Are you happy now?
ARE YOU HAPPY NOW?!?
For seven weeks, we’ve been seeing the rabble-rousers known as Retribution run around on WWE programming with no clear end game in sight. They’ve played with the lights, set a generator on fire, attacked random WWE wrestlers and employees, evaded every possible level of security, and even harassed the WWE Production Team (but spared that rat-faced fuck Kevin Dunn’s life). There’s even rumors that they were behind some of the following dastardly deeds:
- Every hour, on the hour, they would adjust the thermostat, changing it one degree each time
- Moved all of Vince McMahon’s living room furniture an inch to the left so that he would keep bumping into everything
- Removed every right sock from the bags of every WWE Superstar
- Loosened the lids of the salt and pepper shakers at catering
- Constantly changing the arena’s WiFi password
We’ve been waiting for something… anything… that would tell us who these people are and why they’re doing what they’re doing. We finally got some real answers on Raw this week.
Boy, were they some doozies.
To kick things off, we were given word that Retribution had signed WWE contracts. Wait. Hold up a moment. Why? I get it from WWE’s side. WWE has been actively hiring and employing people for years that have been doing nothing but trying to ruin every bit of WWE programming they’re involved in, so this is nothing new. Why would Retribution want to be signed to a promotion that they, apparently, hate so much? It isn’t like their promos were talking about how they want the best for WWE, but that certain people are a cancer to the company’s growth, and those people need to be removed. These are people who, in not so many words, were telling us that they wouldn’t stop until there was no more WWE. That isn’t how you go about achieving your goals.
From there, we got to see who some of the members of the group are, even though they were never named. Dominik Dijakovic, Mia Yim, Mercedes Martinez, and Dio Maddin have been rumored as members for weeks, and they were clearly there on Raw. The fifth kinda-sorta unmasked member is rumored to be Shane Thorne, formerly of NXT tag team TM61/The Mighty. Not exactly a who’s who of people that the average member of the WWE Universe is going to recognize, but it’s a start.
Next, we got the same promo we’ve heard from the group in the past. Mia Yim’s character talked about how WWE wasn’t safe because they were fueled by money… even though it was just revealed that Retribution had signed contracts to get some of that money. Dijakovic’s character would then go on a little rant about people being “whores” for collecting paychecks, again leaving out the fact that Retribution had just signed deals to… collect paychecks. It didn’t make any fucking sense, folks. In the past, their promos talked about how they were basically “thrown away” by the “machine” that is WWE, making them sound like people who were released or something. Instead, we get a group that consists mainly of people that have been on NXT programming recently. You could almost let it slide if it was people from NXT who felt they were more “deserving” of things that never quite came their way. That goes out the window when you think about Dijakovic getting three televised title shots in 2020 (all losses, of course) and Martinez participating in a main event program with Rhea Ripley earlier this month. Hell, even Mia Yim has been on NXT television pretty regularly in the COVID era. Now, if you’re talking about Dio Madden and Shane Thorne, you can make more of a case. Other than an appearance on Raw Underground (coincidentally, on the same night Retribution debuted), Maddin has never had a match on WWE or NXT television, while Thorne was briefly involved in a storyline on Raw earlier this year with MVP, Cedric Alexander, and Ricochet, but then disappeared.
Okay, but they can still have cool names, right? How does T-Bar, Slapjack, and Mace sound? I get that Vince McMahon has deep rooted issues with two people having the same name on a roster, so having Dominik Dijakovic on the same show was Dominik Mysterio wouldn’t work, but Dijakovic is still a cooler name than T-Bar. Dio Maddin becoming Mace is fine and all, but the only “Mace” I acknowledge is Ma$e, so unless you’re going to have Maddin wrestle in shiny suits and rap with Puff Daddy, I don’t care. Slapjack is just… something. I know that it’s the name of a weapon, but way, wayyyyy too many people misheard his name as “Flapjack” right off jump, which makes him sound more like a mascot for The New Day than anything else. We still don’t know the names of Yim and Martinez in this nonsense, but you can probably assume they won’t be very good.
These are major issues. Every one of them on its own is major, but when you put them all together and turn the blender on, you have a problem that isn’t easily solved. If I’m going to be honest, you have a problem I don’t feel can be solved. What can WWE try, though?
Let me say this, before any other words come from this Logitech keyboard… under no circumstances would I like to see a random “authority figure” be responsible for Retribution. Sure, it would help to solve the issue of how and why they got WWE contracts, but look at the “suspects” that are involved. It makes NO sense for it to be Vince McMahon, as nobody would believe he’s supporting any “young” stars (even though Mia Yim, at 31, is the youngest of the group so far). I’m pretty sure we’ve seen the “Shane and/or Stephanie try to put their father out of business” story about 400 times through the years. It damn sure wouldn’t make any sense for it to be Triple H, because not only have we seen HIM try to destroy Vince before, but why would he use these specific NXT talents to do so and not the best of the best that the brand has to offer? Paul Heyman is too busy on Friday nights for this kind of chicanery on Monday nights. Eric Bischoff has continued to make it clear that he’s not interested in a return to wrestling like that. Who does that leave? Adam Pearce? My God, it would be peak 2020 if Adam Pearce was revealed as the leader of Retribution, done to absolute crickets as the casual WWE viewer continues to have no idea who Pearce is, no matter how many times he appears on television. With all the time WWE has given to Dijakovic, Maddin, Yim, Martinez, and apparently Thorne, you have to roll the dice with them.
