TALKING SMACK REVIEW
JUNE 20, 2017
AIRED LIVE ON WWE NETWORK
BY CRAIG ELBE (@CraigElbe), PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Duration: 25 minutes, 41 seconds
Renee Young and Daniel Bryan were jubilant and lively for Bryan’s return to Talking Smack. Renee commented on Bryan’s new dad life. Bryan has a go-to statement on parenthood: It’s 75 percent amazing, 25 percent demoralizing. He characterized demoralizing as a lack of sleep “and all that stuff.” He knows it’s only temporary, though, and called his and Bri’s Birdie Joe a national treasure.
An avid followers of Bryan’s social media accounts, Renee asked Bryan for his Dad-bod status. He thinks his “ponch” is coming along nicely!
Renee pivoted to his busy General Manager night. Bryan wanted to ease back in from dad life to GM instead how tonight was. Coming back to a smooth-running machine was his preference. Renee thought he did a great job in his return.
Asked for some quick retrospect for his decision to strip Carmella of her MITB contract, Bryan was happy with how he fixed the situation that left a lot of people unhappy on Sunday.
With that, Renee brought on the first guests.
First Guests: Carmella with James Ellsworth
Dueling long faces plus an icepack on Carmella’s shoulder, she and Ellsworth came to the desk. Renee thought Carmella would have the briefcase, Carmella took that as a cheap shot for what she thought was still hers. She hoped Bryan was proud of himself. Undeterred, he told Carmella she has a great opportunity for her to actually climb the ladder and get the briefcase herself next week! Carmella pretended to only hear nonsense.
Ellsworth posed a “very serious question.” Bryan admitted it was hard to look at him. Ellsworth asked Bryan how he would have felt when he had his MITB contract taken away from him. Carmella sold being robbed, that Bryan came back from a long absence and made up rules that aren’t real. Bryan wanted clarification. She identified there’s not a rule where somebody else cannot grab the briefcase for you. Bryan asked her for more expert knowledge of the rulebook. Carmella feigned tears of embarrassment. Her family was watching and this was her opportunity and Bryan ruined it for her! She kept up the crying charade and played the daughter card against a smiling even bigger and un-fooled Bryan. Ellsworth tried to comfort Carmella. Bryan asked what she was talking about regarding his daughter. She said, “if somebody stripped your daughter of something she won!” Bryan laughed and focused on the words, “if somebody stripped my daughter!”, making himself laugh more. Carmella told Bryan he was so rude! Ellsworth showed disappointment in the joking Bryan.
Bryan elaborated that WWE has done a great job elevating the women’s division. He cited the first women’s Hell in a Cell match that headlined a pay-per-view. And this, the first women’s MITB match, a man climbed the ladder to get the briefcase; like a woman can’t do it? Carmella claimed she climbed the ladder more than anybody else in the match. Renee took Bryan’s side that it’s a bad look for the women’s division to have a man win the match for a woman. Ellsworth promised he has a plan for next week. Bryan trounced those plans and announced Ellsworth will be banned from ringside! He accused Bryan of making up rules for a match that doesn’t have rules. Renee told Ellsworth Carmella doesn’t need him for the moral support and she can survive just fine on her own. Bryan agreed, then Carmella angrily declared she can do it, and will become the undisputed Miss Money in the Bank. She and Ellsworth storm off revealing an earpiece in Ellsworth’s off camera right ear. Right, because he had so much to say.
Renee teased Bryan for coming back and making someone cry for the first time, then offered a high five. Bryan broke the news to Renee, that Carmella’s tears were fake. Renee swore she saw tear streams! Bryan called them actress level tears, the same ones that give Ellsworth the impression Carmella is interested in him.
Renee assured Bryan he did the right thing and Carmella and everybody else in the match will feel better about it. Bryan wasn’t so sure Carmella has a grasp of the rules because she came up empty when he asked her for another one. Renee felt Bryan put the icepacked Carmella on the spot and felt bad for her. Bryan had no sympathy for them, in part because Ellsworth brought up his daughter. “Screw that guy!” said Bryan. Renee called this the start of Ellsworth’s descent.
Next week will see another rematch when Naomi defends her Smackdown Women’s title against Lana. Bryan remains interested to see how Lana fares after having her first high profile singles match and almost winning it. Plus, she had the distraction of Carmella nearly cashing her then-owned MITB contract. Renee asked, “everybody’s favorite wrestler” Bryan for any advice he has for Lana. He jokingly thought Renee asked him how Lana can get people to like her!
