January 16, 2021

The Hurt Business and the 10 Best Factions of WWE’s Modern Era | Bleacher Report

0 of 10

    Several stables have dominated WWE at various points over the past decade.

    Several stables have dominated WWE at various points over the past decade.Credit: WWE.com

    In a relatively short space of time, The Hurt Business have made quite the impact on Raw. However, they are far from the only group to have dominated WWE in recent years.

    When executed properly, factions can be both effective and entertaining. The Four Horsemen created the blueprint for all future factions that followed, with stables such as The Hart Foundation, D-Generation X and the New World Order finding similar success.

    Evolution is another example of how a faction can further the careers of everyone involved. Whether that will prove to be the case with The Hurt Business remains to be seen, but they are well on their way if the destruction they have left in their wake on Monday nights over the past few months has been any indication.

    They join an elite list of groups in the past decade that have held gold, left a lasting impact and have largely been a blast to watch. The foursome of Bobby Lashley, MVP, Shelton Benjamin and Cedric Alexander are off to a strong start and have been the exact opposite of what failed factions like League of Nations and The Authority turned into: a horribly booked mess.

    This list will look back at the greatest factions to grace WWE since 2008 and rank them based on their success, ability to create new stars, overall impact and more.

1 of 10

    The Straight Edge Society is the sole stable on this list to have not won championship gold at any point during their run together. Despite that, the CM Punk-led faction was a staple on SmackDown for the better part of 2010 and was responsible for many memorable moments.

    Punk was floundering following his runs as world heavyweight champion in late 2009 and thus getting a group of his own was the best thing that could have happened to him. He first manipulated Luke Gallows, the former Festus, into becoming a follower before being joined by the enigmatic Serena a few months later.

    Joey Mercury, who returned to the company after a three-year absence, was a perfect fit for Straight Edge Society because of his real-life ties to Punk. The self-proclaimed Straight Edge Savior had all of his disciples shave their heads to honor the straight edge lifestyle, though he too had his head shaved by archrival Rey Mysterio in May 2010.

    It was during the rivalry with Mysterio in the first half of the year that Straight Edge Society did their best work. With every promo Punk cut, preaching the straight edge lifestyle, the group received more heat than any other heel in the company at the time.

    Punk’s series of matches with Mysterio were also incredibly entertaining and were the highlight of the blue brand. Unfortunately, injuries and bad booking cut short their time together, and by the close of 2010, Gallows and Serena had been released, Mercury transitioned into a backstage role and Punk was moved over to the Raw roster.

    In short, Straight Edge Society could have been so much more but was captivating while it lasted.

2 of 10

    With AJ Styles, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson all signing with WWE at the onset of 2016, it made the most sense for them to come into the company as a unit.

    Although it took a little longer than expected, the trio reunited on TV that April to rival Roman Reigns and The Usos. Styles initially seemed reluctant to stoop to using The Good Brothers’ underhand tactics, but he eventually agreed to team with them full time and transitioned into a heel role.

    The summer of 2016 in WWE largely revolved around the group collectively known as The Club (derived from Bullet Club, of course) as they targeted John Cena and attacked him at every turn. They were able to back up their trash-talking too when Styles silenced Cena at Money in the Bank 2016.

    Just as they were starting to find their groove, the faction was separated in the WWE draft, with Styles going to SmackDown and Gallows and Anderson remaining on Raw. It wasn’t until June 2019 that they finally rode together again as heels and renamed themselves The O.C., as they believed they were the original, the official and the only club that mattered.

    The O.C. quickly became a forced to reckoned with on Raw, with Styles winning the United States Championship and Gallows and Anderson regaining the Raw Tag Team Championship. Their time on top was short-lived, however, as Gallows and Anderson dropped the tag titles to Seth Rollins and Braun Strowman mere weeks later.

    The remainder of their run as a trio was fun, but similar to The Straight Edge Society, they didn’t reach the heights they should have. Despite winning a Gauntlet match in October to earn the title of the best tag team in the world, Gallows and Anderson were shockingly released from WWE in April, effectively ending The O.C.

