Power-Ranking Every Active WWE and AEW Trio and Faction

Erik Beaston@@ErikBeastonFeatured ColumnistSeptember 13, 2020

Power-Ranking Every Active WWE and AEW Trio and Faction

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    Credit: WWE.com

    There are few better ways to maximize the use of a large roster in professional wrestling than through factions and trios.

    Not only does it help get more performers on television, but it also gives those who may be struggling to make an impact on their own the opportunity to feed off the popularity and legitimacy of their stablemates.

    Over the years, groups like The Four Horsemen, Evolution and The Shield have spawned enormous stars and created some of the most memorable moments of their generations.

    Today, WWE and All Elite Wrestling are dominated by both trios and factions.

    Some are better than others. In celebration of the sheer wealth of talent in wrestling, and the success they are finding in groups, enjoy this look at the best and most effective factions and trios in both AEW and WWE today.

Honorable Mention: The Elite (Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks)

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    The Young Bucks and Kenny Omega revolutionized the industry across New Japan Pro-Wrestling, Ring of Honor and All Elite Wrestling. They were largely responsible for igniting a spark in wrestling that made the entertainment art form as popular as it had been in years and helped to create a true alternative to WWE.

    On screen, though, the foundation of the faction is splintering with every passing week. 

    Hangman Page was kicked out of The Elite a few weeks back for costing The Bucks a tag title opportunity. Omega is one bad day away from reintroducing The Cleaner and becoming a nightmare for everyone on the AEW roster. The Bucks are showing an aggression and meanness that has never been synonymous with their personas.

    The evolution of everyone involved makes the future of The Elite cloudy and the likelihood that we see them as any sort of united force going forward extremely uncertain.

    Still, even if the group's days are numbered, The Elite deserves recognition on this list for everything it has accomplished and changed in an industry that desperately needed refreshing.

15. Retribution (Who Knows?!)

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    If it were not for The Elite barely existing at this point, Retribution would rightfully be at the bottom of this list.

    Vince McMahon and Co. do not care about the group, about evolving it or giving fans any reason to care about them besides the flickering of some lights and nondescript beatdowns. They are nameless, faceless, personality-less and, as we have witnessed over the past few months of television, directionless.

    The creative team behind Raw clearly has no idea what it wants to do with Retribution, what it is supposed to entail or why it exists. There has not been a single hint as to who these people are, but there has been plenty of seriously inconsistent booking.

    They come and go as they please, wreaking about the same amount of havoc as a good old-fashioned heel beatdown, and disappear.

    Recently, they discovered whatever voice distortion machine Nailz used 30 years ago to deliver their first spoken message to underwhelming results.

    What was a reactionary answer to sagging television ratings has become a half-assed faction with no clear vision or upside.

14. SCU (Christopher Daniels, Frankie Kazarian and Scorpio Sky)

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    SCU, like The Elite, finds itself apart more than together these days, but they are technically still an active faction within All Elite Wrestling and have thus earned their spot on this countdown.

    Christopher Daniels, Frankie Kazarian and Scorpio Sky have no problem tearing the house down and then telling the fans that their town is the worst they have even been in. Lately, though, Sky has seized the spotlight and embarked on a singles run.

    This past Labor Day weekend, he teamed with Matt Cardona, Dustin Rhodes and QT Marshall in a victory over The Dark Order, reminding fans that his future is as bright as he wants it to be.

    Kazarian has enjoyed his fair share of success too, even taking AEW world champion Jon Moxley to the limit this summer.

    The trio is one of the cornerstones of AEW, a group upon whom the foundation of the company was built. While they may not have as many standout moments as they did earlier in the company's run, they are still a faction Tony Khan and the rest of the creative forces can put on TV and expect great in-ring action, oodles of charisma and a damn fun product.

13. Legado del Fantasma (Santos Escobar, Joaquin Wilde and Raul Mendoza)

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    Current WWE cruiserweight champion Santos Escobar, Raul Mendoza and Joaquin Wilde form Legado del Fantasma, a trio of competitors who are still looking to leave their mark on NXT.

