A History of D-Generation X, The Rudest Stable in WWE History
Everything that was once cool gets old, eventually. And if you want to reflect on how quickly time flies, look no further than D-Generation X. At one time, they were the most controversial stable on WWE television. Now, they are the elder statesmen of sports entertainment. And on April 6, the evening before WrestleMania, they will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame: Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Chyna, X-Pac, Road Dogg, and Billy Gunn.
There's an irony here: the stable that gained its notoriety by doing the crotch chop to authority figures is now part of the establishment, and Triple H himself is the Executive Vice President of Talent. In honor of their induction, we put together a brief history and timeline of DX's greatest moments and career highlights. Let's break it down.
We Are Degenerates!
The official "D-Generation X" label was a play off of Bret "The Hitman" Hart's promos. The Hart Foundation was feuding with Shawn and his friends in 1997. Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Chyna, and Rick Rude functioned as a stable even before they called themselves one.
And during a segment, Bret stated that Shawn was "nothing more than a degenerate."
Shawn, however, decided to embrace the label as a badge of honor. And in doing so, he solidified himself as the vulgar heel and the counterpoint to Bret's squeaky clean persona. The original DX lineup, along with "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, created a new antihero archetype; prior to that, wrestlers usually fell into clear-cut categories of good or bad.
The original DX was essentially a protection racket for Shawn Michaels, with Rick Rude as the original mentor and degenerate, and Triple H and Chyna as the muscle; they were there to scowl and act as his foils, while the more diminutive Heartbreak Kid ran his mouth.
They were openly disrespectful of authority, particularly to on-screen commissioner Sergeant Slaughter. And like Austin and his antagonistic relationship with his boss, DX represented a sort of wish fulfilment. How great would it be to tell all the people you didn't like that they could go "suck it?" DX allowed fans to have that sort of vicarious fantasy through them. Moreover, it seemed like Triple H and Shawn were simply having fun. Enthusiasm is infectious.
Parents complained about their behavior, but the didn't make them behave any better. After all, the best way to make kids love something is to ensure that parents hate it. T-shirt sales went through the roof.
Real life and the fantasy world of wrestling got tangled up in November 1997, when Michaels faced then WWE Champion Bret Hart in a title match at Survivor Series. Bret was leaving the company to go to WCW. And Vince McMahon decided to have Bret lose the match and drop the belt without telling him.
When Shawn locked Bret into a Sharpshooter, referee Earl Hebner called for the bell, even though Bret never submitted. Shawn knew about the screwjob, though he kept this secret at the time. And Triple H probably knew as well; he was by ringside with Vince McMahon and walked Shawn backstage, presumably to make sure that the Hart Foundation or Bret didn't beat him to a pulp.
The feud between DX and The Hart Foundation ended shortly afterwards.
State Of The Union
For the next 140 days, Triple H and Chyna watched Michaels' back; Rick Rude left WWE for WCW. And thanks in part to their efforts, Shawn held onto the WWE Championship for 140 days. Everyone's notoriety in WWE rose, especially Triple H's; once a midcarder, he was pegged as a future WWE Champion. They continued recording crass skits filled with teenage boy humor, much to the delight of the growing audience, which was switching the channel from WCW to see what the fuss was about. They even inducted Mike Tyson as an honorary member of the group.
This sketch, in which DX addressed the the standards of broadcasting in a "State of the Union" press conference, was particularly memorable. It is an extremely '90s segment; it even manages to squeeze in a Clinton/Lewinsky joke at the very end.
HHH Forms The DX Army
WrestleMania XIV was a low point in DX's history. Mike Tyson, the special guest referee for the main event between Shawn Michaels and Steve Austin, betrayed his DX buddies, and did a quick count on Michaels to award Austin the WWE Championship. Michaels wouldn't compete again for four years; he was dealing with a severe back injury that could have ended his career permanently
The following night on Raw, Triple H called Michaels out for his poor leadership, and took sole leadership over the stable. He added X-Pac, Road Dogg, and Billy Gunn into the mix; including Chyna, it was now a five-person stable.
DX Invades WCW Nitro
The DX Army era (1998-2000) was the stable's prime; they started as heels, but their anti-authority gimmick made eventually turned tham babyface. Their catchphrases multiplied; Triple H would get the crowd hyped by yelling, "LET'S GET READY TO SUCK IT!!" and the New Age Outlaws had an entire self-introduction routine, which the fans enthusiastically repeated after them.
A incomplete list of highlights:
- Their feud with The Rock, then a member of the Nation of Domination.
- Their feud with Vince McMahon's Corporation (though the group would later splinter when Triple H and Chyna defected to the Corporation).
