KELLER & POWELL FLAGSHIP (12/5)
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TALKING SMACK REVIEW
JUNE 13, 2017
AIRED ON WWE NETWORK
REPORT BY CRAIG ELBE, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Duration: 24 minutes, 6 seconds
A relieved Renee Young was at the desk and introduced the show. She’s relieved because she didn’t have to carry the show, as she was joined by this week’s double dipping JBL.
He promised to say something controversial. Renee encouraged him and embraces it because they’re live from New Orleans! She loves the city, whereas JBL spent a month there one night. Did we already get the best line of show? I hope not.
In the spirit on Money in the Bank and Ladder matches, Renee dug up a ladder match JBL had with Jeff Hardy. Without supporting video evidence, JBL felt like was 1,000 feet tall at the top of the ladder during that match. He scored his first obscure reference by giving a shout out to one of the best solo mountain climbers, Alex Honnold.
JBL admitted a fear of heights that Hardy clearly doesn’t have. Renee was befuddled a tall man could be afraid of heights. JBL transitioned to how great it is to have the Hardyz back in WWE but wants them on Smackdown. Renee hoped JBL has some pull to get them on Smackdown. Their music pumps her up whenever she hears it!
She gave a quick plug to Money in the Bank and excitedly introduced their first guest, a Talking Smack rookie.
First Guest: Shinsuke Nakamura
Microphone in hand and much to Renee’s chagrin, Nakamura quickly did his arms gestures. He greeted both hosts and wanted to speak some brief Japanese. JBL was fine with it but Renee was hesitant in agreement. Nakamura rattled off some quick Japanese and Renee found it arousing. JBL must have understood some of it, saying he used to train in Animal Hamaguchi’s gym. Nakamura didn’t, but JBL met a then-young boy Funaki for the first time. To the best extent of my hearing, Nakamura also remembered Funaki training at Hamaguchi’s gym.
Slightly confused, Renee transitioned to Nakamura holding the MITB briefcase tonight. Nakamura was a little scared and felt a tad off balance to be on the ladder for the first time after the match. He now has a better idea of being tired while climbing the ladder will feel like during the MITB match.
Renee asked her favorite rhetorical question of how being hit by a ladder will feel like. Nakamura figures it will hurt. He said during matches he’s always excited; Renee finished his thought him by saying his adrenaline will help him with the pain. Pointing to various parts of his upper body was Nakamura’s way of indicating where he will need some post-match relief; Renee helped him finish that thought by saying he’ll need ice and an Epsom salt bath.
Preparing and training for a ladder match was JBL’s curiosity. Nakamura joked about going to Home Depot and finding a 12-foot (Pretty sure that’s what he said) ladder to practice with! The MITB match will be good for him. He came to WWE for something new, and a ladder match fits that bill. With his eyes closed he shook his arms like he’s about to live a dream, and said he also wants some good extreme action! (Again, the words extreme action are the best of what I could hear. Please correct me if I’m wrong.)
With Nakamura not being on talking Smack until now, Renee wanted his thoughts on being in WWE on Smackdown and the crowd reception during his ring entrance. Nakamura goes on feel when he come to the ring. It’s obvious to Renee because he’s cool and knows some cool moves. Nakamura squinted his eyes in embarrassed humility.
Renee pivoted to a game. She gave Nakamura the names of his MITB opponents and asked him for the first word he thinks of in response to each.
1. For Kevin Owens, he said Owens talks too much.
2. For Sami Zayn, he said the same as Owens but had a good-hearted laugh about it. JBL agrees so far!
3. For Dolph Ziggler, he said his debut match with Dolph revealed Dolph as a good wrestler. If Dolph goes to Japan, which Nakamura said is probably soon, he pointed upward, perhaps to symbolize Dolph will make it to the top in Japan. Renee thought she was hearing some breaking news. (Now, I will interpret that as Nakamura making a general statement of if Dolph ever went to Japan, he will rise to the top quickly.) Nakamura said he would like to wrestle Dolph more times because he thinks there are more ways he can beat Dolph.
4. For A.J. Styles, he said if Tye Dillinger is a Perfect 10, then Styles is a Perfect 100! Renee was wowed by that huge endorsement coming from Nakamura. He mentioned his one and only match with Styles was on January 4th, 2016. (For New Japan at Wrestle Kingdom. 10) He wants to wrestle Styles again someday in WWE.
JBL took note of Nakamura’s immense respect for Styles, and asked him if Styles is the best he’s ever been in the ring with. Every wrestler has different strengths and weaknesses but he loves the style that Styles fights with. He struggled for words here but was trying to say he and Styles are very compatible. Renee offered no help.
