We’ve probably spent more digital ink on WWE’s RETRIBUTION stable than we should have. But because (a) it was presented along with Shane McMahon’s Raw Underground as part of the company’s efforts to freshen up the product & turn around the ratings and (b) was made up of a lot of fan favorite performers - we’ve kind of obsessed over it (and by “we” I mean “I”, and by “kind of” I mean “totally).
If we’d known from the jump they were going to be a midcard act that would start a “will they or won’t they break up?” angle shortly after their first official match, we probably wouldn’t have. But you can’t change the past, so where do we go from here?
Last Monday, after SLAPJACK & Mia Yim, er, I mean RECKONING lost to (checks notes) Ricochet & Dana Brooke in (double-checks notes) a mixed tag match, Mustafa Ali berated the duo. He’d delivered a similar verbal assault to RECKONING the week before after she was pinned by Brooke in singles action.
Normally, this would be a way to have an underling stand up to a heel partner or leader, split the group, and head off as a babyface. Are we already there with RETRIBUTION, less that six months after their debut?
It might be best for all involved. There have been flashes of intelligence around the gimmick, but those have mostly come from the talent improvising in forums where WWE oversight is lax or non-existent.
Ali’s trying, but it’s rough watching him struggle to make a heel anti-establishment character work after we’ve heard so much about how much it meant to him to play a positive Muslim-American character. Shane “SLAPJACK” Thorne has endeared himself to some of us smarks with his commitment to the schtick, but that’s about it. Likewise, Yim is garnering sympathy from fans who thought TNA’s Dollhouse group was the worst she’d have to endure in her career.
Dio “MACE” Maddin is supposedly part of Vince McMahon’s big boy training class. Dominik “T-BAR” Dijakovic wasn’t mentioned in those reports, and I’m not sure whether that’s good because Vince is happy with his work or bad because Vince doesn’t know who he is.
Their record in multi-person matches is 1 - 4, with the only win coming in service of trying to convince us that Raw’s Survivor Series team couldn’t work together. Members of the quintet are 2 - 2 - 1 in singles action. RETRIBUTION’s only sniffed a PPV line-up with Slapjack’s unannounced (yet epic) loss to Bobby Lashley at Hell in a Cell.
Sure, momentum can be quickly created for anyone in the scripted world of wrestling. With what we’ve seen thus far though, does anyone think WWE is going to have these folks start beating anyone but each other on the Road to WrestleMania?
Might as well start the break-up, or whatever is happening. It’s the only chance the entire angle has of helping someone. Maybe Mia Yim or SLAPJACK can get over by smacking down Ali, or Mustafa can solidify his spot as a TV player by thwarting an uprising before his lackeys disappear and get re-packaged.
What do you think, Cagesiders? Can RETRIBUTION be salvaged at this point?