Let’s also say that all of those extra unnamed members that are involved in attacks won’t be “official” members. Unless you want to go full-fledged nWo and have 53 Retribution members, that is. With that said, let’s have some fun. I think the group needs more members. Actually, the group needs different members, but it’s too late to switch the main names out now, so let’s add some people. Since WWE never remembers their own Brand Split, and often moves the goalposts to get around things, I’d say you could grab new members from anywhere with no issue whatsoever. If you’re going to use the “thrown away” part of the group’s ideology, that makes my mind go to those who have been on the shelf with any sort of injuries or leave. Let’s go ahead and look at that list:
- Jinder Mahal
- Becky Lynch
- Charlotte Flair
- Jimmy Uso
- Kofi Kingston
- Lars Sullivan
- Ember Moon
- Dexter Lumis
- Karrion Kross
- Kona Reeves
Ivar was just injured, so count him out. Becky Lynch is still very pregnant, so take her off the list. God, you’d hope Jimmy Uso returns to be with his brother and possibly be involved in a story with his cousin on Smackdown, so count him out. Kane’s a little busy being a Mayor in the middle of a pandemic, so let’s count him out. Kofi Kingston returning to do anything other than be with The New Day is, if you believe the members of New Day, never going to happen, so remove him. If Triple H is half as big a fan of Karrion Kross as he claims to be, he will threaten to spike Vince McMahon’s prune juice if Vince gets his grubby hands anywhere near the former NXT World Champion, so let’s count him out. Kona Reeves is Kona Reeves, so no. That narrows our list down to:
- Jinder Mahal
- Charlotte Flair
- Lars Sullivan
- Ember Moon
- Dexter Lumis
Charlotte Flair is pushed as, perhaps, the biggest and greatest women’s wrestler of all-time, and she’ll have that type of talk until she retires, so nobody has thrown her away. Jinder Mahal and Elias would be viewed as taking a demotion if they were involved in the group, so let’s count them out. Ember Moon is an intriguing choice, but I think that two main women in the group are going to crowd things a bit, and I want a singles push for her upon her return, so let’s count her out. Dexter Lumis was in the middle of the biggest push of his NXT career when he injured his ankle, and it happened relatively recently, so I’d count him out. That leaves… you guessed it…
Good ol’ Lars Sullivan. The same Lars Sullivan that was once viewed as a possible main event guy by the company, and was in line to receive a push to match before anxiety and a knee injury derailed his momentum. He hasn’t been seen in almost 16 months now. You could say that, in kayfabe, he was completely tossed aside by WWE as they moved on to find their newest flavor of the month. At 6’3″ tall and 330 pounds, he can be another monster for a group that already includes T-Bar (6’9″ and 270 pounds) and Mace (6’6″ and 285 pounds). He could be placed in a tag team with Mace, freeing up T-Bar to be the top guy in the group and Slapjack to be the midcard singles player.
I dunno. It makes sense in a lot of ways. At the same time, Sullivan has been a bit of a punchline on social media for a long time now, and adding him to one of the most harshly reviewed wrestling factions ever isn’t exactly going to be a saving grace for either party. You will rarely ever see the term “buried” used in any of my columns or tweets, and I hate, hate, hate to see people on the internet use the term incorrectly… HOWEVER… I’ll be damned if this entire Retribution thing isn’t trending in that direction. Reports are already out that the Retribution look and names were laughed at by wrestlers backstage during Raw this week. This isn’t an R-Truth comedy bit we’re talking about. This isn’t even a Vince McMahon potty humor bit that some people find funny. We’re talking about a serious stable, cutting serious promos, wearing what is supposed to be serious attire, and having what are supposed to be serious names… and not even fellow wrestlers can keep from laughing about it all. This is as close to a burial as you’re going to get without the coffin and a cheap suit. This isn’t quiiiiite a burial, but certainly in the vicinity of burialhood.
Fuck it. I’ve got nothing better. What say you, ReaderLand? Hit me up in the comments section below or on Twitter (@HustleTheSavage) and let me know if you think there’s anything that can be done to save this shit.
Weekly Power Rankings
- Parking Lot Fight: Shout-out to Chuck Taylor, Trent, Santana, and Ortiz for having a very entertaining main event match on Dynamite last week. It was just the right mix of fun and violence to work on multiple levels, but it’s also the kind of match that the average wrestling fan doesn’t want to see all the time. That’s not a knock on anyone or anything. It’s just something that needs to be kept in the bag more often than not.
