Last week on RAW, Mustafa Ali turned his back on the WWE Universe and aligned himself with Retribution, revealing himself to be the leader of the troupe. After months of fans questioning whether or not the former 205 Live star was behind the SmackDown Hacker vignettes, we finally have our answer, even if it was in the most anti-climactic of ways.
Retribution were slowly defying expectations and generating some momentum, mostly due to the hilarious Twitter antics of T-Bar (Dominik Dijakovic) and Slapjack (Shane Thorne), leading fans to realise that there might actually be something worth giving a damn about in this invasion angle.
The MO of Retribution is still a little hazy. Aside from their growing feud with The Hurt Business on RAW, they haven’t really given much away as to what their end goal is, maybe now with Mustafa Ali at the helm, that might become clearer. Where this is good news for Ali, who has been struggling to maintain TV time since his return two months back, it may in fact be a hindrance for Retribution who are slowly finding their feet on the roster.
Before, Retribution seemed like a band of renegades not really tied down to any one person or ideal, whereas now, they’re simply a gang of minions doing Ali’s bidding. It wasn’t lost on me that when Ali stood in front of his heavies that he appeared to dwarf in comparison to their stature, which isn’t really the best look when you’re facing down guys like Bobby Lashley. Naturally, you’d think this is going to lead to Ali becoming more of a chicken-shit style heel, where he hides behind his cronies as they soften up his opponents.
This tried and tested routine works for many, but as of writing, I’m not sure it’s going to mix well with Mustafa Ali. Yes, he’s a phenomenal talker; if anyone’s caught one of his Twitter promos then you know exactly what I’m referring to when I say that the man deserves more mic-time. This could indeed be the making of something special within Retribution, T-Bar and Mia Yim have done a great job at handling the talking for the faction, but Ali brings a passion and fire that is rarely found in a modern-day WWE superstar. Here’s hoping that this finally gives him the opportunity to show a new side to his character, and get people invested in him in ways that they have yet to experience.
However, being a good talker doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a natural fit to be a heel. Ali has managed to accumulate quite the following since breaking out as a singles star, at times he was even performing in major championship matches and competed in brief feuds with the likes of Randy Orton. All signs pointed towards Ali becoming an unlikely babyface star for the WWE somewhere down the line. His ability to make people listen when he cuts a promo is a very rare skill, especially when you’re stuck in the traffic jam of talent who are also trying to get over on the main roster, but people see something in Ali already and that’s probably going to stop him from really going all in with his new gimmick.
For now, they’ve ruined any KofiMania style movements for Ali, meaning there’s not much going for him until he splits from Retribution down the line. It’s only a matter of time before WWE pull their classic conclusion to the angle and have a ‘Team WWE’ steamroll over Retribution and their leader, reducing them to undercard performers in a matter of months. This will leave Ali in a really tough position where he’s having to put over babyface stars and hold back from doing what he does best – flips and more flips.
If anything, Retribution should’ve maintained their current course and shared the leadership between T-Bar and Reckoning (Mia Yim). They were handling things just fine as the two talkers of the faction and were doing a great job at looking imposing in the process, leaving Ali to carry on having stellar Main Event matches against the likes of Ricochet and Cedric Alexander.
I’m willing to see where this goes over the course of the next few weeks, especially following the slight revamping of the two brands after the 2020 Draft. I’m really keeping my fingers crossed and my mind open towards the Retribution angle working, but something tells me that the person coming out looking the worst will be Mustafa Ali.
What are your thoughts on Ali joining Retribution? Let us know in the comments below.
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