For someone so inexperienced, it’s hard for Bryan to know what to say to Lana. He had been wrestling for 10 years before he got to WWE, Lana has nearly none but made sure to say she did great on Sunday without much experience. Naomi is in her prime right now and is training harder than ever, even cutting out alcohol and all that stuff. She’s in that champion zone where she feels everybody has to beat her. Lana tried her finishing move but Naomi kicked out of it. Next week, we will see what happens.
Renee transitioned to the next guests.
Second Guests: The New Day
Big E had a skeleton, like one from high school science class. It was named Jaheim Uso and wore the Uso t-shirt that says Day One Ish. Big E stood the skeleton next to Bryan, who was weirded out by being told to hug Jaheim. Bryan is known to not enjoy hugging, but gave a Jaheim an impersonal and distant shoulder hug. Renee started a “kiss, him, kiss him” cheer. Bryan had to go to his tippy toes to kiss the skeleton on its cheek. He walked around the desk, proud for doing his job and knows what his role is! He sat beside Renee to accommodate the guests. Big E asked Bryan if he knew he’d be kissing skeletons when he was spending time in Japan!
Xavier was watching Bryan grill Carmella about rules, but said a lot of people don’t know some tag team rules. For one, each team has only one save per match or will risk disqualification. Bryan seemed to recall more than one save for each team in their match against the Usos on Sunday. Big E went “uuuuummmm” loudly, then told Bryan to go back and watch. Bryan remembered many other tag matches where there were multiple saves and that rule wasn’t enforced. All three New Day members suggested, in their own ways, Bryan should crack down on that! But, Bryan gave an NFL example, where every play could get a holding penalty. Big E noted every nothing would get done if every play was flagged for a penalty.
Renee pivoted to the Hype Bros having a chance to be no. 1 contenders next week, which is where New Day is right now. Xavier sarcastically said a title match upon returning is in everybody’s contract. Big E pointed out Zack Ryder’s tan as a title match deserving trait. Kofi added Ryder is Zackked!
He continued, that being the longest WWE Tag Team Champions of all time, they know the Usos have a target on their backs. Kofi provided a Dollar Store looking target taken from a child’s game, and put it on Jaheim’s back as an indication that everybody wants a piece of the Usos and they need to be fighting champions like they were.
Big E remembered how good his microphone tasted from his last visit, and decided to relive that memory. Big E tried to get Bryan on his side of understanding his need to eat, but failed when brought up eating meat. Renee corrected them on Bryan’s non-meat lifestyle, but Big E said, “Allegedly! Where’s the proof!” Kofi added, “Where’s the fruit!” Renee got caught up in the silliness and wondered what was happening. Xavier gave his take, that the absence of evidence doesn’t mean the evidence is absent.
Renee asked the New Day where they go from here. She brought up the Hype Bros gunning for a title shot, Chad Gable’s big match with Kevin Owens; Bryan mentioned Big E beat Jimmy Uso. Big E just calls him Jim to save syllable time. Footage of Big E’s match was shown, when Kofi jumped on Jey, then Kofi and Xavier preventing Jey and Jimmy from running like they did at Money in the Bank. Xavier had them scouted as Big E mentioned the Usos proficiency in high school track. (An improvised line I’m sure but it was good.)
Xavier praised the Smackdown tag team division being on fire as to why they wanted to come to Smackdown. Each team can get it done in tag or singles matches. Distracted, he stopped and noticed Big E in a trance toward Renee with his microphone. Big E immediately told Xavier to continue and acted like he got caught. Xavier asked if he was thinking about saying something, Big E claimed he was just in a groove. Renee poured some of her water into Bryan’s empty mug that was in front of Big E. Bryan’s mug was revealed to be just a prop because Bryan has a not-allowed-on-the-table-by-Evan secret bottle he drinks from. Kofi and Xavier shame Evan without telling us who he is or what he does. I guess this is what Kayfabe is in 2017.
With the depth of Smackdown’s tag team division, Renee asked what the New Day plan is. They all laugh at Renee’s question, with Big E saying you don’t ask the New England Patriots their gameplan the week of the Super Bowl! More laughter and loudness ensued of how dumb the question was as they refused to give any of their plan away. Renee plead there’s nothing wrong with asking for a little nugget of information. Xavier quietly stated they were going to overflow-eth with winnings and become W, W,-but Renee cut him off and said not lately! Xavier asked her what Sunday’s outcome was. It was a countout, but Xavier pressed for more. She relented and said it was a victory to their elation. Big E made a V with his hand but made sure it was for a victory, not Vader. She went to take her gracious water back from Big E, only to find it already gone to her dismay.
