We made it! 2022 draws to a close and the landscape of AEW has drastically changed in the last twelve months. We've seen exits and debuts, heels going face, faces going heel, and all manner of shakeups. Before we look at who I see as the most powerful faction of the year, let's do one last power ranking of where AEW's factions find themselves at the end of December 2022.
How Rankings are Determined:
Strength: The combined win % of team members. Special thanks to @AEWmetrics who keeps better records of win/loss than AEW's own roster page. I also went to cagematch.net to check on workers not officially signed with AEW. 100%-80% gets a "high", 79%-60% gets a "mid", while anything lower gets a "N/I" (needs improvement).
Cohesion: Ability of a group to work together. If they can avoid tripping over each other or hitting each other with moves they will score higher. Points will be lost if cracks are starting to form within the group. This category is fairly subjective.
Purpose: Even if not expressly stated, most groups have some form of a "mission statement". This could range from winning championships to simply the love of violence.
Attainment: The ability to win championships. Currently there are championships from AEW, ROH, and AAA in play although titles from Impact and NJPW have also been featured in the past. I will only count belts that have been featured on camera on AEW programing.
#5 Death Triangle (down 1 spot)
Strength: Mid - 62.2% A pretty bad win percentage for a group that holds gold to be honest.
Cohesion: Mid - Fenix seems to be warming to the idea of using a hammer as the Best of Seven series descends into no-DQ and Falls Count Anywhere matches.
Purpose: High - Be awesome? Works enough for me!
Attainment: High - As of the end of 2022, Death Triangle are still the Trios Champions. I'm not optimistic about their chances to retain the belts beyond the Escalera de la Muerte match in a couple of weeks. Still, they had a pretty good run and a very memorable best of 7 series with the Elite.
#4 The Acclaimed (down 2 spots)
Strength: Mid - 69.6% Nice.
Cohesion: High - This team is solid, no signs of dissension or animosity.
Purpose: High- While the scissoring mania will certainly have a shelf life, as long as fans keep making cardboard scissors and professional athletes scissor on the sidelines, things are looking golden for The Acclaimed.
Attainment: High - Tag Champions and running with the momentum. While a feud with Jay Lethal and Jeff Jarrett may be cold to some, I think the two teams will work well together as few heels can get under an audience's skin like Jarrett.
#3 The Baddies (down 2 spots)
Strength: High 79.6%. I rounded up to get the Baddies into the upper echelon. With Kiera Hogan out of the group, the baddies found their overall win percentage go up .8%. Minimal change but an increase none the less.
Cohesion: Mid - Trouble is brewing between Cargill and Velvet but things are at a low simmer at the moment. I do expect it to reach a boil soon, which would mean either the Baddies need to recruit a new member or they wont be a full faction anymore.
Purpose: High - Keep Cargill's waist golden.
Attainment: High- It's going to be strange when Jade loses the belt but she can't possibly be champion for another twelve months can she?
#2 Best Friends (up 1 spot)
Strength: Mid - 72% If Statlander wasn't out with injury, I'm sure this number would have been higher.
Cohesion: High - It's great to see the Best Friends are still a group. Being an AEW day 1 act, there's very few that can make a similar claim. Dark Order is dwindling, Jurassic Express is done for, and Jericho's on his 2nd vanity group. While Trent and Cassidy had a match for the All-Atlantic Championship, it was competitive and not personal.
Purpose: High- Keep giving the people what they want!
Attainment: High - I credit the Will Ospreay/Orange Cassidy match from Forbidden Door for showing that Cassidy can work with anyone and dip into different styles of matches. Who better than to become a fighting champion and work a vast array of opponents and match types?
#1 Blackpool Combat Club (previously unranked)
Strength: High - 81.1%. The BCC has consistently had the top ranked win % of all of AEW's factions. They've hovered around 80% as long as I've tracked this category.
Cohesion: High- At least for now. A viewer with sharp eyes on Twitter noticed that Claudio made no effort to help Moxley as Hangman Page attacked during the Battle Royale on Rampage. Claudio was busy with the Martin brothers at the time so it's hard to say whether this was an oversight or malicious negligence.
Purpose: High- Regal provided a clear mission statement, "Step up or get stepped on." With him gone the group does loose a bit of identity but I'm going to keep them ranked high for now.
Attainment: High- The ROH title wins by Claudio and Yuta are the saving graces of the BCC. Without those belts this team wouldn't even rank (Team Dental would have taken a spot within the top five thanks to Hayter's championship).
Those are how things rank here at the end of December. As for 2022 as a whole:
Remember when Americas Top Team was a thing? They actually made it into the #3 position back in June. The landscape of AEW is constantly shifting and 2022 was downright seismic. Other groups to make brief appearances were the Pinnacle and Undisputed Elite (both groups have since disbanded). The Baddies had the best sustained run with six consecutive appearances. After their strong debut back in June, they steadily declined down the charts before rocketing back up to #1 in November. The decline coincides with Blackpool Combat Club putting a choke hold on the #1 spot in early fall. Other major stories such as the re-emergence of The Elite also overshadowed The Baddies as a power group, but overall the most dominant champion in AEW (Cargill) and her stable mates had a great year.
The Jericho Appreciation Society started off in the #4 spot back in May, then disappeared from the rankings until August. Since then they have been a constant presence in the top 5 (although never scoring higher than 3rd place). They could have ranked higher had they won some AEW championships, but they did make good on ROH and AAA belts within the faction.
Strength is the category where I can look at numbers and rank things subjectively. After removing some of the one-timers from the list we look at how some faction's win% changed over time.
Only teams that ranked in the top five overall for these months are represented here. It results in a graph that looks spotty but we can still see trends.
Early in the year Jurassic Express were riding high (over 80%). Things quickly went south as the losses started adding up and by June they were sub 70%. Shortly thereafter Christian Cage turned on the group and Jurassic Express went the way of the dodo. The Baddies have had a great run, fully supported by Cargill's win streak. House of Black looked strong for a couple of months, while Death Triangle makes an end of year push to climb out of the cellar they almost found themselves in.
After looking at the rankings and comparing the various stats, there is one team that ran away with 2022.
2022 AEW Faction of the Year
Blackpool Combat Club
This has been a whirlwind of a year for the Blackpool Combat Club. William Regal debuted with AEW, formed the group, produced some amazing moments, then got taken out behind the woodshed by MJF and ascended to the beyond (ie WWE backstage). Wheeler Yuta had a breakout match with Moxely, joined the group, and then had a pair of very good matches with Daniel Garcia over the ROH Pure Championship. Claudio debuted, joined the group, and is now experiencing a career resurgence. Danielson may have had the most steady of a year having great match after great match. As for Jon Moxley, his 2022 had enough ups and downs to fill a 2nd autobiography on its own. Some groups overstay their welcome, not the Blackpool Combat Club. They went through some major changes but they don't feel stale to me. They're evolving and growing. It will be exciting to see where they go in 2023 (just please, no more feuding with JAS).
As for 2023 and these rankings I'm very much looking forward to where this series is going. As of the New Year my stats are getting reset. Back to zero in the W-L column for everyone. I'm also going to track more stats for the factions that never even flirted with the top 5. What does the Factory's strength score looks like? Will the Spanish Announce Project get more wins for Serpentico? Will the House of Black finally get some gold and boost that attainment score? I for one can't wait to see what happens next.