Wrestling factions are a collection of wrestlers who come together to battle a common foe, and/or fight for their own well-being. While some factions fall flat and only come off as amusing, there are a number of factions that have appeared to be on the cusp of doing great things, but for one reason or another were split or disbanded without having a true opportunity to succeed. They were cutting-edge and contemporary. These factions were creative, and sometimes funny in and out of the ring as well. What is remarkable is that all of them could have and should have had more time to build a following. The problem is that they didn’t have that time to develop. They were among several of different factions that fell to the wayside. Their fresh and different outlooks as a group certainly stood out, it is just unfortunate there wasn’t more time to see them develop.
Perhaps they were cut short because creative didn’t know how to develop them more; regardless, they were unquestionably different from the norm. They attempted to blaze a trail of innovation only to be sadly lost in the creative shuffle. What would have happened if they were given more time and energy to succeed? How could they have been better developed? These are questions that are easily be pondered when considering the ten factions on this list, a number of different groups that could have offered more than what they were given the time to show. Who were these factions? Could they even carry on today?
10. Filthy Animals
Friends will always make great teammates; such was the case with this particular faction. Whether they were considered faces or heels, this collection of talent stood side by side during their time in WCW. What was great about them was that their allegiance was to themselves. They didn’t necessarily need to be cheered or booed, they just needed to be who they are. They pulled pranks and hijinks on both villains and fan favourites alike. They would steal wallets and mock older wrestlers. They broke into Ric Flair‘s locker room and stole one of his famous entrance robes, which they took turns wearing while imitating Flair‘s signature strut and “Wooo!”
The group publicly came together during an interview between Mean Gene Okerlund and Billy Kidman. Kidman stated that he has a group of friends (Rey Mysterio Jr., Eddie Guerrero, and Konnan) that were “just a bunch of filthy animals.” This was also during a period when Rey Mysterio Jr. competed without the signature mask for which he is so well known.
The chemistry with the group worked so well because they were friends both on and off screen. Oftentimes it is that camaraderie that allows a group to connect with their audience. They feuded with other factions during this time, but nothing appeared to really stick. It was unfortunate because this young, contemporary group had a number of talented wrestlers that were innovative in the ring. There are a number of potential reasons why they didn’t succeed, but the most prominent had to be the support of management at the time.
Each member of the faction was talented and brought a certain element of style, charm and charisma to the group that isn’t offered enough today. Very rare is having fun at the core of a faction’s character. They were friends being friends, no more and no less, and that’s something that had made factions such as Degeneration X successful as well. Members were able to play off of one another and go from there. Will another faction like the Filthy Animals ever come around again? We can only hope. For now, however, they were one group that ended far too soon.
9. The Un-Americans
The Un-Americans were a faction that consisted of, as their name states, wrestlers whose country of origin was not the United States. It was led by Lance Storm, whose role was similar to his role in WCW when he was part of Team Canada. His claims of discrimination against Canada from the WWE stemmed from the infamous Montreal Screw Job, and he also claimed Christian and Test were victims of injustice. The stable morphed, however, into being anti-American rather than being pro other countries of the world.
Each member blamed the WWE’s anti-Canadian stance for losses they claimed were miscarriages of justice. The referee “didn’t see” a shoulder off the mat in one instance; another time a foot was on the ropes. Was this a coincidence, or did the group have a case? In their opinion, the only proper way to fight the good fight against the evil tyranny that was the WWE was by coming together.
They came to the ring with an upside down American flag. This was certainly controversial and helped the faction get noticed. Storm and Christian captured the tag team titles, with the assistance of fellow Canadian Chris Jericho. While never an official member of the faction, Jericho would hint at ties to the group from time to time. In calling the faction the Un-Americans, they left it open for others to join the faction that weren’t Canadian. Enter William Regal as part of the stable; his English “holier than thou” persona was perfect for the faction. Christian, Storm and Regal were all excellent workers in the ring, and were unquestionably gifted performers on the mic as well. However, mounting losses suffered by the faction led to dissension amongst the group members, causing them to split and feud with one another.
