The Kliq: Controlling Wrestling Since 1996 with No Signs of Slowing Down

Justin LaBarFeatured ColumnistMarch 8, 2013

Photo courtesy of WWE
Photo courtesy of WWE

You get what you put in. Fifteen years ago, the group of wrestlers famously known as the “Kliq” established a reputation as the most influential in the business. Fifteen years later, reputation has become legacy.

In 1996, Shawn Michaels was the face of WWE. Kevin Nash and Scott Hall had seven figure salaries launching the New World Order in WCW. Sean “X-Pac” Waltman was the only one in the Kliq to be a prominent member of both the NWO and D-Generation X in the prime of each factions' respective run. Triple H was the new guy but in reality was being groomed to be the next star.

Well, he turned out to be the next star from 2000-06, but would ultimately be the next King of Kings.

Crickets chirping is the worst thing in wrestling. You need reaction. Controversy surrounds the Kliq. Imagine how many times Kliq is mentioned in the history of shoot interviews. It's easy to understand. As the famous phrase proclaimed, the Kliq weren't the hunters but the hunted. They were the hunted because they were on the top. Being on top always draws attention from those trying to knock you off.

The Kliq stuck together in an every-man-for-himself business. They were spread between the two top companies during the industry's most profitable era. They were key influences in the backstage politics—that will be around in wrestling for as long as wrestling is around. They were positioned as top guys on each company's respective cards, and deserving of it.

All their roles in the business had to change with time, but in time they didn't change their roles. They just improved their titles. That enabled their survival.

Michaels went from top performer in an era to legend in the history books.

Nash went from a top-earning wrestler in an era to a top-earning entity with the longevity to prove it. Your body is going to get older, that's just life. Nash still takes independent bookings but is among the top in what he gets paid for appearances, plus is cementing his name on the big screen by appearing in Hollywood movies such as “The Longest Yard,” “Rock Of Ages” and “Magic Mike.”

Waltman is transitioning from one of the best athletic workers in an era to a guy who has a lifetime of knowledge to pass on the the next generation of up-and-coming talent in WWE's developmental system.

Triple H went from the new guy who has so much potential to a wrestler who's had a Hall of Fame career and is taking control of the entire WWE empire.

Hall has faced scary, troubling years battling his addictions. The latest attempt at recovery seems the most intriguing and perhaps effective as he's turning himself over to former wrestler DDP's care. While Hall might be down right now, he's not out. There is nobody that fans and workers want to see succeed more than Hall. If he can truly turn his life around and get clean, it will be the greatest personal story of a professional wrestler.

Triple H's power is key. It gives the rest of the guys a key to the city. That might bother some, but the guys who have the keys aren't the hobos on the street corner. Who else deserves the ultimate legendary status and respect than Michaels? You can't deny Nash being a successful businessman and building a brand around his name. Waltman can relate to young guys with his personality and has lot of knowledge to offer new talent. Hall still is associated with all of them, and as I said, he's got nine lives.  Don't count him out yet.

You can hate and say he married the daughter of his boss. You can hate while trying to call him a hypocrite for being a born-again Christian after a wild lifestyle. You can hate because he made a porn film with Chyna. You can hate and make Finger-Poke of Doom and quad jokes. You can hate because substance abuse has left him nearly unrecognizable.

You can hate, but while you're hating, the Kliq is still running the show and getting paid.