The Peoples Temple of the Disciples of Christ was a “religious movement” founded by the delusion Jim Jones. This hardened sociopath would eventually convince his followers into consuming a cyanide-laced beverage before apparently taking his own life. While Jones’ vision was considered by followers to be a religious awakening, the rational thinker will understand that Jones was simply a cult. God didn’t choose Jones for anything; Jones chose Jones.
The reality here is that any nutcase with a “vision” and enough charisma can cause a great social disturbance. This is proven when said nutcase decides that they are meant to lead, more so when a following is developed, providing a sense of validation. These followers are usually an unstable bunch. The hapless wanderers who desperately search for answers. Those who need to believe in something regardless of facts and figures.
The days of Helter Skelter are long over and Charles Manson sits in his jail cell a frail old man awaiting his final breath, yet somehow there remains an attraction to the leader of the Manson Family. After all these years, Manson continues to intrigue maintains a strong fanbase. When typing “Charles” into Google, Manson will appear before the likes of Dickens. What does this say about us as a society when a cult leader garners more popularity than a timeless author?
The idea of the cult fascinates and it’s no wonder the concept would fit well into the world of professional wrestling; where such characters are welcomed with pleasure. In this piece we will take a look at cults (or at least cult-like) groups that have assembled over the years in wrestling. Those gathers which have resembled the social disorder of which we speak. The insane and intense who have caused worry for wrestling.
These are the top 15 cult-like factions in professional wrestling history:
15. The Dungeon of Doom
The Dungeon of Doom were an odd cult-like faction of freaks whose sole purpose in WCW was seemingly to end the idea of “Hulkamania.” This group would function within the promotion prior to the arrival of the New World Order.
While serving their purpose during the cartoon-like era of professional wrestling, The Dungeon of Doom would find their greatest success with The Giant (Big Show) who would manage to become a two-time WCW World Heavyweight Champion while a member of the faction.
While not as scary as they had intended and not as influential as management would have liked, The Dungeon of Doom provided a different take on WCW; good or bad.
14. The Millionaire’s Club
During the downfall of WCW, the company would try desperately to reclaim its glory days. However, it was much too late to put over young talent and fans had tired of the older stars.
Enter The Millionaire’s Club: a group of established wrestlers who assembled to end the rise of upstart talent. Members included Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, Sting, and a number of other industry legends.
While the idea flopped, the feeling of old-timers hanging out provided a strange Bohemian Grove feeling; something cult-like and sinister.
13. The Million Dollar Corporation
The idea of a rich man leading a group of violent followers definitely has its cult-like tendencies. When “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase was injured and taken out of active competition, he would then form his own group.
The Million Dollar Corporation included the likes of Sycho Sid, Bam Bam Bigelow, and Nikolai Volkoff; heels designed to seem like complete wrecking machines and men who would gladly follow Ted DiBiase.
Does money make the man? Not if one possess principals. However, this group provided a great social commentary on the unapologetic chase of wealth.
12. The Heenan Family
The Heenan Family were not confined to the world of WWE. Bobby “The Brain” Heenan led versions of his Family through AWA, NWA, and GCW (Georgia Championship Wrestling) as well.
Bobby Heenan is one of the all-time great talkers, a natural heat-seeker who could cause quite a scene among the wrestling community. Heenan had a manipulative ability that caused wrestlers to follow and join the cult-like Heenan Family.
Bobby Heenan brought his boys to the dance and they would follow any steps their leader had taken along the way.
11. The Dangerous Alliance
When ECW was a fully functional wrestling promotion, their fanbase could have been considered that of a cult-like following. While Paul Heyman created this atmosphere, it was not his time serving as a leader.
Back when Heyman was known as Paul E. Dangerously in the AWA and WCW, he would lead a stable known as The Dangerous Alliance; a group which would included the future face of WWE in Steve Austin.
Of course, once Paul Heyman was placed in charge of ECW, his famed Alliance was brought into the promotion for a period of time.
10. The Corporation
One may think that members of The Corporation were brown-nosed followers more than anything else but think about this faction’s cult-like connection. The leader of The Corporation was of course Mr. McMahon … head honcho.
Once again, we come across the point of following the rich into battle against the lesser class. Such a situation is akin to many of our real world leaders and Mr. McMahon is the perfect mirror of this circumstance.
