This second possibility is allowing young or unknown talent to work at the top level under the guise of a lackey or secondary figure in a faction. In fact, four of the most successful superstars from the past 20 years started out in this position.
The Rock may be best known for his time as the figurehead of The Corporation, but he made his initial splash as the understudy to Ron Simmons in the Nation of Domination. Triple H was second in command to Shawn Michaels when DX originally formed, and the development of Randy Orton and Dave Batista into stars was the whole point of the faction known as Evolution.
As hinted at by the number of stars utilizing this method, being introduced to the WWE Universe in this manner appears to have many advantages.
One of the main benefits appears to be the chance to learn on the main show. The slow exposure to the WWE fanbase allows the wrestler to be accepted into the fold, while mistakes in the limelight are not so important as an experienced partner can step in if problems occur.
Spending time with more experienced stars who are already comfortable with their very public image also seems to help. Perhaps these less experienced wrestlers learn to display themselves as champions, or simply the connection to a great name in the business increases their worth.
The final conflict between the teacher and his pupil may also be a key element, as the young star is guaranteed at least one great feud against a top name to add to their résumé before striking out on their own.
All in all, it looks like using factions to build new names is a foolproof and proven plan in elevating young wrestlers to the top of the business.
Yet the last three major factions have all failed to create a star that has been elevated into WWE or World Heavyweight title contention. CM Punk’s Straight Edge Society rampaged across Smackdown, but neither Luke Gallows nor Serena are still with the company.
Most of the Nexus—and the New Nexus afterthought—are still with WWE, but few have made a major splash. Daniel Bryan has been the World Heavyweight champion, but he left Nexus after a single week while Wade Barrett was the leader of the group, so they cannot be considered wrestlers who were lifted by being secondary figures in the group.
Ryback was technically in Nexus, but a complete change of character rather dismisses any link between cause and effect, and the rest are jobbers bumbling around WWE’s tag team division.
Most surprising of all is the failure of Legacy to produce a star. Considering all the members were second- or third-generation talents, their failure to make the step into WWE or World Heavyweight title contention is a real blow. This group, more than any other, may be the reason for the WWE’s current reluctance to use factions as a source of promoting new talent in the company.
A counter-argument could be that two leaders of these factions—CM Punk and Wade Barrett—were not established enough names at the time to give the talent under them the rub they needed to become stars. Orton continually undermined his understudies during the run of Legacy, and he then came out on top in their encounter at WrestleMania, halting the momentum of Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase.
Whether factions can still be used to promote talent will only be discovered when that option is tried once again.