Can The Outcasts Work in AEW?
Last month saw the arrival of a new supergroup to shake up AEW’s women’s division. Ex-WWE stars Ruby Soho, Toni Storm, and Saraya have joined forces to become The Outcasts. In a not-so-subtle nod to the New World Order, The Outcasts come armed with cans of spray paint and a desire to crush all AEW home-grown talent. In a world where the NWO has been invented, reinvented, and ripped off so much it is beyond parody, do The Outcasts have a chance in hell of standing out? Is there space in AEW for yet another faction? The answer is a resounding yes. But whether this group can have a fraction of the impact as the group that inspired its namesake is a much more nuanced question.
On paper, The Outcasts has everything going for it. Three world-renown wrestlers, all with charisma and strong personalities. All with a unique look and style, but not too different that you think their being together is weird and forced. They have a shared history as former WWE stars. The foundation is used to build any tag team or faction.
Even in their early inception, The Outcasts show cohesion with their green and black ring gear, entrance music, and in-ring chemistry. Atheistically The Outcasts have everything. Soho, Storm, and Saraya appear to be a match made in heaven.
What’s their Purpose?
But looks aren’t everything in wrestling. A faction needs a purpose, especially if three existing wrestlers are coming together. This driving purpose can be anything. For The Shield, it was justice. For Evolution, it was bringing together wrestling’s past, present, and future to become the most dominant faction in wrestling. In a move that parallels The Outsiders, like Nash, Hall, and Hogan, The Outcasts’ motive riffs off the famous Kevin Nash quote, “This is where the big boys play. Their goal is to run through all of AEW’s home-grown talent. It’s basic but effective. AEW has a strong pool of women to pull from. Putting up-and-comers against established veterans is a tried and tested way of getting over new talent. We are already seeing it as The Outcasts have set their sights on Rhio, Willow Nightingale, and Skye Blue, as well as the more established team of Britt Baker and Jamie Hayter.
In this way, The Outcasts could be a huge asset. AEW is lacking a mid-card in its women’s division. A string of outstanding matches could not only give you an unstoppable super-team at the top of the card but provide newer talent with the opportunity to showcase their skills, elevate them to the next level, help fill that gap and build a more well-rounded women’s division.
What’s the Story?
Sometimes in-ring work and star power are only half the battle when building a great faction. There needs to be a good story attached to wrestling in the ring for people to be genuinely invested. Sure, there is a talented roster for The Outcasts to square off against, but that doesn’t mean much if there is no story behind it.
Think of all the major stories in AEW. The one’s that really stand out. Punk vs MJF, the redemption of Hangman Adam Page, hell, even cast your mind back to the early days of AEW, anything that involved Cody Rhodes. All these matches share one thing, they all centered on a rich story that enhanced the wrestling in the ring.
This sort of storytelling is now in short supply. AEW can be very cut and dry with its plot. Its bread and butter is now title chasing and portraying wrestling as a competition based on wins and losses. That, combined with their dislike for rematches, makes it hard to build a long-form story around two teams. While The Outcasts have all the star power you could want, if their wins and losses don’t mean anything outside of winning and losing, there will not be much for fans to remember when the group eventually disbands.
Too Many Teams?
Odds are, if you’re in AEW, you are also in a group. The company is littered with different factions. There is a whole division dedicated to them. In its brief four-year existence, teams have formed, faded into obscurity, and disbanded to very little fanfare. The sheer volume of different groups and their ever-changing members remove any sheen that The Outcasts may have. Rather than being unique, the trio is one of a long list of trios. Rather than standing out as rebels, as their name suggests, The Outcasts are part of AEW’s standard formula.
Can The Outcasts work in AEW? Of course! In terms of talent, The Outcasts is one of AEW’s most well-rounded teams. They have the look, a solid work-rate, and main event experience. Each of the women alone could be a star. On paper, they are guaranteed magic.
However, sometimes when getting a group over, talent isn’t everything. For a faction to succeed, there needs to be a clear vision and the follow-through to make that vision a reality. For AEW, the jury is still out when it comes to that department. Their track record for maintaining their factions isn’t the best. Trios feel like a necessity, an easy mechanism to give the illusion of cohesion while doubling as a chance to get as much of AEW’s extensive roster on TV as possible.
Throughout the history of wrestling, the formation of trios and groups has felt epic and pivot. In AEW, it’s mundane. If AEW’s treatment of, say, The Pinnacle or Inner Circle is anything to go off of, The Outcasts may be destined to fade away and become the amazing faction that ever was.