Regal and Storm retained their anti-American sentiments, although with an emphasis on their respective English and Canadian heritage. Eventually, they regained the Tag Titles. They were referred to as a “Commonwealth” connection, which transformed the Un-American stance to a united allegiance between England and Canada. Why didn’t the faction continue? That is anyone’s guess, but those involved with the faction certainly made it thrive during its existence. It’s unfortunate that they didn’t have more of an opportunity to build their faction and create almost a separate brand to feud with the main roster.
8. The Brood
This dark and menacing group is best known for one thing: their ring entrance. As their haunting music began, they rose from beneath the stage surrounded by a ring of fire. The image itself stands out to this day. But there was more to this group than just their ring entrance; there was also what they could do once they were in the ring.
Initially, it was just Gangrel, who was dubbed the leader of the faction, and Christian. Eventually, Christian and Gangrel convinced Edge to join them. The faction’s gimmick was vampiric; Gangrel would carry a chalice of “blood” to the ring and had long fangs. Although the inception of The Brood was a few years removed from Anne Rice’s best-selling Vampire series, the gothic feel, nature and look of the characters mirrored her creations.
Prior to entering the ring, Gangrel would sip from the chalice of blood and spit it out towards the crowd. Other times, the group would shower their opponents in a bloodbath. The gimmick was cool aesthetically, but what else was there that they could offer? Sacrifices? Well, that seemed to come to pass as they eventually merged with The Undertaker‘s Ministry of Darkness for a short time. The alliance made sense, considering how dark their gimmick was, and the similar darkness of The Undertaker’s character.
The Brood began to feud with the Hardy Boyz and by then had become quite accomplished in the ring. Eventually, Gangrel turned on Edge, while attempting to coerce Christian to remain with him. But in the end, Gangrel turned on both Christian and Edge and aligned himself with The Hardy Boyz and thus formed a New Brood. It didn’t have the same effect, as the true heart of the gimmick was the connection that Gangrel, Edge and Christian had with one another on screen.
Some may think this gimmick was always destined to have a short shelf life, but I beg to differ. It was different, and often mesmerized audiences from the initial note of their music playing. It would have been interesting to see if the faction could have added members, with the intent of having a blood following. Is that idea a bit much? Possibly, but they undoubtedly were cool as hell.
Serotonin is a chemical created by the human body that works as a neurotransmitter. It is regarded by some researchers as a chemical that is responsible for maintaining mood balance, and that a deficit of serotonin leads to depression. The group using this name was the brainchild of Raven. It started as an alliance between Frankie Kazarian, Johnny Devine and Matt Bentley. During the special prior to NWA-TNA’s Genesis 2006, all three of the aforementioned wrestlers came out in gothic style apparel. They presented themselves as a new movement in TNA.
It was after a loss during this pay-per-view that Raven began sporting a new look. He wore a mask reminiscent of a ninja style face guard, and revealed himself as the leader of this new movement. This stable became known as Serotonin; Raven represented the “chemical that is responsible for maintaining mood balance.” The direction of this stable was very difficult to place, although they lost the majority of their televised matches. Was their function just to lose and be controlled by the consequences of their losses? Regardless of the outcome, Raven would hit the Serotonin competitor with a cane.
After a long ring hiatus, Raven returned to the ring and lost to ‘Wildcat’ Chris Harris, after interference from Serotonin member Kaz (Kazarian). After a win by Kaz over Serotonin member Havok (Devine), Raven attacked him with help from the remaining members of Serotonin, Havok and Martyr (Bentley). Kaz’s involvement with the faction was very short-lived which was unfortunate because he offered so much to the faction. The faction had barely been formed, and there was already animosity between Kaz and Raven, even though it didn’t make sense to have a break in it so soon.
As for the remaining members of Serotonin, their place within the faction almost became of no importance. Havok was revealed to be Team 3D’s X Division traitor, causing him to leave Serotonin, leaving only Martyr.
Why cut it so short? Their look was unique and edgy and was certainly reminiscent of The Flock that Raven had as part of WCW. It certainly consisted of talented performers that could succeed even in a secondary role. Kaz could have easily been used as a second in command for Raven, or act on his behalf. While the faction may have had a limited shelf life, it could have easily gone longer than it did, before jealousy was felt and betrayal took place. It felt like everything within the group was rushed and could have been done much better.
