With their leader, Eric Young, drafted to Raw, Alexander Wolfe defecting to NXT UK and both Cross and Dain left without permanent residence, the Superstar Shake-up was the final nail in the coffin for SAnitY.
Looking back at the faction’s relatively brief history, the stable of crazed proprietors of all things chaos were doomed from debut. Their first main roster appearance involved typical heel shenanigans, attacking SmackDown Live’s babyface tag teams in an effort to stake their claim and spread fear throughout the tag division. Granted, they were given one PPV victory over The New Day, but none of the trio ever managed to achieve anything outside of that. They were soon suffering loss after loss after loss, quickly losing any notoriety and reason for the main roster crowds to give a damn about them.
It was a fry cry from their run in NXT.
SAnitY meandered about during their time in NXT. Finding themselves in various feuds with the likes of Tye Dillinger, No Way Jose and Kassius Ohno, there wasn’t anything truly spectacular for the group to latch onto and make a name for themselves with. Their gimmick was given so much hype through the classic technique of ambiguous vignettes, that would leave much to the imagination prior to their debut. Fans were quick to assume that it would be some sort of anarchy-fond cult, but had little idea as to who exactly would be included. To everyone’s surprise, TNA alumni Eric Young revealed himself as the leader of a little band of enhancement talents who were struggling to find a place in NXT.
Fortunately for Young and his minions, they were given a blessing in disguise with Nikki Cross, the one female member of the group. NXT’s little sister quickly became a highlight of the women’s division, putting on instant classics with Asuka, Ruby Riot and Ember Moon. Cross gave the stable a slither of credibility, which finally brought them out of the undercard and into prominence.
Young, Wolfe and Dain would start making waves in the tag division, fighting their way into the title picture where they would gain some traction in matches against AoP and The Undisputed Era. The latter of which became SAnitY’s greatest rivals, eventually leading to the outstanding return of the WarGames match in 2017.
The NXT fans finally had a reason to look at the group as more than just a generic bunch of ‘mentally unhinged’ dudes dressed in black. They were the tag champions and putting on great matches with other up-and-comers. For once, the talent weren’t being held back by a gimmick that has been done to death. NXT was of course the birthplace of The Wyatt Family, another stable that nattered on about undoing society and the misconception of justice. These sorts of pseudo-political stables never seem to go very far, hitting a wall when their rants and rambles become somewhat tedious after they start taking losses, i.e Bray Wyatt.
Nevertheless, this glimmer of hope that they managed to find carried the stable into an anticipated main roster debut. Young, Wolfe and Dain all debuted together a few weeks after WrestleMania 33, but one key aspect of the faction was missing: Nikki Cross. Cross was left behind to fill the gap made by the departures of Asuka and Ember Moon, who had both been called-up to the main roster over the previous few months. Nikki continued to be a highlight of Wednesday nights, as she challenged for the NXT Women’s title on several occasions and became an integral part of the ‘who attacked Aleister Black’ storyline.
The rest of SAnitY, however, didn’t quite find the same success. Without Nikki at their side, they soon reverted back to the meagre presence that they began with, barely featured on TV unless it was to job to whoever was challenging for the SD Tag Titles. Unfortunately for the three gents, any history they had before their main roster career wasn’t enough to keep them relevant on a card full of other budding stars fighting for the spotlight.
SAnitY without Nikki Cross was simply a bomb. They lost that initial support of the NXT loyalists and were soon cut from SD Live episodes and live events altogether. I would argue that SAnitY had a chance to be redeemed when Nikki Cross was called-up to the main roster towards the end of last year, alongside Heavy Machinery, Lars Sullivan and EC3. For some bizarre reason though, WWE thought it was best for her to cut ties with her former gang and keep as much distance as she could from them. I suppose in hindsight this was probably for the best, but regardless, she hasn’t been featured on either Raw or Smackdown for several weeks. There’s a chance that her inclusion could have saved the stable from falling into complete obscurity, but we’ll never know.
So here we are today, with SAnitY officially disbanding. Their lasting memories will forever be a one-sided loss to The Miz as part of the build to his match with Shane at WrestleMania. Wolfe has found greener pastures as part of NXT UK’s new faction Imperium (spoilers, sorry) and Dain is rumoured to be returning to OG NXT. Arguably the big Irishman might be better suited to the UK brand, considering his history in BritWres. As long as he stays away from blue singlets, I see him eventually finding success in WWE, once he’s gone through a slight repackage after the utter debacle that was SAnitY.
You can almost sense the disappointment in Triple H. Not by the doing of any of the wrestlers, but more that one of his biggest ideas had failed in general. According to rumours, Hunter was a big supporter of the grungey anarchist gimmick, and considering what kind of person Triple H is out of the ring, it’s hard to not see him pushing for those sort of characters. Maybe one day Papa H will revive the gimmick under a new guise, but he really needs to learn from this blunder if something like SAnitY is ever to be a success in WWE.