Craig’s Musings: Talking Smack cancelled as quality dropped, Cena outdraws Manning, Jarrett’s Vince-tendencies, Vince’s booking pacing

By Craig Elbe, PWTorch contributori


Vince McMahon (art credit Grant Gould © PWTorch)

•Talking Smack was cancelled as a weekly show at the right time. Before its last Tuesday episode, I covered the show the last five months for PWTorch. The show was quickly fading from its grace. Daniel Bryan’s maternity leave saw Shane McMahon exposed, and JBL wasn’t nearly as good as he could have been. He probably didn’t want to be. At his best, I thought JBL was a great choice if Bryan’s role and schedule was reduced due to fatherhood.

Thankfully, Bryan returned to the show a few weeks after Birdie Joe was born. Bryan reminded us of why he and Renee Young are the best hosts for that show. Even though he had rust to shake off, that only took a couple episodes. Bryan is now fresh in the minds of those who loved him on the show, so I believe a groundswell will happen for the show’s return. Plus, Talking Smack still exists post-Smackdown pay-per-views. Time will tell if it becomes more scripted or if Bryan and Renee will use those monthly opportunities as an audition for a weekly or semiweekly reprise. If Renee Young could stay Smackdown-exclusive and have Charley Caruso or Dasha Fuentes host Raw Talk after Raw pay-per-views, all the better. They are both capable of more than they are asked, that’s why they made it to WWE.

On a side note, I felt more scripting was occurring on Talking Smack during the span of my coverage. There were visible earpieces and too many buzzwords being used for me, at least, to take the show seriously as half shoot/unscripted.

•John Cena beat an NFL legend. In ratings, that is. Cena hosted the ESPY awards show last year, Payton Manning hosted this year’s show. This year’s Manning hosted show saw a decline of 6 percent in ratings and 5 percent in viewership. Manning and Cena are both considered the faces of their respective leagues/companies during a time that was considered a lull. Their clean-cut image and winning ways helped the images of their respective organizations. Most surprising to me is how beloved Manning was and is to the still polarizing Cena, although Cena has done a lot to dispel many of his detractors the last few years.

While it’s not exactly apples to apples, and each show had its own attractions and television oppositions, the fact that Cena’s hosting of the ESPYS had better ratings than Manning’s should tell WWE something. I just wonder if they bothered to take notice. Cena’s “American Grit” reality show isn’t exactly lighting up the television world, but that could merely indicate where his drawing power still is. Or people are less inclined to see him on a reality show after seeing him on “Total Divas.”

•Jeff Jarrett becomes a poor man’s Vince McMahon: Congratulations. While I’m not sure if Jeff has ever aspired to be like Vince, there are many similarities. Jeff followed his father’s footsteps to be a promoter and leveraged himself into an ownership position by playing a long con of sorts. Despite contrary evidence, Jeff books what he likes with his yes-men around him. He also didn’t make a good decision about his top babyface, but at least Roman Reigns keeps himself out of trouble outside his storylines.

•As a child, I bet Vince McMahon took the longest to do the alphabet. I’ve never seen someone with as much experience and success take so long to go from point A to point B. That’s just when he has. Sometimes he goes from C to Z many times without noticing B staring right at him. That B, currently, is to turn Roman Reigns into a money-drawing, heat magnet heel.

•I wonder how the storyline arc of the Mega Powers would play out these days. Vince has so much time to fill that I bet he would cram it all in three months. That makes me wonder if he is best if forced to be disciplined without having more time than necessary. I’m very curious how he would book NXT. That would be the true test of delayed-gratification by virtue of limited opportunities.

•Vince has often been regarded as a genius. I don’t think he is. All he does is think outside the box, sometimes too far out; hence my A to B rhetoric. He also works very hard, but I would suspect too hard. Not affording himself any hobbies while making WWE his entire life screams burnout and imbalance. Sure, he loves what he does, but is also probably bored with his success. That may also be coupled with blindness at times when he puts people on figurative death hills.

Here is another perspective. When musicians write songs for their records, only the best material ends up on it. Long successful creative geniuses can self-edit and listen to input for the best results, bruised egos aside. Same for authors. The cream rises to the top, as the cliché goes. What goes unheard and unread is the plethora of less stellar to horrible material. Timely episodic entities will always run into settling for dilution. Vince has veered very far outside his niche.

The past 20 plus years have been proving that his chosen and unopposed vision is best suited when his terrible ideas can more easily be deleted due to time constraints. Imagine a world where Vince doesn’t use valuable television time for the proverbial audience of one, especially when he has to choose between making money or making a silly example out of someone. This is just another way of saying WWE has too much time to fill and does an awful job of it. Gone is equity and trust for questionable initial booking, at least to me (cough, cough, Jason Jordan as Kurt Angle’s son??). Hello New Japan.


NOW CHECK OUT THE PREVIOUS COLUMN: Craig’s Musings: Mae Young Classic stakes, New Japan’s opportunity in the U.S., Ross & Barnett, Becky Lynch’s lost opportunity

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