Factions have been a key thing in wrestling for years. The Fabulous Freebirds, Devastation Inc, the Four Horsemen, the Dangerous Alliance, the New World Order, DX, the list goes on. They stick around today as WWE gives us the Undisputed Era and others and remain a key focus. It’s always something to get a pack of guys together and have them run wild and often boost some to major fame. WWE has shown that with Evolution and others and fans love seeing this happen. Of course, you can go too far. TNA is infamous for overdoing the “evil heel group wanting to take over” motif way too often. WWE can fall into that themselves although other times still do well. You never know who will click and turn a so-so group into a terrific force to shine so well in wrestling.
Sadly, too often, guys are put together and just don’t click at all. You can’t force chemistry and so trying to base a faction around folks who don’t mix means it ends in failure. There’s also how the faction’s premise is just dumb from the get go and the team doesn’t take off as well. For every fantastic force, there’s another that just comes off totally lame and not all effective, either due to their own fault or unforeseen circumstances. Here’s the worst attempt since 2000 for WWE to provide some sort of big faction and you just can’t force it despite the names involved.
19 2000: Right to Censor
Vince McMahon has a tendency to use his workers to profess his own beliefs about stuff that annoys him. A key example would be in 2000 when various self-appointed “moral majority” groups began attacking WWE on their love of violence and the graphic nature of their programming. Vince decided to have a heel group created to show how dumb these groups were. Steven Richards soon had a group of Val Venis, The Godfather (renamed The Goodfather), Bull Buchanan and Ivory. They came out dressed like Mormons in suits and preaching a good living life free of sin. Naturally they broke every rule in the book with Buchnan and Goodfather getting a run as tag team champions.
The whole thing just came off dumb with their promos and pushing this act which was a shot on one of Vince’s pet peeves.
They also were shown as losers, destroyed by Undertaker, the Dudleys and others. There was a bit of them forcibly bringing in the Kat but she left the company to end that. Disbanding in early 2001, the RTC shows that creating a heel group just to air out your own beefs rarely works out well.
18 2001: X-Factor
Long before Roman Reigns, the term “X-Pac heat” described a guy fans could never stop booing. No matter what Sean Waltman did, the fans would boo the living hell out of him. It wasn’t just his matches, they quite literally booed every single move Waltman made. Not grasping this unique feeling, WWE decided to have X-Pac create a stable with the rather foolish name of X-Factor. He had the newly debuting Justin Credible as well as Albert as their muscle. On paper, a good team but in practice, they were a mess. Albert is a guy WWE has tried to push several times and it never took while Credible deserved a lot better than being stuck with this. The whole thing ended with Credible joining the Alliance and showcased that the fan hate for X-Pact was way too much to let any faction with him work out well.
17 2002: Thuggin and Buggin Enterprises
Once a ref in WCW, Teddy Long remade himself into a manager and did some terrific work leading Doom to the tag team titles. After a stint as a referee in WWE, Long changed roles in 2002 and it was hoped he’d manage some new great team. Instead, he was leading “Thuggin’ and Buggin’ Enterprises” which at various times comprised of D'Lo Brown, Rodney Mack, Christopher Nowinski, Rosey, Mark Henry and Jazz. It set up the usual stuff of pushing 'black power' complete with wild lines like "Get down wit' da Brown" and to "Back da Mack.”
It basically played up every cliché and stereotype of “urban life” and as talented as Long is as a mouthpiece and manager, he didn’t exactly shine well here.
It didn’t go anywhere and even hurt a few of the folks involved. Long would go on to a run as General Manager for SmackDown and was a lot better off in that role.
16 2003: Hurricane and Rosey (Superhero In Training)
Gregory Helms had been a good light heavyweight in WCW but knew he had to do something to stand out when joining WWE. So he remade himself as the Hurricane, a goofball in a superhero costume, complete with cape. As dumb as it sounded, it actually got over with Helms funny and fans loving his promos and “what’s up with dat?” catchphrase. In 2003, he ran into Rosey, formerly of the lame Three-Minute Warning team and took him under his wing as a “Super Hero In Training.” Note the acronym. This led to nutty segments of the two hanging out backstage and their matches a bit messy. Yet, oddly, the crowds did respond to it and pushed them onward, even giving them a run as tag team champions.