5. For Baron Corbin, he said what Corbin lacks in experience now but his biggest weapon is his size. He added Corbin also has a lot of possibility for now and in the future.
Renee is looking forward to what Nakamura does in his first MITB match, then pivoted to his Instagram account. She asked him about hanging out with James Ellsworth while on vacation in Puerto Rico and Costa Rica. JBL implored the cool Nakamura to deny his friendship with Ellsworth!
Apparently, Nakamura was talking with Ellsworth prior to the Puerto Rico trip about his surfing plans. Ellsworth told Nakamura he’s also a surfer, and a skater, so Nakamura invited Ellsworth to surf with him. He found a surf shop for he and Ellsworth in Puerto Rico for some surfboards. Nakamura had a GoPro with him as well. The person at the surf shop said surfing season is over but to be careful of the waves. Nakamura discovered the waves too small to be surfable at only knee-high height. His next discovery was Ellsworth already in the pool!
In Costa Rica, the waves were better but it was two and a half hours from the hotel to the beach. Nakamura hopes to take Ellsworth surfing on the next South American tour. Renee suggested following Nakamura on Instagram, if for no other reason to see his friendship with Ellsworth!
She thanked him for being on the show and wished him luck at Money in the Bank. He expressed his excitement for the match, Renee added everybody is. JBL wisely advised Nakamura he can’t do his regular ring entrance if he wins MITB and goes for a cash-in. Renee thought Nakamura can be a master of disguise. They both agree it would be great if Nakamura would win MITB and he would make a great WWE Champion.
A graphic for that MITB match was shown while Renee offered some more hype.
Renee wondered when the perfect cash-in time would be. JBL listed the guys who cashed in the night they won MITB and guys who waited many months to cash in. It’s purely a personal choice for whoever ends up with that contract. On the contrary, champions always have to have their guards up.
Renee voiced over some hype to a picture of all the women in their inaugural MITB match. For those women, JBL simply stated they won’t know what they’ve gotten into until they’re actually in the match, just like any first time in a gimmick match. He offered Natalya as the dark horse as she’s an untrustworthy Canadian! He swiftly withdrew his comment, admitting he went too far!
Renee introduced their next guests.
Second Guests: Hype Bros.
Mojo Rawley and the returning Zack Ryder made their way to the desk. Zack was happy to be back six months to the day after his knee exploded. He tactfully pointed out his doctor gave him Mojo’s favorite, a 6-9-month, recovery. Mojo reminded us of his former self with a jock-like “hey-o!” response.
Ryder had been at the Performance Center everyday rehabbing his knee. Two weeks before the injury, he got a new house and had a lot to move. The injury afforded him time to complete the move, just not the ability! Thankfully, his hyper friend helped him out.
Ryder mentioned he has a custom Squatty Potty. Renee initially didn’t know what those are, but figured it out by the name of the product with a little help from Ryder. It’s got a ZR logo too! An amused Mojo made the “swoosh” sound Ryder’s toilet makes after he uses the new contraption. JBL hoped to put a bow on the jokes by saying, “things went south.” Hey, that’s a double meaning!
Ryder listed Mojo’s accomplishments and said Mojo took full advantage of his opportunities while he was convalescing. Ryder used storyline continuity and mentioned he won a tag team no. 1 contenders battle royal for he and Mojo. Footage of the victory was shown. Ryder hurt himself when he planted for the Rough Ryder right before he eliminated Konnor of the Ascension. Mojo didn’t know Ryder was hurt at the time and almost injured him worse in celebration. Because he’s hyper! He saw the gruesome knee in the trainer’s room right after the match.
JBL asked Mojo if he’s willing to stall his budding singles career and go back to the tag team of he and Zack. JBL oversold it by suggesting Mojo is on a hot streak. Mojo and Zack have been talking about that for a while, and became no. 1 contenders for a reason. For a shot at championship gold, they’d be fools to pass that up. As individuals, they’re great but Ryder is adamant they pick up where they left off when he got injured. They would be stupid not to.
Mojo didn’t think the tag team division isn’t hyped enough and that’s their niche. Their time apart has only made them stronger and better. He’s been able to improve in Ryder’s absence, and now Ryder is ready to go with a clear and rested mind.
JBL wondered about this so-called no. 1 contenders talk. He asked what they’re going to do about it, a lot of time has gone by and the championships have changed hands a few times since then. Ryder admitted they need to talk to Shane McMahon, but they both remain steadfast of how much they deserve a title opportunity.
