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WWE NETWORK REVIEW: TALKING SMACK
JANUARY 2, 2021
REVIEW BY NICK MORGAN, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Hosts: Kayla Braxton and Paul Heyman
This week’s guests: Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode, Billie Kay, and Jey Uso
– As Kayla welcomed everyone to Talking Smack and wished everyone a big Happy New Year, she started off the year by noting that Paul Heyman’s pocket squared matched her lipstick. Great start, folks! They went on about their clothing choices, including a reference by Paul to Freddie Blassie when describing Kayla’s glittery jacket. Paul then went off on Kevin Owens, calling him mediocre. He said Owens could have been great, but he messed with the wrong “Big Dog,” paraphrasing an old statement about coming after the king,: “If you come after your tribal chief, you better not miss.” I will say again that having Paul on Talking Smack does two great things: It lets us the viewers get a good dose of the expertise in promos that Paul has and adds layers to the best (if not only) storyline on WWE TV.
– Paul continued that Owens, missed. Gutter Ball. Whiffed. Etc. And said that Owens will never be the Hall of Famer he could have been. It was great; he basically built-up Kevin Owens while completely tearing him down. So good.
– After this, Kayla took back the show and built up the up-and-coming Royal Rumble and how much it means for Daniel Bryan to be announced for the Royal Rumble. Paul then took back control and talked about how Roman Reigns is what people in the wrestling world (not only the WWE) should be paying attention to, and that whoever comes out of the Royal Rumble, if they come after Roman, they will be sorry and they will fail.
– With that, Kayla moved onto the rest of the show by introducing the first guests of the evening, Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode. Kayla brought up their attack on the Street Profits and her backstage interview with them about their wanting a shot at the titles. Kayla then dropped a small bomb, maybe a bomblet, that Ziggler & Roode would be facing the Street Profits next Friday for the championship. Stop the presses, we didn’t see this coming, did we (because you can’t hear me, I am typing this with a very sarcastic “tone”)?
– Strangely, Ziggler sold this in a very subdued way, and Roode followed suit. They were not bombastic or shouting, and very calmly said that they are all about them proving that they are and should be at the top of the card. Nope, not going to happen. This was very strange and quite frankly kind of dull. The only bright moment was when Ziggler took some shots at Shawn Michaels (and the superkick), which of course feeds into his egotism that I guess is his gimmick. Just very strange, and even Paul chiming in couldn’t really save the segment, even though he made a very interesting point that you shouldn’t blame Ziggler and Roode for their attack on the Profits tonight because they got the championship match they wanted. Instead, you should blame the powers that be (Adam Pierce) for rewarding bad behavior. Interesting that he said that because that is what we are always screaming at the TV when stuff like this happens – the heels get rewarded for acting badly. Again, interesting?
– After some New Year’s Resolution banter, we moved on to Billie Kay. Billie continued with her annoying voice and her headshot and resume shtick. Oh, please help me. Kayla asked her about the situation tonight where she was going to team with Tamina, then Natalya came out, and then she was supporting them but then ended up celebrating with the Riott Squad. Billie gave some double-talk answer and then Kayla asked her whether she just liked getting on the winning bandwagon. Billie Kay then advertised her new shirt and just rambled on and on. Ugh, this is terrible. Thankfully, it ended quick with Billie’s resolution that she wants to be a two-time tag team champion and she is talking gymnastics classes to learn how to do splits. Kayla made a point to note that Billie Kay would be on “The Bump” next week. If they could have pitched Shamwows, they world have.
– With this, Jey Uso came out and, as Paul was shaking his hand, he did a lot of whispering in his ear and made sure to say “Roman” loud enough for us to hear so that we would think that Paul was conveying Roman’s instructions to Jey. A little over the top, but okay, I’ll accept it.
– Jey was in his serious mode and Kayla jumped right in with questions and warned Jey that, while he may not like them, she hoped he would answer them anyway.
– First question was that Jey has helped Roman every time he has won or defended his title, and so does Roman’s championship depend on Roman or Jey? As Jey was starting to answer and saying that it was a very easy answer, Paul jumped in and noted that he was not the special counsel to Jey, but to Roman. Paul continued that he has known Jey and Roman’s family for over 40 years, and while he is not a counsel to Jey, if he was, he would advise him to take the Fifth and not answer.
– Jey thanked Paul for jumping in and “saving” him. Paul then said he would not interrupt again. Next question was that until Roman came out on Smackdown to help, Jey was getting beaten down by Kevin Owens, so Kayla wanted to know if Jey felt that his recent success is based on his talent or the fact that he is with Roman Reigns. Again, as Jey started to answer, Paul jumped in. Paul complimented Kayla on her question and said that of all the interviewers (even referencing Renee Young (as the blonde one… great, Paul) Kayla is the best and that she should be or could be a great prosecutor. Then advised Jey to take the fifth again.
– Kayla (in frustration) said that she is trying to do her job and should be respected as a journalist. Jey assured her that he would answer the next question, while Paul took off his earpiece and mic and even turned about so his back was facing the camera. Jey told Kayla to go ahead and ask her a question. Kayla started to ask her question but faltered and tried to gather her thoughts, at which point Jey jumped in and said what a great question she just asked, “Why they call your boy ‘Main Event’ Jey Uso.” Jey proceed to go on a rant that he had gotten “Drew McIntyre, Daniel Bryan, and Kevin Owens.” Jey then looked straight into the camera and said that if you watched Smackdown on Friday, you saw that Jey Uso “got” Kevin Owens. Basically, saying that Roman is the boss and Jey will “get” whoever gets in the way.
As with the main show, this segment with Paul and Jey was the best thing on Talking Smack tonight.
FINAL THOUGHTS: The show went 24 minutes tonight and, quite frankly, was about 14 minutes too long. They should have just kept the opening with Kayla and Paul and the ending segment with Jey Uso and scrapped the rest. Ziggler and Roode were boring and trite and was such a standard build for a WWE Tag Team championship match that I almost fell asleep, and the Billie Kay segment was a complete waste of time and Billie Kay is really hard to watch, much less listen to.
Paul continues to do great work, especially when interacting with Kayla and adding layers to the Roman Reigns storyline, but even he couldn’t save the other segments, even though he tried. Jey emoted really well and, while he didn’t talk much, when he did you had to take notice and again just adds for complexity to this angle. Keep going, guys!
I will also give huge props to Kayla. I do not know how much of Paul’s stuff is scripted, but Kayla plays off it well and tonight her acting (upset, frustrated, and a bit angry and both Paul and Jey) was really good.
With that said, Happy New Year’s, may 2021 be soooooo much better for all of us.
Well, that is it for now, see you all next week. Until then, take care and stay safe.