Factions have been a staple of professional wrestling for decades. From The Four Horsemen in Jim Crockett Promotions to the Bullet Club in New Japan Pro Wrestling, multi-man groups have played a big part in establishing the identities of the promotions they work within. Similar to Hollywood blockbusters casting for their ensembles, the original vision for many wrestling stables changes during the development process. The Shield was initially pitched as a three-man tandem of Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose, and Kassius Ohno before WWE substituted the Knockout Artist for Roman Reigns. Before Chris Jericho introduced The Inner Circle to AEW audiences, he imagined the group to be called The Fist and suggested the likes of MJF, Fenix, Pentagon Jr., and Anthony Ogogo to be among the ranks. Triple H's Evolution even shot vignettes with Mark Jindrak before he was replaced with Batista.
Speaking of Evolution, there is an alternate universe where the star-studded faction includes a second 16-time world champion.
When I say this, I want to point out that this was discussed for maybe under two minutes in a single writer's meeting with Vince, but in a single meeting, in which there were hundreds, if not thousands, of meetings," former WWE writer Brian Gewirtz told The Kurt Angle Show. "But, this was during the Jindrak to Randy Orton like, who is going to be the fourth member of Evolution period of time. And, I do remember, I don't know if it was me who said it, somebody said it, I might have said it, was, 'What about that John Cena guy joining Evolution? What if we did that?'"
Gewirtz stressed that Cena's name was only brought up briefly, as he was quickly deemed too green to get such a prominent role.
"And again, it was tossed around for a couple of minutes, and I think it was deemed that John, especially John at that particular time, hadn't really found himself yet. I think this was pre-rapping, John," Gewirtz continued. "This was, 'Great match with Kurt, then what, John?' Ruthless Aggression? Hmm, I don't think so, you know. Maybe he is just a little too goofy. He just doesn't fit; it was the kind of like the feedback back then."
Evolution would take two of Ohio Valley Wrestling's blue chip prospects in Randy Orton and Batista and launch them into superstardom. The other two members of OVW's acclaimed 2002 class, Cena and Brock Lesnar, would find their own singles success at the same time. Lesnar immediately catapulted into the main event scene, while Cena floundered in the lower mid-card until he became the Doctor of Thuganomics. From there, Big Match John would go on to become one of the most decorated superstars in WWE history.