    They exploded on to the scene last spring when Wilde and Mendoza joined El Hijo del Fantasma for a beatdown of Drake Maverick. The centerpiece then removed his mask, revealing himself to be Escobar and putting the rest of the locker room on notice.

    Lately, their momentum has been stunted by a few losses, including a Street Fight defeat to Breezango and Swerve Scott.

    Still, their upside is limitless, especially if they can continue to back up an impressive package with strong in-ring work.

12. Gallus

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    Joe and Mark Coffey and Wolfgang have wreaked havoc across NXT UK as Gallus, a trio of bruisers who can flirt the fine line between good and evil on a whim.

    On one night, they may beat the ever-loving hell out of the popular underdog Ilja Dragunov. The next? A throwdown with Imperium for brand supremacy.

    Joe has experienced success as a main event singles competitor, challenging both Walter and Pete Dunne for the brand's world title, while Wolfgang and Mark have held tag team gold.

    Like everyone in NXT UK, their momentum came to a screeching halt as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the brand's impending return to WWE Network should see the resumption of their unflinching beatdowns on the rest of the roster.

11. The Nightmare Family (Cody, Natural Nightmares, Nightmare Sisters)

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    The Nightmare Family is a faction in the loosest sense.

    Cody is the leader and focal point, Dustin Rhodes is his brother, QT Marshall is the best friend, Brandi Rhodes is Cody's wife and Allie is Marshall's love interest with potentially ulterior motives. Throw in head coach Arn Anderson, and you have a group that has the potential to be a dominant force in All Elite Wrestling. However, they are really just a glorified entourage for the former TNT champion.

    The group backs up Cody and enters arenas with him for big matches but only serves a purpose when its members are either catching an ass-whooping for Cody or avenging him.

    Despite the questionable creative, they are a high-profile element of AEW TV and still have tremendous upside to be a real threat as a more traditional faction—especially if Cody completes the heel turn that was subtly teased over the summer.

10. Lucha House Party

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    As recently as two months ago, Lucha House Party would have been at or near the bottom of this list.

    A trio of talented competitors who have been utilized as glorified enhancement talent, putting over other stars at their own expense, they were as recognizable for getting their asses kicked as they were for building any momentum of their own.

    Then came the Elimination Chamber on March 8, when Lince Dorado and Gran Metalik were the breakout stars of the match. Throw in a hint or two of a push here and there, and there was finally reason to sit up and take notice of the team.

    Now that Kalisto has returned, reuniting the faction at full strength, they appear on their way to bigger and better things.

    At least after Friday's episode of SmackDown, when they set aside their bickering long enough for Metalik and Kalisto to defeat blue brand tag champs Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro.

    The only hurdle facing the team is a teased breakup because of issues between Dorado and Kalisto.

    Still, that hurdle cannot take away from the increased television time and creative efforts paid to Lucha House Party in recent months, not to mention the abundance of talent all three competitors possess.

    Hopefully it all comes together to provide that spark the trio has waited to enjoy.

9. Eddie Kingston's Band of Misfits (Lucha Bros, The Butcher and The Blade)

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    So Penta El Zero M, Rey Fenix, The Butcher and The Blade may not be called Eddie Kingston's Merry Bunch of Misfits, but at least it's more than AEW has given us to work with to this point.

    Lack of name notwithstanding, The Lucha Bros, Butcher, Blade and mouthpiece/hard-hitting competitor extraordinaire Kingston have quickly formed a faction with a ton of upside. Two of the more brutal yet directionless tag teams in the industry, accompanied by a grizzled vet with tons of vision and unrivaled promo skills, the group could easily stake its claim to dominance within AEW.

    If they can coexist, that is.

    Kingston brought the two teams together because he recognized what a united front could mean for them.

    It has been a bumpy ride thus far, including a shoving match between brothers Penta and Fenix on Wednesday's episode of Dynamite, but the potential for dominance remains. The manipulative Kingston will do everything in his power to ensure it, and when the teams under his guidance prove no longer useful, he will discard and replace them, making his faction that much more dangerous and unpredictable.

