Mercedes Martinez: Lack Of Communication Led To RETRIBUTION Exit
Martinez was out seemingly as soon as she was in the doomed faction
RETRIBUTION in WWE was a weird and curious faction. Widely panned from the moment they appeared on TV, the gimmick only got worse before disbanding.
But before even appearing in an official match, RETRIBUTION went through several changes, most notably NXT star Mercedes Martinez joining and leaving the group in a matter of appearances.
Now part of IMPACT’s Knockouts Division, Martinez spoke with Belle to Belles about her time in Mustafa Ali’s band of misfits:
"To be honest, the RETRIBUTION pitch was not pitched to me. Well, if we want to get real because I'm a straight shooter, I always have been and I don't like to beat around the bush here. It was a concept of maybe they wanted me on as part of RETRIBUTION. It was, you know how everyone was kind of going in, they had all the extras when there was a big mob of everyone under hoods. That whole big thing when they finally were trying to figure out the core group. I was still fresh off the storyline with Rhea Ripley. You know, we just came off the cage match. I said I can't do anything with RETRIBUTION because I don't know anything about it. I don't know what the concept is. I want more information was my deal. I wanted to make sure that if I was going to be part of this stable, I want to make sure morally that this is something that I want to be behind. Is it going to affect me in my career? Is this going to affect my legacy? Is it going to affect my personal life morally?”
Martinez continued, "I just made it to WWE, like this is your opportunity to be on the main roster, but is it the right opportunity to be on the main roster was a question that was in the back of my head. It was like a lot of people say, 'Take it, take it. take it,' you know? I really spoke to so many people on this for advice and suggestions just to try to figure out where I can go. So it was kind of a decision that I made right on the spot because I felt it in my heart that it had to be made right then and there. So when they revealed us as RETRIBUTION, that first time they revealed us on camera on Raw when Mia [Yim] cut her promo, that was pretty much my last day. It was pretty much like, 'I can't do this.'"
Martinez continued, saying that she was fine with a character change, but the lack of communication is what soured Martinez on the situation:
"They wanted to change names, which is fine, you know, you can change your name but I wanted to - my thing was communication. Communication was a big thing for me where they didn't communicate anything with me. They didn't communicate what the group was about. They didn't communicate the name changes until we were revealed. The gear, the masks, everything was just communication. I'm a big communication person where I want to be prepared for my job, so I want to know what's going on.
"We knew we were going to wear masks, but I thought it was more for entrance or for just the aesthetic, you know? That's fine because I wear a face mask in my entrance which is perfectly fine. I believe that the face masks, maybe we should have had some input in it, too. You know, I was like, maybe you know, here's my face mask. I have two different face masks. Maybe we can make something similar to these two. But for this group, you know, I tried really hard but I can't wrestle in this mask. That's another issue was that I can't wrestle in a mask. I have asthma. It's hard for me to breathe in the first place without a mask. How am I going to wrestle in a mask? We're still a pandemic. For me to train or be in a gym. or anything like that, I have to wear a mask and it's so hard for me to do that. I built my own home gym for that reason; because I can't breathe. I have to have an inhaler. So that was a safety issue for me. When something doesn't feel right, regardless of maybe you can be on the main roster, you can make all this money and stuff. At the end of the day, I just didn't feel it in my heart. It really came down to that. It really just didn't feel like I should be a part of this group."
Ultimately, Martinez didn’t want RETRIBUTION to be her legacy in WWE:
"People think that is probably the wrong decision. But for me, it was the right decision right then and there. Maybe they could have gotten somebody else but for me and for the 20 years that I put in this business, I didn't want my WWE career to be valued as part of a group and in a name change. I built my legacy on my own and for me, I was like, I don't have a long shelf life at 40 years old. I don't know how long I'm going to be a part of this business, especially with WWE. I don't know if they're going to keep me around long. I don't know anything. Nothing's guaranteed in life. So do I want my legacy, my WWE stamp to be part of RETRIBUTION, or do I want my stamp to be known as the Mercedes that people know and love and that of the badass? That's really what it came down to? It was, I need to be known as Mercedes. That's what they grabbed me as that is what I want to leave as when it came to WWE.
"So you know, we talked. Everyone was on the same page. They understood where I was coming from. There was no heat or anything... They understood my concerns with the mask and they understood everything. It wasn't like, 'I'm just gonna drop this.' It was a mutual talk. Everyone was on the same page. Within a couple of days after that they let me know, 'Yes, we agree. We're gonna send you back to NXT,' and I was like, 'Thank you so much. If there's another opportunity on Raw or SmackDown for the main roster that you want me to be a part of, or add Mercedes, that was my thing, then I'm more willing to do whatever you want. I will be a team player but also morally in my heart, I have to also be mindful of what I built my career on and that's being true to oneself. So that's what I did. I was true to myself and I stuck to my guns. Did it cost me a main roster run? Probably.
"But what people don't realise for me, and this is just me and my own personal take, and people can say what they want but I really don't care, it really comes down to what I want to do and what I worked 20 years for, and that's for me to be me. Mercedes is a no-nonsense badass persona in the ring and that is where my WWE career is going to end as, still Mercedes Martinez, the no-nonsense badass persona that everyone knows and loves. That's how we left it. People think that I should have stayed with them, that it was the end of my career. No, it wasn't the end of my career. There's other obstacles that came into play for me to be out of WWE, but that definitely was not one of them.”