WWE's new anarchist stable Retribution arrived on WWE Smackdown on Friday. After being seen torching a generator on Monday Night Raw earlier this week, Retribution hit the ring at the end of Smackdown on Friday, terrorizing the NXT trainees paid to sit in the crowd and committing acts of vandalism.
The group, which consisted of a half dozen or more men and women wearing black pants, black hoodies, and black masks, brought bats and steel pipes with them to the ring with a little more than five minutes left before Smackdown went off the air. Retribution attempted to attack the commentary team, but unfortunately, Michael Cole and Corey Graves got away. The group then attacked "fans" in the crowd with bats and pipes. Then they returned to the ring.
After shouting things like "this is our house now" and "who's in charge now," the group chased off some camera people and then broke out cans of red spray paint, which they used to vandalize the ringside area. One of them spraypainted the WWE logo with a big circle around it and a line through the logo on the plexiglass ring barrier. They also spraypainted the ring apron and the ring itself and tipped over the announce table. For the grand finale, one member of Retribution pulled out a chainsaw and cut down the ring ropes.
We first learned about the plans for Retribution to debut on Monday, with Ryan Satin, a wrestling journalist who has been employed by WWE in the past, first reporting on the "leaked" story. Satin repeatedly insisted that the faction was "not political," including in a follow-up article after the Raw segment later that night. That's clearly a message WWE wants to get out since the group bears a strong resemblance to conservative media bugaboo Antifa. Since everything the group is doing appears to be a wrestlingized version of what's been happening over the past few months in protests across the country, as filtered through the mind of WWE's 74-year-old CEO Vince McMahon, the company believes that by repeatedly stating that the faction is "not political" the company can plausibly deny making light of social causes while still building buzz for an edgy storyline. Whether it will work remains to be seen.