017 and 2019, they did so as three men equal in stature.

    As significant as the group were to WWE programming, it is the fact that the stable spawned three genuine main event Superstars that makes it historically significant. Reigns is the top star in professional wrestling today, Rollins is a bona fide main eventer, and Ambrose (as Jon Moxley) helped sift the wrestling paradigm in 2019 when he joined All Elite Wrestling.

    The trio changed the industry, ushered in a new era of stars and seized an opportunity and made it their own...kind of like two young stars in our top faction.

1. Evolution

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    In 2003, Triple H and Ric Flair introduced WWE to Evolution, a faction that would not only dominate Monday Night Raw for the next two years but also give two young stars a platform on which they could become top stars.

    Randy Orton and Batista were embraced by The Game and The Nature Boy, and they were granted the opportunity to learn on the job. Sharing the squared circle with Flair and Triple H, they grew as workers and saw their stars elevated as they became centerpieces of the flagship's creative efforts.

    Orton broke out first, thanks to an extraordinary feud with Mick Foley, while Batista enjoyed a slow burn. The Viper was the cocky, third-generation star who believed he had the industry in his hands, while Batista powered through the competition and silently plotted his own ascension.

    Orton captured the World Heavyweight Championship in August 2004 while Batista did the same by vanquishing Triple H in the main event of WrestleMania 21. Both men would go on to become company-leading stars of the Ruthless Aggression and PG Eras in WWE, thanks in large part to the credibility they earned during their time in Evolution and the important lessons taught to them by Flair and The Game.

    When Batista reunited with Orton and Triple H in 2014, the trio did not find the same level of success that they had previously, but they were instrumental in establishing Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose as the faces of the company's future.

    The creation of two Hall of Famers, the dominance of Triple H and the last great run for Flair earn Evolution the top spot on this countdown.