With a big smirk, she said it was a real “slice” to have them on the show, and indicated she got a cue when Xavier wondered if they were getting kicked off. Kofi felt they were just getting started, Renee thought Bryan kissing the skeleton was plenty. All three started talking were inaudible. Renee wanted to hug the skeleton but didn’t feel she was allowed to. Kofi told her she missed her opportunity as he got up to take Jaheim away. She lamented not getting any information or understanding from her line of questioning. Big E offered a hug to Bryan. On a scale of 1 to 10, Bryan asked how sweaty he is. “Baby, I’m always sweaty” was his reply. Bryan got a group hug from the New Day as they welcomed him back and congratulated him. Kofi gave Renee the target from Jaheim’s back. She sighed as they left to their music.
Renee called the New Day maniacs and felt caught up in a tornado of voices and couldn’t hear most of what was going with all the talking amongst them all. Bryan laughed because they made fun of her for asking a stupid question! Back in the day, people would come on the show and give him loads of crap. Now, he returns and New Day had him hug a skeleton and left him alone. Renee was bummed she got picked out but Bryan was in a positive mood!
Renee chose to move on with the show to a, hopefully, nicer guest and introduced him to the acknowledged invisible ladies and gentlemen.
Third Guest: A.J. Styles
A.J. comes to the desk to their applause. He noted it was the first time they ever clapped for him. Bryan said it wasn’t true, but A.J. said they’ll have to back and check for it. (He was pretty heel-ish here, but only here.) Renee asked A.J. about his interaction with Kevin Owens earlier. A.J. thought he had a chance to beat Owens for the United States Championship but it turned out Chad Gable is a better liar than he is. A.J. corrected his verbal flub of Dayton, Ohio from and offered the excuse of feeling uncomfortable to say it correctly because he and everybody else knows Gable isn’t from Dayton. But, it was a good match!
Renee asked A.J if pursuing the United States title is his current goal. Of course it is, A.J. replied. He added that Kevin Owens talks about being the face of American, and who wouldn’t want to be that? Even Owens, a Canadian, wants to. A.J. thinks Owens is making a mockery of the Open Challenge, which he feels is special to the U.S. title. When he gets that championship, A.J. would like to continue the Open Challenge in a real way. (He kind spoke in a broken sentence here, perhaps freshly insecure from tripping up on saying Dayton, Ohio earlier tonight. He’s human after all.)
Bryan wondered how A.J. feels after the MITB match on Sunday, especially from falling while holding the briefcase. A.J. thought he broke a rib on that fall. He was trying to unhook the briefcase with one hand, but agreed with Bryan that coming down with the briefcase would have helped immensely. Footage was shown of the spot.
The moment where A.J. and Shinsuke Nakamura faced off was one A.J. knew a lot of people wanted to see, so he and Nakamura moved the ladder out of the way and give it to them. Bryan wanted to know if A.J.’s focus went from the United States title to having a match with Nakamura. Renee gave a “woo” to that question, (maybe because she’s learning what a good question is instead of listening to her earpiece.) A.J. answered, “Why not both?” He figures having the United States championship will give Nakamura a something to take from him, and thinks that match can happen sooner than later. Maybe Nakamura will win the title first, who knows how things will shake out. A.J. hopes he can be the one to take the title from Owens. He knows Owens very well and feels he has a really good chance. Owens has beaten him before but that’s in the past.
Owens as United States Champion, to A.J., means that’s he is getting it done and still has the title. He beat Chris Jericho and him, but through his own fault of getting caught up in the wires under the announcers’ desk. A.J. thinks he had Owens beat and would like another shot at him.
Bryan asked A.J. if Owens is, in any way, shape, or form, better than him. A.J. quickly answered no. He gave Bryan the same question of when he was wrestling, if he thought anybody was better than him when he got in the ring with somebody. Bryan admitted there were times he did think is opponent was better than him. A.J. asked Bryan if that was from self-doubt. Bryan said he never doubted himself but he knew there were times somebody was better than him. Renee asked for examples. Bryan named Yugi Nagata from his early career, then Jushin Liger. A.J. pressed more, that being at the WWE level, there wasn’t a man he faced he thought he’d lose to. A.J. knows he’s beatable because he has been defeated. But, he doesn’t go into a match with a mentality that he can be beaten, and winners find a way to win. That’s what he does and losing isn’t the end of the world because it’s just part of life. Going into a match with that winners’ mentality is important to have, not just in wrestling, but in life as well.
Renee asked A.J. what will make him a better representative than Owens as the new face of America. A.J. thought that to be a softball question, and said he’s from the United States of America. He hasn’t had the championship before and wants it bad. He’d love to have the Unites States championship to represent his country. He’s not an Olympian like Gable, and this would his way to represent a country he loves.