Renee looked forward to seeing how that goes for them. Ryder said, “I’m back bro!” Mojo wanted to make that a t-shirt and print money with it! JBL doesn’t want to hear about a Squatty Potty anymore. Ryder promised he’d send one to JBL, but JBL didn’t seem confident Bermuda customs would let him have one. Renee thanked them for being on the show.
Renee asked JBL about the jazz band that was with New Day. They both loved it, JBL felt like it was Mardi Gras. She loves coming to New Orleans and can’t wait for next year’s WrestleMania to happen. JBL borrowed a Jerry Lawler quote that it was Yes-ltemania last time New Orleans hosted WrestleMania when Daniel Bryan won the WWE World Heavyweight Championship with 80,000 strong chanting “yes!” at WrestleMania 30. That was Renee’s favorite WrestleMania since working with WWE. (it’s not like she has many choices.) JBL noted how many beads New Day had on, that it was like currency. Renee played coy on how beads are earned. JBL tactfully led her to that knowledge by saying guys like him don’t get beads, guys hand them out.
JBL mentioned Dave Kapoor has a house in New Orleans; he’s like Bill Gates and has houses everywhere he goes and is filthy rich. Sounded like an inside joke. Renee played it like they should go to Kapoor’s house next, and introduced WWE Champion, Jinder Mahal.
Third Guests: WWE Champion Jinder Mahal with the Singh Brothers
Jinder had Renee repeat “WWE Champion, Jinder Mahal” before he sat down. She had been anticipating having Jinder on the show since he won the title at Backlash. Jinder accused Renee of trying to keep him off the show after he promised he he’d appear after becoming WWE Champion. She denied it and gives credit where credit is due. She said he earned (really?) the championship and he’s fantastic.
JBL found a way to squeeze in one of Vince’s favorite lines in and asked Renee if she was keeping the modern-day Maharaja off the show. She plead innocent as Jinder is welcome any time his heart pleases. Jinder reminded Renee of the lack of confidence she showed Jinder ahead of his title match against Randy Orton. She just didn’t want to discredit the very decorated Viper. JBL slipped another one in, asking Renee if she didn’t give the modern-day Maharaja a chance at all. She defended herself again, that she just wasn’t 100 percent sure of Jinder winning.
Jinder reminded Renee that Orton is past his prime, and he’s just entering his. The cameraman got an odd close-up when Jinder said he’s the 50th WWE Champion and already the greatest. Orton’s time has come and gone and it is now the era of the modern-day Maharaja. (That’s three already.)
Renee gingerly brought up Orton’s surprise RKO to Jinder on Smackdown. Jinder conceded Orton got him but his words of Orton being a coward were proven true. Orton should have come down the ramp and honored the advertisement of a face-to-face meeting. He wasn’t expecting Orton’s music to distract him for a behind the back attack and is a coward for doing so.
Jinder understood Orton’s dad will be at Money in the Bank. He can’t wait to embarrass Orton in front of his father in his hometown of St. Louis while retaining his championship.
Renee asked him of any concern going into the rematch with Orton. Jinder felt underestimated by Renee; he wouldn’t go into the match without a game plan. She just wanted some insight into his game plan. It’s the still excellent Randy Orton he’s facing and she’s not underestimating him. Letting her, or anybody else, know his game plan would be foolish, Jinder said. He and the Singh Brothers know his plan, and they plan on Jinder leaving St. Louis still WWE Champion, with the ever-present close up getting closer by each word Jinder spoke.
The camera pulled back as Renee thanked Jinder for joining them and is looking forward to seeing what happens in St. Louis, but went back to the creeping closer close-up as Renee spoke.
JBL begged her to ask about the celebration Jinder got in India. JBL said the Prime Minister declared a national holiday for Jinder’s title victory. Jinder said 1.3 million, JBL correcting him to billion. Jinder thanked JBL for correcting him; that 1.3 billion people celebrated him winning the WWE Championship and are still celebrating, and will celebrate more after he keeps his title at Money in the Bank.
Jinder got up, thanked JBL and shook his hand and said good-bye to Renee off mic as she wished him luck on Sunday.
JBL scolded Renee for making ill-advised and negative comments toward Jinder ahead of his match on Sunday. Making those kinds of comments on TV can cause embarrassment, but she plead an attempt congratulate Jinder. JBL thought she upset the WWE Champion. She wasn’t even playing devil’s advocate but it’s Randy Orton that Jinder is facing, who is one of the best Superstars WWE has ever had. Orton can’t be looked past but she was giving credit where credit is due that Jinder has been an unbelievable (really?) WWE Champion. JBL agreed but didn’t think the message reached Jinder.