3 of 10

    In due time, The Hurt Business may soon surpass some of the stables above them on this list, but it would be unfair to rank them any higher as they are only just getting started.

    That said, this group can undoubtedly go far in WWE if they can continue to rack up wins and championships. They have established that their motive is to beat up people, take what they want and cement their dominance over the Raw roster by any means necessary.

    The seeds for The Hurt Business were planted when MVP approached Bobby Lashley in May about becoming unstoppable again after his alliance with Lana flopped. That led Lashley to a WWE Championship match with Drew McIntyre at Backlash, and although he came up short, he proved with his performance that he was main event material.

    In July, they recruited Shelton Benjamin into their stable and scouted Cedric Alexander. It took time for them to win over the former cruiserweight champion, but once he turned heel and pledged his allegiance to The Hurt Business, it made for an incredible moment.

    Benjamin has held the 24/7 Championship on a few occasions, and Lashley is the United States champion. It’s possible two members knock off The Street Profits for the Raw Tag Team Championship in the near future to add more gold to their collection.

    There’s no telling how much more they will accomplish as a unit if business keeps booming.

4 of 10

    La Familia is often forgotten by fans but deserves more credit for being as decorated and as dominant as it was.

    Edge lived up to his Master Manipulator nickname when he tricked then-SmackDown general manager Vickie Guerrero into agreeing to marry him in early 2008. Although Vickie was enamored with Edge, he was merely using her power to get ahead on the blue brand and remain a fixture in the World Heavyweight Championship picture.

    It worked, and The Rated-R Superstar almost always got his way no matter what.

    The rest of La Familia consisted of Chavo Guerrero, his bodyguard Bam Neely and the tag team of Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder. It was an odd cast of characters, but they won so frequently that it’s hard to argue against their ranking.

    Edge won multiple world titles during his time with the group, Chavo captured the ECW Championship and Ryder and Hawkins reigned as WWE tag team champions for a brief period. Plus, they were prominently featured on SmackDown for many months and were involved in several pay-per-view main events, including WrestleMania XXIV against The Undertaker.

    Through thick and thin, they stuck together as a family, even if that meant Ryder, Hawkins and Chavo taking a beating from the Superstars of SmackDown to ensure the safety of Edge and Vickie.

    The fall of La Familia was just as compelling as their rise. Edge became obsessed with vanquishing Undertaker and attacked La Familia member by member before being “sent to hell” by The Deadman at SummerSlam 2008.

    That was the unofficial end of the faction, as they didn’t appear together too often before the 2009 draft sent them all in different directions. Edge never needed a group of his own, but he definitely made the most of it.

5 of 10

    While it can be argued that The Nexus belong at the bottom of this list because WWE butchered their push post-SummerSlam 2010, it’s important to note that their initial impact was so strong that it’s still felt and discussed to this day.

    That first season of NXT at the dawn of the 2010s was abysmal and featured some strange competitions that weren’t wrestling-related, which is what made The Nexus’ arrival that much greater. They went from being the laughing stocks of WWE to the most feared force in the company overnight.

    During the main event of a forgettable edition of Raw in June 2010, the NXT upstarts destroyed everyone and everything in sight, including commentator Jerry Lawler and ring announcer Justin Roberts. The ring was wrecked, John Cena was left prone and the crowd sat in silence when it was all over.

    It’s not a stretch to say that it was one of the greatest endings in Raw’s illustrious history.

    The follow-up was well done too. Nexus continued to wreak havoc every week on Raw, even attacking legends such as Bret Hart and Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat. They also interfered in multiple pay-per-view main events.

    Their downfall began at SummerSlam, when they were decisively conquered by Team WWE, captained by John Cena. They ended up forcing Cena to don the black-and-yellow colors when Barrett beat him at Hell in a Cell, but the experiment backfired and the faction quietly disbanded shortly thereafter.

