One of my personal favorite elements in the world of professional wrestling is factions. I always found wrestling to be infinitely more interesting when factions were involved. Since AEW began, they have put a hard emphasis on factions as nearly every wrestler on the roster is part of some sort of team or faction. While this has turned off some fans, I absolutely love it.
Factions just make wrestling better. Think about the Monday Night Wars. You obviously had legendary singles stars like Stone Cold Steve Austin. Then you had the battleground for power with the NWO and DX. Factions also give the promotion someone to someones to chase. What is the point of being a heel if you don’t have strength in numbers. Every time you think the face is going to walk out with momentum…nope. The cavalry comes and as good ole JR says, “business is about to pick up.”
Here I will examine my favorite factions of pro wrestling. I always say prior to these lists that favorite doesn’t equate to best. That distinction needs to be made because someone always screams, hOw iS tHiS OnE OvEr ThAt OnE?! Key word is favorite ya dummy. Some of the best factions ever, like the original Four Horsemen, I never got to experience. They were before my time. I can’t really relate. So while they would likely be my number one on best factions list, they are not getting the nod for my favorites.
As I break down my favorite, I will include the why of course and then my favorite member, promo and match the faction had. Keep in mind, the member is predicated on their importance in the group versus where I would rank them in terms of their overall ranking as a wrestler. For example, Ric Flair is my second favorite wrestler of all-time, but he certainly wasn’t my favorite member of Evolution.
Let’s get to it.
Honorable Mention: The Bullet Club
I never really got into NJPW, although I have only heard great things about the promotion. All I have to go on is the YouTube videos I have watched. It felt wrong leaving them off because of the influence they have on the current landscape of professional wrestling, both culturally speaking and star power the faction has had. I, of course, needed to mention them because of the founder, Prince Devitt aka Finn Balor. Although, they will get kind of a nod further up.
10. The Brood
Favorite Member: Edge
Favorite Promo: The only one they had I guess lol
Favorite Match: The Hardys and Michael Hayes
Best Moment: The First Blood Bath
The Brood was short lived, but interesting to say the least. Although WWE had many inconsistencies with what exactly they were, namely not wanting to call it blood or vampires. Meanwhile, they gave people blood baths. There is a reason when New Day did the entrance and Edge revived the entrance and music that people went ape shit. It is one of the factions that weren’t really successful by measurable standards. The nostalgia people have for them says otherwise, myself included.
9. The Wyatt Family
Favorite Member: Bray Wyatt
Favorite Promo: Down By the River to Pray
Favorite Match: The Shield (Elimination Chamber)
Best Moment: Orton joins the Wyatt Family
Bray Wyatt could have been similar to The Undertaker, but you know WWE creative sucks. Everything they did was gold. They were dark, sinister and interesting most of the time. There were several years where Bray Wyatt was THE best person on the roster and the A+ draw, period. Unfortunately, he worked for a company who was better at burying and ruining great talent than showcasing it. Too much inconsistency with highs and lows.
8. Raven’s Flock
Favorite Member: Raven
Favorite Promo: What about me
Favorite Match: Raven v Chris Jericho (Halloween Havoc)
Best Moment: Raven wins the US Title
Speaking of talent that companies didn’t have much creative juice with. The better part of Raven was ECW. Unfortunately, I didn’t get into ECW. I did get a chance to watch Raven in WCW where he captivated the child version of me. Give that man a microphone and just let him go. He is one of the best talkers in wrestling history. I remember the Raven’s Rules matches which were glorified hardcore matches basically so his flock could help him. I loved his rivalry with DDP. He eventually defeated Page for the US Title only to unceremoniously lose it the next day to Goldberg (yawn).
