WWE TALKING SMACK REVIEW
APRIL 18, 2017
AIRED LIVE ON WWE NETWORK
BY CRAIG ELBE, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Hosts: Renee Young, Daniel Bryan
Oh Bryan, oh Bryan, how you’ll be missed.
The contrasts in charisma, Renee Young and Shane McMahon desk-drummed their way onto to the Talking Smack desk. I’m confident my readers know who is who.
As they sipped from their Red Solo Cups we got a brief duet rendition from Shane and Renee of the Toby Keith song. Renee seemed concerned about being allowed to do that or not; Shane didn’t really care.
Renee let us know that Shane was co-hosting in relief of Daddy-to-Birdie-Joe-to-be Daniel Bryan. Renee said Bri Bella’s Instagram’s and You Tube pages showed pictures of her “ready to drop!”
Renee proudly showed us her name-saked Louisville Slugger bat from her visit to their facility today. A bat bearing Shane’s name didn’t make it, unfortunately. We were left in suspense to interpretation instead of specifics about how and why Shane’s bat didn’t make it. Renee said she’ll showcase the bat in her house but may use it as an attitude adjustor, she just doesn’t know what will happen in her house. That’s what happens when you marry a lunatic… who’s on the fringe. Okay, that’s enough.
Renee talks about the big night Smackdown had. Shane felt great about all the moves made by the Superstars in the Land of Opportunity, started out by Charlotte Flair calling out Smackdown Women’s Champion Naomi. Renee was jaw on-the-ground impressed by the interaction but was happy Shane came out to break them up to make their match for later. Shane said Charlotte and Naomi tore the house down. Now, he is looking forward to their match next week with Naomi’s title on the line. Renee said Charlotte will be on the show later to share her feelings, but introduced the new number 1 contender to the WWE Championship.
First Guest: Jinder Mahal
A standing and clapping Shane shook Jinder’s hand in congratulations. Renee stood in spirit for fear of her skirt being too short. Jinder thanked them for the platform to inform us he will in fact win the WWE Heavyweight Championship.
Shane said Jinder lived up to his word from last week about coming to Smackdown to get opportunities. Jinder preferred to say he worked for the opportunity; Shane recanted and rephrased that Jinder and five others got the opportunity to be number 1 contender to the WWE Championship. Jinder said he beat five of Smackdown’s best by himself to be the number 1 contender and will become the new WWE Heavyweight Champion by himself and his hard work. Renee begged to differ as Jinder clearly had help. Jinder told her to stop cutting down his big accomplishment. Renee snuck in the footage of the Bollywood Boys holding Sami Zayn in the corner, enabling Jinder to apply his Cobra Clutch Slam and pin Zayn. Shane thought it was awesome and, with Jinder, wanted to focus on the pin rather than how it happened. Is Shane a heel now?
Jinder said the post-match interview booing by fans felt horrible and he deserves respect. He said he will earn the fans’ respect by winning the World Heavyweight Championship (??) and becoming the new American Dream. He couldn’t hide his smirk! Jinder said he will prove, that despite everybody hating him, he will earn opportunities and rise to the occasion and become a champion in WWE. He predicts, after winning the championship, he will be Jinder “The New American Dream” Mahal.
Shane made a comment about how the chairs make a much taller Jinder look shorter than Shane. Great way to add to the show, Shane.
Renee spoke of Jinder’s time advantage with Randy Orton facing Bray Wyatt in a House of Horrors match at Payback. Jinder said he will be working hard during this five weeks before Backlash and is happy he’ll be getting the best, non-distracted version of Orton as a true assurance of earning the championship when he beats Orton.
Shane finally got serious and asked how his confrontation with Orton was for him. Jinder says his work ethic makes him confident to be eye to eye with a guy like Orton. Jinder said he’s younger, faster, and is in better shape and condition than Orton; he said knowing he’s a threat quells his nerves. Renee said Orton keeps himself in great condition all year round. Jinder gave Orton props for that, but said there’s only one way down from the top of the mountain, and an alligator is most vulnerable after it eats. He said he’s like a shark who has tasted blood for the first time, and Randy Orton should be worried.