    Perhaps the biggest positive of Nexus was that almost everyone from the group went on to find success on their own. Daniel Bryan is the most notable name of the bunch, but Barrett and Ryback were also mainstays in WWE’s midcard scene for many years, while Bray Wyatt (then known as Husky Harris) went on to become a multi-time world champion.

    Earlier in 2020, Barrett revealed reports that the company was interested in reuniting some members of Nexus before the pandemic hit for WrestleMania weekend, meaning there’s a chance we haven’t seen the last of this once-promising faction in WWE.

6 of 10

    The primary goal of The Legacy was to make new stars out of Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase, almost like a more modern version of Evolution. Technically, it failed in that respect as Rhodes made himself a star years later, and DiBiase’s singles push never materialized. But their time spent running rampant on Raw throughout 2009 made for tremendous television.

    From Evolution to Rated-RKO, Randy Orton was involved a few factions early on in his career but never had the chance to lead one of his own until The Legacy came around in January 2009. He vowed to elevate Rhodes and DiBiase to that next level as fellow multi-generation stars as well as use them as pawns in his pursuit of the WWE Championship.

    Until recently, some of Orton’s strongest work as a heel came during the rise of The Legacy. He made life miserable for the McMahon family and held the WWE title on three separate occasions that year.

    Rhodes and DiBiase, although they were never able to capture the tag titles together as part of The Legacy, did defeat D-Generation X in the first-ever Submissions Count Anywhere tag team match at Breaking Point 2009. That was the highest either man made it up the card ahead of their respective releases years later.

    Interestingly enough, the biggest babyface coming out of the group wasn’t either of the up-and-comers but rather Orton. While Rhodes and DiBiase struggled to find their footing post-Legacy, Orton had a hot run as a fan favorite in 2010, so at least one of the members benefited from the breakup (even if it wasn’t the person everyone expected it to be).

7 of 10

    Almost every faction mentioned in this list either gradually came together or debuted with a bang, but WWE took a different approach with The Wyatt Family by promoting their first appearance in advance. As strange as that sounds, it ended up being the best thing it could have done with them.

    Their series of vignettes that aired on Raw for a month and a half got fans more and more excited for their arrival regardless of whether they previously knew anything about them.

    The cult, led by Bray Wyatt, was so different than anything WWE had done before that fans couldn’t help but be intrigued by their act. Wyatt wrestled infrequently, with Luke Harper and Erick Rowan doing the majority of the in-ring work.

    WWE took their time building up the faction, to the point they felt like huge deals heading into Wyatt’s WrestleMania XXX match with John Cena. The outcome of that contest hurt the group’s momentum and led to them splitting up prematurely in the fall.

    Thankfully, the company realized that there was a lot left to explore with The Wyatt Family and began the process of putting them back together less than a year later. Harper was the first to reunite with Wyatt, followed by the debuting Braun Strowman and then finally Rowan that fall.

    They had various feuds from that point forward with the likes of The Dudley Boyz, The Brothers of Destruction and Brock Lesnar. Their last run together, which featured Randy Orton as an honorary member, was arguably their best and saw them capture the SmackDown Tag Team Championship and the WWE Championship, in addition to Orton winning the Royal Rumble.

    Harper and Rowan continued to team as The Bludgeon Brothers on and off in the years that followed, but they were always at their best whenever they were with Wyatt. Injuries were also an issue with the faction—without those they may have had a little more staying power.

8 of 10

    NXT hasn’t featured many factions in its short history, but it’s an undisputed fact that Undisputed Era is the best the brand has ever had.

    Adam Cole was a great get for NXT in the summer of 2017. He was bound to be a star no matter what, but the additions of Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish (who also signed with WWE around that same time) to his act made all three men infinitely bigger deals.

    Together, they were—and still are—known as Undisputed Era. What that means has never been formally explained, but considering the level of talent they have, combined and everything else they bring to the table, it hardly matters.

