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    Tuesday, October 20, 2020

    The RAW RhetoRick (10/19/20): WWE Hates Retribution and It Shows

    Finally, I get to talk about this atrocity, this crime against wrestling: Retribution. I’m Ricky Publico and this is the RAW RhetoRick. 

    I would imagine the Retribution storyline came from a very frustrated writer. All his great ideas were being rejected in favor of bad ones, so out of frustration, he thought of the worst storyline he could think of. He kept adding irredeemable elements to it and once he pitched it to Vince McMahon, he was elated because his mini-experiment actually worked. 

    Because it turns out, Vinnie Mac really wanted to get rid of WWE from the inside. *mindblown*

    How else did this plothole-ridden storyline make it to the airwaves? It's hard enough that they gave them a flimsy backstory and motivation, but did they really have to give them silly names? Did you know Slapjack is a sexual act? Poor Dominik Dijakovic, Mia Yim, Shane Thorne and Dio Maddin. Good for Mercedes Martinez for escaping this storyline that’s clearly beneath her.

    In her place, they added Mustafa Ali and made him the leader of the Bane Rejects. To be fair, adding him was the only good thing Retribution did. Sure, it was a Hail Mary, but it was successful in making everyone go, "Hey, that's something." Plus, their motifs kinda match: one group’s out here creating chaos by destroying property while the other guy’s looking to right the wrong via hacking stuff. And dare I say, Mustafa Ali looks the part and looks cool as heck doing it.

    But we're talking about Retribution here. Nothing should ever go their way. So after they were drafted by the company they sought to destroy—RAW—how will Retribution be ruined next? It took a week for WWE to answer that question by giving them the Nexus treatment. Jesus wept. 

    After all the "efforts" to "build up" Retribution as the next big stable, the geniuses backstage thought to hand them their first loss in their first official match as a complete unit. Worse, it only took the Hurt Business to take them down. At least the Nexus was able to eliminate the likes of Edge, Chris Jericho, and Bret fucking Hart before they met the shovel of John Cena. What the actual fuck, indeed. 

    So they said, "You know what, losing is not enough. Let's have them lose via submission." And before anyone can contradict, Vince said, "That's good shit!" and greenlit Retribution's pathetic demise to Bobby Lashley. Isn't it weird that the one who tapped out is T-Bar, the supposed muscle of the group? Slightly unrelated note, don’t look for the definition of Slapjack in the urban dictionary. Don’t. 

    But wait, there's more. It's bad enough that they lost. What's worse is that The Fiend proceeded to obliterate all the members of Retribution. Why? Because fuck these guys, I guess. And after that embarrassing outing, they had the gall to cut a promo as if to say Retribution is going to get better from here on out. I love you, Ali, but get the fuck off my screen. Take off your goofy-ass masks and restart your careers back on NXT where you can actually build a name for yourselves.

    It's so baffling to watch Creative take misstep after misstep when it comes to telling this unfortunate story that getting angry about it won't help anyone. It's like Vince really wants everyone to hate his product and it's working like a charm. If he really wants to stop running WWE, why not give the reins to someone who really cares? Give it to Triple H already so he can NXT-size the entire company. 

    It's so pointless to drag on this storyline. I'm convinced that it's just a huge rib to punish these talented wrestlers for a sin that's probably too petty to penalize. I really hope to see these people go back to NXT or jump ship to AEW sometime soon. 

    The Firefly Fun House Welcomes Alexa Bliss

    Now let’s talk about something that’s actually worth talking about before I lose my goddamn mind. The Firefly Fun House! I’m so glad Bray Wyatt got shipped to RAW. At least I can always expect a great segment buried under hours of utter shit. And this week, we got a welcome addition to the Fun House family in the form of the entranced Alexa Bliss. Awesome!

    Just look at that perfect pairing. Alexa Bliss's empty and cold stare complements the viciousness of The Fiend in more ways than one. The way they made their presence known at the beginning of the show was ominously awesome. Sure, Bray Wyatt basically beat Undertaker's record for the longest goddamn entrance, but the payoff was worth it. That will definitely inspire a lot of prom, engagement, and wedding pics for years to come. Thank heavens we're all stuck inside our homes.  

    The Fun House segment didn't need to focus on Alexa Bliss, but giving the spotlight to the growing lore of Rambling Rabbit is always a plus. Did you know he had a wife? Good for you, Rabbit! Too bad he got gobbled up again. And did Huskus The Pig just blurt out a double entendre joke on a PG show? Raunchy. Alexa Bliss's laughter being added to the children laugh track, and her overall child-like demeanor provides a new layer of creepiness in the Bray cinematic universe

    Draft 2020 Aftermath: Eh, Same Same

    It’s too early to say, but is it fair to say the brand split is over? We can probably chalk off the inter-brand matches as a season premiere exclusive. But given that we’ve seen RAW throw away brand restrictions in the past, I’m keeping my doubts until I see it properly enforced. 

