Factions or Fractions? By Hank McAllen

It’s the time of year where we are seeing new factions developing in the WWE, and to be honest both head scratchers. First we have the League of Nations comprised of Sheamus, Alberto Del Rio, King Barrett, and Rusev. We are also hearing about a possible additional kliq being formed including Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose and The Usos.

In my opinion, neither of these pairings will draw comparisons to such great groupings as The Four Horsemen, D-X, The Freebirds and the NWO from the past, nor do I see them having the same impact as the New Day or the Wyatt Family have had. It feels more like eventual short lived and forced pairings of talent that they have run out of ideas for. That’s a tad scary to me since one of the members in these new factions is the WWE Heavyweight of Champion.  Do you really not know what to do with Sheamus?

The best things in wrestling have been those that happen organically and are not forced. For example, when Goldberg became a huge overnight success in WCW almost by accident, rather than John Cena and Randy Orton having their success shoved down your throat whether we as the fans accepted them or not. As far as the best factions in the history of wrestling, this has been the case as well more often than not.

Most of us know how the Four Horsemen received their name when Arn Anderson cut that famous promo when he said: “The only time this much havoc had been wreaked by this few a number of people, you need to go all the way back to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.“ That was all it took. An impromptu comment initiated maybe the greatest faction of them all. No script, no writing team, no producer telling Arn to say this or that.

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What is it that makes a great faction? Well, for me there are several key components. First and foremost, you need to have in ring talent that will captivate the audience in the squared circle. Secondly, you need to have a mouthpiece for the group. Whether it’s one the wrestlers in the group (ala Ric Flair, Michael Hayes, Shawn Michaels, Bray Wyatt) or a manager (J.J. Dillon, Bobby Heenan, Gary Hart) you need to have a person who will touch the nerve of the fans who will make them tune in each week, buy the pay per view and buy tickets.

Next you need to have continuity in the group. When you watched The Varsity Club, The Freebirds, The Horsemen, D-X to name a few, you could tell that these guys generally enjoyed not only working together in the ring, but also hanging out with each other behind the scenes as well. Even with the original NWO, you felt that despite the large egos in the group, they enjoyed each other’s company.

Finally you need to have various types of wrestlers in the group that could handle any kind of opponent. For instance, the Freebirds had three very distinct types of wrestlers in the group. Terry Gordy was the powerhouse. There wasn’t a big man in the business that was too big for Bam Bam to have a great match with. Buddy Roberts was the workhorse of the trio who drew amazing heat from the crowd and took some of the greatest bumps in the business. Then there was Michael Hayes whose wrestling skills, while good, were nowhere near as vital to the team’s success as Michael’s ability behind the microphone.

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It’s these traits that make a faction successful. But, what is it that leads to factions becoming fractions? Fractions meaning, teams that hang around for a short time and become extremely forgettable. As far as I’m concerned, it comes down to how the team is formed by the booking committee. Too many times we’ve seen teams thrown together just because the company has nothing for the wrestlers in the group to do, so in order to justify the wrestler’s salaries they are put together with the hope something will come of it. The Oddities, Right To Censor, the J.O.B. Squad, the Spirit Squad and the Nation of Domination all come to mind as examples of this. Most of these teams had a wrestler or two that would eventually make a significant impact on the business (The Rock, Mark Henry, and Dolph Ziggler for example). But, it was through the perseverance of these eventual superstars that they achieved stardom, not as a result of their team’s lack of success.

Another reason that comes to mind that leads to a team’s demise is a lack of patience. There have been several groups that I thought had tremendous potential for a great long run as a faction only to have the rug pulled out from underneath them too quickly. Two examples of this would be the Nexus and the Mexicools.

I loved the concept of the Nexus. They came up together from NXT; so they were no established stars that were getting thrown together. This was a fresh group of faces that were wreaking havoc on the WWE and offered a variety of styles that could match up with almost anyone (ala The Horsemen and Freebirds). Wade Barrett was the mouthpiece, but was also a tall legitimate tough guy who could go with almost anyone. You had the monster power house in Skip Sheffield (Ryback), the high flyer in Justin Gabriel and possibly the greatest technical wrestler in the world at the time in Daniel Bryan.  You also had Darren Young, Heath Slater and others, but if you kept those four as the core quartet, it really could’ve been something special that could have eventually culminated in a showdown with The Shield when they finally showed up.

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The Mexicools were another intriguing group. Yes, there was no powerhouse amongst the three members, but you had three of the best luchadores in the world in the same group. Psychosis, Super Crazy and Juventud Guerrera may have come to the ring on lawn mowers, but in their short stint with the company they steamrolled over their competition. Their high flying lucha libre tactics were amazing to see and were a breath of fresh air for the viewing audience.

I wish these newly formed factions well in the future, although I think they will have a short shelf life. I think the WWE is trying to capitalize on the success of the Wyatts and the New Day and hoping these factions will have similar success. I just don’t see it in the cards as I think they have only a fraction of a chance at survival and a significant run.

And oh, creative team, can you do us all a favor? Please do not overuse the New Day. We are heading down that path. Maybe give them a week or two off, or just use them once in a show. I know the ratings are dragging, but please don’t burn them out, only to put them to pasture in the next 3-6 months.

Who is your favorite faction? Do you think the League of Nations or The Family has a shot at long term success? And finally, what do you think makes the perfect faction? Let us know. As always, I appreciate your comments and feedback.