Reacting to Retribution’s WWE Debut and Suggestions on How to Improve – by Mike Sanchez

It’s been a couple of weeks since a mysterious faction/stable made their presence known in WWE; Retribution. Their appearances have been brief, but have been talking points and they have made an impact, so I logged onto WWE’s YouTube channel to watch them all in one go, and if I’m being completely honest, I’m a little underwhelmed.

I’m not crapping on the idea and saying it’ll be a massive failure and WWE shouldn’t have done it, but so far I don’t think they’ve had the desired effect. When I think of factions invading WWE, I think of ECW, The Shield or Nexus. On a similar vein, but not in the ‘invasion’ sense, New Day, Degeneration X or the Undisputed Era. Strong teams who are way more than the sum of their parts.

When I watch Retribution, I don’t see that bond or level of danger from them. For all the screaming, cheering and hollering they do when in front of the cameras, most of them appear to be standing around waiting, rather than take part in the destruction and chaos they supposed to be wreaking on the WWE. There’s a sense of awkwardness about them, like a bunch of rich frat boys who are trying to be bad, but when given the chance, freeze like a rabbit in the headlights. Now, not all of them are doing this, there are a couple who are trying their best and smashing up what they can, but the lack of danger they pose seems to dilute their threat.

In their defence, they haven’t had the easiest of introductions. The lack of a live audience has definitely hurt them. They appear to have been issued instructions like ‘go out there and cause chaos’ with little else to guide their actions. A lack of perceived beef or feud with a current talent on the roster would help, but seeing as there are six(?) of them now, plus being a mix of men and women, there’s no similar group on the main roster for them to fight or even annoy. Their attacks appear random and without focus. Even something like getting on the mic and announcing their intentions could help audiences relate to them more, rather than watch them whoop and scream at nobody in particular whilst beating up ringside talent who don’t appear to know how to run away when an angry mob comes their way.

Perhaps I’m being too harsh and expecting too much. Maybe that’s because I’m used to hearing the Shield’s epic entrance music and the pop of a live audience when it comes to a destructive faction. Maybe I’m expecting more of a mixed group who could establish themselves as a solid variety of talent at different levels on the card like D-X once were. I think there’s a niche Retribution could certainly fill in WWE. The last proper mixed faction on the roster were Sanity, and although they didn’t have the longevity they hoped they would, Nikki Cross did benefit from the team and manged to solidify her place on the roster. I believe if done right, Retribution could have similar results from having women in their team, working together as a cohesive unit to try and dominate the WWE rather than destroy it.

So what could WWE do with this fledgling team now to improve them and resonate with audiences? I’d like to suggest a few ideas.

Why are they there? The question that’s been asked for a while now, but yet to be answered. I get that they want to make an impact and create noise, but that can only go on for so long before it becomes tedious. They need to change their approach and speak; vignettes or backstage handheld footage (like The Shield used to do) could work well. Educate the WWE Universe as to who they are, why they are here and what they want. If we are supposed to take them seriously, they need to be serious with the WWE.

What do they want? A key question. ECW wanted to prove to WWF (as it was then) that they could go toe to toe and come out on top with the perceived ‘best’ in pro wrestling. The Shield wanted to rule the WWE and nobody could stop them. They declared themselves the Hounds of Justice and delivered it at every opportunity. The Undisputed Era wanted to win everything and become iconic in NXT. What does Retribution want to do? What is their purpose?

What’s their message? The word Retribution literally means ‘punishment inflicted on someone as vengeance for a wrong or criminal act’. If that’s their name, then it’s what they want to do. What wrong has befallen them? Unless WWE has just given them a ‘cool’ nickname without thinking of the message behind it? They wouldn’t do that? Would they? One would hope some careful consideration has been done prior to letting this group loose. There should be a shift in their methods in the coming weeks to try and stop the audience losing interest in their antics. I would expect a nominated ‘leader’ in the group to start getting the mic and telling the fans what they are all about. Hopefully, someone charismatic who can be the spokesperson for the faction, if not, it won’t help their cause.

All that being said, I do want Retribution to succeed – honestly. Us fans are forever crying out for something new. We want something different. With luck, there may be live audiences in WWE in the future, not full arenas, but perhaps enough to make an audible difference. One of the big factors in the Shield’s success was the reaction from fans, same with D-X. Whether it’s WWE, football, basketball or any other sport, without fans, an important element is missing. Perhaps fans are the element that is missing from Retribution. Perhaps with an audience, a catchy entrance tune and some focus and purpose in their stride, they can achieve something in WWE. For now, I’ll wait and see how it pans out.