A.J. noticed how “good guy” of him that sounded! Bryan tried thinking of a suitable comparison, like a sort of super American, but decided not to say what he was thinking. Renee was left to wonder and excused Bryan for having “Dad brain” while A.J. sported a confused look into the distance, away from Bryan and Renee.
Bryan suggested to A.J. to talk about the flat earth. A.J. decided to talk about Bryan’s daughter and asked how that’s going for him so far. Renee asked if A.J. has any dad advice for Bryan. His youngest being a daughter to his three boys, A.J. told Bryan he was scared of changing a girl’s diaper at first but figured out the proper and safe wiping direction! Bryan said he and Bri are using cloth diapers and wipes. A.J. was not surprised. His wife’s brother also used cloth diapers and heard it was a big hassle. Bryan disagreed and thinks it’s very easy. A.J. asked how many cloth diapers they have, Bryan said 24. Renee commented that’s a lot of laundry, A.J. added that’s a lot of poop! He asked Bryan if he’s encountered tar poop yet. Childless Renee was confused, Bryan couldn’t remember the technical name for it but knows it starts with an M. A.J. described the phenomenon (see what I did there) as when a newborn baby poops, it’s like cleaning tar from the baby’s butt afterward. Renee pitched for a new WWE segment that Bryan improvised as WWE Dads. A.J. didn’t think it sounded bad. Bryan added they can kick Renee off the show and it won’t be Talking Smack anymore, it will just be WWE Dads and provide parenting advice with Daniel Bryan and A.J. Styles. Renee laughed and couldn’t argue that! A.J. cracked and said it sounded terrible, getting Bryan to laugh at that.
Renee thanked A.J. for being on the show and for the advice to Bryan. He tried to drink from the empty prop mug and said he knew there is never anything in it! Renee reminded him Big E drank all of it and took her fuller mug with him. With a pat on Bryan’s back wishing him luck on fatherhood, A.J. got up and left the desk.
Renee thought the conversation got weird, then realized it was a weird place for it to happen. But, that’s what happens on Talking Smack!
Bryan nudged her into previewing what will happen next week. She hyped the women’s Money in the Bank rematch, then Naomi vs Lana for the Smackdown Women’s Championship, and the Usos vs the Hype Bros. Renee asked Bryan if he will be back next week. Bryan said he cannot guarantee a thing.
Renee signed off and sternly told Bryan he had better be back next week. I agree.
This was a solid show that saw why Daniel Bryan has been sorely missed. Renee was back to form and Bryan showed barley any rust. It would be an underestimation for me to say I never want to see him leave this show. His presence and demeanor made the show great. Anybody else who has hosted has been a distant second place at best. JBL had his moments and had one great show but that was it.
Bryan proved to be Renee’s best co-host, and she was probably shooting when she told him he out to be back next week. He gave great elaboration and sarcasm to Carmella about why he decided to take away the briefcase from her and make the rematch for next week. So much so it seems like he actually did it!
The New Day was the weakest of the three guest spots. They continued my confirmation this show isn’t for them. The longer they were on, the more lost they seemed. The New Day is best when they have an audience to reciprocate energy with. The skeleton was a nice prop but and used effectively but they all talked over each other too much. That never makes good television. They did have a couple good moments but that’s it. Big E was still weird, and not in a good way despite having some good one-liners.
Carmella and Ellsworth were about as good as they could be and forwarded her character within this storyline and the continuing story of her an Ellsworth quite well. Carmella is coming into her own and has been quietly been getting better. I’m looking forward to her continued growth, hoping she hasn’t hit her ceiling yet.
A.J. Styles made great statements of why he’s going after the United States Championship and not the WWE Championship, which probably had many people curious so soon after losing the WWE title. With this appearance, it seals his fate for probably the rest of the year. WWE will likely attempt to replicate what John Cena successfully did and elevate the U.S. Title to prominence with the Open Challenge format. This won’t be, nor should it be, viewed as a complete rip- off as A.J. is totally different than Cena. Additionally, I believe there is an appetite for the Open Challenge, especially with a guy of A.J.’s caliber that will be able to get more out of his opponents than Cena did. Plus, there are different people in the company to further distance WWE from the past Open Challenge concept.
The conversation veered off into parenthood land but it somehow felt right. It would be way out of place if this was Kevin Owens instead of A.J. talking about changing diapers! It fits both A.J.’s and Bryan’s personalities to have these human traits show. But, the next few times they are both on the show, it would be overkill.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S REPORT: 6/19 WWE Talking Smack Review: Corbin says he might milk the threat of MITB for near the full year, Jinder gloats, Naomi reacts