15 Uninspired Stable Gimmicks That Could Have Worked With Other Wrestlers We look at flopped factions and how they could have survived with different members.
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Stables and factions have been part of the professional wrestling industry for as long as most fans reading this sentence can remember. Heel managers building a roster of talent meant to feud with top babyface performers is a practice that worked for smaller promotions and also for national companies such as the World Wrestling Federation/World Wrestling Entertainment and World Championship Wrestling. It is no wonder Vince McMahon, Eric Bischoff and other wrestling minds have routinely revisited the idea of using stables in the main events of cards and storylines. The New World Order helped propel WCW ahead of the WWE, for a period of time, during the Monday Night Wars. D-Generation X could still sell merchandise and get over in front of fans roughly 20 years after the gimmick first debuted on television. The Four Horsemen are remembered as the greatest stable in the history of wrestling, and not only because “Nature Boy” Ric Flair, a legendary figure respected as somebody who affected the sports world beyond the wrestling industry, was its leader. The right stable that features talented wrestlers and that comes along at the perfect time can inject life into a promotion that is otherwise floundering and failing to attract interest from casual viewers.
Not every faction can be a gem that changes the fate and fortune of a wrestling promotion for the better. Truth be told, the business probably has far more uninspired stable gimmicks than successful concepts such as the Four Horsemen or the original NWO in its history. In some cases, a lack of star wrestlers doomed a stable before it got off the ground and was able to grow in popularity. If there is one thing we have learned over the past decade or so as it pertains to combat sports organizations, it is that names and not supposed brilliant ideas sell pay-per-view buys and generate headlines from websites. Fans, simply stated, refuse to get all that interested in a stable or faction if they feel that the wrestlers in that particular group weren’t anything special before they joined forces. Recently, the WWE has pushed singles stars such as AJ Styles and Brock Lesnar, men not fully committed to stables, as the main attractions of shows. Meanwhile, NXT has featured groups such as Sanity and the Undisputed Era. Perhaps we are not that far off from the next great stable joining the WWE main roster and becoming a dominant force on either Raw or SmackDown.
15 Dungeon of Doom
We begin with the Dungeon of Doom, a stable that was allowed to exist in WCW in the mid-1990s even though it was a gimmick straight out of the 1980s and one that was at least five years too late. Joining Kevin Sullivan, the “Taskmaster” who wanted to rid the wrestling world of Hulkamania once and for all, were non-stars such as Kamala, John Tenta (playing The Shark), Meng, The Yeti and Big Bubba. The only wrestler who really got anything positive out of the stable was The Giant, later known as The Big Show, but Giant almost certainly would have gotten over anyway because he possessed remarkable talent as a rookie.
Fortunately for everybody involved and for WCW, the creation of the NWO (more on that later) and the Giant being added to that faction, for better or for worse, made the Dungeon unimportant, and began the fall of that group.
The Dungeon being presented as a group of wrestlers who wanted to send Hogan packing after he signed from WWE could have worked if the stable had better wrestlers and wasn”t so cartoon-esque in nature.
Then again, Hogan was being booed during matches in 1995, and it’s possible nothing was going to stop those reactions.
Fans waited months to see Paige return to the WWE, and some even feared she would never make it back, for several reasons, until she reappeared on an edition of Raw in the fall of 2017. Rather than have her perform as a singles star or place her in a stable with two other over acts, the WWE placed Paige inside of a faction with Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville. Neither Rose nor Deville ever even flirted with becoming stars in NXT, and they did not have any momentum in developmental before the WWE called them up to the main roster somewhat out of nowhere.
Rose and Deville are still green and not quite ready for live action on either Raw or SmackDown, and Paige’s forced retirement following an injury that she suffered in late 2017 resulted in Absolution disbanding.
Multiple reports and rumors have leaked following this year’s WrestleMania that the WWE are high on both Rose and Deville for different reasons. Both, simply put, need a lot of work before they are ready to work programs with Charlotte, Becky Lynch, Asuka and others. Regardless of Paige’s current status, Absolution always needed better workers with the former champion for the gimmick to work and get over. Young stars like Ember Moon and Dakota Kai could have thrived in the same spot.
