WWE Overractions: Retribution Buried, Meaningless Hell in a Cell and More

Erik Beaston@@ErikBeastonFeatured ColumnistOctober 21, 2020

Credit: WWE.com

The WWE draft may be over but with Hell in a Cell just days away, the company set its sights on building to a show that was sort of lost in the shuffle amid all of the roster transactions that dominated the discussion over the last week.

Does that make Sunday's pay-per-view a meaningless event?

That is a question posed in one of three potential overreactions this week.

         

Overreaction No. 1: WWE Buried Retribution Monday on Raw

It is difficult to watch the first hour of Monday's Raw and come to any conclusion other than Retribution was soundly buried, first by The Hurt Business and then by The Fiend.

T-Bar, Slapjack, Mace and Mustafa Ali teamed up in the night's opening match where they lost to MVP, Shelton Benjamin, Cedric Alexander and United States champion Bobby Lashley, who tapped out T-Bar.

From there, the group received a one-on-four ass-whooping at the hands of "The Fiend" Bray Wyatt.

It did not take social media long to denounce the booking of Retribution:

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And rightly so.

The match represented the faction's first real opportunity to make a statement under Ali. After having their segment scrapped from last week's show, they rolled into this week and were treated like total also-rans by a creative team that has long not known how to handle the vigilante faction.

Later in the broadcast, Ali officially revealed himself as the SmackDown hacker, vowing to expose the greed and selfishness of WWE, as if that was somehow supposed to make up for what fans had just witnessed.

It didn't. Instead, it came across as a Band-Aid on a compound fracture. It was a cheap attempt to get heat back on the group after it had been unceremoniously beaten down and devalued.

WWE will probably read the backlash and attempt to fix its monumental error, but it may be too late. Ali had the opportunity to use Retribution as the launching pad to the bigger and better things he has long deserved. Now, he will be lucky if he does not go down with the Titanic. 

Hopefully, Slapjack leaves room on the door for him, if nothing else.

Overreaction: Warranted

           

Overreaction No. 2: Hell in a Cell is a Meaningless Pay-Per-View

Sure, there is an argument to be made that WWE should reconsider the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view, for no other reason than the fact that it devalues the gimmick match.

This year's show, though, features three matches inside the structure that have been months in the making.

Roman Reigns vs. Jey Uso is an intensely emotional blood feud that belongs in that setting, while Bayley vs. Sasha Banks is the culmination of a once-strong friendship-turned-bitter rivalry. And the war between Drew McIntyre and Randy Orton has escalated to the point that a title clash inside the cage is the only logical blowoff.

For the first time in what feels like an eternity, the event is home to three wholly deserving Hell in a Cell matches, any one of which could headline the broadcast.

Even the heavy emphasis on the draft and all of the moves that occurred between brands cannot overshadow what has been months of television time devoted to telling these three stories and setting up their endings.

So, no, this year's show isn't meaningless and nor does it devalue the concept. If anything, it is a rarity in 2020—a show that absolutely fits its pieces.

Overreaction: Unnecessary

           

Overreaction No. 3: Has WWE Already Ruined the Brand Split?

In short, no.

Yes, Monday's show featured newly drafted SmackDown Superstars, but Friday's show featured new Raw talent, too. Both were "season premieres" that gave outgoing names the opportunity to say goodbye.

Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods did so emotionally last Friday night, while The Riott Squad had its last shot at taking down Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax Monday.

That is less indicative of WWE erasing everything it accomplished with its draft and more about providing one last opportunity to tie up loose ends or give the talent a proper sendoff.

If it continues into this week of programming or beyond, though, then it is cause for concern.

WWE does have a long and storied history of bucking the results of its own draft and booking talent wherever based on creative need. But it must do better now that each roster is packed with wrestlers who could easily star on any show in the industry.

One last go-round on Raw or SmackDown, though? That's hardly "ruining" the brand split.

Overreaction: Hell, yes