The Wikipedia “Glossary of pro wrestling terms” defines a stable as “a team of three or more wrestlers, usually heels, who generally share common motives, allies and adversaries within a storyline (or through multiple storylines).”
In the following space, I am going to list my top five favorite pro wrestling stables of all-time. There have been more stables in wrestling than I care to remember and many are easily forgettable.
It should be noted that I’m not claiming these are the best five of all-time, they are simply the five I enjoyed the most as a young fan who grew up watching pro wrestling on an extremely regular basis.
#5. The Varsity Club
My favorite version: Kevin Sullivan, Mike Rotunda and Rick Steiner
Many of the current generation of wrestling fans may have never even heard of The Varsity Club. Growing up, they were one of my favorite wrestling stables.
The original group consisted of Kevin Sullivan, Mike Rotunda and Rick Steiner, all of which wore their amateur wrestling letterman jackets. The guys were among the most legitimate tough guys in the business at the time, and the group had the perception of being the baddest son of a bitches on the planet.
As is the case with any wrestling stable, as time went on the group was watered down. Members such as “Dr. Death” Steve Williams and “Dangerous” Dan Spivey were added to the mix, and before too long, the group ceased to exist. While they were around though, in my opinion, they were pretty damn cool.
#4. The Fabulous Freebirds
My favorite version: Michael “P.S.” Hayes, Teddy “Bam Bam” Gordy and Buddy Roberts.
Listen, as far as I’m concerned any writer who doesn’t include The Fabulous Freebirds on their “top stables” or “top factions” lists should have their head examined. The Freebirds were as cool as it got when I was a youngster.
The group was led by Michael “P.S.” Hayes, a current WWE creative team member who is credited with introducing theme music to the ring-walk portion of the professional wrestling presentation. The group consisted of Hayes, Terry “Bam Bam” Gordy and Buddy Roberts. Roberts was considered a great in-ring technician, and prior to the Birds, had a lengthy career worthy of Hall Of Fame status. In fact, Roberts was part of the original “Hollywood Blondes” tag-team, a name that was later used for the team of “Stunning” Steve Austin and “Flyin'” Brian Pillman. Gordy was a legend in Japan and portrayed the “enforcer” role in the group. Hayes was a rock star and easily one of the most charismatic wrestlers of his time, if not of all-time.
Later on, Hayes and Jimmy “Jam” Garvin would bring back The Fabulous Freebirds as a straight tag-team act. How this group has yet to receive an induction into the WWE Hall Of Fame confuses me to this very day.
#3. D-Generation X
My favorite version: Shawn Michaels, Triple H and Chyna
I’m of the belief that there is not a fan of North American professional wrestling that has not heard of D-Generation X. That would mean they did their jobs and left a lasting legacy in the business.
D-X consisted of Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Chyna and Rick Rude. When the group officially formed, you could make the argument that along with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, they officially ushered in the infamous “Attitude Era” in WWE. They did things for shock value at a time when Howard Stern, The Jerry Springer Show and many other shock-television style shows reigned supreme. It was a natural fit, and the group really cemented Triple H as a main event performer in WWE.
Later on, as is the case with every faction or stable in history, an attempt was made to get the gang back together, only this time — it worked. You could argue that the second version of D-X was actually more successful than the first. The second group featured Triple H as the leader instead of Michaels, and his group consisted of Chyna, Sean “X-Pac” Waltman, “Bad Ass” Billy Gunn and “The Road Dogg” Jesse James. Anyone who saw WWE RAW the night that D-X “invaded” WCW will never forget that moment. It was amazing entertainment and really symbolized the “Monday Night War” going on at the time between WWE and WCW.
D-X was brought back again in the 2000s as a straight tag-team act that featured the two original members — Triple H and Shawn Michaels. Personally, I didn’t enjoy that run nearly as much as their first run, but it was still a cool thing to see the two back together having fun.
#2. New World Order
My favorite version: Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall
The New World Order. When I was in my late teens there wasn’t a neighborhood in the United States that didn’t have at least a dozen kids running around in nWo t-shirts. You remember them — the black t-shirts with the white nWo letters on it. If you were a pro wrestling fan in the 1990s you either wore, or saw someone else wearing either an “Austin 3:16” or nWo t-shirt.
The original nWo group consisted of Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall. I’ve written in the past that I personally felt Hall was the single coolest wrestler in the history of the business. Kevin Nash was right up there as well. Hogan was past his prime, but was needed to give the group main event legitimacy in WCW. Nash and Hall as “The Outsiders” were already gaining tremendous momentum, but it wasn’t until the infamous Hogan heel-turn at WCW’s “Bash At The Beach” pay-per-view that things started to take shape. The nWo is the key reason WWE began losing to WCW in the aforementioned Monday Night Wars, and another key reason that WWE had to completely change their PG-style of entertainment and get “Attitude.”
As with every group, the nWo was watered down through time. I can’t even begin to list the wrestlers that ended up being added to the group. There’s too many to list, and I would actually have an extremely difficult time remembering all of the guys who at one point or another wore the nWo colors and was considered a member of the group. The faction spawned off sub-factions such as the Latino World Order and the nWo “Wolfpac” — a faction that feuded with the black-and-white nWo when the group split in half.
The nWo will go down in history as one of the most famous, or infamous stables in the history of the business, but when they were in their prime, they were the bee’s knees. The cat’s pajamas. Anyone who watched it as it was going down remembers the theme music, the black-and-white t-shirts, the spray paint, the black-and-white commercials “paid for by the New World Order” and the chaos they created both on-camera and behind-the-scenes. They were truly classic wrestling stable.
#1. The Four Horsemen
My favorite version: Ric Flair, Barry Windham, Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard
Does a list of “top wrestling stables” (or factions) even exist out there that doesn’t have The Four Horsemen ranked at number one? Both in terms of being the best and being people’s favorite, such as this list, The Four Horsemen were simply amazing. The original is always the best, and The Four Horsemen originated the main event stable in pro wrestling. There were some that technically came before, but the Horsemen were the first true stable of main event talent that stuck together for a considerable period of time and gained name identity.
The original group consisted of Ric Flair, Tully Blanchard, Arn Anderson, Ole Anderson and JJ Dillon. The story has been told a thousand times. All of the aforementioned guys were set to record a promo together in an effort to save time. When Anderson began talking, at one point he threw up what came to be the symbol of the Horsemen — four fingers — when talking about the “four horsemen of the apocalypse.” History was made. From that point forward, The Four Horsemen were the talk of the town.
As time went on, The Four Horsemen got watered down to the point that it was laughable. Hell, at one point late in the history of WCW, there was a group of The Four Horsemen that had almost as many women managers as there were star wrestlers. Before it was watered down, however, a second formation of the group really shined. That group consisted of most of the original guys such as Ric Flair, Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard, with the only difference being the exit of Ole Anderson and the addition of Barry Windham. That particular group was without a doubt my favorite. I never really dug Ole Anderson all that much. His style was more of a style that came from one generation prior to that of which I was used to. Windham on the other hand, was a perfect fit.
The Four Horsemen were the first “stable” inducted into the WWE Hall Of Fame, and the guys who were inducted were my favorite version of the group: Flair, Anderson, Blanchard, Windham and Dillon. In WWE, Triple H, being such a big Horsemen fan, even decided to put together a modern-version of the group, which he called Evolution. That stable, which was another pretty damn solid faction, pretty much launched the WWE careers of Randy Orton and Batista. It wouldn’t have happened without the originals, the best to show unity in the history of our business — The Four Horsemen.
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