Could they have introduced additional members? There is no question. Much like the Wyatt family, no one could deny Raven’s cult leader quality, which made him successful in both ECW and WCW. A faction of five members allows for a tag team to be formed and challenge for titles, with a second in command, a leader, and a lackey. Raven’s lackey could easily have been a character Eric Young played. They could have teased friction within the group; the lackey character is torn between following the leader and aiding the second in command, causing a revolt within the group. The possibilities appeared to be endless. Sadly for Serotonin, the possibilities never developed and came to an end before they ever had a chance.
6. The Dead Pool/Dark Carnival
During his time in WCW, Raven was synonymous with the Flock. For anyone not familiar with who or what they were, they represented a degenerate group of slackers that were rejected until Raven gave their lives meaning. As we move forward a bit, once the Flock disbanded Raven had little purpose.
What is remarkable about Raven was that his character has always been associated with being a leader and having followers. So in order to help give his character purpose once again, it made sense to have him aligned with another faction. Without The Flock, Raven filmed several depressing interviews and walked out on several matches. During one pay per view storyline, he refused to wrestle Chris Jericho for the WCW Television title, but eventually was convinced to return to the ring.
After losing the match he wasn’t seen until the following year. It was 1999 when, upon his return, several vignettes were shown in which a camera crew followed Raven to his supposed childhood home, where he had led a privileged upper class lifestyle. He appeared to be discontented with that lifestyle and the privileges that it brought with it. It was also at this time he was reunited with former ECW valet Chastity, who now took on the role of his sister in WCW.
What followed was the formation of The Dead Pool, a faction that was originally known as Necro Ward. Once again, WCW were attempting to build Raven a faction. Unlike the look of the Flock, The Dead Pool was a collection of characters who wore face paint and walked on the dark side. The gimmick, and their gimmick matches, was very similar to that of The Undertaker. However, only a month after the inception of the faction, Raven asked for his release and left WCW.
After starting out as a team of Raven and Vampiro, following Raven’s departure other members joined the faction. With new members, a new name was established for the faction as well. The Dead Pool was gone and in its place was The Dark Carnival. It went from something depressing to a carnival full of horrors. The Demon, who was the brainchild of the rock band KISS, and Japanese wrestling legend The Great Muta were also members of this rather dark faction. However, despite the involvement of punk band The Misfits or rap group Insane Clown Posse, it felt like the group didn’t really have a chance to get off the group.
What stood out from this group was their look, despite its similarity to the dark and menacing image of The Ministry in WWE. But while talented wrestlers such as Vampiro and The Great Muta added to its strength, adding more talent that could articulate the message of the group would have done them a world of good. Raven would have offered the ability to promo, where Vampiro couldn’t. That isn’t to say that he was weak in that area, but rather as a faction they would have had a greater impact if they had someone that was stronger in that area. Perhaps another wrestler could have fit that role, or a manager, someone like James Mitchell. This faction unfortunately lacked the depth of members and consistently quality promos that would have helped carry it forward.
5. Evolution (initial run)
The origins of the faction began after Unforgiven 2002. During the World Heavyweight Championship match between Rob Van Dam and Triple H, Ric Flair came down to the ring and grabbed the sledgehammer from Triple H and teased hitting him, before hitting Van Dam, allowing Triple H to get the win. After this point, Ric Flair aligned himself with Triple H, acting much like his manager. During a brand draft, Batista was moved to Raw from Smackdown. It was also at this time when Flair also began accompanying Batista to the ring while continuing to second Triple H. In January 2003, Randy Orton assisted Triple H, Ric Flair, and Batista in attacking Scott Steiner to complete the group. A couple of weeks later the group got its name when, after the group attacked Tommy Dreamer. Triple H spoke about how the four men were examples of pro wrestling’s growth in time from the past in which case (Flair) to the present (himself) to the future (Batista and Orton).
At the height of Evolution’s power, the group controlled all of the men’s championships. Batista teamed with Flair to win the World Tag Team Championship. Orton captured the Intercontinental Championship from Rob Van Dam, and Triple H regained the World Heavyweight Championship. Triple H played the role of leader and head manipulator to a tee during the rise of Evolution. He made former WWE wrestler Nick Dinsmore, who wrestled under the name Eugene, an “honorary member” of Evolution, at least until Eugene accidentally caused the cerebral assassin to lose to Chris Benoit at Vengeance.
