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TALKING SMACK REVIEW
JULY 4, 2017
AIRED ON WWE NETWORK
BY CRAIG ELBE (@CraigElbe), PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Duration: 27 minutes, 41 seconds
Dressed for a funeral instead of the Fourth of July, Renee Young and Daniel Bryan were seated at the Talking Smack desk. Non-citizen Renee was quizzed on the actual day of independence and didn’t even effort an answer. Thankfully her green card is valid. Bryan told her it was July 4th and she felt set up. Regardless of her stupidity, she transitioned to the Smackdown happenings.
John Cena returned, then so did Rusev. Bryan loved the Chad Gable vs A.J. Styles match and didn’t let Renee forget it was his idea. He relented a tad, that he consulted with Shane first, but generally only takes credit when it’s a good idea! Bad ideas get blamed on Mr. McMahon, which is what Bryan calls Shane.
Bryan’s “Big Hog” problem was explained further. He has it out for the Big Hog due to Ellsworth’s interference in both women’s Money in the Bank ladder matches. Bryan had to put his foot down for Ellsworth to not interfere in the women’s matches anymore but let Carmella keep her MITB briefcase. Bryan’s fine and suspension of Ellsworth was a bit harsh for Renee. As the locker room Big Hog Dance leader, it was hardest for Bryan. Renee corrected Bryan it was Viktor who is the dance leader, and Bryan was caught for messing up his own fiction.
With the Ellsworth segue in place, Renee introduced the first guest.
First Guest: Naomi
Renee and Bryan clapped, not just for Naomi, but her cool new shirt and glowing title. Naomi praised the work that went into making her title light up without changing the original look. She also praised Bryan for his discipline of Ellsworth. She didn’t think it was too harsh and hopes Ellsworth learns a lesson, and kissed up to Bryan for always doing the right thing.
Bryan congratulated Naomi for easily beating Lana. She had to erase all doubt by putting Lana in her place and did just that. Renee offered last week’s Lana’s picture tweet for a rematch, showing her shoulder off the mat when Naomi pinned her last week. Naomi was mad at herself for giving Lana any room talk trash to her and had to shut that down. Renee offered Bryan’s follow up tweet to Lana where he granted her a rematch. Now with her tap out win tonight, it’s definitive who the champ is!
With other contenders and Carmella looming, Naomi simply has her eyes open and her guard up. With her newly glowing title, she isn’t planning on letting it go any time soon, while Bryan cited the cost as the reason she can’t lose her title. He let the word belt slip, but corrected himself in
Vince voice, that “belts hold up your pants!”
Renee liked how the title keeps changing colors. Naomi shed some extra light on what she had done to it; there are seven lighting centers but she wants more. Naomi got to see her ring entrance from earlier and thought her lit up belt looked cool. The customization makes her feel like she owns it, and that’s why she did so. It was quite a process to have it unique without making the title look different than it was and she’s happy with the result. Now she must hold onto it.
Naomi has been champion since WrestleMania, and she feels like she’s in charge of the division. She’s very confident, but needs to keep proving herself to the locker room with consistent title defenses. She knows there are some women who feel they are better than her and are sure they can beat her. Renee wanted names, but Naomi spoke through Renee. She feels she is the best and cannot be beat.
Bryan asked who she would like to fight at Battleground. Naomi named Charlotte, mainly from their last match being interrupted by the Welcoming Committee (by the way, where are they?) We never got to see who is the best, and Naomi wants to accomplish all and more of what Charlotte already has. She conceded Charlotte is the best of the best and can’t be considered the best until she beats her.
Then there is Carmella who cheated to pin her twice, so Naomi also needs to show Carmella who she is. Natalya, Becky Lynch, and Tamina round out the rest of who Naomi feels she needs to prove herself to, as well as the WWE Universe.
Naomi was confused by Tamina coming to the aid of Lana. They have history, being in Team Bad together but went their separate ways. Naomi changed her way of thinking, way more to the positive. She’s not sure about Tamina anymore because they no longer have a close relationship. Whether it’s jealousy from Tamina or not, Naomi doesn’t care. If Tamina comes after her title, she’ll have to tap her out too (thank God she didn’t say snatch her bald.)
Renee guessed Tamina could be jealous. Naomi knows Tamina is hard to read, so she doesn’t know, nor does she care. Naomi would have rather given Tamina three title matches instead of Lana, the one who manipulated her way to three title matches. Naomi remained confused why Tamina came out to help Lana.