7. The Nation of Domination
Favorite Member: The Rock
Favorite Promo: Die Rocky Die
Favorite Match: Triple H v The Rock (Summerslam Ladder Match)
Best Moment: The Rock Joins
WE ARE THE NATION OF DOMINATION! While I was watching WCW in the early days of the faction, I began watching shortly after the split from the original group when Farooq said he wanted a bigger, badder, better and blacker version of the nation. While the Black Panther version was certainly better than once The Rock assumed leadership, I can’t hate it because it catapulted The People’s Champion into that stratosphere. The former was edgy, cool, fun and just downright bad ass. Who didn’t love holding up their fist for these mean son of a bitches.
6. The Inner Circle
Favorite Member: Chris Jericho
Favorite Promo: The Immortal (Back in Black)
Favorite Match: Stadium Stampede v The Elite
Best Moment: MJF Double Cross
The second Jericho got his own faction, I was in. I didn’t have to wait long as it happened on the first episode of AEW Dynamite. The group is still going strong several years later. They have remained near the top in the pecking order of AEW programming. Sammy Guevara currently sits pretty with the TNT Championship, while Jericho had a lengthy run as the first AEW Champion. We have already had several great catchphrases like Le Champion and A Little Bit of the Bubbly. Plus there is nothing better than the group coming out to Judas.
Favorite Member: Scott Hall
Favorite Promo: You Want a War?
Favorite Match: Rock v Hogan (Wrestlemania)
Best Moment: Hogan is the third man
Arguably the most influential faction of all time. The NWO will forever be a major pop culture reference for the past, present and future wrestling fans. I still will see people rocking the NWO shirts on occasion. When Scott Hall and Kevin Nash first jumped ship starting the “war,” it was a monumental moment of professional wrestling. Back before internet leaks and all that jazz, it felt real as a kid that they were literally there to destroy the company. As they say, the rest is history.
Favorite Member: Randy Orton
Favorite Promo: The Introduction
Favorite Match: Batista and Orton v Mick Foley and The Rock (Ok how is he showing up everywhere)
Favorite Moment: Winning all the gold
One of the best parts about Evolution is it elevated all four members. Triple H was already a main event player. It gave him yet another great run as the top heel in the company. Ric Flair’s career had a resurgence, always a win. Then it elevated Batista and Randy Orton as stars for years to come. I loved the story of the implosion and the build. Triple H turns on Randy for not bowing down only for Batista to turn on Trips by not bowing down. Batista beats HHH clean at Wrestlemania for his first World Title run.
3. The Elite
Favorite Member: Literally all of them
Favorite Promo: Cody – Undesirable to Undeniable
Favorite Match: Adam Page and Kenny Omega v Young Bucks (AEW Revolution)
Favorite Moment: Adam Cole Debuts on AEW
While the Elite members have come and gone once it became the heel faction of the company, it has continued to be one of the best parts of AEW. I am literally sitting here watching BTE (Being The Elite) while typing this. I love that they just have fun in AEW with their group. All the dumb antics and acting they do to sell whatever is happening in the ring is fantastic. Then you have the vlog with the all the behind the scenes bullshit, it is just glorious.
Favorite Member: Triple H
Favorite Promo: State of the Union
Favorite Match: DX v Rated RKO (New Year’s Revolution)
Favorite Moment: DX Shows up to Nitro
While the NWO was cool because they were bad ass. DX was cool because they just didn’t give a shit. They were hilarious. Shawn Michaels and Triple H may have the best bromance in wrestling history. They just went out there and made fun of people. They were at their best when shitting on whoever their target was. Then of course, they were bad asses in the ring. The crotch chop definitely got us all in trouble at school at some point.
1. The Shield
Favorite Member: Seth Rollins
Favorite Promo: Dean Ambrose addresses Seth Rollins Betrayal
Favorite Match: The Shield v Evolution (Extreme Rules)
Favorite Moment: Seth Rollins Turns
From debut to the split, The Shield was the best part of WWE in the decade. While the other factions on the list had comedy, The Shield was anything but. The second you heard Sierra, Hotel, India, Echo, Lima, Delta, SHIELD, you knew things were about to pop off. They would make their entrance from the crowd, surround the ring and just absolutely destroy anything in their path. There is a reason all three members have had so much success in pro wrestling. All of them are just downright great.
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