Renee congratulated Jinder on being the new number 1 contender, but he made her say the future WWE Champion and the American Dream.
Shane waited until Jinder left to say Dusty Rhodes should be the only American Dream but understands Jinder’s point. Despite the help he received tonight, Jinder backed up what he said and became the number 1 contender for the WWE Championship against Randy Orton. Renee wondered if Jinder can beat Randy Orton; Shane said Smackdown is the Land of Opportunity and anything can happen.
Renee brought up Kevin Owens and his Face of America audacity and cutting everyone down. Shane said Owens made everyone uncomfortable last week on Talking Smack. He talked about his past issues with Owens’s attitude while Shane was briefly running Raw last year, and his success afterward has only increased that poor attitude.
While Shane doesn’t want the Land of Opportunity moniker to become cliché for Smackdown, it’s actually occurring regularly. The next guests are proof of that.
Second Guests: The Colons
Primo & Epico made their Talking Smack debut, promising to be sneaky and creepy as they came to the desk quietly. Renee called their defeat of the Smackdown darlings American Alpha a big deal. Primo said this isn’t a popularity contest; they’re here to be successful, make money, and enjoy all things resulting in success.
Renee said they’re taking early advantage of the opportunities Smackdown affords. Epico agreed and refreshed our memories; exactly five years ago he and Primo were tag team champions when they beat the Usos at WrestleMania 28. Now, there are going to reclaim their throne and be the top tag team on Smackdown Live, and any team that’s not them is in trouble. (Actually, they won the tag team titles on January 15, 2012 at a Raw house show no less, and defended the titles on the WrestleMania 28 pre-show in a three-way match with the Usos and the team of Justin Gabriel & Tyson Kidd. But they were champions at WrestleMania 28 so Epico is half correct.)
Primo said fake friends, kissing babies, and shaking hands isn’t their deal. If others choose to, they won’t criticize; they will just do what they do and aren’t politically correct. Renee asked Shane if being politically correct is important to being a WWE Superstar. Shane said putting people where they don’t want to be will be transparent, resulting in a bad look for all.
Epico said they are there for championships and to show the world they come from one of the greatest wrestling families in history. His Uncle, Primo’s Father, Carlos Colon was a former WWC Universal Champion in Puerto Rico and a WWE Hall of Famer. His cousin, Primo’s brother, Carlito is a former WWE Intercontinental Champion and United States Champion. Epico said let’s not forget Primo & Epico, former WWE Tag Team Champions and remind the world of what their clothes are made of.
Primo said his family and Shane’s have common ground as they both carry weight. Shane agreed, as they all grew up in the business and observed every pro and con. With that, plus the opportunities Smackdown offers, Shane is ready to see them roll with it with the hunger they’re showing. Epico concurred on their hunger, and repeated they are there to claim their throne.
Renee officially welcomed them to Smackdown, congratulated them on their win, and thanked them for being on the show. Primo said the pleasure was all hers. I didn’t see her reach for the bat so her concern was absent, as was flattery.
Renee talked about the depth and greatness of the tag teams on Smackdown. Shane said Primo & Epico are great additions to the show. He likes their new attitude and everyone wants to show what they’re made of. Renee said it was nice to see the fire in the eyes of veterans Primo & Epico.
Renee pivoted to the Lana vignettes from the last couple weeks, saying it will be interesting to see what she does in the ring being without Rusev with her. Shane robotically said it’s another opportunity for someone; he knows she’s been working hard and can’t wait to see how she does.
Speaking of women wrestlers, Renee introduced the next guest, the new number 1 contender to the Smackdown Women’s Championship.
Third Guest: Charlotte Flair
Renee and Shane congratulated Charlotte on her victory tonight; Charlotte rhetorically asked Shane if he’s surprised. Shane said no; she has an amazing pedigree and is a phenomenal athlete, and he’s happy to have her as his greatest acquisition to Smackdown. Renee brought up the jealousy the rest of the women have of Charlotte’s opportunity. Charlotte said she was courageous, asked Shane, and was granted an opportunity. Just seven days on Smackdown, and she’s already the number 1 contender.