    Anyway, this year’s Draft brought us some interesting and disappointing aftermaths. Let’s start with the interesting ones for my mental health's sake, shall we?

    AJ Styles vs. Matt Riddle went exactly as I hoped it would be. I didn’t expect a giant to hang around at ringside, but everything else was amazing. It’s too short for my liking, but that’s forgivable at this point. If ever Riddles survives the controversy he’s currently in, I want to see more of him and Styles duking it out for the lulz or for the WWE Championship. 

    Also, did AJ Styles really need a bodyguard? Okay, I was planning to be sarcastic about this one, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t admit I enjoyed the presence of the titanic Jordan Omogbehin. He’s one badass enforcer that will legit scare the pants off anyone. He probably sucks as a wrestler, but he’s the perfect guy to play anyone’s muscle convincingly. 

    Sadly, that’s the only Draft aftermath worth checking out this week. Wait, scratch that. Kofi Kingston vs. Sheamus was also dope. But other than that, nada. Curious how the other Draft picks assimilated? Don’t be; they didn’t make any significant impact. 

    So what’s the point of separating tag teams when the ones left behind end up tagging with other people? The Otis bit was at least funny-ish, but Peyton Royce tagging with Lacey Evans? That’s just pathetic. I knew they wouldn’t have anything for Peyton. And I’m pretty sure SmackDown doesn’t have anything for Billie Kay either. So what’s the fucking point again?

    Speaking of Otis, what’s the use of rekindling their rivalry when, uh, I don’t know, Otis is supposed to be on SmackDown? Miz’s promo was great and all, but it’s useless when Tucker’s the only one present to continue the rivalry. Is he going to scramble for a tag team partner every week? Or is this a clue that the brand split is indeed over and these two teams will just continue slugging it out on RAW? I don’t know anymore and I don’t care. 

    Yes, Keith Lee, you tangled with the wrong guy. I know I said I love big hoss matches, but what the hell was that match? Imagine having this balls-to-the-walls match two weeks ago only to scale back and have a weaksauce standard match that ended with a stupid low blow. At least Braun Strowman is adapting the Big Boot as a finisher. That's so much better than a bland running powerslam. But yeah, so much for monsters going brrrrr. 

    Oh, and Lana? She got squashed by Asuka in under two minutes. Glad that’s over with. I guess it wasn’t all that bad because at least Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax positioned themselves as the next rivals for Asuka’s RAW Women’s Championship. Asuka badly needs some competent contenders and besides, who else isn’t hyped to see Asuka vs. Shayna Baszler? 

    CLOSING RHETORICK: The RAW season premiere is just a standard RAW episode: you have to dig deep to get to the good shit. Kofi Kingston dropping Sheamus’ ashy ass and AJ Styles taking on Matt Riddle took care of the wrestling side, while the Firefly Fun House continues to provide the highlight of any episode of the main roster programming. 

    And you know what, let me add plus points for Retribution’s colossal failure since they’ve officially entered the so-bad-it’s-good territory at this point. You can’t really expect anything from the Losers Club anyway, so to truly enjoy their stuff, treat it as a parody of rebel stables to ever grace the WWE ring. 

    RAW Grade: C

    RhetoRickal Questions that Generate More Questions

    • Is the Hurt Business actually good? Retribution sucked hard this week that I completely ignored how badass the Hurt Business was. First off, they made the Jason Voorhees Tribute Band tap out. And not only that, they beat up Titus O’Neil who was trying to worm himself into the group. Good for them! 
    • Are we getting the first-ever guitar match? I’m not sure if anyone requested it, but the Jeff Hardy/Elias feud relied too much on guitars that it seems inevitable at this point. Also, “Amen” kinda slaps the longer you listen to it. 
    • Why can't I care enough about Drew McIntyre vs. Randy Orton? Is it because this storyline is a bit promo-heavy? Is it because Orton is always the measuring stick to a newly-crowned WWE Champion? I'm just not convinced they hate each other that much. Their final segment didn't even end properly. They just cut the feed off right before the big brawl. Okay, I guess? 
    • Is the Hell in a Cell cage going to be red now? It looks ugly af. It doesn’t even look like a steel structure. What do you mean it’s been red since Hell in a Cell 2018? Are you kidding me?

    • What’s up with Lana getting put through tables? That’s one weird way to position someone as a massive babyface. If anything, she came out as a massive loser this week. So yeah, no. 

    GIF of the Week

    Photos from WWE.com


    Ricky Publico (@TeetotaleRicky) is Smark Henry's resident RAW reviewer...  for better or worse. A known lover of wrestling tournaments, he's a sucker for well-executed promos and fast-paced matches. While he enjoys nitpicking shows, he now prefers enjoying wrestling for what it is instead of stressing himself over things he can't control. He's still anxious about the future, now more than ever. 

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    Item Reviewed: The RAW RhetoRick (10/19/20): WWE Hates Retribution and It Shows Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Ricky Jay Publico
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