After a couple of years, the chips in the foundation of Evolution emerged, as jealousy reared its ugly head. In July 2004, Randy Orton won a number-one contender battle royal, putting him in line for a World Heavyweight Championship match at SummerSlam. At SummerSlam, Orton pinned Benoit to become the new Champion, and the youngest in WWE history. On the following day, the first episode of Monday Night Raw after SummerSlam, Orton was kicked out of Evolution following a successful defense of the title against Benoit. Batista hoisted Orton on his shoulders as part of what appeared to be a celebration, but after a thumbs down from Triple H, the group proceeded to attack Orton.
A few months after Orton was kicked out of the group, Triple H had regained the title. But more signs of the end of Evolution appeared, as Triple H preferred that Batista not enter the Royal Rumble, wanting him to focus on Triple H retaining the title. Batista declined, entered the Rumble at number 28 and won. It guaranteed a championship match for Batista at WrestleMania by winning the Royal Rumble. Triple H plotted to have Batista challenge then, WWE champion JBL for the title, but a match against Triple H at WrestleMania 21 was inevitable, and Evolution was no more.
While some may think that the split of the group was inevitable and that it had run its course, it felt rushed, and the removal of Randy Orton from the faction seemed premature. If the intent was to emulate the Four Horsemen, then why remove the member intended to be the future? It’s understandable that jealousy got the better of Triple H, but it felt as though there was still more for Evolution to achieve their first time around as a faction, rather than cut the faction shorter than some would have liked.
4. The Hart Dynasty
In 2007, the WWE launched a developmental territory known at the time as Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW). It was at this time when Harry Smith, Nattie Neidhart and TJ Wilson were moved to the new territory and became a Hart Foundation for a new generation. Smith was the son of the late Davey Boy Smith, Neidhart was the daughter of Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, and together they formed a second generation Hart Foundation. In fact, they were called The New Hart Foundation. These two second generation wrestlers were joined by cousin and independent wrestler Teddy Hart and third generation wrestler Ted DiBiase Jr. On FCW’s premier show, Smith won a battle royal to become the promotion’s first southern Heavyweight Champion.
The Harts were to be moved up to the main roster collectively, but Teddy Hart was released from his development contract in the fall of that year. Smith had a roller coaster ride in his early career, as he was returned to FCW without debuting on SmackDown, even though he was drafted by the brand. While back in FCW, he and Wilson, a wrestler presented as the last student of the famous Hart family dungeon, reformed their faction. Nattie Neidhart also returned to FCW, was renamed Natalya, and helped them win the FCW Tag Team Championship.
After losing the championship, they were once again split up when Wilson (renamed Tyson Kidd) was called up to the ECW brand, with Natalya as his valet. The early part of the Hart Dynasty’s existence was much like that of a baseball player moving up and down between the minors and the majors.
During the brand draft of 2009, Natalya and Smith were officially drafted to the ECW brand, despite Smith never debuting for SmackDown. Smith debuted on ECW, under the name David Hart Smith, by interfering in Kidd’s match, signaling the reformation of the group, briefly under the name The Hart Trilogy before settling on The Hart Dynasty. The Hart Dynasty was used as part of the Vince McMahon/Bret Hart feud, and in the process made them face as they came to the aid of The Hitman.
The elimination of the World tag team championship became the beginning of the end for the Hart Dynasty. When that title ended, Bret Hart, Raw General Manager at the time, presented The Hart Dynasty with brand new WWE Tag Team Championship belts. But they lost the titles at Night of Champions shortly thereafter. After a failed attempt to regain the championship, in which Kidd was pushed off balance during their double-team Hart Attack move, Kidd and Smith had a falling out with one another. Kidd refused to tag into a match for the titles, and Smith attacked him.
Kidd became a heel, and Smith defeated Kidd in a singles match during this feud. Afterward, Smith offered to shake Kidd’s hand, but Kidd refused and instead slapped him across the face. A talented team and faction had come to an end. Smith was eventually released from his contract, with no direction to move his character. Could Teddy Hart have added a new dimension to this alliance? Would Ted DiBiase Jr. flown as a Brian Pillman for a new generation? It would have been great to find out.
