Part 3 in a series called ‘Gang Warfare’ – 7 years ago last week, The Nexus debuted in the WWE creating one of the most exciting factions in years. In honour of their debut, we’re looking at some lesser known factions in the world of professional wrestling (at least to the mainstream audience). In Part 3, Ryan Smith looks at 5 factions that had the potential to become legendary but through neglect and misdirection, ended up falling just a bit flat.
If you’re a wrestling fan, there’s one thing you just can’t deny. Factions are a ton of fun. There’s something cool about a gang of wrestlers running together, and throughout history, the sport has been defined by them. The Four Horsemen. D-Generation X. The nWo. The Shield. Bullet Club. Throughout wrestling history, there have been some awesome factions. But what about the factions that should have been, but never were? Here’s a list of the top five misused WWE factions.
Ranking the Top Five Misused WWE Factions
League of Nations
On paper, the League of Nations were obnoxiously talented. Sheamus, Rusev, Barrett, and Alberto Del Rio are all respected workers, and any one of them could’ve been a believable WWE World Heavyweight Champion… if booked correctly. The group ran strong for a half of a second, but then they quickly became the big dog’s chew toy. They beat New Day at WrestleMania, but never felt like a viable threat, and soon the group disbanded. If WWE had put any work into the League of Nations at all, they could’ve been really great.
Straight Edge Society
Any fan of the straight-edge superstar, CM Punk, immediately lights up when you mention the Straight Edge Society. The premise of the SES was simple. CM Punk didn’t drink, smoke, or do drugs, and as a result, he was better than you. The straight edge gimmick had been a staple in Punk’s character since his days on the indies, but when he brought it to WWE, he really had fun with it.
He was able to convert Festus (Luke Gallows, a faction man), Joey Mercury, and Selena into his followers, and became heel wrestling Jesus. That’s not hyperbole, Punk would get on the microphone and cut sermons. He could create more heat than a flamethrower, and to this day, the video of him singing happy birthday to Rey Mysterio‘s children is terrifying.
How did WWE repay Punk? By having he and the SES lose just about every feud they were involved in. Punk had a wildly entertaining run in the 2010 Royal Rumble, where he would cut promos after every elimination, but, much like most of his career, his run was quickly extinguished by Triple H.
Let me pitch a faction to you. Eddie Guerrero, Perry Saturn, Chris Benoit, and Dean Malenko. Excited? Now imagine them as invaders from WCW to WWF at the height of the Monday Night War. Loving it? Great.
Now imagine they debuted on Raw, lost all their matches on SmackDown, lost their pay per view debut, and failed to win gold as a unit. Confused? Well you shouldn’t be. Vince McMahon was not about to let people come over from WCW and beat his guys. It’s a damn shame though, because these four could’ve really been something special. This is a forgettable faction, but one that never even sniffed the beginning of their full potential.
When you think of failed storylines in modern professional wrestling, the Nexus comes to mind almost immediately. Wade Barrett, David Otunga, Justin Gabriel, Heath Slater, Darren Young, Skip Sheffield (Ryback), Michael Tarver, and Daniel Bryan formed the Nexus, the disgruntled members of the original NXT show. When they debuted on the June 7th, 2010 episode of Raw, they made history, interrupting a match between CM Punk and John Cena, destroying both men, as well as the ring. It felt different, and it seemed like the sky was the limit for this young, hungry team.
They attacked everyone from Jerry “The King” Lawler to Bret Hart to Vince McMahon himself, and they felt genuinely dangerous. Annnnd then SummerSlam happened.
The Nexus took on the team of John Cena, R-Truth, John Morrison, Edge, Chris Jericho, Bret Hart, and a returning Daniel Bryan, and for most of the match, it was very good. But the group, and most importantly, its leader, never recovered from the ending.
Eventually it was Cena vs. Justin Gabriel and Barrett, and after Barrett hit Cena with a DDT on exposed concrete, it should’ve been over. Barrett should’ve gotten the win, and gone on to become a multiple time world champion. Instead, Cena kicked out, pinned Gabriel, and made Barrett tap. CenaWinsLOL indeed.
Barrett feuded with Cena, and eventually for the title, but the Nexus had lost their steam. They slowly became just another group, and stuck around far too long. The stuff with CM Punk isn’t even worth getting into, even if it did lead to one of the best promos of all time.
The Invasion storyline is one of the most disappointing angles in the history of professional wrestling. When WWE essentially buried every other American wrestling promotion, fans were excited. For the first time, hundreds of dream matches were possible. What would happen if D-X fought the nWo? Who would win between Sting and Undertaker? In a WWF vs. WCW war, who would win?
Well, we all knew that Vince McMahon wasn’t going to let WCW win, even on WWF programming, but the dream matches! The nWo, Goldberg, and Sting taking on the WWF’s best and brightest? What could go wrong?
What went wrong was easy. The WCW stars had guaranteed contracts, and were content to sit them out. Vince could’ve bought out the contracts of stars like Goldberg or the nWo, but he claimed they were too expensive. So instead, we got Lance Storm, Hugh Morris, and a collection of ECW stars.
Not only was the Alliance lacking the elite star-power, but they weren’t taken seriously at all. Eventually it became about what every WWE storyline is about, the McMahons. And instead of Eric Bischoff commanding an army of WCW legends against WWF’s brightest, we got Vince vs. Shane and Stephanie.
Even with his own people in the Alliance, they were easily disposed of, and the invasion was over before it began. It’s hard to imagine that we’ll ever see a biggest wasted opportunity than the invasion, and the Alliance, which could’ve been the greatest faction of all time.