Former WWE Star Dijak Looks Back On Time With Ill-Fated Retribution Stable

Donovan Dijak is now a former WWE Superstar following his departure from the company, and there is a lot to look back on when it comes to his eight-year run with the company. He revived his independent feud with Keith Lee, he was heavily involved in "WWE NXT" programming throughout 2023, and even got drafted to "WWE Raw" in 2024 as a result of his hard work in "NXT." However, the one thing that most people will remember him for is his time as T-Bar in the Retribution stable.


The group has gone down in infamy as one of the worst stables in WWE history, and it's safe to say that Dijak himself knew it was bad as well. During a recent interview with Fightful's Sean Ross Sapp, Dijak went into detail about the group, beginning by saying there was some potential in what Retribution could do, but it was clear there was no direction as Dijak wasn't even part of the group when they debuted. "The first time you saw them on screen when they threw Molotov cocktails at the generator, I don't even think I was officially on Raw. I was like in a middle ground."

Dijak felt that the group was put together hastily, but saw it as an opportunity to be on TV. However, when the decision was made for them to have their names changed, he knew he was doomed. "One day, just like a big f**king hammer, it came down and it was like 'boom, here's your masks.' 'Oh cool are they entrance masks?' 'Nope, you wear them all the time.' 'Oh f**k” Okay maybe we can make that work, 'your name's going to be T-Bar, your name is going to be Slapjack, your name is going to be Mace,' and we're like 'f**k.'


There Was A Lot of Pressure on Retribution's Shoulders

With their jobs on the line to make it work, Retribution soldiered on with the members of the group now known to the public, which Dijak saw as a positive as WWE couldn't replace them without a reason. The group would do big numbers on social media, which Dijak also saw as a positive as it showed people were watching, to the point where even though fans hated Retribution, he could use the data as a way to improve his own, and the rest of the group's contracts on the main roster when talking to Vince McMahon. However, that didn't go over well with the higher-ups in WWE.


"I wouldn't call them threats, but I was strongly encouraged to stop doing that," Dijak said. "Indirectly, through booking decisions, through meetings that I was a part of, through other people who are being brought to television as potential replacements. None of this was told directly to me, but it was all made apparent to me that like 'you need to shut your mouth and accept what we're giving you or you're out of here.' Again, that wasn't said to me, but the general tone of that was very much felt on my part. I was very much pressured into signing a contract that I wasn't terribly comfortable signing."

Mustafa Ali Didn't Even Know He Would Be in the Group

Retribution did get a boost in momentum when it was revealed that the mysterious hacker behind the group was none other than Mustafa Ali, a man who fans had been crying out to see more from in terms of storylines. However, the move to position Ali in the group was just another sign in Dijak's eyes that WWE simply had no real direction for Retribution, leading to them losing what little momentum they had built for themselves.


"It just fell off a f**king cliff, and we started to lose to everybody, and it was a catastrophe...They didn't know [what to do with Ali]. He found out that day [he was joining]." Despite the group seemingly being doomed from the start, Dijak did round off his thoughts on Retribution as something that everyone who was involved really tried to make the best of. He said that having no live audience meant the only feedback was the volatile responses on social media, which led to him and the rest of the group being in dark places mentally, but he stated that he at least got to do something with his friends on national TV.

Please credit "Fightful" when using quotes from this article, and give a H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.