That said, here were two grown men dressed and acting like super heros before a major crowd, a bit much even by WWE standards. They eventually split with Helms briefly retiring the gimmick but it keeps coming back yet trying to sell a hero faction was a bit much.
15 2004: The Cabinet
Today, JBL may be disliked for his attitude and bullying but still recognized as a big star in WWE. However, in 2004, fans weren’t taking well to a long-time mid-carder suddenly elevated to WWE champion. JBL did do well as a heel and pushing his rich persona up nicely. It made sense that he would get some helpers and calling them “The Cabinet” was logical. However, the actual helpers weren’t exactly top notch. Orlando Jordan was a good worker but nowhere near a big enough star and making him just JBL’s lackey hurt. The Basham Brothers had yet another horrible gimmick to put on their extended resume as the flunkies interfering in matches and getting themselves beat up by the likes of Undertaker and Big Show.
Amy Weber was just there for eye candy while Jillian Hall was pushed by her horrible fake mole and annoying attitude. While JBL’s reign was okay, it was marred by this lame pack of followers who didn’t do much to help boost him up.
14 2005: The Mexicools
You really have to wonder if WWE has any sort of “cultural sensitivity” meter. In 2005, after some time ignored, Super Crazy, Psicosis and Juventud Guerrera were packaged together into a new act.
They did promos on how they were sick and tired of being stereotyped and were ready to hit back in Mexican pride. Their way of doing so was…to act out every single stereotype and cliché you could imagine.
They came to the ring riding lawn mowers and their promos included rants on how “we do the jobs blacks don’t want to” and boasting “someday, you gringos will work for us!” That’s not to mention the denim outfits and thick accents so much in their antics. It was insulting and horrible and not that good in the ring either. The whole act was just atrocious and astounding WWE would think fans would get behind it and show such things are never a good idea.
13 2006: The Spirit Squad
This is just idiotic on so many levels. In 2006, DX reformed and soon driving Vince McMahon crazy with their antics. His solution for a great force to fight them off? The Spirit Squad. Yes, WWE tried to push a band of male cheerleaders as some sort of fantastic heel force to fear and intimidate.
It was stupid on multiple levels as they did annoying cheering and while they were okay in the ring, trying to push them as Vince’s personal enforcers was more than a bit ridiculous.
They had a run as tag team champions but come on, who is going to see a pack of male cheerleaders as a force to be reckoned with. Not helping was that despite outnumbering DX, the Squad were easily beaten by HBK and Triple H numerous times and in often humiliating fashion. The most notable of the bunch would have to be Nicky would later go on to become Dolph Ziggler. Amazing a great star got his start in this embarrassing gimmick.
12 2007: Deuce n' Domino
They had a decent run in OVW but Deuce and Domino didn’t quite work out on the main roster. One would think the son of Jimmy Snuka would have inherited some of that great wrestling ability but Deuce was pretty much a mat-based guy without that same high flying style. What was annoying was they were given a gimmick straight out of the 1990s as a pair of ‘50s style greasers. They came out in a period car with a valet named Cherry on roller skates. They were dressed like motorcycle greasers and acted the period as well which didn’t win fans over as expected. The duo had a run as tag team champions but it didn’t work well, they just had no standing with fans and their act dragging the show down. They lost the titles fast and later split to show that trying to base a faction on this period was taking “throwback” too far.
11 2008: La Familia
You’d think anything with Edge would be automatically top-notch thanks to how amazing a star the guy is. But the “La Familia” bit in 2008 didn’t quite win folks over. Edge having a faction didn’t make as much sense as by 2008, as he was a top star and didn’t need the extra push of more guys.
Edge's aides were Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins, both very raw workers and Chavo Guerrero helping with Vickie didn’t help things either.
Hawkins and Ryder had a brief run as tag champions but neither able to rise up to prominence at the times. The Edge/Vickie “romance” was painful to watch and culminated in a wedding that went awry. Edge’s tendency to get injured at the worst times also hit and marred the act further. It just didn’t live up to its potential for his amazing stardom and Edge would have been better off on his own rather than making him the centerpiece of a bad “family” angle.
