October 22, 2021

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The Elite: The Greatest Faction in AEW History

AEW is a promotion which puts great emphasis on their factions. Stables, the term coined after the famous Four Horsemen, are multi-men groups in wrestling, that wrestle together and have each others backs in physical conflict. There are many factions in AEW, from Jurassic Express, to the Best Friends, even to the ultimate jobbers The Wing Men. But only one faction stands head and shoulders above the rest. The best faction in AEW history is of course, The Elite.

The Elite in AEW

Pre-AEW

The name All Elite Wrestling, which AEW stands for, came from the group “The Elite”. The Elite were a branch of Bullet Club, a popular stable in New Japan Pro Wrestling. The Elite was originally comprised of just Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks, Matt and Nick Jackson. The trio wanted to differentiate themselves from the growing members of the Bullet Club, and saw themselves as the true starts. They saw themselves as better than their cohorts, as the Elite wrestlers in the group. Thus the Elite moniker was born.

By the end of 2018, the trio had added more members to the ranks of the Elite. Hangman Adam Page, from Ring of Honor, joined the group, as did English grappler Marty Scurll. Former WWE superstar Cody Rhodes was the biggest name to join the group. Former IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kota Ibushi also joined the group, as part of his tag team with Kenny Omega, The Golden Lovers. It should be said that he wasn’t a permanent fixture of the group. At All In, the precursor show to AEW, Ibushi teamed with the Young Bucks under the name The Golden Elite. This implies that he was not a full fledged member of the Elite, as he did not wrestler under The Elite name.

The Birth of AEW

By the time January 2019 rolled around, and Tony Khan announced AEW as the new wrestling promotion, the Elite were not complete. Marty Scurll still had time on his Ring of Honor contract, and would later be accused of various sexual offences. The Elite distanced themselves from Scurll, and to this day he has not made an appearance in AEW. Ibushi also did not follow the Elite to AEW, staying in NJPW where he become a world champion.

So by the time AEW was born, the Elite consisted of Kenny Omega, the Young Bucks, Cody Rhodes and Hangman Adam Page. However, Cody Rhodes would soon distance himself with the group. He was seldom referenced as a member of the Elite on AEW Dynamite. He was supposed to team with the group in the first ever Blood & Guts match, but the Covid pandemic meant the match never took place.

So for the first AEW show (Double or Nothing 2019), the Elite consisted of just the four men left. Kenny, Nick, Matt and Hangman. The four seemed a tight nit group of fantastic wrestlers. However, things started slow for the group. Adam Page lost to Chris Jericho in a match to decide the first ever AEW World Champion. Omega also lost to Jericho, for the right to compete in said match. The Young Bucks were one of the best teams in wrestling, but lost to newcomers Private Party in the first round of the AEW Tag Team Tournament.

First taste of Championship Gold

The group showed some signs of dissension, mainly towards the youngest member, Hangman Adam Page. Page was the anxious millennial cowboy of the group. His lack of self belief and fear of failure dragged him away from the group.

He tried leaving The Elite, but the Bucks and Omega would not let their friend go. Page felt alienated, and felt the Young Bucks valued Omega more as a friend than him. He and Omega went on to win the AEW Tag Team Champions from SCU on the Jericho Cruise. Despite the Young Bucks being the tag team of the group, Omega and Page were the first champions out of the two pairs. This annoyed the Young Bucks, and pushed them further into their resentment for Adam Page.

The Elite would clash at AEW Revolution, with Page and Omega wrestling Matt and Nick Jackson. The tag team match was the best match in AEW history, and some say the greatest tag match ever. Page and Omega retained their titles, but the match would be the beginning of the end for Page as part of the Elite. Little did they know, it would be the separation with Hangman which would start to solidify The Elite as the greatest faction in AEW history.

AEW All Out 2020

Hangman Adam Page and Kenny Omega lost the AEW World Championships at AEW All Out 2020. FTR, the team comprised of Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler, defeated the Elite members in a hard fought match. The build up to the match showed FTR befriending Page, and getting him to attack the Young Bucks, to avoid a rematch of Page and Omega vs The Young Bucks.

This attack on the Bucks strained the relationship with Hangman to breaking point. It came to a head after the match at All Out, where Hangman Page collapsed in the ring, hoping for Kenny Omega to catch him. But Kenny Omega did not catch him. He stepped aside, let his friend fall, and left the arena. This signified the end of the Elite as we knew, and the end of Hangman’s association with the group.

Hell Turn and World Championships

Soon after, the group would turn heel and win Championship gold. The Young Bucks would defeat FTR for the AEW World Championship at Full Gear 2020, winning their first tag team gold in AEW. Kenny Omega would follow that up by defeating Jon Moxley for the AEW World Championship at AEW Winter is Coming.

This meant that the Elite held half of all the titles in AEW, with only the TNT and Women’s championship eluding them. They added even more gold when former Bullet Club members Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson joined the group. Known as the Good Brothers, the pair held the Impact Tag Team Championships, thus the Elite became one of the most successful teams in the world, with all 5 members holding titles.

The Elite would also add non-wrestling talent to their ranks. Brandon Cutler, wrestler and childhood friend of the Young Bucks, joined the group. He filmed the behind the scenes content for Being the Elite, the AEW Youtube show.

He also began carrying round a cooling spray, to help his team with injuries during matches. Michael Nakazawa also joined the group in an undetermined roll, as well as Don Callis as Kenny Omega’s manager. Callis has known Omega since he was 10 years old, and helped Omega to defeat Jon Moxley for the AEW World Championship. With the new additions, The Elite were the most dominant force in AEW.

Championship Reigns

The Young Bucks were dominant tag team champions. They held the titles from November 2020 all the way to September 2021. It wasn’t until they met the Lucha Brothers, Penta El Cero M and Rey Fenix, at AEW All Out 2021 that they would finally drop the belts.

Their reign was one of the best of all time, and they found a way to beat any opponent in their way. Omega went one better, and is still currently the AEW World Champion. He has defeated foes like Christian Cage, Jon Moxley, Orange Cassidy and PAC in his bid to keep his championship. He is the longest reigning AEW World Champion and has been a constant presence on every AEW show.

The Complete Elite

However, despite the incredible success, one man was missing from the Elite. The group had been a little bare since the expulsion of Hangman Adam Page, and required a new member. Luckily, an old friend made his debut at AEW All Out 2021, to complete the Elite.

Back from the dead rose Adam Cole. He was “murdered” by the Elite on an episode of Being the Elite, so his debut on AEW looking like he was against the Elite made sense. However, as Kenny Omega said “He’s one of our best friends” and made complete sense to join the Elite.

Adam Cole is one of the best wrestlers in the world, and the greatest NXT Champion of all time. He turned down a reported multi-million dollar contract to stay with WWE, and was one of the most coveted wrestlers in the world. To add him to an already star studded Elite faction means that they are by far the best and most dangerous faction in AEW, and maybe the world.

With the new, bigger and better Elite, it looks like there is no faction in wrestling better than the Elite. The Elite are the crown jewel of AEW, and the envy of the wrestling world. The Elite truly are All Elite.