What’s more effective: strength in numbers or going it alone?
As monumental threats like The Shield and the rhythmic terror that is 3MB bring exposure and success to those who once lived in the shadows of the squared circle, WWE.com explores the question: Is strength-in-numbers a better path to success than the glory a Superstar captures by going it alone?
Before 3MB took center stage, none of the individual members of the air-guitar playing trio was seen as a force to be reckoned with.
While Drew McIntyre stood out as a former Intercontinental Champion, in recent years he has done very little to grab the spotlight. Jinder Mahal’s strongest claim to fame before joining the outrageous coalition was finding creative ways to avoid defeat at the hands of Ryback. And Heath Slater spent the better part of 2012 getting taken down by WWE Legends. Only when they combined their talents did they become a truly fearsome trio, carving their niche in the exciting world of sports entertainment.
Without a doubt, the destructive combination of The Shield - Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns and Seth Rollins - has rocketed into the forefront of Raw, taking out Ryback on WWE’s flagship show and even costing him a strong opportunity at the WWE Title at Survivor Series. It is very possible that, together, Ambrose, Reigns and Rollins have even usurped the momentum created by their ultra intense adversary.
Indeed, no one could deny the advantages of combining forces with other Superstars. In addition to the notoriety it can bring, it is a move that provides the ultimate security: someone to watch your back.
There is also the explosive unpredictability that occurs when individual energies are combined. No one really knows when, or from what angle, a faction will strike, leaving the WWE Universe guessing: “what will happen next?”
Banding together also provides a change for long-term advancement. Many of the WWE’s all-time-best Superstars were once members of a faction. From The Rock’s association with The Nation of Domination to Triple H and Shawn Michaels' time in the Kliq, competitors have used their groundbreaking – and often-times rule-breaking – associations as a virtual springboard to launch them into legendary status.
So, if there are so many advantages to teaming with others, why would anyone choose to go it alone?
For one thing, there is most certainly a great honor in achieving something by oneself, an opportunity to be a standout symbol of bravery and heroic integrity. Superstars like John Cena and Hulk Hogan have reached iconic status in just such a way. While some may make light of seemingly passé motto “train, say your players and take your vitamins,” the lone Hulkster raised the roof of many an arena on the back of that very battle plan. It is a quality that is definitely shared by the leader of the Cenation today, who draws a great deal of admiration with his credo of “Hustle, Loyalty and Respect.”
Perhaps the biggest reason that standing alone is so important, however, is the charismatic appeal that comes from facing down overwhelming odds. While the strength-in-numbers strategy is no doubt powerful and exciting, it is sometimes more enticing to see a single entity stand up against the tide, refusing to give in no matter what. Just ask anyone who ever saw “Stone Cold” Steve Austin in action. Whether he was doing good or raising hell, The Texas Rattlesnake captured the attention of the WWE Universe by taking the fight to whomever he wanted, whenever he wanted, all by himself. Even when teaming with others, he was a tour de force all his own.
Today’s modern equivalent of the rebellious, beer-chugging, warrior may very well be Randy Orton. Though The Viper did have a string of strong associations with factions – including Evolution, Rated-RKO and Legacy – he has since undergone a major metamorphosis into a true and persistent loner. Orton doesn’t seem to like anybody and is just as likely to hit an RKO on a fan favorite like The Great Khali as he is Mr. Money in the Bank Dolph Ziggler. It’s that kind of individual spirit that has led to him winning nine World Championships and victory in the Royal Rumble Match.
WWE Champion CM Punk also had associations in the past, including The Straight Edge Society and The New Nexus. But, during these affiliations, he consistently took the role of leader, always standing one step beyond his allies. And when he finally did break completely out on his own, The Second City Saint reached his most lofty heights yet, resulting in his holding the WWE Title for over a year now.
For some, being a loner simply serves to intensity their greatness. Where would the mysticism of The Undertaker be today without The Phenom's profound ability to walk alone? How about the tough-as-nails attitude of Sheamus or the fury of World Heavyweight Champion Big Show, for that matter?
Inside the squared circle, strong arguments can be made for both the strength-in-numbers approach and the solidarity of going it alone. But if the history of WWE has taught us anything on the matter, it is that one cannot exist without the other. As long as competition is so fierce in WWE, there will always be those that look to achieve alongside a group and those that look to meet a challenge by themselves.
To let us know which do you think is better – strength-in-numbers or going it alone – click here.