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WWE NETWORK REVIEW: TALKING SMACK
OCTOBER 24, 2020
AIRED ON FS1
REVIEW BY NICK MORGAN, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Hosts: Kayla Braxton, Montez Ford, Booker T
This week’s guests: Paul Heyman, Bianca Belair, Sasha Banks, and Daniel Bryan
– Kayla Braxton welcomed everyone to Talking Smack which was being broadcast from the ThunderDome right after the end of Smackdown on FS1 (Smackdown was moved to FS1 this week due to the World Series) and it appeared as if all the “fans” in the video boxes were still online and were part of the show as well. Kayla started to introduce her co-hosts for the night, Booker T and Montez Ford (unfortunately no Sami Zayn tonight), when Booker T broke in and started with his way over the top hyping of the show. I am sorry folks, but while I always enjoyed Booker T in the ring during his wrestling days, as an announcer I can’t stand him and his style is like fingernails on a chalkboard as far as I am concerned, so unfortunately this show has already dropped down in my opinion. But, in any event, we move on.
– After Booker, Kayla welcomed Montez who was in full character, which can also be a bit abrasive, but acceptable. I really think the hosts and co-hosts of Talking Smack while of course incorporating their characters, should subtly change them (as Sami had done very effectively) so that they are not the driving force of the show but an accompaniment to it.
– Anyway, Kayla let us know about tonight’s guests, recapped the end of Smackdown with the angle between Jey Uso and Roman Reigns and the stipulation for their match. Spoiler warning! If Jey loses he either has to bend the knee to Roman or be excommunicated from the family along with his brother, Jimmy. Kayla then welcomed the first guest, Paul Heyman.
– Paul was in full Heyman mode, talking very eloquently about the family blood line of Reigns and Uso and did a great job of building up the match, building up Jey Uso as an opponent for Reigns and how big the stakes will be at Hell in the Cell. Heyman made a point that Reigns is not a Paul Heyman guy, that Heyman is a Roman Reigns guy. Staying well within the guard rails of his role with Reigns. Hayman talked about what makes a great wrestler is the desire to be the best, not only to be on “the Mount Rushmore” of wrestling, but to be “all four” of the faces.
– Unfortunately, from here, the talk devolved a bit into saying how great it would be to be the WWE Universal champion and the best in WWE. Almost selling the WWE instead of the talent to be the best. Yes, of course WWE always does this and we as viewers tend to accept it, but I just wanted to point it out that it can be unfortunate every once in a while.
– To further set up the match, Paul went on a solid discussion of how it has always been in case for Reigns’ family that the top guy in the WWE, from Afa & Sika, to the Rock, and now onto Reigns, that the head of the family supported the entire extended family from old to young and that is why this match is so important. GREAT!!!
– They continued to go through the stipulations of the match and continued to push the importance of the match to both the WWE and to Roman Reigns and did a really good job in making this all seem like a big deal.
– To sum up Paul’s rather long and classically Paul ending rant and explanation of what the match (and potentially a loss) means to Roman Reigns, Paul simply said, “It’s personal!” Again, GREAT!!
-With that they moved onto the next segment, Daniel Bryan. Unfortunately, before bringing Bryan out they did some stupid psychiatry session with the Street Profits. There was an allusion to weekly appointments for a year, I can only hope not, the last thing WWE needs is more psychiatry segments. Please no!!!!!!
– Okay, I am done running around the block screaming. Let’s move on to Daniel Bryan. Before bringing out Bryan they ran clips of the eight-man tag match. Daniel came out and sold the fact that Montez actually got the pin in the match and Daniel sold all of the great young talent on Smackdown. A slight awkward moment when Montez offered Daniel his own red plastic cup and Daniel noted that he was not a fan of plastic cups, “you know the whole champion of the planet” and such. Ooppps.
– Kayla stoically moved on and asked Daniel about how he sees the Intercontinental Title and how it should be defended more often. Booker joined in and Daniel and he exchanged selling each other, which quite frankly was a bit over the top. Booker asked Daniel what it felt like being one of the older talents and what it was like to work with all the young talent. Daniel took the ball and ran with it, and actually buried the WWE a bit for focusing too much on the older talent and not giving the younger guys more of the spotlight. I wonder if Vince is listening.