8. Best Friends (Trent, Chuck Taylor and Orange Cassidy)

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    Chuck Taylor, Trent and Orange Cassidy have formed one of the most popular trios in AEW and continue to find success, even as the latter enjoys an enormous push.

    Cassidy recently found himself feuding with Chris Jericho and The Inner Circle, and when he most needed backup, Trent and Taylor were there. And vice versa when Best Friends found themselves climbing the tag team ranks.

    There is a camaraderie and friendship with the group that has been established since day one of AEW Dynamite, and the result is a faction Tony Khan and AEW creative can continue to go back to when they need to. Even if Cassidy becomes a megastar, the relationship can be revisited from time to time, with Chuck and Trent having his unwavering support and him, theirs.

    You know—like best friends.

7. Jurassic Express (Luchasaurus, Marko Stunt and Jungle Boy)

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    Jurassic Express features young daredevil Marko Stunt, explosive big man Luchasaurus and one of the future faces of AEW, Jungle Boy. Together, they have made the most of what initially felt like a hodgepodge collection of talent, becoming a well-oiled machine and one of the company's most popular acts.

    That Jungle Boy is getting better and better with every passing week, showing off why commentators like Jim Ross and Excalibur routinely put him over as one of the stars of the future, only helps the trio's star burn brighter.

    Their recent performances against The Young Bucks and Kenny Omega, Lucha Bros and The Butcher and The Blade have only served to enhance their credibility, while an upcoming match against tag champs FTR will solidify their position as a top team in the ultra-competitive tag division.

    There is a lot to love about the trio, but the energy with which they approach every match, win or lose, is infectious and makes them one of the must-watch acts in a company brimming with engaging performers.

6. Imperium (Walter, Fabian Aichner, Marcel Barthel and Alexander Wolfe)

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    Walter, Alexander Wolfe, Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel combine to make up Imperium, the most imposing and seemingly insurmountable force in NXT UK.

    The WWE United Kingdom champion, Walter is a brute force, a professional wrestler who can take you to the mat and work a submission as well as he can chop the ever-loving hell out of anyone silly enough to challenge for his gold.

    Wolfe is the relentless enforcer of the group, while Aichner and Barthel are superb athletes who have won tag team gold in both the UK and U.S. versions of the black and gold brand.

    They have sparred with Gallus, defeated The Undisputed Era and probably would have been even higher on this list had it not been for a pandemic halting their momentum. With the renewal of NXT UK tapings later in September, expect Imperium to reestablish dominance and set themselves up for a strong finish to 2020.

5. The Dark Order

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    No faction on this list had the inauspicious start that The Dark Order did.

    Met with silence upon Evil Uno's and Stu Grayson's arrivals at Double or Nothing 2019, and enduring questionable booking decisions for the better part of its first year, the group appeared to be AEW's first massive failure.

    Then came The Exalted One, Mr. Brodie Lee.

    The artist formerly known as Luke Harper in WWE brought a certain amount of recognition and star power. The underrated additions of John Silver and Alex Reynolds, as well as Alan Angels and Preston Vance, helped give the cult-like faction actual wrestlers as minions rather than masked unknowns with no credibility.

    Anna Jay's inclusion as the first lady of The Dark Order and Colt Cabana's loose connection has helped elevate Dark Order to the top of AEW. Lee's dominant, one-sided victory over Cody for the TNT Championship only further cemented their status as the hottest group in AEW.

    Expect that to continue as Lee and Co. build momentum.

4. The New Day (Kofi Kingston, Big E and Xavier Woods)

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    The New Day may be plagued by injuries—with Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods both on the shelf, allowing Big E to give it a go as a singles competitor—but it is still an elite faction whenever they set foot inside a squared circle.

    Just a year ago, Kingston carried the WWE Championship while Big E and Woods reigned as tag champs. They were the faces of Friday Night SmackDown, and since their rise in 2015, they have been the most consistently great and entertaining faction in the company.