13 Social Outcasts
The Social Outcasts stable that debuted in early 2016 and featured Heath Slater, Adam Rose, Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel was meant to be a group of guys who had never gotten over but who were attempting to find success as a cohesive unit. While the idea was for them to lose more than they won, the Outcasts picked up some momentum among fans who laughed during segments and who wanted to watch them climb up the roster. Their biggest setbacks, other than booking decisions and the company not backing those characters, were the skills they lacked as wrestlers and as promos.
The cream rises to the top, or so we have been made to believe thanks to “Macho Man” Randy Savage, and there are good reasons why none of these four men have ever worked in the main event of a pay-per-view. Don’t forget that the WWE once pushed Axel as a “Paul Heyman guy” and as a potential future champion. It didn’t work, but that hasn’t stopped the WWE from pairing Axel with Dallas, first as the Miztourage and now as the B-Team. We’re still waiting for Axel and Dallas to join Bray Wyatt and become part of the WOKEN Universe. Maybe one day.
12 The Spirit Squad
Fans absolutely hated the Spirit Squad. They hated that the five guys played male cheerleaders. They hated their theme song and the outfits they wore during segments and matches. They hated when the stable joined forces with the Mr. McMahon character. In short, they got over and drew real heat with fans for a period of time. As is often the case with such acts and factions, the novelty only lasted until the bell sounded and a match began. Once that happened, the wrestler known as Kenny Dykstra during his time in the WWE was the only one of the five who stood out as a promising worker. Nobody could have guessed at the time that the Spirit Squad’s Nicky would become Dolph Ziggler, and few, if any, fans credit his time in the faction for the success he has enjoyed as a pro over the past ten years.
Spirit Squad was always going to have a short shelf life, especially after Triple H and Shawn Michaels revived D-Generation X to feud with the former developmental products.
Even still, the gimmick could have, at the very least, helped create a star or two had other wrestlers with more experience been utilized for some of those roles.
11 The Cosmic Wasteland
This is only the first time that Cody Rhodes will be mentioned in the list of failed stable gimmicks. As much as fans may have felt annoyed when the WWE had him play the Stardust character, Cody did well to make it his own while teaming with his brother, Goldust, and, later, as a heel portraying a character similar to a villain one would see in comic books. Then, the WWE created The Cosmic Wasteland when failed tag team The Ascension joined Stardust.
You could almost hear the demise of the gimmick occur on that fateful day.
This, as many reading the piece likely know, was not the first time that the WWE appeared to go out of the way to make sure that Cody would not rise above a certain level while working for the promotion. Years before he played Stardust, wrestled in the Rhodes Scholars and lost his “dashing” personality, Cody performed as a member of a different stable that did not get anybody over. Those who try to remain positive about WWE booking and who believe that Triple H will be ready to take hold of the figurative keys to the kingdom as soon as 2020 hope those in charge of the company have learned from past mistakes, such as those that occurred with Cody.
10 The Flock
Raven was one of the more interesting gimmicks created in the original Extreme Championship Wrestling in the 1990s. Part of the character’s charm during that run in ECW and, later, in WCW was that he attracted individuals who were outcasts in society and in the wrestling industry. Sometimes, though, life imitates art a little too much, and that was what prevented The Flock from becoming an over stable in WCW. Raven was a star who won the United States championship, but his time atop the mid-card was the only great accomplishment anybody in the faction achieved while with the promotion. Kanyon and Saturn possessed talent, but they were only taken seriously by fans when performing outside of the Flock. Riggs only joined The Flock after Raven beat him up on several occasions.
WCW announcers never directly claimed Kidman was supposed to be playing an addict in the group, but he appeared to portray such a character until The Flock’s demise. The only good thing one could say about Lodi was that he carried funny signs during episodes of Nitro. In short, it was a stable filled with jobbers and wrestlers who were lower on cards than members of the NWO and those who feuded with that group.
9 The Oddities
Everybody should understand that The Oddities were, as the name suggests, a bunch of outsiders and wrestlers who were only ever going to get so far in the WWE. Sure, Sable served as a manager for the stable for some time, and the faction was given a catchy theme song performed by the Insane Clown Posse. There isn’t much else good to say about the group. Golga, played by John Tenta (a first-ballot Hall of Famer as it pertains to having horrible gimmicks attached to his wrestling persona), Giant Silva, Kurrgan, Luna Vachon and, last but not least, George “The Animal” Steele were part of this horrible stable that was one of many ideas from the “Attitude Era” that don’t hold up two decades later.
