Since Evolution’s return after WrestleMania XXX this year, we have been reminded constantly by Michael Cole and company that Evolution is the most successful group in WWE history. The number of World Titles in the group are cited, even though all but 6 of those reigns occurred before or after their involvement in Evolution.
This got me thinking. How successful was Evolution as a faction during their time together? Were they mathematically the most successful? Who might have been more successful? How might you go about deciding who, in fact, was the most successful?
I decided to set out to find answers to these questions. What is the easiest way to measure the success of a person, or group in professional wrestling? Titles. Not belts or straps, but titles. When you think of a successful faction, how can you not picture the original Four Horsemen, each member sporting a title in their interview segments?
Now that I had my measure of success, I had other options to weigh. Was the World Title more important than a Tag Team Title? Should they be weighed accordingly? For my sanity’s sake I decided that all titles would be weighed the same. I would take each faction member, total the days of their title reigns, then divide it by the life of the faction to see the average number of titles they held per day of their existence.
With the formula for success (literally) developed, it was now time to pick the factions. Evolution, of course, had to be included as they were the group to start this madness. The Four Horsemen are easily the benchmark for any group, so they were a no-brainer. Followed by the two groups that fueled the Monday Night Wars, D-Generation X and the nWo. With two representatives of WCW, and only one WWE/F faction represented, I went ahead and added another Attitude Era group in the Hart Foundation. Finally, to round it out, I selected a group from ECW, and just to be fair, one from TNA as well. From ECW, I went with one of my all-time favorite stables, Shane Douglas’ Triple Threat. From TNA, after doing a small bit of research, I picked what seemed to be the most successful group of TNA’s history, the Main Event Mafia.
A lot of my research was compiled via Wikipedia, so I will not claim with certainty that these numbers are 110% accurate, but they’re as accurate as I could compile given the grandiose scale of this little project.
If you’re looking for a dominant faction in the past 10 years in professional wrestling, there’s really only one that stands out, to me at least. Evolution truly brought the past, present, and future of the wrestling business all under one umbrella. Arguably the sports’ greatest performer ever, in Ric Flair, the cornerstone at the time of the WWE, Triple H, and rising stars at the time, Randy Orton and Batista. For 2.5 years, they ran roughshod over the WWE. In 2003, they held the Intercontinental Title, World Heavyweight Title, and the Tag Team Titles simultaneously. Outside of the nWo, they were the only faction I researched that had more than two members hold a World Title during their existence. On the surface it looked like maybe, in fact, the WWE’s claims were true. I didn’t include their current run into their numbers, being that I was more curious about the original incarnation and their success.
Total days of existence: 888 days
Total of title reigns: 893 days
1.0 Titles held/day
As I’ve said before, the Four Horsemen are the benchmark for any group in professional wrestling history. They are now, and they will be forever. The statistics here were an undertaking. Since we weren’t in the modern TV era, the dates were given by months for the most part. So if they were listed as January to February, I included all 31 days in January and all 28/29 days in February. (I did check for leap years).
The most iconic picture of the Four Horsemen comes from the original incarnation, with Ric, Tully, Arn, and Ole, all holding championship belts. When you analyze the Horsemen, you cant just analyze one group. That is both the Horsemen’s greatest legacy, and at times, their greatest tragedy. Paul Roma? Sid Vicious? Lex Luger?
Paul Roma gets the most flack for being the Horsemen that was most undeserving. In all honesty, he just began the downfall of the Horsemen. The group that included Roma, Anderson, and Flair averaged 0.41 titles/day. The group that follwed including Ann, *uhhhmmm*, McMichael, Jarrrett, and Pillman averaged 0.31 titles/day. That was followed up by the final incarnation of the Horsemen, which had *uhhhmmmm*, McMichael, and Malenko, who averaged 0.16 titles/day. Some of their later struggles surely had to do with political struggles, but the numbers don’t know any biases.
Strangely enough, the incarnation that included Arn Anderson and Sid Vicious, that ended in an altercation involving scissors was the most successful of the groups. They averaged 1.81 titles/day riding off of two lengthy NWA World Title reigns by Ric Flair, and two equally long NWA TV Title reigns by Arn Anderson.
The Horsemen were at the biggest handicap, having been around for 10+ years, but their early dominance carried them to a respectable average.
Total days of existence: 2918 days
Total of title reigns: 3238 days
1.11 Titles Held/day
Are you ready? Everyone remembers the iconic theme music of D-Generation X. Also known as Degeneration X, and simply DX.
In 1997, the Attitude Era was beginning and DX was at the forefront. Shawn Michaels and Triple H were the anti-authority heels months before Steve Austin would break the wall down and make that a babyface trait.
Shawn and Trips had a relatively short run, with Shawn racking up both a World and Europen Title reign, while Triple H had two European Title reigns. One of which included the blueprint for the “Fingerpoke of Doom.” That being said, the original grouping of DX had a healthy run, averaging 1.19 titles/day.
After Michaels’ loss to Steve Austin at WrestleMania XIV, Shawn took a sabbatical, which led Triple H to reform DX with the help of the freshly signed X-Pac, and the New Age Outlaws of Billy Gunn, and Road Dogg.