One must not live off-the-grid or out in the desert in squalor to be considered a cult member. The rich are rotten as well, more so in most cases.
9. The Truth Commission
Parody is a common theme in professional wrestling and The Truth Commission were an excellent example of wrestling satire as the group performed in both WWE and USWA (United States Wrestling Association).
The idea behind this faction was tied into white supremacy and was a take on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission; a group who concerned themselves with civil-right issues in South Africa.
The South African-based organization faced major criticism for its practices while the cult-like wrestling group flirted with controversy.
8. Disciples of Apocalypse
Disciples of Apocalypse were a hard-nose group based around a biker attitude. Members included: Crush, Chainz, Skull, and 8-Ball – four men who were placed in leather and made to look bad ass.
While the group is often forgotten, DOA played their part in the Attitude Era by helping other factions get over. These wrestler/bikers are not the greatest stable of all time but they got their jobs done.
Disciples of Apocalypse were supposed to seem like a rough-neck motorcycle club but the feeling came off more cult-like than Riders of the Road.
7. Right to Censor
Once again we take a look at parody and professional wrestling as Right to Censor are perhaps the best satirical faction of all time. RTC were the WWE’s take on the Parents Television Council.
WWE had reached the point of no-limit programming and the PTC had enough. Complaints were filed on a regular basis about the content being shown until finally the company fired back with it’s cult-like Mormon-clad faction.
Right to Censor were great at their roles and are not given enough credit for their contributions to industry.
6. The Brood
The Brood were never more than three in number but always presented a cult-like feel as this group of vampire-esque wrestlers were dark and devious throughout their tenure. However, it would be faction leader Gangrel who faded into oblivion.
Gangrel’s first followers were a young tag team known as Edge and Christian who of course broke away to become one of the greatest tag teams in WWE history. However, Gangrel would replace the young Canadians.
The New Brood as it were would include another tag team destined for greatness in The Hardy Boyz who also split from Gangrel following a short tenure.
5. The Nation of Domination
The Nation of Domination were faction fellow wrestlers would not want to mess with as the group of militant men formed under the leadership of Faarooq. NOD were a no nonsense group who arrived to take names.
The faction was formed in the likeness of the Nation of Islam and the Black Panther Party and were certainly controversial. However, there was clearly something cult-like about the faction as it was hard to ignore.
The image of NOD would change when The Rock claimed leadership as the name was shortened to The Nation and the group became less angry.
4. The Wyatt Family
On a personal note: I feel that The Wyatt Family are the most interesting thing in WWE not being utilized. Will their time ever come? If the past is any indication, probably not … but I digress.
In spite of this lack of direction, The Wyatt Family find ways to intrigue each time they appear on WWE programming. Bray Wyatt – the charismatic leader – is masterful on the mic and can work in the ring.
There is denying the cult-like feeling of this Family as they follow their leader through the depths of the WWE Universe.
3. Straight Edge Society
Prior to the “Pipe Bomb,” CM Punk was given the opportunity to lead one of the most under-appreciated factions in WWE history: Straight Edge Society. The goal of the SES was simple: spread their message of sobriety.
However, it was the way in which CM Punk presented this lifestyle that make it seem so cult-like. Followers would shave their heads for Punk, one of which included a woman (Serena) going completely bald.
CM Punk was the Jesus of Sobriety while his followers were given names from the Bible such as Luke and Joseph.
2. Raven’s Nest
What about Raven? The question which was asked quite frequently by the man himself as he sat brooding in the corner of the ring. However, outside of the squared-circle, Raven was hardly alone.
Raven’s Nest would for in ECW and would later take on different name variations in WCW and TNA but none of these incarnations could match the grungy and cult-like feeling of the original Nest.
Raven was the ultimate misfit who would take into his Nest the disenchanted performers of professional wrestling.
1. The Ministry of Darkness
The Undertaker has done virtually everything there is to do in the world of professional wrestling, including lead a cult-like stable of followers as the darkest faction in the history of the industry.
The Ministry of Darkness came about during the Attitude Era and would push many boundaries; not in the manner of D-Generation X, but rather in a most evil and ever-creepy fashion.
The Undertaker was followed into the night by a group of vicious characters who preferred to choose the Darkness over the Light.
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