- Shotzi Blackheart: Two weeks ago, I wondered if anyone viewed Shotzi as a legitimate threat to Io Shirai’s NXT Women’s Title reign. I said I’m a fan of hers, but that she hadn’t been presented as a potential challenger for the title. All it took was one match, though, and she gave the performance of her life. Her match against Shirai opened the eyes of everyone, including Io herself. Now, just like that, Shotzi is a credible contender. Amazing how that works, no?
- People Who Like Their Monday Nights To Have A Little Repetition To Them: If so, have I got the show for you! The Street Profits have faced Andrade and Angel Garza every week for the last 12 years! Keith Lee hasn’t had a match with a clean finish since the last time John Cena was World Champion! The 24/7 Title is now the longest-tenured title in the history of wrestling! Apollo Crews has been feuding with The Hurt Business since they were all children! Nothing matters anymore!
- Ben Carter: I’m assuming most people didn’t get to see the initial airing of Late Night Dynamite last night. If you missed it, you’ll want to go out of your way to watch Ben Carter’s match against Scorpio Sky that opened the show. It was a very good showing from the 22-year-old Carter, and has started a #SignBenCarter trend on Twitter. Like with Shotzi’s match, this was a potential star-making performance by Carter, opening the eyes of many new fans who were unaware of him before this.
- People Who Enjoy A Bit Of Karma: When the pro wrestling world was rocked by seemingly endless accusations of rape, sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, pedophilia, and many other issues, The Velveteen Dream and Austin Theory were two of the accused. Is it any coincidence that KUSHIDA has returned with a very aggressive offensive style, and has targeted Dream and Theory with his attacks? Look, I know that it isn’t REAL justice for anything bad that may have happened, but it’s an interesting way to watch a company handle a delicate situation such as this.
- Will Hobbs: Fresh off of a great performance in the Casino Battle Royale at All Out, Hobbs is already in a position to be teaming with Jon Moxley in Moxley’s feud against Lance Archer, Brian Cage, and Ricky Starks. It’s pretty clear that AEW has high hopes for Hobbs.
- Fans Of The Hikaru Shida vs Thunder Rosa Match From All Out: If you were a fan of the match, and goshdarnit, we all should be, you’ll be happy to know that we’re apparently building to a rematch. In her brief time with AEW, Rosa has really changed the game for their women’s division, and I look forward to seeing how much of that continues with her future appearances.
- Roman Reigns’ Ability To Emote: It was a very quick thing to end Smackdown, but I absolutely loved watching Reigns smile in celebration with Jey Uso, only to morph into a movie villain and turn his smile into an ice-cold death stare after his cousin turned to walk away. I’m really enjoying the build for this match, and the Reigns heel turn that happened-but-hasn’t-happened-but-is-happening-but-hasn’t-happened-but-will-happen, as a whole.
- Fans Of Ladder Matches: There’s always a ton of potential in a Ladder Match. When you have a Triple Threat Ladder Match involving Jeff Hardy, Sami Zayn, and AJ Styles, that potential is multiplied. We’re looking at a possible Match Of The Year candidate here, folks. Fingers crossed.
- Fans Of Aalyah Mysterio: She has been really popular on social media, even as a background piece in the storyline between her family and Seth Rollins. You know why. Well, now it seems like she’s going to be more involved in the story, putting her front and center for a while. First, she showed Murphy some compassion after the Cage Match between her brother and Seth Rollins, and now she’s in a “you are not the father” angle. Her teenage emotions are pushing her away from her father, so we get to see if she’s turning heel and aligning herself with Rollins and/or Murphy, or if it ends up being nothing. We haven’t heard anything about Aalyah training to be a wrestler, so I would assume this is going to be a one-and-done for her, either way, but at least those social media fans get to see some more of her.
This Week’s Playlist: “Hands Up (Outlaws)” by KXNG Crooked & Joell Ortiz… “Diamonds” by Sam Smith… “Bonfire” by HIRIE… “You Won’t Be Alone” by HIRIE… “Brothers & Sisters” by SOJA… “Pop Out” by Polo G & Lil Tjay… “Lost In Paradise” by Common Kings… “Wade In Your Water” by Common Kings… “Victory Lap” by Nipsey Hussle & Stacy Barthe… “Antisocial” by Ed Sheeran & Travis Scott… “For Real” by Rittz… “Knockin Da Boots” by H-Town… “Big Ship” by One Groove… “Thuggish Ruggish Bone” by Bone Thugs N Harmony… “I Wanna Know” by The Foreign Exchange… “Maybe She’ll Dream Of Me” by The Foreign Exchange… “Lovin It” by Little Brother & Joe Scudda… “Deadly Medley” by Black Milk, Royce Da 5’9 & Elzhi… “Black and Brown” by Black Milk & Danny Brown… “I Belong To You (Every Time I See Your Face)” by Rome