This faction consisted of four stand outs from World Championship Wrestling (WCW) the once successful, now quickly collapsing promotion. Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, Perry Saturn and Dean Malenko all made their first WWE appearance in January 2000, appearing at ringside during Monday Night Raw, and later interfering in a match. Road Dogg, one half of the New Age Outlaws along with Billy Gunn, took as swing at Benoit while he sat at ringside, which prompted all four to severely beat both of the New Age Outlaws inside and out of the ring. WWE Hall of Fame announcer Jim Ross called the contingent “radicals” for their behaviour.
As the initial storyline was developed, the four men were offered a chance to “win” contracts by beating the members of D-Generation X in a series of three matches. Despite losing all of their matches they eventually were given contracts in exchange for a betrayal of Mick Foley. The group became known as The Radicalz (sometimes spelled The Radicals in on-screen graphics).
The group was tightly knit, but soon all four drifted apart as they sought stardom as singles wrestlers in the WWF, which was a shame. While each member of the faction brought a special quality to the group, it wasn’t something the promotion wanted to capitalize on long-term. This was a faction that was rich in talent, tradition and, much like Legacy and Evolution, personality. They were a known commodity and could have been presented as a tag team and two singles wrestlers that pursued all the different championships.
At first, the tandem of Saturn and Malenko formed a tag team. But injuries hurt the faction early in their development; an injured Eddie Guerrero served as the team’s manager, which kept him relevant as part of the team, but not in the ring. Benoit was generally used as a singles wrestler, and was only aligned with the rest of the Radicalz when backing up was in the script. Malenko was used in the Light Heavyweight division, and captured the WWF Light Heavyweight Championship, which annoyed Benoit.
As their split within the group developed, it was primarily caused by differing levels of success within the group. But their split wasn’t a massive blowout amongst the four, but rather done without much acknowledgement. Despite the feud that Perry Saturn and Eddie Guerrero had over the WWF European Championship, the dissolving of the group was rather quiet.
In the fall of 2000, all four members reformed and sided with Triple H during his feud with Stone Cold Steve Austin. In the winter of 2001, Benoit was forced out of the group and Guerrero replaced him as leader. However, by June of 2001, Guerrero was left for a time to deal with alcohol addiction. During that time, Saturn and Malenko remained within the faction, until Malenko retired in 2001. Saturn was eventually released, leaving only Benoit as the remaining member of the faction, at least until Guerrero returned to action after his rehabilitation stint. The direction of the group appeared all over the place. Were they face or were they heel? Were they a unit or did they each have their own agenda? It was unfortunate this group wasn’t given the time to develop and used effectively as a group over a longer period of time.
The concept behind the group was that each member was a second or third generation wrestler. The name of the faction, The Legacy, referred to each member’s extensive family history in wrestling. Randy Orton‘s father, uncle and grandfather were all professional wrestlers. Ted DiBiase, meanwhile, took his name from his father, who wrestled before him, as did both of his paternal grandparents. Cody Rhodes is a second generation wrestler, taking after his father and his two uncles, who preceded him in the business. Due to their status as second or third generation wrestlers, all the members of The Legacy believed themselves to be superior to the other wrestlers in WWE, in storyline.
Ted DiBiase Jr. made his first WWE appearance in May 2008 when he stated he and a mystery partner would take the World Tag Team Championship from the champions, Cody Rhodes and Hardcore Holly. At Night of Champions, DiBiase revealed his partner was running late and started the match without him. However, Rhodes quickly turned on Holly by attacking him. This meant Rhodes was now heel and that he and DiBiase were the new champions.
In September, Randy Orton criticized the tag team champions, mocking Rhodes and DiBiase for allowing their title belts to be stolen by another tag team at the time, Cryme Tyme. The two responded by assaulting Cryme Tyme and introduced Manu, another second generation wrestler, son of Afa the Wild Samoan, as their new member. Later that evening, Rhodes, DiBiase, and Manu beat down then champion CM Punk as Orton confronted him backstage. This removed Punk from a championship match against Orton, and allowed Rhodes, DiBiase and Manu to earn Orton’s respect.
