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Factions Driving New-Look WWE

Since the dawn of professional wrestling, factions, also known as stables, have not only generated some of the greatest moments in the business, but they have helped wrestlers rejuvenize their career. Some of the greatest factions in WWE history (The Four Horseman, The Nation of Domination, D-Generation X, The NWO, Evolution, The Shield, The New Day, The Four Horsewomen) have featured Future Hall of Famers and were the launching pad to their superstardom. Superstars like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Triple H, Randy Orton, Batista, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins were all in these factions before becoming World Champions and bonafide Hall of Famers.

The NWO helped transition Hulk Hogan into a heel character in WCW once his Real American Act became stale, as well as solidifying Kevin Nash and Scott Hall as two of the greatest heels of all time. The NWO helped make not only WCW mainstream, but the entire wrestling business during the height of the Monday Night Wars. The New Day arguably saved the careers of Big E, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods. All three talents were stuck in the mid-card with no true direction in late 2014, but by 2016, they were arguably the hottest act in WWE, and they still hold the record for longest Tag Team title reign in the company’s long illustrious history of 483 days.

Tag team wrestling had been a little bit of a lost art in Vince McMahon’s WWE before he abruptly retired in late July due to a scandal involving sexual misconduct. After The New Day’s 483-day reign, the longest title reign for Tag Champions was The Street Profits from March - October 2020 (223 days), but they never were the main acts for the show and never truly had an important feud. In fact, their title reign ended due to them moving from RAW to SmackDown in the WWE Draft, and they swapped titles with The New Day, who were the SmackDown champs at the time.

Before his retirement, McMahon focused on the tag division a little more in 2022. The Usos and RK-BRO was the main feud on both RAW and SmackDown after WrestleMania 38, as both teams were looking to unify both championships, which the Usos eventually did in May. The Street Profits, Alpha Academy, Rollins and Kevin Owens, the Viking Raiders, Rick Boogs and Shinsuke Nakamura and Rey Mysterio and his son Dominik created a deep tag team division on both brands that produced multiple match of the year candidates with both the Usos and RK-BRO during the early part of the year, something that hadn’t been seen in WWE in a long time.

Since Triple H has taken over creative from his father-in-law though, not only has the WWE product been better as a whole, but one thing has been made clear: The focus on factions, not just tag teams, would be returning and would be back for good.

Since “The Game” has gotten his hands on the main roster, stables have driven the show, just like they had when he was in charge of the “Black and Gold” era of WWE’s developmental brand, NXT. Over on the blue brand, there’s little time on the show when not one member of The Bloodline is on the TV screen. The addition of Sami Zayn as the “Honorary Uce” has brought comedic value to the group that is firing on all cylinders and provides a different element to the group that has ran roughshod over WWE since August 2020, especially when “The Tribal Chief” is not around. The Usos brother, Solo Sikoa, as the enforcer of The Bloodline also adds to the numbers of the group, making it so when Reigns is not there, there’s always three members of the family at the arena to take care of family business at all times instead of two.

Along with The Bloodline, The Brawling Brutes, which seemed to have no direction under McMahon’s regime, has found their groove under Triple H’s direction. Alongside Butch and Ridge Holland, Sheamus has revitalized his career in 2022, having multiple match of the year candidates with the leader of another faction, IMPERIUM, in GUNTHER, and The Brawling Brutes have went from badass heels to beloved babyfaces organically. Sheamus has fallen short of GUNTHER’s Intercontinental Championship twice, and both times the WWE Universe has clamored for a rematch between the two bulls. The two teams faced off in a Good Old Fashioned Donnybrook Match at Extreme Rules, and it might have been the match of the night.

On RAW, outside of the United States Championship, the main acts have been Damage CTRL (Bayley and the Women’s Tag Team Champions IYO SKY and Dakota Kai) and The JudgMent Day (Finn Balor, Damian Priest, Rhea Ripley and Dominik Mysterio). JudgMent Day, a lot like The Brawling Brutes, were stuck in neutral during the McMahon era, but under “The Cerebral Assassin”, they have direction and purpose, especially since bringing Dominik Mysterio into the fold after he turned on his father at Clash of the Castle. The element of Ripley guiding Dominik has made the young Mysterio a hated heel, and the way Balor and Priest made WWE Hall of Famer Edge watch Ripley deliver a con-chair-to to an already unconscious Beth Phoenix (the wife of Edge and another Hall of Famer) at Extreme Rules was Class-A heel work and left the WWE Universe wanting to see Edge get his revenge on the group he created.

Ever since forming at SummerSlam, Bayley, Kai and SKY have taken control (pun-intended) of the women’s division on Monday nights, and as the Women’s Tag Team Champions, they are in almost every single women’s segment on both brands each week outside of the SmackDown Women’s Championship.

With Reigns being The Undisputed Universal Champion and not on TV every week, both RAW and SmackDown need more than just the other WWE championships to drive their storylines, and the answer to that in the post-McMahon era has been factions to this point, and the current storylines should all culminate when WarGames makes its main roster debut at Survivor Series Thanksgiving weekend.

Stables use to be a vocal point of WWE’s programming in the 1990s, and after not being a main focus for most of the last two decades, it seems as though they are here to stay in this new era of WWE.

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