Shane Thorne has recalled RETRIBUTION making a pitch that would have seen Vince McMahon revealed as the leader of the group.
RETRIBUTION arrived on WWE television during the summer of 2020. The group of initially unknown masked assailants, smashed up stages, destroyed property and beatdown a number of WWE Superstars.
However, after a strong start, the group made up of Dominik Dijakovic (T-BAR), Dio Maddin (MACE), Shane Thorne (SLAPJACK) Mia Yim (RECKONKING) and briefly, Mercedes Martinez (RETALIATION), fell down the pecking order.
In October 2021, Mustafa Ali was revealed as the leader of the group, but their slide down the card continued. The once feared faction eventually broke up at Fastlane in early 2021, with the group turning on Ali.
Speaking during an appearance on the Two Man Power Trip podcast, Shane Thorne looked back on his time as part of the group. The Aussie star explained that he was initially very excited to be part of the group.
“When they first started RETRIBUTION, these segments were awesome. They were flipping cars, throwing Molotov cocktails, trashing the place. I don’t know who did that, but that wasn’t us. Then they were like, ‘we’re gonna have some people join RETRIBUTION.’ I’m like, ‘Fuck yeah. I’m gonna smash people and do this shit and be hooligans doing this pre-taped things.’ MACE did stuff on the backstage, he was one of the people launching people over boxes and he was like, ‘this is cool.’ I’m like, ‘Fuck yeah, we’re gonna get in there and do that.’ We did not,”
Commenting on why all momentum disappeared from the group so quickly, Thorne said that he felt the returns of many top stars as WWE moved to the ThunderDome played a part.
“My theory, I’ve never been told anything solid, but my theory was, we were running out of the PC at the time with a skeleton crew, none of the big stars were coming every week. We moved to the ThunderDome, all the big stars came back, and Vince had his stars to play with now. That’s what happened. When your TV show gets the main characters back, you’re going to use the main characters.”
Expanding further he revealed that the group pitched for a number of people to be unveiled as the leader of the group, including WWE Chairman, Vince McMahon.
“We pitched ideas to have a lot of different people as the leader like Shane McMahon, Edge, or someone higher. We pitched for Vince to be the leader as well. We went as high as possible with who the leader would be. We wanted to be attached with one of the main characters. I guess, at the start, we were. We were doing stuff with Bray Wyatt and Hurt Business,” he said.
“The only direction we really got was after we did something. We got a lot of creative freedom in that, to an extent. ‘Be like this,’ then we’d do it, ‘sort of not like that.’ It was very trial and error and I think they got bored of it, honestly. Ali becoming the leader was not something we pitched, but it was a happy coincidence.
It was great when we found that out. We were stoked about that, then the little storyline we had there with him turning his back, that was great and was a story. Then it wrapped up and finished again.”
After pitching for Vince McMahon to be involved, it could have been seen as a step down when Mustafa Ali was revealed to be the group’s leader. However, Thorne was full of praise for Ali, detailing how he tried to push for the group to be more important, pitching ideas to Vince McMahon regularly.
Despite this, Thorne said that as soon as the individuals in the group were given their new names, he knew they were in trouble.
“We were in the opening segment, it could have been the first time we had the masks. We were running through it. We had to run backstage and as we run backstage, we get pulled aside and were like, ‘here are your new names; SLAPJACK, T-BAR, MACE, RECKONING.’ We were just like…the wheels are off. I know what a slapjack is, but I wanted to hear it from them. ‘What a slapjack?’ ‘It’s this badass weapon.’ I knew it was going to be bad.”
Shane Thorne was released by WWE in November 2021.
H/t to Fightful for the transcription.