Retribution & Why Invasion Angles Never Work

This story is going to be one long groan.

Source: WWE

Retribution have been wreaking havoc across both RAW and SmackDown throughout the summer, from chasing away camera crew to literally sawing the ring into pieces, the anarchist group have well and truly made their voices heard. With the group now willing to enter further into the spotlight, by cutting typically scathing promos about ‘bringing down the machine’ and what not, Retribution have become just as big of a part of the main roster as any. Is this what they wanted all along? Or has their MO been lost in the wilderness of nonsensical booking? I think you know the answer.

With the identities of the faction’s members being met with very little hype, Retribution’s invasion angle has fallen on its face before it’s even reached its peak. Presuming that the group will be gearing up for a big elimination match at the Survivor Series pay-per-view, there’s still a long ways to go for the faction to create a buzz surrounding them and their storyline, but quite frankly, history hasn’t been kind to these sorts of storylines.

Aside from the occasional brand warfare angles, the invasion storyline has been left untapped since The Nexus’ debut in 2010. Prior to the original NXT roster’s storming of the proverbial castle, WWE enjoyed a lengthy invasion angle after acquiring WCW and cherry-picking their talent. Even though the conclusive and aptly-named Invasion pay-per-view didn’t exactly light the world on fire, fans still look back fondly on the chaos building towards the final chapter of the Monday Night Wars, one that was indeed written by the victor.

Since then, and arguably during that time as well, WWE writers couldn’t quite grasp the concept of an invading force. Much like how Retribution is now being portrayed, within a few weeks of their arrival they were given the same treatment as the rest of the cast, with unique entrances and even a locker room of their own. Surely if you had a band of rebels and protesters breaking into your place of work, you wouldn’t welcome them in with contracts and staff rooms, you’d be doing your utmost to ensure they were kept out.

WWE are of course trying to make out like the rest of the superstars are willing to put aside their own quarrels to stamp out the fire, but there is nothing much else to suggest that the faction aren’t welcome in the Thunderdome. This is eerily similar to the treatment that The Nexus, The Alliance and even the likes of the Aces and Eights over in Impact were given during their respective invasions, a treatment that ultimately led to crickets from the fans, the same crickets that I’m sure Retribution would receive if fans were in attendance.

Judging by the reactions on social media, fans are already clamouring for the end of this storyline. Now, this is of course no fault of those involved in the storyline: Dominik Dijakovic, Shane Thorne, Mia Yim and Dio Maddin just haven’t been dealt the right cards prior to and during their debut. Despite the former three being given ample exposure on TakeOver events, they never really acclimated much in the way of success, making it difficult for them to be taken seriously on the main roster amongst former champions and main-event players. I’ll admit that WWE did the right thing by stripping them of their identities and branding them with their own twist on a gang from Mad Max’s wasteland.

Hopefully the newly-christened superstars will prove themselves as credible athletes when they actually compete in matches, but for now they remain incredibly generic and don’t have much to fall back on to draw fans to their cause. Again, this is an issue that many invading forces face, unless they have a leader or spokesperson that can create a decent fan following, they’re dead in the water upon arrival.

Fans were hoping to see CM Punk be revealed as the leader of Retribution, and unless he’s taking part in a very clever work, all signs seem to be pointing towards him keeping his distance from becoming an on-screen character. Outside of ‘The Second City Saint’, there isn’t really anyone that the fans want to see jump into the role of cult leader, so the question is, how long can Retribution rely on the minimal star power shared between the group?

So what’s next for Retribution? Well, as we mentioned earlier, this whole angle is likely building to a massive clash between them and some of the main roster’s best and brightest. Much like how Team Cena derailed the momentum of The Nexus in 2010, I’m sure something similar will occur over the next few months, from then on, the angle will be kaput and the group will be forced to part ways. Regardless of how semi-decent the concluding faction war is, this whole angle will be looked back on as one long groan, one that generated little to no fan interest and one that will stand the test of time as one of the many reasons that invasions angles just aren’t that fun in wrestling.

So please, just stop.

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