Factions, whether they be good guys or bad guys, have been an important part of wrestling for decades. Sure, it’s fun to watch one determined individual get a wild hair up his gear and go on the title hunt. But, for me, there’s just something about a bunch of angry dudes beating down some other dudes for wrestling reasons. It’s about chemistry, how well the faction works together in the ring, and if separate members can hold their own on the microphone.
I don’t know who your favorite factions are, mostly because I haven’t asked, but here are some of mine. Maybe we can talk about your favorites later over drinks. You’re buying.
The Four Horsemen (No Paul Roma)
Arn Anderson. Tully Blanchard. Ole Anderson. Ric Flair. As the Four Horsemen, those men stomped all over the Jim Crockett Promotions terra with no mercy, no control, and no limits. They broke the hand and ankle of Dusty Rhodes. They derailed the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express. They engaged in vicious battles with the Road Warriors. The Four Horsemen destroyed everything and everyone they came into contact with, and they did it with style.
Flair exuded bleach-blonde machismo, vicious in the ring and salacious on the mic. The Andersons were the quiet guys, but their silence didn’t make them any less dangerous. Tully Blanchard mostly held people while the other three dogpiled their opponents and made big sweaty messes. If you’ve only seen Ric Flair in his watered-down WWE form, you owe it to yourself to see Flair and his compadres having the time of their lives in NWA.
Evolution Draws a Line in the Sand
It was a tremendous, time-spanning concept. Evolution was designed to showcase the past, present, and future of wrestling. Consisting of Triple H, Batista, Randy Orton, and the ubiquitous Ric Flair, Evolution made its debut in 2003. During the course of one night, members of Evolution obtained all the available men’s titles in WWE. Flair and Batista won the World Tag Team Championship titles. Orton defeated Rob Van Dam for the Intercontinental Championship. Papa Trips beat Goldberg and Kane in a triple-threat match to become the World Heavyweight Championship.
The boys were riding high until Orton, Batista and Trips were the only competitors left in an Elimination Chamber match at New Year’s Revolution in 2005. Batista ate the pin from Triple H and things went downhill from there. Finally, the group dissolved when Trips beat Flair in a Last Man Standing match at Survivor Series. Hey, remember when Evolution got back together in 2014 and Batista wore that pastel gear? The crowd called him Bluetista. That was fun.
This Entry is Brought to You by the New World Order
On May 27, 1996, the wrestling world was set on its ear when WWE superstar Scott Hall showed up during a live televised broadcast of WCW Nitro. “You people,” Hall said, grabbing a microphone and interrupting a match, “you know who I am. But you don’t know why I’m here.” Within the span of a few weeks, we figured out what Hall was doing. With his pal Kevin Nash, and the mysterious Third Man (who turned out to be super-babyface Hulk Hogan), Hall formed the New World Order.
Perhaps the most popular heel faction of all time, the nWo drew in tons of talent, including WCW president Eric Bischoff. “You people want a war?” Hall asked during his surprise debut. “You got one.” Faced with a clear and present ratings danger, WWE began presenting more adult-oriented programming. The Monday Night Wars had begun and wrestling would never be the same.
All Glory to the House
A lot of wrestlers have gone down the supernatural path, adding a little bit of old-time spookshow to their gimmick. Kane used to set the ringposts on fire with his mind bullets or something. The Boogeyman used to eat worms. And then, there’s the House of Black. With the wickedly intellectual and arcane Malakai Black, House members Brody King and Buddy Matthews are indomitable competitors.
King enjoys holding his opponents over the top rope while choking them. Black has the best spinning back kick in the business. Matthews can work a guy on the mat until he’s a powerless mass of flesh putty. With former cheerleader Julia Hart on the outside, sullenly staring at the ring while her boys go to work, the House of Black elicits chills while inflicting violence on their allegedly innocent prey. And if there’s a better entrance in wrestling right now, I don’t know what it is.
Sierra Hotel India Echo Lima Delta
If you’ve been following Around the Loop for a little minute, you knew this was coming. The Shield is my favorite faction of all time, and I don’t even watch WWE anymore. The team of Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, and Jon Moxley were the Hounds of Justice. That didn’t make a lick of sense, because it seemed like they beat the hell out of anyone. Face, heel, member of management, it didn’t matter. They made their way through the crowd, hit the ring and got the job done. Their triple powerbomb was a thing of beauty.
Relentless, they were, willing to do anything and everything to win their battles. Even after Seth Rollins was seduced by The Authority and Dean Ambrose got the hell out of Stamford to join AEW as Jon Moxley, something about The Shield remained legendary. Predetermined? Okay. Choreographed? Whatever. When you think of The Shield as they were, in their prime, be kind and speak of them well. In a world where champions come and go, The Shield is legendary.
What are your favorite factions? Where are we drinkin’? Just get me a pitcher. I’ll be there in a minute.