In the mid-'90s, WWE was struggling mightily to remain relevant in a world that was constantly evolving. The appeal of generic foreign villains and pure faces was diminishing in the wake of uber-cool factions like the New World Order (nWo) in the rival promotion, WCW. The audiences were more invested in characters that blurred the line between good and evil. Though Bret Hart was immensely popular, WCW was consistently defeating WWE when it came to ratings and live attendances.
The ironic part is, WWE's face in the '80s and early '90s, Hulk Hogan, was the same person who ushered in a new era of wrestling fandom in WCW by leading the nWo. While Superstars like Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker were still putting in the hard work, something was clearly amiss.
D-Generation X quickly rose up the ranks to become fan-favorites in WWE, despite being heels
While many fans proclaim that DX was a direct response to nWo, which it might have been, it nonetheless proved to be a gamechanger for WWE. Competing with The Hart Foundation, the group quickly turned the tables as they were wildly cheered, despite being the heels.
The first time all the members came together was on August 11, 1997 episode of WWE RAW, during Michael's match against Mankind.
While Michaels was projected as the leader, Triple H and Chyna were the enforcers. Ably supported by Rick Rude, as their mentor figure, the stable soon became the biggest merchandise sellers in the entire company. The group got its name after a promo by Bret Hart, in which he called Michaels 'nothing but a degenerate'. The faction, however, decided to take up the term and name themselves after it.
The long-winded feud between the two factions finally came to an end during the infamous Montreal Screwjob at Survivor Series 1997. Bret Hart soon left the company, with DX member Rick Rude also departing after being disappointed with the turn of events that night.
Despite this minor setback, DX quickly recuperated and inducted none other than Mike Tyson as an honorary member of the faction. The group soon began feuding with Stone Cold Steve Austin, who won the Royal Rumble to become the challenger for Michael's WWE Championship. At WrestleMania 14 (1998), The Heartbreak Kid lost his title to Austin, thus sending him into a four-year sabbatical from wrestling to deal with life-threatening injuries.
Triple H becomes the leader of the stable in WWE, inducts three more members
After the departure of Michaels, HHH assumed the leadership of the stable while also inducting X-Pac, Road Dogg, and Billy Gunn to make it a five-person faction. The following two years were the most successful phase for them. Their invasion of Nitro, HHH's alliance with Vince McMahon and split from the group, and his marriage with The Chairman's daughter Stephanie were the highlights of their time at the top.
After Triple H had joined The Corporation in 2000, X-Pac, Billy Gunn, and Road Dogg continued to use the DX gimmick, but with limited success. Chyna's departure from the company further weakened the group. While HHH became a legit main event star in the late 2000s, the stable still got together, but only occasionally.
Final days as a main event act in WWE
Shawn Michael's return to WWE and his terrific feud with Triple H over the leadership of the stable culminated in the group almost dissolving. While HHH would go on to form Evolution, Michaels embarked upon an incredible singles run.
Yes, there were reunions here and there, but the old days of Triple H and Shawn Michaels in DX are still the ones that fans fondly remember to this date.Published 01 Jan 2021, 10:53 IST