In its near two year stint, All Elite Wrestling has created some highly entertaining factions. Team Taz brings a great sense of legitimacy to the roster with guys like Will Hobbs, The Hardy Family Office is a fun faction of underlings working for a sneaky businessman and the Elite continues to be one of the most over acts in all of wrestling. However, one faction in AEW has transcended all of them, in my opinion, to become not only the best faction in the company, but one of the most entertaining factions in all of professional wrestling. Here’s a little trip down memory line to explain why.
A ROCKY BEGINNING
When AEW first began, the Dark Order was very different from how it is presented now. The initial incarnation of the group only saw Evil Uno and Stu Grayson, accompanied to the ring by a group of unknown men in masks known simply as “creepers.” They would form a human throne for Uno to sit upon, creepy vignettes would play subliminally telling people to “Join Dark Order ” and the group would go as far as to attack The Elite themselves. This team was seemingly positioned to be a serious threat to AEW right from the get go. However, there was one major issue. The fans did not care for this group. At all. Fans found the original version of the Order to be very underwhelming and not that good. As a result, the plans for a potential feud between the Dark Order and The Elite never materialized. Would that stop the Dark Order? Let’s find out….
NEW FRIENDS AND…. AN EXALTED ONE?
Soon after this initial push was halted, the Dark Order still stuck to their roots of being an evil cult, but with some major changes. The creepers were scrapped in favor of two new members: Alex Reynolds and John Silver. The two were seen as the main recruiters for the group and sought to bring in new members. However, before adding any new members, one major thing was missing from the group. We have a group of guys, but who’s going to lead them? This man would be teased for a while simply known as “The Exalted One.” After months of build, the Exalted One was revealed to be Mr. Brodie Lee. Brodie would lead with an iron fist and attempt to turn this failed group into something that the AEW roster should fear. Brodie was their guiding light, their savior. He was the component they needed to get off the ground. Soon after, new members were added. These members were Alan “5” Angels, Preston “10” Vance, Colt Cabana and Anna Jay. Together, Brodie molded them into something special, he molded them into an actual threat. This culminated when Brodie himself dismantled Cody Rhodes to win the TNT championship and the rest of the Dark Order proceeded to destroy the rest of the Nightmare Family. On this night, the Dark Order was made. Everything seemed to be going in their favor. However, as we will soon see, the only predictable thing about life is its unpredictability.
R.I.P. BRODIE LEE
On December 26, 2020, Brodie Lee tragically passed away. This was a major blow to the professional wrestling industry as friends of Brodie banded together to tell nothing but great things and fun stories about the life of the man behind the cloak, Jon Huber. AEW put on a beautiful tribute show for Brodie, where members of the Dark Order participated in and won several matches throughout the night in the name of their late, great leader. The night culminated with Tony Khan retiring the original TNT championship in honor of Lee and giving it to his son, Brodie Jr. now an official member of the Dark Order as -1. This was a heartbreaking and emotional night for AEW talent, as well as professional wrestlers and fans around the world, myself included. However, when the dust settled, one question unfortunately lingered over the minds of many. What would now become of the Dark Order?
ONE, BIG…HIGHLY UNORTHODOX FAMILY
Following the untimely death of Brodie Lee, the Dark Order were positioned from this point on as good guys. The members would constantly fight to try and make their late leader proud, such as fighting for the TNT title to bring it back to the group. However, they were all unsuccessful. Around this time, however, people would slowly start to see something extraordinary. Outside of appearing on Dynamite, The Dark Order regularly appeared on AEW’s flagship YouTube VLOG, Being The Elite. The Order would constantly crack jokes and become some of the most entertaining characters in all of wrestling. John Silver showed that he has a natural act for comedic timing and is drop dead hilarious, especially with his new nickname of “Johnny Hungee.” 5 is constantly treated as the butt of everyone’s joke and is berated as almost the black sheep of the group. 10 is positioned as the member everyone loves, due to him being the one chosen by Brodie himself as the future. Colt tries to be the big brother of the group and keep everyone on the same page and let cooler heads prevail and Anna and Stu constantly act like annoyed, angsty teenagers. The antics of the Dark Order on BTE opened the eyes of AEW fans. From this point on, the group was not seen as a cult. They were seen as a family. They’re all quirky, they all have their issues and they all have their shortcomings. But, at the end of the day, they all love each other because now they need each other more than ever. With Brodie no longer with them, they have to stay on the same page. They have to make the Exalted One proud and prove to not only the fans, but more importantly to themselves that Brodie was right about them. They want to prove that he was right to choose them and specifically them to be a member of his order. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a raw emotion and a genuine feeling that no wrestling script can ever create.