Renee figured Naomi has some digging to do for this all to make sense. She thanked Naomi for being on the show, and for bringing her glowing title with her. (Too bad there wasn’t any hint to the Netflix series.)
Renee wondered where Sweet Beats was during the rap battle. Bryan claimed he went to the Usos with some rhymes, but they didn’t want Bryan to embarrass them in front of Wale with his subpar rhymes. Bryan was left demoralized. Still confident with his material, Bryan went, “New Day’s merch, they do big numbers. Well I don’t care cuz I’m in the garden, growing heirloom cucumbers. Ohhhhh!” Renee thought his lines were cleverly him, but a beat or two off the mark. Bryan promised his lines were autobiographical.
Though he was excluded, Bryan loved the rap battle and the innuendo he didn’t think was allowed. Xavier’s videotape footage was brought up, and so were weenie-do’s and dad-bod comments that hit below the belt.
Xavier Woods’s last line in the rap battle about the Usos carrying Roman Reigns’s bags and the shoving match was shown.
Renee mentioned how the New Day burned Jey (she got it wrong, it’s Jimmy) Uso by saying he’s only relevant from his wife putting him on Total Divas. It was fun for Bryan to watch, and now he’s more excited than ever for the New Day vs the Usos at Battleground for the tag team titles. Renee felt the anticipation of each team’s turn.
Unlike other celebrity guests WWE has from time to time, Bryan loved that Wale is a fan. He looked like a natural while he moderated the rap battle and was great to have. Renee called for more rap battles and wished Wale was on Talking Smack tonight.
Renee asked Bryan what the deal was with Tenay Young. He didn’t approve or disapprove of it. She picked apart how Tyler Breeze didn’t represent her very well as footage of the Tye Dillinger interview was shown. Renee was prideful she asks better questions than Breeze’s imitation, while Bryan snuck in that some of the interviewers do ask poor questions.
Renee transitioned to their next guests.
Second Guests: Maria and Mike Kanellis
Maria was thrown off by the height of her chair. She lowered it all the way but felt too low, so Mike raised it for her, claiming his love will lift her up. (I hope that was improvised.) She turned toward Mike so they could stare at each other. She told him he was sweet, and he’s was cute and had nice eyes. Mike reciprocated the compliments, then Bryan interjected.
He asked the Kanellis’s if they were aware the power of their love turned off the camera in the building. Maria denied it, that it was done by a poor unfortunate soul. She feels sorry for him, and so does Mike. He was stretching while they were clearly busy and trips on a power cord. Mike wondered what kind of man trips on a power cord. Renee added it’s classic Sami Zayn. Maria thought Zayn wanted attention. Mike continued, asking what kind of man doesn’t know when they are out on the stage and just bursts out there. He feels sorry for Zayn.
Renee threw to footage of their debut at Money in the Bank.
Renee asked what exactly is this power of love. Mike was kissing Maria’s hand as she declared we’re all witnessing it and that it’s emanating from them. They’re trying to show hope for people to find that special someone, but most people don’t. Or they’re faking it. They’re message is love, said Mike. For 16 years, he’s been a professional wrestler. But love is what brought him to WWE. Maria giggled jubilantly.
Bryan has followed Mike’s career and asked why he changed his name from Bennett to Kanellis. Mike claimed they are ahead of the curve, and Maria is a strong and powerful woman. Until he met Maria, he did the same thing over and over again in his career, which defines insanity. For the love Maria has shown him, the least he could do is take her last name. Mike Kanellis is a very powerful name, and he doesn’t think it’s strange at all. Someone has to start the trend and it may as well be them.
Maria wants to prove that love conquers all. Love can defeat all the evil in WWE. Bryan asked who. Maria said everybody. They can feel the tension and anger in the locker room. Mike carried that for 16 years and got him nowhere, nowhere at all. (I’m almost sure that’s a TNA slight.) Now, with love, he feels like he woke up from a bad dream. Bryan and Renee were moved.
Renee was happy they could be on the show to elaborate on their message of love, as she tried to ask them earlier before Sami Zayn interrupted. Maria thanked her, and also said you’re welcome.
Renee whispered she still doesn’t get the message. Bryan has seen a man take his wife’s name before. He thinks their power of love is very Zen and he’s not mad at it. Neither is Renee.