    Charismatic, wildly entertaining and extraordinarily over, they have become a staple of WWE programming and set themselves up for a Hall of Fame induction when their in-ring careers are over.

    And none of it ever should have happened.

    Handed a preacher gimmick they knew wouldn't work, they toyed with it, adjusted it and were unafraid to be themselves. The result was one of the most engaging acts in the sport, let alone Vince McMahon's traveling circus.

    That all three performers have been outspoken across different platforms about their desire to remain a team despite any one star's singles success proves the love and admiration they have for each other and how much they want to continue their journey together.

3. The Inner Circle (Chris Jericho, Sammy Guevara, Santana, Ortiz, Jake Hager)

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    The Inner Circle has fallen on some tough times of late, struggling with the likes of Orange Cassidy, Best Friends and Matt Hardy, but the lead heel faction of AEW will rebound—and it may be via the tag team division.

    Wednesday's episode of Dynamite saw Chris Jericho and Jake Hager defeat Sonny Kiss and Joey Janela before expressing their desire to challenge for the AEW Tag Team Championship. Santana and Ortiz, meanwhile, attacked Best Friends in the latest chapter of their rivalry. 

    Those teams have the opportunity to forge separate paths in the tag division, leaving Sammy Guevara to embark on a singles run that could see him enjoy the type of success most foresee for him.

    There has been no faction more dominant, prevalent or significant to the success of AEW than The Inner Circle, thanks largely to the presence of Jericho. They have been a staple of the young company and will continue to be, especially as Hager, Guevara, Santana and Ortiz feed off The Demo God's undeniable star power.

    If only those young stars could win when Jericho is not around, then the faction would be truly unstoppable.

2. The Hurt Business (MVP, Bobby Lashley, Shelton Benjamin and Cedric Alexander)

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    The Hurt Business gained a new member on Monday's episode of Raw, as Cedric Alexander betrayed Ricochet and Apollo Crews to join MVP, Shelton Benjamin and United States champion Bobby Lashley in a faction that is already establishing dominance on the flagship.

    Having wreaked havoc on Raw Underground and relieved Crews of the U.S. title, the faction appears to be ready to become the most unstoppable force on Monday nights.

    Whether that includes another main event run from Lashley or maybe sustained singles success for Alexander remains to be seen. What the faction has done is breathed life into the careers of MVP and Benjamin, both of whom are valuable veterans with established legacies in WWE.

    Lashley is the star—that much we know—but Alexander now has the opportunity to showcase his abilities (both in the ring and on the mic) alongside them, all while siphoning their credibility and star power. That is invaluable for him and will only help to strengthen a faction that has made the most of the opportunities presented to them en route to becoming a key part of Raw in late 2020.

1. Undisputed Era (Adam Cole, Roderick Strong, Kyle O'Reilly and Bobby Fish)

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    The best faction in either AEW or WWE right now is, without a doubt, Undisputed Era.

    Captained by the longest-reigning NXT Champion in the brand's history, Adam Cole, the group consists of hard-hitters Kyle O'Reilly and Bobby Fish, as well as backbreaker aficionado Roderick Strong.

    Together, they have beaten down, disposed of and captured gold from every major act to walk through the NXT doors over the past three years. Aleister Black, Ricochet, Velveteen Dream, Keith Lee, Pete Dunne, Matt Riddle, Imperium, Trent Seven, Tyler Bate, The Viking Raiders, Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano have all felt their wrath.

    In the process, Undisputed Era has become the standard-bearer for NXT, a modern take on The Four Horsemen, if you will. They have established dominance and, more importantly, excellence as they have plowed over and through anyone between them and the top of the brand.

    Recently, Cole has been exhibiting signs of a babyface turn. It will be interesting to see whether that affects the dynamic of the group or even forces O'Reilly, Strong and Fish to re-examine things and potentially boot their leader from the faction.

    Either way, Undisputed Era figures to remain the most prominent and dangerous faction in NXT.

    And, if they have their way, the entire industry.