10 2009: Jeri-Show
There really weren't all that many factions on the roster in 2009, so we'll have to settle for a tag team. Chris Jericho has proven himself a master of making almost any act or partnership work. But even he had trouble with this one. Jericho and Edge had been the tag team champions when Edge was hit by the ever-present injury bug and had to be taken out. Jericho just picked the Big Show to fill the spot and the duo were soon holding the titles. It was an offbeat pair, Jericho handling the main ring work with Show doing his usual feats of strength.
In promos, Jericho took charge as Show was clearly phoning it in a bit and not being as great as he could. It was just a bizarre act that didn’t click nearly as well as one would hope. They got big stuff like a feud with DX and a long reign as champions but clearly an ad hoc team rather than a serious force to show even Jericho can’t always make something work.
9 2010: Straight Edge Society
The sad thing is that this could have been something great. CM Punk was taking off with his “straight edged” lifestyle, pushing his great antics of no smoking or drugs and a huge star. Punk decided to take on a persona of a cult-like leader drawing folks in as he tried to push his lifestyle to others. First off was Luke Gallows, a bruising guy who fit well with his strength. Then came a “fan” named Serena who had her head shaved in the ring and they seemed ready to take off. However, WWE appeared worried about this with fans emulating Punk too much.
They held off adding more members which just hurt them.
That was summed up when Punk threatened Triple H with “the full power of the Society” and he replied “you mean all three of you?”
Then Serena was caught on video drinking in a bar and was fired for breaking kayfabe. Gallows sunk and before long, the SES was disbanded. Really, it could have been something impressive but just fell apart to rank among the worst factions in WWE.
8 2011: The Corre
The debut of The Nexus was a fantastic sight as these rookies came out of nowhere to beat down John Cena and literally tear apart the ringside area. Sadly, WWE never let them grow as they could and shown off as losers. In 2011, they tried to split it apart, missing that if it didn’t work for the New World Order, it sure wouldn’t work for this. When CM Punk took over, he kicked Wade Barrett out. Barrett responded by joining with Heath Slater, Justin Gabriel and Ezekiel Jackson to form this new team.
Barrett himself was quite capable and the idea of him and Punk feuding was good. Sadly, the rest of his guys weren’t. Slater, hadn't yet found his character yet. Gabriel was also pretty raw and not ready for such a big push. Then there was Jackson, the kind of beefy worker Vince McMahon loves but don’t have the goods to back it in the ring.
They did have success with Barrett as IC champion and Slater and Gabriel tag champs. But too often, they came up as losers against The Nexus and were even beaten down bad in just two minutes at WrestleMania by Big Show, Santino, Kane and Kofi Kingston. It just never worked out and showed that splitting up one faction into two rarely ends very well.
7 2012: 3MB
It’s astounding that two of the three members of this have gone on to become world champions. In 2012, Heath Slater, Jinder Mahal and Drew McIntyre were all in very bad slumps. McIntyre was the worst going from a “chosen one” to this level. They were tossed together under the gimmick of being a modern rock band despite how none of them were playing any instruments. It was completely stupid and their antics usually ended with them being totally destroyed by everyone from The Shield to Brock Lesnar.
They were total jobbers and nothing but a lame comedy act that wasn’t even that funny.
They would split with both Mahal and McIntyre leaving.
Since then, McIntyre has gone on to be TNA and NXT champion, Mahal as WWE and US champion and Slater even had a run as tag team champ. Yet somehow, these three tossed together was one sour note for WWE.
6 2013: Los Matadores
Time and again, Primo and Epico have been pushed as a tag team with one crazy gimmick after another. WWE seemed to hold onto them due to their connection to Carlos Colon, a legend in wrestling. At first pushed as themselves, WWE decided to remake them into the most cliché Mexican act imaginable. Out came Los Matadores, a pair of guys dressed like bullfighters with matching capes, tights and horn-headed motifs to help push themselves up. With them was El Torito, a midget dressed like a bull. They were good in the ring but the act just came off utterly ridiculous as they tried to present themselves as a major force. That included El Torito feuding with Hornswoggle in some insane matches.
The act wouldn’t last long as the Colons were remade into the Shining Stars and then just their own names. But it shows how the whole masked motif was just a pile of bull.