As bad as the Dungeon of Doom was in WCW, the Oddities may have been even worse when you consider that the stable was filled with individuals fans did not want to see wrestle.
Imagine the Social Outcasts being formed in the WWE in 2018 and that group featuring Curt Hawkins, Bo Dallas, Tye Dillinger, Sonya Deville, Mandy Rose, Kona Reeves, Dan Matha and Lacey Evans; actually, never mind. That would definitely be better than the Oddities. The faction could have been better with at least one recognizable face from the time frame.
There are some cases where journalists and viewers are left scratching their heads wondering why a stable and faction didn’t get over or generate revenue. That wasn’t the case with X-Factor 17 years ago, and it still isn’t today. X-Pac had go-away/change the channel heat well before the creation of the group. Justin Credible, who was pushed as a top performer in ECW, never thrived in the WWE before the Invasion angle that featured former WCW and ECW wrestlers joining forces for The Alliance. Albert was a mid-card act, at most, and his run as Intercontinental Champion was the highest point of this portion of his WWE career.
While this faction often appears on lists of the worst stables in WWE history, X-Factor did give fans a theme that remains popular among some who watched the promotion back in the early 2000s.
X-Factor was a poor attempt of a Triple Threat stable that was used in both ECW and WCW, and it was never going to work with those three in the group. X-Pac having over acts such as Chris Jericho or Jeff Hardy by his side at the time may not have been enough to prevent fans from turning on the trio.
7 The New Blood
Those running WCW decided they had to take some drastic steps in early 2000 when the WWE was earning victories in ratings wars and in battles for pay-per-view buys, so they brought Eric Bischoff and Vince Russo back to attempt to turn things around. One of their ideas was to form the New Blood stable filled with younger athletes and also veterans who, supposedly, had been held back by acts such as Hulk Hogan, Diamond Dallas Page and Kevin Nash over the years. This wink and nod toward real-life behind-the-scenes arguments and fights was yet another instance of WCW giving fans a “worked-shoot” storyline, and it didn’t prevent the promotion from going out of business in March 2001.
Part of the problem was that the New Blood lacked both stars and a real direction.
Not even the biggest fan of Billy Kidman believed that Kidman earning victories over Hogan would turn WCW around or lead to Kidman becoming a top-tier draw, and that is just one example of the stable’s failures. Fittingly, the gimmick unofficially died after Russo’s infamous shoot/non-shoot promo that he cut during the summer. By then, the Millionaire’s Club stable of veterans who were supposed to be the heels in this feud were receiving more positive reactions from fans at shows. Had the New Blood been led by someone like Sting, perhaps things could have been different.
6 League of Nations
A faction containing Sheamus, Alberto Del Rio, Rusev and Wade Barrett could have been something meaningful and that got over had the four men in what became known as the League of Nations been presented as legitimate competitors rather than wrestlers meant to take losses to Roman Reigns. Even Sheamus and Barrett both spoke poorly about the stable once the WWE finally gave up on the experiment.
It even felt as if all four wrestlers were less popular or taken less seriously among the majority of audiences than they were before the stable debuted.
Barrett and Del Rio both left the WWE after the dissolution of the League of Nations, and neither work for the promotion as of the spring of 2018. Sheamus is teaming with Cesaro in the team known as The Bar, and Rusev became an unintentional babyface thanks to the “Rusev Day” gimmick that may be on the verge of going away ahead of the summer if rumors about the situation are accurate. Fans don’t just chant “Rusev Day” during episodes of SmackDown and at house shows. They also buy merchandise relating to the idea. If Rusev ever hoists a major championship in the future, it won’t be because of anything the League of Nations did for him.
5 Straight Edge Society
CM Punk used his real-life following of the straight edge lifestyle for heel gimmicks that he had outside of the WWE, and he was able to transition into a version of that character once the WWE gave him the Straight Edge Society stable. Punk’s promos at the time were, predictably, entertaining, but the group itself was little more than Punk and some jobbers. Luke Gallows, Punk’s muscle and enforcer, was never pushed as a real contender. You couldn’t be blamed if you do not remember Serena’s time in the WWE.
Joey Mercury meant more to The Authority faction serving as part of J&J Security than he ever did to the Straight Edge Society.
