A lot of folks like to proclaim the start of the Attitude Era as when Stone Cold Steve Austin beat Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania 14. The Attitude Era had been going strong for over a year. There’s a lot of things the new WWE PG era can’t adopt, but there’s one major element that could potentially renew interest in the current product — a return to faction wars.
Sparks of the Attitude Era began when Bret Hart cursed out Vince McMahon. Even more developed in Bret’s Wrestlemania 13 match, but it was the reformation of the first true Attitude Era faction — The Hart Foundation that got things rolling.
The Harts provided a major obstacle for Stone Cold in his war against Hart culminating in the In Your House Canadian Stampede. Writers Vince Russo and Ed Ferrara realized they had a good thing going and expanded the factions.
First was the new look Nation of Domination with Farooq, D-Lo Brown, Kama and eventually The Rock and Mark Henry. They battled Nation off-shoots The Disciples of the Apocalypse and Los Boricuas. The latter two were essentially used to give Crush and Savio Vega something to do while raising the profile of the Nation.
Shawn Michaels formed Degeneration-X with Triple H, Chyna and Rick Rude, which quickly became the dominant faction following the Montreal Screwjob. This led to the Nation challenging DX through 1998 for top faction honors. And eventually, this feud evolved into The Corporation vs DX and more importantly Stone Cold vs. The Corporation and Corporate Ministry.
That quickly abbreviated history from the WWF’s peak hopefully showed the backbone of that period was factions warring against each other. And a hero going against all of them. Through 97-98, Austin battled against The Hart Foundation, The Nation, DX, The Corporation and Corporate Ministry.
How can that apply in today’s WWE? The modern WWE is arguably even better suited for a renewed emphasis of factions. Few things inspire as much devotion to everyday people than rooting for their favorite sports team. In wrestling, factions = teams. Look at the obsession/fanfare over Bullet Club followers. It’s not a magic formula and WWE has all the ingredients in place now.
The Miztourage – Miz already has his faction in place, but they’ve been booked like losers. With Maryse away on maternal leave, a worthwhile addition/replacement for The Miztourage would be Andrade Cien Almas. And a bonus, he brings his own hot valet Zelina Vega to fill-in for Maryse, which would eventually lead to some strife if/when Maryse returns.
The Wyatt Family – Bray Wyatt’s solo run has been floundering for years. He never shone brighter than as the cryptic, mysterious leader of the Wyatt Family. And Luke Harper and Erik Rowan aren’t doing anything anyway. Reunite them and make the family mean something again.
Team ROH – There’s no need to keep Adam Cole and Redragon down in NXT long. Move them to the main roster following Survivor Series and let them raise havoc on RAW or Smackdown. These guys would match up real nicely with some other three-man squads and if they need reinforcements there’s always Roddy Strong.
The Four Horsewomen – It’s weird how WWE references something that fans have never actually seen on camera. With the shine lost on the original NXT revolutionaries, make their off-screen alliance a thing in front of the camera. There’s enough women on the roster now and with NXT supplements that this faction could bring something new to the division. And just think of all the various marketing potential. That’s before the potential face-off with Ronda Rousey’s Four Horsewomen.
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New Day – This one is obvious. With a slew of new factions to battle New Day won’t be forced into always having to choose which member is sitting on the sidelines. And a faction war would help reinvigorate them like their feud with The Usos.
The Shield – WWE keeps teasing this, but if there’s any way to keep Roman Reigns over, it’s as the heavy-hitter/silent leader of his former alliance with Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins. Triple H reunited DX in the peak of his most dominant run in 2000. Reigns hasn’t gotten to that point yet, but this would be ideal to get the fans solidly behind him.
The Club – As much as I like Finn Balor, I loved Prince Devitt and want to see him reunite with his buddies Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows. Balor hasn’t really gotten the best chance to showcase his awesome heel charisma and he’d had the ideal foil all set for him…
Why no AJ? He’s WWE’s biggest star and the one best suited to war against every faction in the Stone Cold role. And if he needed the occasional tag partner, Braun Strowman or Shinsuke Nakamura would be great candidates. Imagine a Wrestlemania headlined by AJ vs Balor for the Universal title?
With ratings and attendance trending downwards, WWE needs to do something to spark things up. The faction focus definitely played a major factor in reversing the WWF’s fortunes in the Attitude Era. It’s worth at least trying something that worked magic before, right?