WWE Creative needs to take some immediate steps if they are going to salvage the mess that has become RETRIBUTION.
Knee-jerk reactions tend not to work in professional wrestling and RETRIBUTION is another example of such. The group had a debut of sorts on Monday Night Raw and the response to that has been comical, at best. Everything about the presentation of this stable missed the mark to viewers, but the backstage response shows that the situation is much worse than expected. Fightful Select and other sources reported on the response and now it is time to talk about how the WWE can potentially save this group before its too late.
According to Fightful Select the reception to RETRIBUTION was not positive. Much of the sorrow being voiced across wrestling Twitter is for Mia Yim and Mercedes Martinez, two women that have spent a lot of time on the independent circuit and should be made it to bigger deals making it to the main roster of WWE.
“I feel bad for Mia (Yim) and Mercedes (Martinez),” a female roster member said as reported by Fightful. “It’s a good spot, but they’ve worked so long and are facing a battle to not make this look as dumb as it is.”
So how does WWE go through the process of fixing RETRIBUTION? The solution starts right where the problem began, WWE Creative. Here are three suggestions on long-term steps that can be used to correct the clusterfuck that has become RETRIBUTION.
Explain the why
Even though RETRIBUTION have cut extensive promos, they have said a bunch of stuff that amounts to nothing. No one knows why they are attacking Raw. No one knows why they were given contracts. All this needs to be explained. But explained without those long, verbose promos. Look at recent promos from Jon Moxley, Randy Orton, and Bayley as examples on how to explain motives in a fashion that is compelling to viewers. Less is more, but WWE Creative is doing the exact opposite with this group.
The members of RETRIBUTION are speaking as if they have been overlooked when that is not the case. Mia Yim received title opportunities while competing on NXT. As is Dominick Dijakovic. Dio Madden was once a commentator on the flagship program. Mercedes Martinez was just in the main event of a recent NXT event. Shane Thorne was a part of TM61, a team that was frequently featured near the top of the NXT tag team division. Does their name changes and complaints mean that nothing in NXT counts? It is either that, or their statements of angst do not make sense. And yes, the names need to go away immediately.
Establishing a true leader with a purpose
RETRIBUTION have not hinted at the idea of a “leader” in the group, but there needs to be a higher-power of sorts that can set things straight. Over in AEW the Dark Order were met with a similar level of apathy when they were first introduced. Then the hints of the “Exalted One” started, leading to the introduction of Brodie Lee. The Dark Order have turned things around 180 degrees to become an important element of the AEW roster.
The problem is answering “who?” Looking across the WWE main roster, there is not anyone on the list currently that would spark a real interest. Kevin Owens is the first, and probably only name, of a current main roster wrestler that can deliver both in the ring as a main event talent and on the mic. Tommaso Ciampa was also thought to be a name of someone who could be involved with and lead RETRIBUTION. He is still competing on NXT and shifting him to the main roster in this space has potential to help turn things around. But he would have to be booked as the sadistic heel that he was during the Johnny Gargano feud. That is something that has not occurred on the main roster in a long time and there is no trust in whether it can be done correctly today.
RETRIBUTION needs a major, main event name as their leader.
Remove them from TV entirely
While it would be a glaring move, RETRIBUTION can also be removed from television entirely. The current members of the group have value as characters and wrestlers. Their time in NXT have shown that to viewers. But this start is resoundingly worse than any booking they saw while on NXT. Removing them from TV and bringing them back as competent characters is an option. Imagine Yim and Martinez as a tag team gunning for the women’s tag team titles. Madden and Thorne can be repackaged as mid-card talents or even moving them over to Raw Underground. Dijakovic has potential to be a main event option on either Raw or SmackDown.
WWE Creative moved too quickly to create RETRIBUTION at a time when the show was struggling with ratings. Their introduction has not helped in any fashion. Instead, they are another example of glaring issues within the creative process. Things can be fixed but action is needed now rather than later.