Charlotte said nobody will outwork her; nobody did on Raw and no one will on Smackdown, either. Shane said everybody will get their opportunity, Charlotte said they will have to go through her.
Renee asked Charlotte about wrestling another phenomenal athlete like Naomi. Charlotte agreed with Renee but said she is the dirtiest player in the game and will find a way to win, laughing at the end. Shane said that sounded like somebody familiar; Charlotte laughed again, saying she’s second nature.
Renee promoted the Naomi vs. Charlotte match for the Smackdown Women’s Championship for next week and thanked Charlotte for being on the show.
Renee wondered how Charlotte can stay on top after switching brands; Shane said it’s difficult to stay on top regardless of switching brands. Renee said Charlotte keeps getting better and better. Shane said not to sleep on Naomi, either. Their match tonight saw Charlotte surprised by some of Naomi’s offense. Renee promised Naomi she’s not jumping off her bandwagon but Charlotte is a huge threat. Shane said he’s looking forward to how it will affect the rest of the women on the Smackdown roster. Renee gave a final plug to the Naomi vs. Charlotte match, thanked Shane, and signed off.
If a sleep deprived new dad Daniel Bryan can do the show via a spotty Skype connection, I will take it over Shane. Shane speaks and asks the obvious instead of the tough and hard-hitting questions that’s become the hallmark of Talking Smack. He doesn’t hit the same notes Bryan does, plus he and Renee don’t have nearly the chemistry she and Bryan do. I might even take Dolph Ziggler; at least he tries to be entertaining. He could be a good foil for being the jerk who asks tough questions in a way that contrasts Bryan’s quirky wit and cadence. Also, Dolph can be punched or beat up when he pushes the buttons just right. Renee is very talented, but can’t carry Shane to a great show. And please, no good guy JBL appearances, either. Please and thank you.
Shane used the word pedigree on Smackdown and on Talking Smack. I wonder if it’s a way to get under the thin skin of his brother-in-law. I also found it funny he said putting people where they don’t want to be is essentially a no-win situation; it’s the polar opposite of what his dad thrives on!
It seems like it’s being portrayed as a forgone conclusion that Randy Orton will retain his title vs. Bray Wyatt at Payback or perhaps it’s a diversion. Orton vs. Jinder Mahal is a better match-up to my eyes so I hope Orton does retain. Orton could teach Jinder how to be safer!
The Land of Opportunity is the latest WWE corporate tag line. I’m already tired of it even though it results in a better show. I hate corporate clichés!
Jinder Mahal showed the same passion I noted last week. Unfortunately, his nerves still showed by twice incorrectly naming the title he’s number 1 contender to. I was hoping for an Undisputed Title callback! Overall, with time I think he can be great. His ring work, live in-ring promos, and his performance on this show all have the same common denominator: he’s trying too hard to be something that he could be if he found a way to relax a bit. Only time and experience will tell, and it looks like he’ll get a good dose of both with this surprise of a push. I’m rooting for him until I’m proven wrong.
Primo & Epico are finally done with The Shining Stars gimmick and have a real chance to get to the next level. They are solid in the ring with a lot of experience on the face and heel side. They seemed quite calm and confident on this show and I doubt Epico’s misrepresentation of their 2012 title win will matter much because I’m sure Vince forgot a long time ago they were even champions. All in all, I like the straight up heel role they are in now and I think it’s they’re best chance to be a top tag team.
Charlotte, Charlotte, Charlotte. All I can say is I hope she can be on this show more often for practice purposes. Sometimes not having a crowd’s energy to thrive on is a hindrance. We all know she is a sweetheart playing a heel, and quite convincingly as wrestler. But, laughing during and after you say things that should be getting you heat are always going to be an extinguisher. She isn’t always a great heel promo but has progressed along the way. I hope her heel speaking ability in front of an audience and on Talking Smack catches up with her excellent heel ring work before people stop believing it.