It’s too bad Punk was never given a stable of proven mid-card acts who could have used better storylines at that time, as he was good enough on the microphone to get fans to believe in his faction. We are now aware that allegations of Vince McMahon, Triple H and others within the WWE allegedly hanging Punk out to dry in several ways were supposedly par for the course. It is difficult to believe Punk walked away from the WWE all the way back in January 2014. Some are still hoping he will one day return to the promotion.
Putting younger talents such as Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase Jr. alongside Randy Orton for a stable was a fine plan in 2008. The hope was that Rhodes and DiBiase would grow as stars and a team, while Orton served as the leader and the only real singles championship contender of the group. Cutting Manu and Sim Snuka from the faction before it got off the ground was probably the right idea, but Legacy never became what Evolution was for Orton during his early run as a heel in the WWE.
One didn’t have to be an insider or somebody who scouts wrestling talent to see that neither Rhodes nor DiBiase were as talented at the time as was Orton when the master of the RKO was known as the “Legend Killer.” DiBiase never made it as a singles star, and he is retired from the business. Cody went through multiple gimmicks and character changes as a solo act and a tag team specialist before he left the WWE in May 2016. Since that time, the “American Nightmare” has found success working on the independent scene and in promotions such as New Japan Pro Wrestling and Ring of Honor. It’s possible he could return to the WWE a bigger star than he was ever during or after The Legacy’s existence.
Wrestling fans raced to social media platforms and Internet forums in June 2010 when the graduates of the original NXT class invaded the final segment of an edition of Raw and attacked CM Punk and John Cena before destroying the ring and just about everything else around it. Those viewers probably should have guessed the stable that became known as The Nexus would never get better than it was that evening. For starters, some excitement was lost after the WWE legitimately fired Daniel Bryan/Bryan Danielson because he choked a ring announcer during the initial beatdown. The group also featured wrestlers who just weren’t ready for the bright lights of the main roster.
Wade Barrett and Bryan were, talent-wise, the only two capable of having even decent matches at a pay-per-view such as SummerSlam.
Darren Young, Heath Slater, Michael Tarver and Skip Sheffield/Ryback never came close to getting over while in the original Nexus. Adding Husky Harris/Bray Wyatt and Michael McGillicutty/Curtis Axel later that year did the faction no favors. Giving these wrestlers ridiculous and laughable names in NXT also damaged those gimmicks and characters. Bryan is the only star from the original Nexus still on the main roster. The group should have been smaller, with Daniel and Wade at the helm of the group.
2 Aces & Eights
It’s not a stretch to say that the Aces & Eights stable would never have worked in Impact Wrestling regardless of who was in it because the promotion hardly got anything right during those dark days. That’s fair, but it certainly didn’t help that the faction was made up of guys who were barely over among the diehard followers of that product. Credit to Bully Ray for finding his best form as an entertaining heel and a believable champion during this stint in the promotion.
One man alone was not, however, saving this uninspired gimmick.
Garett Bischoff, Eric’s son, was added to the stable in a move straight out of WCW when Ric Flair had his own son involved in storylines (that ended poorly, as well). Mr. Anderson was nothing more than a promo and entrance before he joined Aces & Eights. D’Lo Brown showed up for reasons that still don’t make sense. Impact used the former Mike Knox, known as Knux, because the promotion couldn’t help but sign anybody who formerly wrestled in the WWE, regardless of talent. Aces & Eights will probably be viewed as the worst stable in the history of that promotion, which is appalling and almost sad when you think about the different factions that appeared on Impact television since its creation.
1 New World Order Black and White
The New World Order was probably at its strongest when it featured the trio of Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall as its only members. Hogan was a star unlike any other even in the 1990s, while both Hall and Nash attracted attention by making jumps from the WWE to WCW en route to “invading” Vince McMahon’s rival organization. Eventually, the NWO added The Giant in an interesting twist that, admittedly, didn’t weaken the group. Things went downhill once Eric Bischoff became a heel authority figure and demanded WCW acts join the NWO. Buff Bagwell, Scott Norton, Virgil and Mr. Wallstreet were some of the more forgettable names to join the NWO before it split into two factions: NWO Black and White and NWO Wolfpac.
While some fans are still fond of the Wolfpac and merchandise as of May 2018, the stable and idea failed to reclaim the momentum it had when the original group debuted in 1996. By the time the NWO appeared on WWE television after WCW went out of business, the memories were better than the stable. In all, one could realistically suggest that the NWO did more harm than good for WCW between 1997 and the end of 2000. The group should have stayed a trio.