I myself love the cheesy side of wrestling. I always love the over the top comic book plot lines and characters from promotions like Lucha Underground and Chikara. Hell I even somewhat enjoyed parts of the Raw wedding. So one might think that a stable like The Nightmare Collective would be a shoe-in for me. But like so many others, they have seem to have fallen flat with me. While I do not hate them while a good many others do, they do seem to lack anything to really hold my attention.
For a good character, there needs to be motivation. You need to understand their rationale. The same is just as true with groups of people. All the other stables so far in AEW have motivations: The Elite are a group of friends who want to have fun, run AEW, be successful. The Inner Circle is simply Jericho’s self appointed fan club (such as Sammy) and bodyguards (Jack Hager). They are there to do whatever Jericho wants. The Dark Order, while a little less obvious, clearly wants control of the show. The presentation of the stable in the show may be a bit poor currently but their motivations seem very clear: To recruit and control. The Butcher, Blade, and Bunny are mercenaries with a certain disdain toward authority. All of these, even The Dark Order, have pretty clear, understandable motivations.
Now ask yourself, what is the Nightmare Collective’s goal? What are they trying to achieve? So far Brandy has tried to recruit Statlander for a couple weeks but surely the group cannot be motivated purely by trying to recruit one individual person for their group? Is there something about Statlander that we the viewers are not aware of?
The only other thing they seem to have a penchant for is collecting hair. Taking a trophy is a nice gimmick and way to add onto a character. It would be a fun side detail if Kong was collecting the hair of all those she beats in the ring. A way to add a flourish to her character. But instead, so far her hair collection has been not a side trait but a defining trait of her character on AEW. Furthermore, Kong has been taking the hair of women she hasn’t beaten as well, hinting at some purpose besides simply revealing in her victories. So one must ask, why is she doing this? Is there something behind the hair that we do not know?
Many complain that The Nightmare Collective is too similar to The Dark Order. While I can sympathize with this and tentatively agree, I don’t mind, with one condition. The Dark Order leans toward a more Scientology-esque vibe while the Collective is more demonic/voodoo. This currently is a tad problematic but it will depend on how AEW builds its universe. We still do not know exactly what the rules of this world are and there may be a chance that supernatural forces, to a certain extent, are real. If this is the case it would be interesting to see two different supernatural forces clash. However, if AEW keeps things in the realm of reality the similarities between the two stables are just too much for me.
With all three of these issues though, we can see a common thread. With the information we the viewer currently have, all of the actions The Nightmare Collective has taken seem meaningless or lack any potency. AEW sure seems to want us to speculate that there may be something greater behind The Collective, that they have unseen goals which explain the aesthetic of the gimmick and the hair collection. But if there is something beyond what we see, it needs to be shown soon.
I really want the Nightmare Collective to thrive. I love the more fantastical style of storytelling that a demonic cult can introduce into wrestling. However, there are major problems with the stable currently. They lack drive, they lack purpose, and AEW still feels like they’re trying to figure out what the stable is in relation to the rest of the show. I worry if the Collective continues to just drift along without direction people will sour on the more comic book aspects of the show as a whole, which would be a shame.