It seemed as they had initially entertained the idea of having additional members as a part of the faction like Sim Snuka (the son of Jimmy Snuka) to add more depth to the contingent, but that wasn’t the case.
Legacy had terrific feuds against the McMahon family and then against Degeneration X. Throughout their time together, the roles of the members were always clearly defined. Orton was the leader and gave direction. DiBiase and Rhodes were wonderful to watch compete because they carried with them a combination of ring skills and the ability to deliver convincing promos. While a trio has been a popular number to work with as a faction, the opportunity for growth was equally evident.
While some may feel the faction had run its course, it seemed as though there was more that Rhodes and DiBiase could have achieved either as Intercontinental or United States Champion. Growth by bringing in other second or third generation wrestlers could have worked, and perhaps all titles in the promotion could have been held by second or third generation wrestlers simultaneously.
At the Royal Rumble 2010, Orton failed to win the World Championship when he was disqualified, after Rhodes tried to interfere. After the match, Orton attacked Rhodes, as well as DiBiase, who attempted to aid Rhodes. While it was understood that Orton’s character was “unstable,” it didn’t mean he couldn’t have any allegiances. But the cracks in the Legacy foundation began to show. A few weeks later, Orton took on Sheamus in a non-title rematch, but was again disqualified after Rhodes and DiBiase interfered. There was too much, and the mutual animosity between Orton and DiBiase and Rhodes ultimately culminated in the faction being dissolved.
1. Straight Edge Society
The concept behind the group was based on the straight edge lifestyle, which promotes and abides by discipline – primarily no smoking, drinking, or drugs. The group acted as a militant organization, denouncing all people who don’t live the straight edge lifestyle, even those who also abstain from substance abuse. When new members were added, it required that they shave their heads, thus signifying a purification and new beginning of their lives.
The group was founded and led by CM Punk, who abides by the straight edge lifestyle in real life. The seeds for the group were planted when, prior to the group’s formation, Punk feuded with Jeff Hardy over the World Heavyweight Championship, and often alluded to Hardy’s substance abuse issues.
The group formed when CM Punk changed the formerly mentally challenged and unresponsive Festus into the focused and driven Luke Gallows. During his inauguration, Gallows explained that his friends got him hooked on prescription pain medication, which explained his behavior as Festus. It was a clever way to transition to the Gallows character. Gallows credited Punk with cleaning him up and “showing him the way,” and became Punk’s main enforcer. From then on, Gallows would assist Punk in his feuds.
As the weeks progressed, Punk and Gallows began shaving the heads of fans in the audience who wished to follow the straight edge lifestyle, demonstrating a “new beginning” for their lives. Upon searching for a third person to convert, they converted a woman who came out from the crowd. She went by the name Serena, and begged to be “saved” by Punk. Instead of having security escort her out, he accepted Serena and shaved her head. Following this, Serena accompanied Punk and helped run interference in his matches. There were attempts to recruit additional members to the SES, much like the Wyatts did. But while they teased the inauguration of several potential members, they failed to add anyone.
In a feud with Rey Mysterio, the faction interrupted Mysterio’s daughter’s ninth birthday party, enticing Mysterio into challenging Punk to a match at WrestleMania, where if Mysterio lost, he would have to join the SES. It seemed as though this didn’t follow the SES lifestyle, as it presented living that life as punishment. However, Mysterio won, thus negating the stipulation. In a rematch, between Mysterio and Punk, if Punk lost, Rey would have to shave Punk’s head. Punk won the match, thus negating that stipulation. Ultimately, in a match that combined stipulations, Mysterio defeated Punk, who wound up getting his head shaved. To conceal his baldness, Punk then began to wear a mask.
Punk’s hair represented the purity that the remaining members didn’t have. To have it shaved meant the beginning of the end for the SES. Despite instances of temptation and “breaking the code” by members of the SES, the factions shelf life was quickly coming to an end.
Even though the faction introduced Joey Mercury as part of the faction, they didn’t have enough depth to create a long-lived alliance. Serena and Gallows would be released from the company shortly thereafter, thus fully disbanding the Society.
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