Over the last two weeks, a masked group of revolutionists have been appearing at the WWE Performance Center to disrupt the broadcasts of RAW and SmackDown Live. Originally, this new stable, now named Retribution, were teased alongside the return of Shane McMahon and the first instalments of RAW Underground. I’m not sure any WWE fan expected to see an anonymous band of protesters storming the ringside area, chasing off commentators and cameramen to close the show with them chainsawing the ring apart. Things have gotten chaotic pretty quickly, to say the least.
So who are these masked men and women and why are they lusting for ‘Retribution’ against RAW and SmackDown Live? Well, let’s consider recent history and the handful of superstars that were released from their contracts on Black Wednesday. With names like Kurt Angle, EC3, Eric Young and The Good Brothers all finding themselves jobless due to budget cuts, naturally it left a lot of wrestlers and fans pretty angry with how a multi-million dollar company was adapting to the financial effects of the pandemic.
Now, some of the released superstars did in fact manage to find their way into a new contract. Drake Maverick, for example, who is now a fully-fledged member of the NXT Cruiserweight division after stealing hearts and shows as part of the Interim Cruiserweight Championship tournament. The aforementioned ‘Olympic Hero’ also found himself featured on an episode of NXT, mere weeks after being let go. So, WWE were obviously doing their best to do right by these superstars, who were now left in a pretty dire situation in the middle of this period of uncertainty.
Meanwhile, some of the other released WWE guys snapped up offers elsewhere. EC3, The Good Brothers, Eric Young and Heath Slater all ran into the open arms of IMPACT Wrestling, making for one of the most watched pay-per-views in that promotion’s history. IMPACT were spot on with their marketing for the Slammiversary show, hyping audiences up with the mystery of which former WWE stars they managed to nab for their own roster.
But what if they weren’t officially IMPACT stars and still considered WWE superstars?
I’ll preface this hot take by saying that this is a very unlikely situation, but with everything that’s happened in the world of wrestling, who knows what’s going on behind closed doors. WWE and IMPACT have been engaged in a back-and-forth over the libraries of Total Nonstop Action (TNA), with the former battling to get their greasy palms on older footage of AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Sting and other former TNA wrestlers who are now part of their roster. With talks still ongoing, perhaps this is now leading to an official deal between the two companies, similar to the historic conclusion to the Monday Night Wars with Vince buying out WCW.
Of course, IMPACT aren’t anywhere near the level of competition that they were during the late 2000s/early 2010s and Vince would probably low-ball his offer if he were to buy them up. Nevertheless, with now so many of his former guys lining their side of the battlefield, and with a growing decline in WWE’s ratings, maybe he’s more threatened than he lets on. Perhaps he has indeed secured them for his monopoly and Retribution are going to be revealed as a group of vexed former employees that are now looking to bring down the machine and swing the favour back to IMPACT.
It would definitely be a strong move for IMPACT to capitalise on the renewed interest in their content, giving them a tonne of exposure in an invasion-style storyline against WWE and making those that were let go of look like total badasses.
Quite frankly, there needs to be a big payoff to this already-shoddy storyline. The Retribution group aren’t exactly looking like a big threat, especially when we have no idea who the hell they are. For all we know, they could be a bunch of geeky wrestling fans that are fed up with Ricochet being booked the way he is. Or maybe this is all one big angle for RAW Underground? Either way, I hope it makes more of an IMPACT than I assume.
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