The Righteous: And Ye Will Be Cleansed
Something refreshing dwells about the terror in the pits of Ring of Honor and All Elite Wrestling. This darkness exists as The Righteous – a team that has, and is redefining the creepy and cultlike trope that exists in professional wrestling.
The message is simple – take what is yours and fight in a world that doesn’t make sense. They understand that the materialistic items do not matter; it is the accomplishments that are what fulfill them. There’s nothing supernatural about it – no need for darkened arenas, no need for theatrics. Just the intimacy of the journey betwixt the entrance ramp and the ring upon which the stories are told. You will know this by the sound of the slow, slimy electric guitars, the way Vincent slinks and slithers to it, and the unsettling way Dutch flicks his tongue.
Vincent and Dutch, on the surface, seem like cartoonishly sly guys that one wouldn’t presume to see in prominent positions, but as cults often do, The Righteous accepts this. They operate in a world where one doesn’t need to be front and center, only setting forth on the journey ahead.
Their motives are not pure of heart, however. They stripped The Dark Order of the recently returned Stu Grayson, setting Mr. Brodie Lee’s team on a dark path.
Aesthetically, there’s a 1960s/1970s vibe to The Righteous, one that feels out of a grindhouse film of the era, like Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Friday the 13th with a dripping of Rob Zombie’s twisted creativity.
Unlike most cults, however, they don’t present themselves as people to ease you into their legion. There is no right or wrong; no sense of security. Only nature taking its course.
Of course, there are promises. Freedom, potential, and setting your expectations. This life is yours, this world is yours. Take it, accept it, and breathe with it. There’s no need to live in subjugation and permission. Who is stopping you?
Don’t get in your own way. Explore the feelings you want to feel, seek out the knowledge you wish to ascertain, and live to your fullest, and maybe you will feel the sun rain down the nutrients that feed your soul.
To them, nature and order are in constant conflict with each other, and it is humanity’s job to overcome it. There’s no need to live in fear. The unknown is always going to be there, so stop questioning it, stop doubting, and stop coming up with reasons for that which can not be explained. Free yourself of the shackles of bias and perception and reality changes. Free yourself and simply be.
The RIghteous understand this, and they don’t aspire to be promo guys or in-ring workhorses. They are storytellers in an eternal book, painters of a canvas with no edge in sight. If they deliver an earworm of theatrical poetry or deliver violence that feeds the primal needs within us, then so be it. They’re practitioners to a trade and it matters not the way they get there.
When the duo returned to Ring of Honor in 2022 amid rumors of appearing elsewhere, there were little expectations. Fans let them be swept under the rug. The thing is, if you sweep things under the rug, you will trip upon the mess that you left behind.
In recent months, the presence of Vincent and Dutch has been hard to overcome. It’s unignorable at this point and growing in this juxtaposition of the tag team wrestlers under Tony Khan’s payroll.
Even though they weren’t able to get the win against a solo MJF for the ROH World Tag Team Championship at WrestleDream, The Righteous still has their hooks between the Burberry scarf purveyor and his compatriot, Adam Cole.
While Cole rehabs his injury and deals with the crumbling friendship of Roderick Strong and The Kingdom, Maxwell Jacob Friedman struggles. He struggles against the hordes of enemies new and old, and he struggles alone like he always has. Just when he feels he has a friend to lean on, The Righteous does the tag team technique that separates MJF from that hopeful hot tag that saves the day.
It is not just the matches in the ring that exemplify the psychological games of Vincent and Dutch, but also the way their tactics play out in the short-term and the long-term. The status quo is wholly offensive to them and must be challenged. No one is safe at the top and they must be reminded of that.
The moral of their existence rests upon the foundation that complacency amid success is the most cardinal sin of all, and will not go unpunished. Everyone must atone some time or another. And that’s their truth.
Dig what I’m sayin’, man?