The Pinnacle, Hit Row, Los Ingobernables de Japon, The Foundation; the list goes on. Today’s professional wrestling landscape seems more friendly to factions than possibly ever before. Looking through several factions throughout history, specific archetypes and roles in the faction become visible. Let’s list a few of the roles that are common in factions, using AEW’s The Inner Circle as examples. As an asterisk of this exercise, these aren’t the be-all, end-all steps to make a faction for everybody, and not all factions will fall under these examples. These are just patterns that I have noticed that make up several great factions.
- The Leader/”The Mouth” (Chris Jericho)
This is the most self-explanatory of the roles, as one could look to many factions throughout professional wrestling and easily identify the leader. The leader’s role is to be the primary person to cut promos, and they are typically the main draw of the faction. If there is a pay-per-view match representing the faction, odds are, The Mouth will be a part of that match. The Leader is also most often The Ace of the faction. That being, they will go after the top championship within a promotion. The leader can also be a legend wrestler who has been in the wrestling business for a very long time and plays the veteran/mentor role to all the other members of a faction, but it is not always necessary. The Leader is the most important role in a faction, and you will be hard-pressed to find one missing a leader.
- The Big Man/”The Hoss” (Jake Hager)
The Big Man is an often overlooked but still necessary part of a good faction. Looking through several factions throughout history like The Shield, The Wyatt Family, or even the NWO, they all had a wrestler who filled the role of a powerhouse wrestler. Sometimes, the big man doesn’t even have to be a man. Looking at the original incarnation of D-Generation X, Chyna would most likely be considered the hoss of that group. The Hoss is someone who can also go after the top championship of a promotion, but of all members of a faction, they are often the least interested in individual championships. As it typically goes with Big Man wrestlers, they typically very rarely take pinfalls or submissions of any kind for the group. They will likely be the strongest-booked member of the faction, sometimes, even more so than the leader. Hoss wrestlers still have their place in wrestling today, even when people put more emphasis on the in-ring work.
- The Wrestler/”The Future” (Sammy Guevara)
Workhorse is a term that gets thrown around a lot in today’s pro wrestling climate. The Future is typically the stand-out pro wrestler in the faction, from an in-ring perspective. If there is a midcard championship to be won, the Wrestler will be going after it while in the faction. The Wrestler usually is a younger wrestler who has a lot of upside within the company, and is potentially being groomed to be a future world championship contender. This isn’t the peak of their career and they are mainly in the faction to get a lot of airtime and shine in multi-man matches. The Future is there to get a lot of experience in the ring and on the mic, potentially in a main event role, even though they may already be ready. If there is someone to break up or defect from a faction, it will most likely be this wrestler. Don’t be surprised to see The Wrestler holding the top belt after their time in the faction is up.
- The Tag Team/”The Partner(s)” (Santana and Ortiz)
The Partners have a very difficult job within a faction, and they are oftentimes the most underappreciated member of one, even within this list, they are underappreciated. The tag team handles other tag teams and will be the signature two-man group of the faction. They don’t have to be a tag team before the group’s inception, but they are a cohesive unit by the time the faction is on a roll. The Tag Team can also be one person. They can simply be a partner with no other major role in the faction and tag with another member previously mentioned and go after the tag team belts. The Partner may also be a veteran wrestler of some kind, and their being in a faction can revitalize their career. The Tag Team is often the weakest booked part of a faction, with one of the members of the tag team taking the fall in multi-man tag matches.
Now, let’s try to build a faction using wrestlers on the WWE roster. For simplicity’s sake, the following faction will only be comprised of wrestlers currently on the same brand.
The Old Guard
- The Leader/Mouth – Randy Orton
- The Big Man/Hoss – Keith Lee
- The Wrestler/Future – Riddle
- The Tag Team/Partners – Ricochet & Mustafa Ali
I chose Randy Orton for The Mouth, as he has a lot of experience and can act as a great mentor and draw for the faction; plus, he’s a great promo. Keith Lee is an easy choice for The Hoss, as he’s my favorite big man in wrestling, and can go from midcard to the main event as needed. Riddle is a great wrestler who is charismatic and has a great look. Definitely a future star if there ever was one. I think Ricochet and Mustafa Ali would make for an excellent high-flying tag team. Ricochet is an incredible wrestler, but not a great promo, so his partner, Mustafa Ali, will be able to pick up the slack there. I chose the name The Old Guard as many of these wrestlers have been wrestling for a long time, and have paid their dues to the wrestling world in one way or another.
Factions are great for wrestling, as they create a special attraction available for a limited time only as line-ups change and factions break up. They certainly aren’t going away any time soon.