I have been absolutely loving the Seth Rollins messiah gimmick that has started up since the beginning of the year. It has given Seth’s character direction and new material to work with. It also has created a faction which has been pretty entertaining to watch. However, the success of the Monday Night Messiah and his followers has made me realize just how poor all the other factions on WWE’s main card have been the last couple of years.
First, what makes a good faction? A good faction needs to not just be a group of people, but needs to be a character of its own. A good faction needs purpose, it needs personality, it needs a gimmick, it needs to feel like an entity. Heel factions such as the nWo, Bullet Club, and D-Generation X all had the goal of disrupting the system or taking over for themselves. Other ones, such as The Corporation, had the goal of vying for control of the promotion. Still others have their own goals as well such as Undisputed Era, who is simply out to collectively hold all the titles.
Sometimes, factions revolve completely around one personality. For instance, over in AEW, the Inner Circle is purely built to be Jericho’s posse. Seth Rollins’ faction has the goal of cleaning up Raw, but it is also very much relies on Rollins as the focal point that breathes life into the faction.
Factions also usually have a uniform or some song which the faction shares among their members. In short, and factions (and stables) have uniting features which identify them as a group. This seems like a simple thing which shouldn’t have to be explained…. however…..
WWE’s main card seems to not understand this in the past couple of years. Often, groups of people are thrown together without really anything to unify them. Sami Zayn is currently managing Shinsuke Nakamura, and also Cesaro is there for some reason? Together the group’s whole purpose is to be ringside for Shinsuke and simply be his backup. Last year, Shane McMahon had Drew McIntyre and Elias as, again, simply henchmen, but they never really felt like a unit whatsoever. At another point, McIntyre along with Braun Strowman and Dolph Ziggler had a goal of mocking The Shield, and there was promise — however, creative never bothered to take them beyond that simple feud.
The modern groups which I see people repeatedly call factions online and that WWE has themselves labeled as factions are often groups such as New Day, Riott Squad, and other trios tag teams. At this point, I may just as well call The Usos a faction as well.
This is a shame because factions are often the drivers of the plot. Factions are often the big bad in the final act or the band of plucky heroes looking to overcome. This is not to say individuals in singles competition can’t drive plots, but often, factions allow more people to be involved and are an easy way to raise the stakes right away.
In truth, I think that WWE has not necessarily forgotten how to make a faction, but simply decided not to. WWE has chosen to push singles over the years more and more rather than groups, which is a shame as factions have in the past created extremely fun and engaging stories. Let’s hope that the Monday Night Messiah and his disciples are a sign of change rather than simply a one-off.
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