5 2014: The Rosebuds
NXT is known for their great work transforming so-so workers into stars. But they have the odd miss and Adam Rose is a clear case. Leo Kruger was an imposing heel who had a lot of promise as a tough guy. But then he transformed himself into Adam Rose, a party guy who loved a wild style. It wasn’t bad but not as effect as his first act had been. Worse was when he joined the main roster and soon coming out with the Rosebuds who he would dub “The Exotic Express.” It may have sounded fun on paper but just came off totally stupid on screen as a pack of nutty party folks would hang around Rose as he headed to the ring and jump and hop around taking selfies and such. A big bit was the Royal Rumble when they were meant to help Rose but ended up saving Kofi Kingston from elimination.
The whole thing was annoying more than anything and that’s without mentioning that the most famous and effective member of the pack was…a guy dressed in a giant bunny costume.
Needless to say, more than a few fans were happy the party was ended given how bad this was.
4 2015: Cosmic Wasteland
The Ascension are an excellent example of how guys great in NXT can falter on the main roster. They were a great tag team, dominating as champions and powerful with a cool motif. But when called up to RAW, they were soon jobbing to the like of the New Age Outlaws and others as WWE didn’t seem to know what to do with them. Meanwhile, Cody Rhodes had been proving himself as a singles star but WWE didn’t seem to think he was main event material. Thus, Cody was forced to become the bizarre Stardust which didn’t suit him. Soon, he formed an alliance with The Ascension under the name of Cosmic Wasteland.
There was potential with this pack, with Stardust as a leader and giving The Ascension a good push. However, they were soon slumping in jobber status and it wasn’t helped by how Cody hated the entire Stardust act. Almost as soon as they got together, they were disbanded with Cody leaving WWE and The Ascension stuck back in the low ranks. All that makeup but nothing “cosmic” about this bunch.
3 2016: The Social Outcasts
Every now and then, WWE just throws a pack of guys together in hopes they somehow click. It did great with the New Day but not everyone is so lucky. In 2016, Bo Dallas, Heath Slater, Curtis Axel and Adam Rose were put together as a group. All four had been in serious slumps and used that for the act, claiming to be “four seeds looking for light” and ready to prove themselves. They started with attacks on the Usos and others and do deserve credit for willingly facing the Wyatt Family. However, The Outcasts were hit when Rose was fired by WWE and the fact they just weren’t that good in the ring or on promos. They were just utter jokes and WWE openly acknowledged that, with the group soon fading fast.
Slater would bounce back winning the tat titles with Rhyno but Dallas and Axel remain way low level, now with The Miz and thus living up to the “Outcasts” name.
2 2017: Absolution
WWE has tried to get women together into factions but it rarely works out well. Even today, with women taken far more seriously in WWE, you still get groups that come off rather poor. In late 2017, Paige made her long-awaited return to WWE, looking good and carried the promise of a major push once again. She proved she didn’t come alone as with her were NXT followers Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville. It frankly was an odd grouping with Deville an MMA-influenced worker while Rose was better known for her outfits than actual ring work.
Calling themselves Absolution, they were soon beating down all the ladies on RAW but faltered when they were pushed to take charge in an equal fight.
They weren’t nearly as effective as they could be and lacked a standout style. Worse was Paige taken out by her neck injury which marred the entire act. You wonder what their future is with Paige now announcing her retirement.
1 2018: Titus Worldwide
Titus O’Neil was a good guy with the Prime Time Players, a decent worker and good on the mic too. However, he suffered after his infamous suspension for giving Vince McMahon an unwanted tug on-screen and that pushed him down. As the year has dawned, Titus is now setting up “Titus Worldwide,” with him and Apollo. Apollo is a guy clearly pushed hard for his look and his ring skills, but has no mic skills or charisma. They haven’t been nearly a capable team, lost in the ranks way too much. There’s also Dana Brooke, once pushed nicely thanks to her talents as a gymnast and weightlifter but now reduced to the “statistician” of the team. They’ve come up short against The Bar and rumors abound all three may be tops on the next “future endeavor” wave. Forget the World, this bunch has a hard time just dominating a single match.