Another big thing that happened on Smackdown was John Cena’s return. Now, he will face Rusev in a flag match at Battleground. A graphic for that match was shown.
Bryan noted Cena’s free agency was being promoted on Raw. Before anything could be said, the man who needs no introduction came to the desk.
Third Guest: A.J. Styles.
The first thing A.J. mentioned was his hard-fought match with Chad Gable. A.J knew it would be a tough match, just for clarification, spoken in a way like he was still selling it. He admitted Gable manhandled him early in the match, and wrestling Gable was no doubt more difficult than the Independence Day Battle Royal. As a former Olympian, Gable is the real deal. A.J. uttered the words “a little competition” when Bryan made the match, but he didn’t mean it the way Gable took it. Gable got pissed off and threw A.J. around like a ragdoll. He gave props to Gable for being a hell of a competitor.
Bryan acknowledged A.J. was a great collegiate wrestler but it doesn’t compare to being an Olympic wrestler. Gable was a freestyle and Greco-Roman, making him able to do anything to throw a person around. A.J. had some doubts about winning the match when Gable was throwing him around and couldn’t escape the guy. If he could get Gable to the ropes, he could break the hold Gable was applying and figure something out to win.
Renee was given the cue to footage of that match but we got A.J. winning the battle royal instead. He was exhausted from wrestling Gable and had to pick his spots in the battle royal and was able to win. He wanted to make sure with Bryan his title shot against Kevin Owens was still a go. Bryan assured him, and it will be at Battleground.
Bryan recalled wrestling twice at different times in a night, especially later in his career, being very difficult. Renee exclaimed Bryan did that at WrestleMania. A.J. agreed with Bryan, that he was still trying to get his muscles loose while in the battle royal. He pointed out a battle royal has guys distracted and he could take advantage of the situation by picking his spots and/or targeting guys who weren’t paying attention.
A.J.’s thoughts on Kevin Owens bothering Bryan all last week to keep A.J. out of the battle royal weren’t of surprise. He lost via countout by getting caught in wires in a table and he had Owens’s number, and Owens knew it. Renee pointed out Owens’s boastful claim of being a superior athlete to A.J. because he wouldn’t have gotten caught in a table. A.J. figured that made “perfect sense”; the only thing Owens is better at than A.J. is eating. With more sarcasm, A.J. fully admitted that. Bryan tried to set up an eating contest between A.J. and Owens next week. A.J. remembered Bryan’s dad talk idea from last appearance on the show. Bryan suggested the #wwedads. A.J. said of Bryan’s ideas are so ridiculous that some people want to see them but he should watch was he says.
Bryan ignored the dad talk idea, grinned and announced a wiener eating contest next week between A.J. and Owens. A.J. already admitted defeat. Bryan made A.J. aware of the Japanese guys who always win those contests are thin. A.J. wondered what the point would be. Bryan tried to instill confidence in A.J. that he could best Owens in the one thing he said Owens was better at than him, an eating contest. If a A.J. can beat Owens in an eating contest, he surely can beat Owens for the United States title!
A.J. told the WWE Universe not to encourage Bryan because he doesn’t want to have an eating contest. Bryan offered the #Ajstyleswienerchallenge. Renee joined in on the fun and said that will happen next week, either on Smackdown or Talking Smack. A.J. wore a disgusted look the whole time. Renee wished everybody a Happy Independence Day and signed off.
This episode was a fun watch with little to complain about. This was Bryan’s best Talking Smack since returning. He had his wit and authority on display without straying into unnecessary places of contradiction. He and Renee had good chemistry; not their greatest and far from their worst.
Each guest held their own and advanced their characters, especially the Kanellis’s. I like how Maria gave a little more insight on their purpose without revealing all of it. The true test will be how Mike performs in a WWE ring, but he’s been more WWE than ROH or TNA when he worked for those companies.
Naomi continues to feel more comfortable in this setting. I think she does better on this show than a promo or match, but all things happen at different times. Plus, she hasn’t been a babyface for very long and is still developing that persona. If she could just not be so cutesy in the ring and look more like a wrestler than a dancing ninja, she would be all the more credible.
A.J. Styles was given an important role but oversold it a tad. He and Chad Gable had a good match, but to say he was exhausted from it and into the battle royal felt a bit exaggerated. Otherwise, A.J. had a solid appearance. I like Gable was given a chance to showcase his abilities with A.J. and he looked great. Hopefully Jason Jordan won’t be left in the dust.