    Following a stellar start, they continued to make waves by winning the first WarGames match in WWE history and taking the NXT Tag Team Championship from Sanity. Undisputed Era then brought Roderick Strong into their ranks and secured the NXT North American Championship and the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic trophy at TakeOver: New Orleans.

    In addition to all of those accolades, they have also been responsible for some of NXT’s greatest matches in recent years. Cole’s series of contests with Johnny Gargano were iconic, Fish and O’Reilly have gone to war with Moustache Mountain and The Viking Raiders on several occasions and Strong has had his fair share of gems over the NXT North American Championship.

    In September 2019, Undisputed Era fulfilled their prophecy, with all four members holding gold. That was the case up until Strong lost the North American title to Keith Lee at the onset of 2020.

    The positive influence they have had on NXT and the growth everyone in Undisputed Era has shown in the past three years can’t be overstated. Regardless of what the future holds for them on the main roster (or if they go their separate ways before then), nothing can erase their long list of accomplishments or change how they have been one of the strongest-booked stables WWE has had in the modern era.

9 of 10

    The New Day were never supposed to reach the heights that they have with the gimmick they were originally saddled with six years ago. Their early start as heels had promise, but the happy-go-lucky characters they portrayed instead were doomed to fail almost immediately.

    Kofi Kingston, Big E and Xavier Woods have gone on the record in saying that they constantly had fans, officials and fellow wrestlers telling them they wouldn’t succeed because the gimmick was too goofy. They took that as a challenge, made the most of it and wound up becoming three of the biggest and most popular stars WWE has had this century.

    Once they went heel in the spring of 2015, they were the same characters they always were, except that they were finally embracing the boos from the audience. That translated to a record-setting 483-day reign for them as WWE tag team champions, the longest in company history, that summer.

    In that time and beyond, they revitalized tag team wrestling in WWE, had several memorable feuds and matches and were weekly regulars on Raw. Even once they dropped the tag titles and transitioned back into a babyface role, they never lost their luster and gave viewers no reason to believe that they were on the verge of breaking up.

    Their decision to stick together proved to be wise, as we are almost six years into their run as The New Day, and they remain at the top of their game. That includes eight reigns as tag team champions and a WWE Championship reign for Kofi Kingston that lasted an impressive six months in 2019.

    Almost every tag team or faction in WWE will have a falling-out before parting ways, but New Day has been determined to not let that happen. Instead, they have produced countless incredible moments and matches.

10 of 10

    When one group creates three future multi-time world champions, it’s hard to argue against them being the best faction of WWE’s modern era.

    The WWE Universe knew The Shield were special as soon as they crashed the scene at Survivor Series 2012. They left their mark right away by going after Ryback and costing him the WWE Championship in the night’s main event.

    The debuting trio of Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns made it clear eight days later on Raw that they weren’t the second coming of The Nexus or the New World Order. Rather, they were The Shield, and they were in WWE to fight against injustice.

    It would have been all over for The Shield had they lost their first match together at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs 2012 (much like SummerSlam 2010 was a turning point for Nexus). However, WWE booked them to win in what was one of the most memorable in-ring debuts in many years.

    From there, they went undefeated for more than six months, were involved in several top storylines and all held gold simultaneously. They even had some spectacular matches with The Wyatt Family and Evolution during a short-lived babyface run before Seth Rollins betrayed his brethren in shocking fashion in June 2014.

    Although it was another three years before they officially reunited, the feuds they had with each other in that time were just as excellent. Their reunions in 2017 and 2018 were extraordinarily well-received, even though both had to be cut short because of injuries and illnesses.

    Not only did The Shield make Raw bearable from late 2012 through early 2014, but all three men also cemented their status as perennial main event players and still find themselves at the top of their respective shows. They have 11 world title reigns between them with many more to come.

                    

    Graham Mirmina, aka Graham “GSM” Matthews, has specialized in sports and entertainment writing since 2010. Visit his website, WrestleRant, and “like” his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.

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