– I really hope that Daniel is speaking for the company here and that they will spotlight the younger guys in WWE; time will tell. Daniel made one piece of news, he basically said this was his last run (he didn’t say how long) and that he wanted it to be his best.
– Before bringing out the next guest, they did a promo video (to help promote the return of Big 10 football to FOX on Saturday, got to love Synergy) featuring many of the big names in wrestling who played football (Rock, Roman, Ernie Ladd, Big E, Corbin, The Usos, etc.) and the football players who made appearances in the ring, highlighting the Lawrence Taylor vs. Bam Bam Bigelow match. This was a pretty good video and we got some interesting perspectives into the attitudes of Roman, Corbin, Big E, and Jey Uso as they commented on their football careers and how it compares and compliments their wrestling careers. Too bad they don’t put this kind of effort into more of their on-air video work in their main shows. Sigh!
– Continuing with the cross promotion, next they showed the clip with Stone Cold Steve Austin on the College Football pre-game on a facetime call with Rob Stone. Okay, whatever
– Kayla finally got to the next guest, Bianca Belair. After a quick video recap of Belair’s match versus Zelina Vega (body press and the KOD), Belair was at the table and after some interplay between her and Montez (her husband) she did all the right stuff, saying how much she just wanted to be the best she can be in the WWE and she will reach the top. Booker praised her a good deal while Belair sat there smiling. Belair is definitely coming across as a babyface here and, at least for now, that seems to be her lane (number 2 babyface after Sasha?).
– After a quick World Series Game 4 promo and a clip of David Ortiz ripping on Booker T during the World Series pre-game and Booker T’s comeback (is a match in the offing? Probably not, but they are teasing it), we finally got to Sasha Banks.
– Sasha came out and flaunted the signed contract. Booker started talking about some back and forth her and Sasha were having on Twitter about who was the best tag team, Sasha and Bayley or Harlem Heat (don’t know if this was a work or a shoot on Twitter, with Booker you never know), but during this discussion Sasha seemed to be a bit heelish. I am not sure where they are going with her as her baby face turn has not been that good and she still comes off more heel than face and this interview and her interaction with Booker did little to correct that.
– Kayla asked Sasha about all of Bayley’s accolades and whether they even matter considering that Sasha has been in Hell in a Cell twice and Bayley has never been in the Cell. Sasha confirmed that of course it matters and she proceeded to run down all her accomplishments and that her name Sasha Banks is bigger than Bayley’s title (keeping that going) and that on Sunday she will take the title and leave Bayley broken in the ring. Again, this was a very heelish presentation or at least attitude by Sasha.
– With that Kayla finished off Talking Smack with a quick run down of Hell in the Cell matches along with their predictions:
Booker: Roman Reigns, The Miz, Elias, Randy Orton
Montez: Jey Uso, Otis, Jeff Hardy, Drew McIntyre
– Strange, they didn’t do Sasha-Bayley and they picked the exact opposite picks. Come on WWE, you can do better than that.
FINAL THOUGHTS: This week Talking Smack came on right after Friday Smackdown on FS1 and, as it was on a regular cable network, they went a full hour with commercials (45 minutes without commercials if you watch on the WWE Network). The show was filled out be several video packages and rather than the normal three guests they had four guests this week.
Also, along with Kayla, instead of Sami Zayn who has been co-hosting for the past two weeks, Booker T and Montez Ford joined Kayla for the hosting duties. I would really say it was mostly Booker as Montez said maybe a dozen words (ok probably more than that), but he was not actively involved, except at the beginning of Bianca Belair’s segment. As I don’t enjoy Booker’s shtick, I hope Sami comes back next week and that this was just a one off for Booker.
About twice as long as the normal Talking Smack this week, the show still moved quickly as was and easy watch. The extra video segments were pretty good and all in all another good show. Kayla needs to get a reward for wrangling all these personalities. She does a great job.
Well, that is it for now, see you all next week. Until then, take care and stay safe.