- Triple H's forced marriage to Stephanie McMahon, which was performed while she was drugged.
- Triple H's alliance with Mr. McMahon, which allowed him to capture the WWE Championship for the first three times.
A particularly iconic image from this era was when DX visited an arena where WCW Nitro was being taped, and attempted to invade their competition. Despite the stable's best efforts, they were stopped at the door.
When Triple H and Chyna left DX and joined the Corporation, X-Pac and the New Age Outlaws continued using the DX gimmick. They formed an alliance with Kane, who had been kicked out of the Corporation, and the Big Red Machine and X-Pac even held the Tag Team titles.
One of the most memorable moments from this era was when Kane spoke his first words without the use of an electrolarynx. X-Pac was the first person who Kane could refer to as a genuine friend, and so naturally, his first words were, "SUCK IT!" The crowd response this received was electric.
The Co-Founder Feud
When Shawn Michaels returned to WWE for active competition after his layoff, Triple H initially acted friendly and offered to reform DX. But secretly, he was planning the Heartbreak Kid's downfall. The friendship became irreconcilable when he secretly attacked Shawn Michaels in a parking lot, was discovered, and then proudly claimed responsibility for doing so.
This led to a series of bloody death-wish matches, starting with an unsanctioned street fight at Summerslam (2002). The feud peaked later that year at Armageddon; Triple H won their blow-off match together, which had a "3 Stages of Hell" stipulation. There was also a Hell in a Cell match, which Triple H also won, in 2004.
When DX reformed again in 2006, it was as a babyface tag team comprised of Shawn Michaels and Triple H. But this DX was not as envelope-pushing as the original DX; they were more in the vein of being goofy, gross pranksters. And they took particular pleasure in trolling the hell out of the McMahons.
Amongst other things, they spray-painted Vince's plane, his limousine, and the WWE headquarters with the DX logo. They dubbed/distorted Vince's voice whenever he got on a microphone. They slimed the Spirit Squad (a heel faction of male cheerleaders--yes, really) in the ring. And they soaked the Spirit Squad, Shane McMahon, and Vince with the contents of a port-o-potty. All in a day's work.
I Just Kicked Stan!
Never question how controversial Shawn Michaels is. He might just go on a Sweet Chin Music kicking spree. There's not too much to say about this, other than that it's one of the funniest WWE backstage clips of the past 20 years. Everyone--especially the guy carrying all the papers, sells like a champ for this.
And here's a little bonus trivia. "Stan" is former WWE Superstar Tye Dillinger, years before he signed with NXT and developed his Perfect 10 gimmick.
The Coolest Summerslam Entrance In WWE History
DX's next major reunion came at the 2009 Summerslam PPV, when Triple H was feuding with Randy Orton and the rest of the Legacy stable (Ted Dibiase, Jr., Cody Rhodes). The two co-founders of DX rode into the Staples Center on a massive tank, and lit up the arena with a firework gun mounted on top.
This was Triple H at the height of his babyface run. DX would capture the Unified Tag Team Titles at the end of the year; this was the first time the team of Triple H and Shawn Michaels had ever won it. But in April 2010, Shawn Michaels would lose at Wrestlemania to the Undertaker, forcing him into early retirement.
Reunions And More Reunions
Aside from a few nostalgia-driven feuds by the New Age Outlaws, DX reunions are typically done in a non-competitive capacity. They reunite for special events like Tribute for the Troops or the 1000th episode of Raw or Triple H's match against Sting at Wrestlemania, spit out their catchphrases, and send the fans home happy.. Their most recent reunion came at the 25th anniversary episode of Raw, when they also brought Scott Hall (Razor Ramon) out to celebrate with them).
We're Too Old For This
For years, it was assumed that Shawn Michaels would stay permanently retired. But in 2018, WWE announced that Shawn would come out of retirement for the company's Crown Jewel PPV. He tagged with Triple H to take on the Brothers of Destruction, The Undertaker and Kane.
The star power was undeniable, but everyone (aside, surprisingly, from Shawn) showed their age. Triple H tore his pectoral muscle, and Shawn had to carry most of the match. The Undertaker and Kane failed to catch Shawn in a botched moonsault spot, and the Heartbreak Kid landed on his face.
It's no wonder that after the match, Shawn leaned over to Triple H and says, "We're too old for this." There's only so many times that one can go back to the well. And though the days of playing teenage boys may be behind them, their place in history is assured.
This year, D-Generation X, comprised of Shawn Michaels, Triple H, the late Chyna, X-Pac, Road Dogg, and Billy Gunn, will be the headline inductee into the WWE Hall of Fame. The ceremony will air live on April 6, 2019 on the WWE Network.