This incarnation of DX was the first of the factions I researched to really reap the benefits of the “Attitude Era”. Between the five male members of DX, they had 13.5 reigns between the World Title, Intercontinental Title, European Title, Hardcore Title, and Tag Team Titles. (I decided that since X-Pac/Kane were Tag Team champs, that it should only count as half since Kane wasn’t a member of DX)
Even with the multitude of titles that the Attitude Era allowed, the later grouping of DX only racked up an average of 1.12 titles/day.
Total days of existence: 1004 days
Total of title reigns: 1142 days
1.14 Titles held/day
The nWo (or now as my spell check continues to correct it) in it’s infancy was everything that a wrestling angle should be. It took three major members of the wrestling community and placed them in the same faction. Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, and Hulk Hogan were both the biggest and the coolest thing in wrestling.
While there were quite a few versions of the nWo, the original grouping of the nWo (with the inclusion of Syxx), averaged 1.64 titles/day between Hollywood Hogan’s two World Title reigns, a one day Randy Savage World Title reign, a 125 day Cruiserweight Title reign, and 5 Tag Team Title reigns by the Outsiders totaling 433 days.
The original grouping of the nWo ended in 1998, but the faction was far from dead at that point. In 1998 it split into two factions, the nWo Hollywood, and the nWo Wolfpac. The Wolfpac became the babyface group, with the Hollywood contingent playing the heels.
Surprisingly, the nWo Hollywood faction was far superior to the Wolfpac. Led by Bret Hart’s 133 days with the United States Title, and supported by reigns of Hogan, Hall, Steiner, Giant, and Stevie Ray, they ended up with an average of 1.41 titles/day. Comparatively speaking, between title title reigns of Nash, Luger, Konnan, and Sting they averaged 0.37 titles/day.
When you’re talking about an angle from the 2000s (especially in WCW) you’re never truly finished until the proverbial fat lady sings. In 1999, the two factions merged, after the “Fingerpoke of Doom” (which I was in the building for) and had a quite successful run behind title runs from Steiner, Hall, and Hogan. It was a short run, and with the four title reigns, the “nWo Elite” ended up with 1.53 titles/day.
Finally, we had the two month run of the Jeff Jarrett run-nWo 2000. Still, between the four members of nWo 2000, they racked up four title reigns, and an average of 1.52 titles/day.
I decided that the nWo had all of their impact in WCW, and therefore did not include their short WWE run, as it only tarnished their legacy further.
Total days of existence: 1353 days
Total of title reigns: 1812 days
1.34 Titles held/day
After having two staples of WCW, it was only fair that I add another WWE/F group to the mix. Thinking back to the Attitude Era, the only other group that made sense was the Hart Foundation. Embroiled in a feud with DX during the US/Canada “wars,” the Hart Foundation played both the babyface and the heel, depending on which side of the Canadian border they were on that week.
The results were something I didn’t see coming. The Hart Foundation only lasted from June of 1997 until the infamous Montreal incident. Within that time Bret Hart held the World Title, as well as Owen Hart holding the Intercontinental Title (including the infamous feud/match with Steve Austin), and the British Bulldog being the European Champion.
Albeit, in way shorter a period of time than any of the other factions I researched, during the Hart Foundation’s existence they averaged 1.88 titles/day.
Total days of existence: 127 days
Total of title reigns: 239 days
1.88 Titles held/day
Shane Douglas’ Triple Threat went through two distinct transformations. Before his “graduation” (see what I did there) to the WWE as Dean Douglas, Shane Douglas formed the Triple Threat with *uhhhmmm*, and Dean Malenko. At one point during this grouping they held all the major titles in ECW, with Shane Douglas having the World Title, Dean Malenko holding the TV Title, and *uhhhmmm*/Malenko being the Tag Champs. Even with their seeming success, the original grouping of the Triple Threat ended up with 1.16 titles/day.
When Shane Douglas returned to ECW in 1996 he reformed the Triple Threat with Chris Candido and Bam Bam Bigelow. Shane Douglas held the World Title/TV Title for a total of 681 days. Combined with Candido/Storm (never an official Triple Threat member) holding the Tag Team Titles for 203 days, which equates to 102 days for Candido, and Bam Bam holding the World/TV titles for 79 days, the second coming of the Triple Threat had an average of 1.08 titles/day.
Total days of existence: 938 days
Total of title reigns: 1026 days
1.09 Titles held/day
Main Event Mafia
It seemed unfair to not include at least ONE TNA faction. So after some research, the Main Event Mafia it was. I have NO idea what happened during their original run. Sting, Booker T, Nash, Steiner, and Samoa Joe all held titles at some point for an average of 1.46 titles per day. The second incarnation of the Main Event Mafia was slightly less successful to say the least, leaving the MEM at 1.04 title/day.
Total days of existence: 509 days
Total of title reigns: 529 days
1.04 Titles held/day
So, after all this, who was the most successful faction of all time? Was the WWE math actually, maybe, almost, right for once??
1. Hart Foundation: 1.88 Titles held/day
2. nWo: 1.34 Titles held/day
3. DX: 1.14 Titles held/day
4. Four Horsemen: 1.11 Titles Held/day
5. Triple Threat: 1.09 Titles held/day
6. Main Event Mafia: 1.04 Titles held/day
7. Evolution: 1.0 Titles held/day
Out of seven factions, Evolution is actually the least successful of the bunch. So I guess the WWE doesn’t ALWAYS tell the truth?
Thoughts? Disputes? Let me now! And follow me at @RebookTheFinish!