JBL knows Orton shouldn’t be looked past. Orton is a 13-time World Champion and one of the greatest ever. JBL told a story of when Orton’s dad told him in the early 90s his son is going to the greatest of all-time (Randy Orton was born in 1980). JBL didn’t believe it at the time but sure enough he’s well on his way to that status. Renee asked if Orton will be a 14-time WWE Champion. If Orton doesn’t win it in his hometown, JBL said Orton can’t win it.
JBL thinks Orton having his dad at Money in the Bank is to put pressure on himself. It’s what the great ones do, naming Michael Jordan and LeBron James, and Stephen Curry as examples.
Renee gave final hype to Orton vs Jinder for the WWE Championship at Money in the Bank this Sunday. She thanked JBL for joining her, he said they should go to Dave Kapoor’s house and throw a party in New Orleans. Renee said, “let’s do it!” and signed off.
Craig’s Conclusion: Personally, I went to a very diverse high school. All the jobs I’ve had since also gave me a diverse group of people to interact with daily, from friends to complete strangers. I’ve had to play charades and draw pictures to communicate with people I didn’t share a common language with. It wasn’t just one nationality either. From Asians to Latinos to Russians to Italians to name a few, I’ve had my share of experience. So, I feel qualified to criticize WWE for seemingly throwing Shinsuke Nakamura on this show.
In my opinion, this was the worst use of him to date. He speaks English well but doesn’t have the command of the language. I have no problem with that but that’s when the people around him need to step up. Renee couldn’t rebound from how flustered she got trying to decipher what Nakamura was saying. She mostly resembled a Kindergarten teacher in how she spoke to Nakamura. He’s not a child! JBL was mostly quiet, but I suspect he was told to be.
For than anything, this segment made Nakamura human and much less special than those of us that saw him used much better by New Japan. I read him as nervous and out of his element without the net of being worked with he needed to get over, but professional enough to do his best. He looked hung out to dry, especially the game Renee played with him. Having a guy who doesn’t have great command of a language say the first word that comes to mind for anything just screams tone deaf and WWE forcing Nakamura into more discomfort.
Nakamura’s talking ability is NOT his strongest attribute. His wrestling is, when he’s allowed to be at his best that is. A Nakamura expert I am not, but I have read about and listened to those that have known his career better and longer. The only non-WWE Nakamura match I saw was at Wrestle Kingdom 9 against Kota Ibushi when Jim Ross was commentating. Nakamura was my top takeaway from that event, among many others.
He indicated his WWE aspirations was for a change of pace. He may very well have wanted to get away from the hard-hitting style in Japan to preserve his body, but he has so much more to offer. Not mentioning being the first two-time NXT Champion is a huge miss as it has reciprocal benefits and can help elevate where he was and is. This Nakamura appearance has left me angry, sad, and without hope he will be properly appreciated by WWE. Most of all, I fear he will fall into a depression for being so misunderstood and underutilized.
Mojo Rawley and Zack Ryder have decent chemistry and their appearance was just okay. There were some awkward spots but Zack was the pro that helped steer things the best.
Jinder Mahal has become more Vince-robotic and that sucks too. He will probably retain on Sunday but Vince may be holding off long term plans till Jinder proves himself or fails. Besides, Vince knows he has an always ready John Cena in the bullpen to rescue him. Jinder is becoming stale already. His confidence is growing at a crawl’s pace, but I’m still hoping for snowball accumulation. I know it’s summertime but I’m confident my readers understand my analogy.
Renee has equity with me but she had a really bad showing here. Not just with Nakamura but the whole show. She was simply off. I’ll chalk it up as an aberration and hope it stays that way. Obviously, she was scripted to say Jinder Mahal the WWE Championship and is an incredible champion so far but it’s still ridiculous. That’s something JBL should say while Renee remains unbiased, or at the least saying she wants to see more over more time.
JBL was in a good pocket for his what he is capable of. He didn’t overshadow anyone or have too many tangent references. He is the best host Smackdown has to offer and needs to be a weekly presence. Shane McMahon tops out at a 3 out of 10, and JBL is a 6 out of 10 on his worst day as far as the ability to co-host this show. There are very little vestiges of Daniel Bryan luster on this show. By endorsing JBL like this, I am clamoring for the retention of that remaining shine.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S REPORT: 6/6 Talking Smack Review: Renee and Shane talk with Lana, Mojo Rawley, Styles, discuss Smackdown