Factions have played a large role in wrestling history. The Freebirds and The Von Erichs lit up the WCCW territory in the 1980s enhancing the status of both teams and led to booming business at the box office.
The Four Horsemen dominated JCP and later WCW in the 1980s and early 1990s and gave a platform to many exciting storylines and elevated talents such as Barry Windham, Lex Luger, and Sting into money-making headline attractions. In the mid to late 1990s, the nWo made WCW the number one wrestling promotion in the United States and led to the company’s greatest creative and financial success ever.
WWE is no stranger to factions either and has booked a large number of groups in the promotion to great success. This feature looks at the five greatest factions in WWE history.
#5 The Judgment Day
The Judgment Day had an inauspicious start as a faction when it originated at WrestleMania 38 when Damien Priest joined forces with Edge to vanquish ‘The Rated R-Superstar’s’ opponent, AJ Styles. Rhea Ripley would soon be added to the ranks several weeks later at WrestleMania Backlash.
The group originally had a supernatural edge, a successor to The Brood, of which Edge was also a member some two decades previously. However, this version of the faction was not over with the masses and looked doomed to failure.
Recognising this, WWE changed course and booked, Finn Balor to join and then displace Edge from the group. This would set up a series of intense matches between Edge and the faction.
They would later take on Dominik Mysterio and Balor’s protegee, JD McDonagh as members.
The Judgment Day is one of the focal points of Raw and during their tenures in the group, Balor and Priest have held tag team gold, Ripley, the Women’s World Title, and Mysterio the NXT North American Title twice. Priest is also the current Money in the Bank contract holder. After almost two years as a group, The Judgment Day seems set to remain a cornerstone of the promotion for many months to come. The faction has elevated every single member into cornerstones of the roster, which is a true measuring stick of every successful faction.
Evolution celebrated the past (Ric Flair), the present (Triple H), and the future (Batista and Randy Orton). The faction was formed in January 2003 as WWE’s version of The Four Horsemen. The group existed to ensure Triple H reigned as World Heavyweight Champion. They were extremely successful in that regard. In just over two years, the faction dominated Raw, ‘The Game’ was only without the World Title for a combined nine months.
It wasn’t just Triple H who enjoyed success as part of the group. Randy Orton was the longest reigning Intercontinental Champion in six years and used the belt as a platform to headliner status. Batista enjoyed two Tag Team Title reigns with Flair and defeated Triple H himself in the headliner of WrestleMania 21 to win his first World Title and draw a line under the faction.
The group was an integral part of WWE programming between 2003-05, enhanced Triple H’s star power, gave the aging Flair a purpose, and groomed two young wrestlers into bonafide main eventers. It is one of the greatest factions in all of wrestling history.
#3 D-Generation X
D-Generation X is one of the most celebrated groups in WWE history. The team originated during the late summer of 1997 when Shawn Michaels allied himself with Triple H and Chyna, with Rick Rude as their “insurance policy.” The squad feuded with The Hart Foundation with Michaels able to wrest the European Title from The British Bulldog at One Night Only and the WWF Championship from Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart at the infamous 1997 Survivor Series event. Michaels was side-lined from the ring after WrestleMania XIV and the team was rebooted on the post-WrestleMania Raw, adding X-Pac and The New Age Outlaws as members.
This version of the group was the most successful with Triple H winning IC gold, X-Pac, and the European belt on multiple occasions and the Outlaws were perennial Tag Team Champions between 1998 and 2000. They took part in numerous infamous skits, such as their invasion of WCW and their parody of The Nation of Domination.
The group split at WrestleMania XV when Triple H joined Chyna in the Corporation and betrayed their D-X brethren. However, the group reformed in the Autumn of 1999, when Triple H became WWF World Champion. In this role, the faction sold out their degenerate antics and became corporate sell-outs as ‘The Game’ engineered himself into a position of power as The McMahon-Helmsley era took charge in the Federation. D-X quietly split in mid-2000.
D-X reformed with original members Shawn Michaels and Triple H for a played-for-laughs nostalgia run in 2006, as the pair’s individual issues with Vince McMahon led to them reuniting to oppose the McMahon family. They eventually began a more serious feud with Rated-RKO, which was unfortunately cut short when Triple H tore his quadriceps muscle in their encounter at New Year’s Revolution 2007.
D-X was one of the most influential and fondly remembered stables of all time. D-X was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2019.
#2 The Shield
The Shield debuted with a bang at the 2012 Survivor Series, interjecting themselves into the WWE Championship match and helping CM Punk retain opposite Ryback and John Cena.
The squad dominated every team they clashed with and ran roughshod over the entire promotion. The highlights of which were their battles with The Wyatt Family and the reformed Evolution in 2014.
Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, and Dean Ambrose all wore gold during their tenure as a triumvirate between 2012-14. Reigns and Rollins reigned as Tag Team Champions while Ambrose was a long-reigning United States Champion.
After defeating Evolution in two consecutive pay-per-view six-man tag team matches, The Shield appeared to be on top of the world. It was incredibly shocking then that on the post-Payback Raw, Rollins nailed Reigns with the chair shot heard around the world and blasted Ambrose too as he turned his back on his brothers to join The Authority.
Over the next few years, all three members wore World Championship gold.
The Shield’s legacy is that of phenomenal matches and dominance over the WWE roster for nearly two years. The group established all three members as bonafide main event stars. They would reunite for two short runs in 2017 and 2019.
#1 The Bloodline
The Bloodline had its origins back in late 2020 when Roman Reigns feuded with his cousin, Jey Uso over the Universal Title and the role of ‘Tribal Chief’ of the family.
Reigns, as a heel flanked by the reviled, Paul Heyman revolutionised his character which had never been accepted as the figurehead of the company in his previous incarnation as a babyface. With a new attitude, Reigns finally became the draw and megastar, WWE had always envisaged.
With Jey defeated and subdued, Reigns began to fill out the ranks of his own family stable. When Jimmy Uso returned from injury in early 2021, the triumvirate became known as The Bloodline. The ranks filled out further with Sami Zayn as “honorary Uce” and the Uso’s younger brother, Solo Sikoa.
Reigns, at the time of writing, had held the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship for over 1,200 days. Only Bruno Sammartino, Bob Backlund, and Hulk Hogan have had longer World Title reigns in WWE history.
The Usos set a new record for their epic Tag Team Title reign which amounted to an incredible 622 days.
The year-long storyline that saw Zayn try to ingratiate himself with the group, eventually be accepted, then turn on the faction in the perfectly executed post-match of Reigns’s title bout with Kevin Owens at the 2023 Royal Rumble was one of the best episodic stories WWE has ever told.
The Bloodline has elevated all of its members into bonafide stars, as well as all of the wrestlers who have feuded or interacted with the group such as Zayn, Owens, LA Knight, Cody Rhodes, and Drew McIntyre. As a barometer of success, in truth, no faction can come close to measuring up to the immaculate standard The Bloodline has set over the past three years.
What will be crucial, is if WWE can make The Bloodline’s final chapter as compelling as the previous several years have been. If it succeeds, then the group will likely remain wrestling’s finest-ever faction for generations to come.
You can watch all of these factions’ greatest moments and matches exclusively on the WWE Network.