JOIN THE COWBOY SHIT
As previously mentioned, The Dark Order found themselves to become more than just a cult, but also a family. Their BTE antics soon made it to TV and The Dark Order became loveable comedy underdogs. Their segments became some of the most enjoyable on AEW TV week in and week out. But, they weren’t done there. Around this same time, “Hangman” Adam Page had a falling out with his Elite brethren. Page found himself to be lonely and probably a good six shots deep into alcohol before every match. This is where the Dark Order comes in. The Dark Order took to Hangman immediately and sought to recruit him. However, it wasn’t merely so he could join their ranks. Rather, it was so they could befriend him. From this point on it became clear that The Dark Order was no longer an evil cult, but an unorthodox, yet lovable, family of oddballs. They didn’t want Page in a cult, they wanted him to join their family. After months of attempting to befriend Adam, eventually Adam agreed. While he didn’t officially join them, they still hung out a lot. The Dark Order would help Hangman whenever he needed help and vice versa. Hangman had found himself a new family. However, the unpredictability of life would soon rear its ugly head once again.
THE. ELITE THE. THE. ELITE
Hangman Page had finally found new friends for himself in the Dark Order. The Dark Order wanted nothing but the best for their new friend. Maybe, a little TOO much for him so soon. Several months after befriending the Dark Order, the AEW champion Kenny Omega triumphantly claimed that there was no one left for him to face, no one left for him to beat. However, Evil Uno came out and said that there was, in fact, one person that continues to haunt Omega. That man is “Hangman” Adam Page. Kenny eventually agrees to Hangman’s match, but Page and the Dark Order perhaps get a bit too overzealous. Page proposes a big 10 man tag team eliminator match for Fight for the Fallen where if the Dark Order wins, they also get tag team title shots against the Young Bucks. But, if the Elite win, then the Dark Order loses everything, Page’s title shot included. Fight for the Fallen came. The Dark Order and Hangman came out dressed in beautiful, purple cowboy gear. They were a badass looking unit. The match was electric. It was exciting. But for the Dark Order, it was also disappointing. Despite their best efforts, they came up short. As a result, Hangman lost his chance at redemption. Hangman soon after, decided to break things off with the Dark Order. He felt that he dragged them into his battles when he shouldn’t have. He doesn’t want to see them get hurt. He says he needs to finish this battle on his own. Hangman goes to call out Omega, but is jumped by the entirety of the Elite. The Dark Order run out; 5, Silver and Reynolds eager to help their best friend. But Uno, Grayson and 10 hold them back. They respect Page’s wishes to do his fighting on his own. This decision causes massive turmoil for the order.
PRESENT DAY AND CLOSING THOUGHTS
Following Hangman’s beat down at the hands of the Elite, The Dark Order became heavily divided. There was the camp of Alan, Alex and John that wanted to help Hangman, despite his wishes for solitude. Uno, Stu and Preston sought to respect the wishes of their friend and let him fight his own battles if that is what he wished. Fighting reached a fever pitch several weeks ago with Uno and 5 pushing and shoving and Uno berating Alex. However, with all of this turmoil, I’m confident that the Dark Order will be just fine. They’re not the faction they were when they first showed up in AEW. There’s no more thrones, no more creepy henchmen, no more dark subliminal messaging. All they have now is a bond. The group has evolved past the point of a simple cult. They’re now a family. They’re a family brought together by the love of one man, their late, great exalted leader who’s looking down on them with great pride for the men and women they have become. The Dark Order have traversed a very rocky path over these last two years to become one of the most beloved wrestling factions in recent memory.