Saturday, September 27, 2008

A matter of factions, by Kevin Eck - The Baltimore Sun - 25th September 2008

Ric Flair is a free agent making personal appearances throughout the country and Mick Foley is working for TNA, but both are on a WWE program that has been running this month. Before each departed from WWE, the two legendary stars participated in a roundtable discussion with Tazz, Jim Ross and Gene Okerlund about wrestling factions on WWE 24/7’s Legends of Wrestling show.

In addition to the novelty of seeing Flair and Foley in one of their final appearances with the company (not to mention the novelty of seeing them seated next to each other given their past real-life heat), the show is worth watching because Flair holds nothing back. He had some interesting things to say about the nWo, Shane Douglas and some former members of the Four Horsemen.

Speaking of the Horsemen, they received a lot of love on the show – and rightfully so. It was kind of funny, though, how everyone – especially Tazz – gushed about the Horsemen with Flair sitting there. Flair wasn’t shy about putting himself over, either. When asked to name the top three factions of all-time, he named the two that he was in – the Horsemen and Evolution.

Here are my picks for the top five factions:

1. The Four Horsemen: As much as I would like to be a rebel and make a controversial selection for the top spot, I have to be honest, and that means joining the Horsemen lovefest. There were numerous Horsemen combinations over the years, but there were two that stood far above the others. And neither involves Paul Roma or Steve McMichael. I really liked the original lineup of Flair, Tully Blanchard and Ole and Arn Anderson. All four guys could wrestle, cut great promos and get under the fans’ skin. The best lineup as far as wrestling ability and star power, however, was Flair, Blanchard, Arn Anderson and Barry Windham. Windham wasn’t close to Ole Anderson on the mic, but he was significantly better in the ring and was nearly 20 years younger. Both of these versions of the Horsemen were money draws and had classic feuds with NWA stars such as Dusty Rhodes, The Road Warriors, Magnum T.A., Sting, The Rock and Roll Express, Nikita Koloff and Lex Luger.

2. The nWo: The nWo storyline was one of the most successful and influential angles of all time and a big reason for WCW’s 83-week winning streak in the Monday night ratings war with WWE. To me, the nWo was Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash, although it was still a red-hot angle at the time when Syxx (Sean Waltman) and The Giant (Paul Wight) joined the group. As more and more members joined, however, the nWo began losing its luster.

3. The Fabulous Freebirds: Whether they were heels or babyfaces, Michael Hayes, Terry Gordy and Buddy Roberts drew money wherever they went. The Badstreet boys had their most successful run in Texas, where they had a legendary feud with the Von Erichs. Each man brought something different to the group: Hayes was the charismatic mouthpiece, Gordy was the big man and the best worker and Roberts was the grizzled veteran. Jimmy Garvin later became a Freebird, but he wasn’t there during the glory days.

4. DX: Along with Steve Austin, DX helped usher in WWE’s incredibly successful “Attitude” era. When Shawn Michaels dropped his babyface act, Triple H abandoned his Greenwich, Conn., snob gimmick and the two real-life friends turned the volume up on their smart-aleck personalities to form DX (along with Chyna), it was must-see TV. Considered an nWo rip-off at first, DX eventually became the cooler of the two factions. After Michaels departed due to a back injury, DX – led by Triple H, who was joined in the group by Chyna, X-Pac (Waltman) and The New Age Outlaws (Road Dogg and Billy Gunn) – became a hugely popular babyface act.

5. The Dangerous Alliance: The stable of manager Paul E. Dangerously (Paul Heyman) did not have the longevity or impact of the others on this list, but it was a talented ensemble. The group, which consisted of Steve Austin (when he was “Stunning” and not yet “Stone Cold”), Rick Rude, Arn Anderson, Larry Zbyszko, Bobby Easton and Madusa, had a good run in WCW in the early ’90s. All of the guys were established stars and good workers and most of them were proficient talkers – although none were better on the mic than Dangerously. Rude was the centerpiece of the Alliance and had memorable feuds with Ricky Steamboat and Sting.

(Credit: The Baltimore Sun)

Greg Tingle comment

The NWO was the strongest in Australia. Also don't forget Australia's World Championship Wrestling circa 1970 with The People's Army and the Mercenary Soldiers. Long live Big Bad John, Killer Karl Kox and Steve "The Crusher" Rackman.

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