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WWE NETWORK REVIEW: TALKING SMACK
JANUARY 9, 2021
REVIEW BY NICK MORGAN, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Hosts: Kayla Braxton and Paul Heyman
This week’s guests: Sonya Deville, Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode and Apollo Cruz
– As Kayla welcomed us to Talking Smack and before introducing co-host Paul Heyman, Kayla made a big deal out of the end of Smackdown, making it seem like Adam Pearce had “won” the gauntlet match, before tempering her enthusiasm by noting that there had been some interference (a whole lot) to put Pearce over as the winner. To emphasize things, the split screen showed the show ending angle of Jey taking out Nakamura and then Pearce before they dragged Pearce over to cover Nakamura as both men lay unconscious. To round things out, Kayla announced that Nakamura would get a revenge match against Jey Uso next week on Smackdown.
– Kayla finished recapping the show including the victory by Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode for the Tag Team Championship, Big E’s retention of this Intercontinental Championship, and the entry of Bayley and Bianca Belair into the Women’s Royal Rumble match. With that, she finally turned to Paul for comment regarding the shenanigans between her and Heyman last week. When Paul cast some aspirations (within storyline) on Kayla’s reporter chops, Kayla was totally looking for an apology. In perfect Paul smugness, Paul accepted HER apology, prompting a very frustrated look from Kayla. Paul continued on as Kayla fumed and her frustration grew. The high point was when Paul turned to the camera and apologized to Jey Uso for Kayla and all of Talking Smack for the way they treated Jey last week. This was glorious, and Kayla delivered to pull it off as much as Heyman did.
– Kayla, with a very angry tone (again in story line), told Paul that she wasn’t going to do this anymore, which prompted Paul to yell out, “get Renee Young on the phone” assuming that Kayla meant she wasn’t going to do the show at all any longer. Kayla corrected him and said that she just meant that she was not going to get into a back and forth with him and that they needed to get on with the show.
– At this point, Paul scrunched up a piece of paper and yelled at Kayla, “Get the damn tone out of your voice with me!” Kayla looked at Paul seemingly ready to slap him silly and as the camera focused on her, Paul must have made a face or something, because even though she was supposed to be mad, it totally looked like she was about to lose it and crack up. Great television. The camera panned up to the roof of the Thunderdome and Sonya Deville appeared at the desk without an introduction.
– Kayla apologized for not giving Sonya a proper introduction and then complimented her outfit. Kayla welcomed Sonya back, and there was not any discussion on how she came back given the “Leave the WWE” stipulation of her last match. From their conversation, it appears that Sonya is actually going to be an authority figure as they played up the fact that she is stepping into a rather involved situation (Adam Pearce winning the Gauntlet match and a shot at Roman Reigns).
– Sonya was totally non-committal and simply said she had big plans.
Morgan’s Analysis: Come on WWE, use some imagination and give Sonya a purpose.
– Kayla then called Sonya bossy, to which Sonya in an aside to Paul said “I see what you mean,” referencing Paul’s earlier critique of Kayla. Kayla quickly talked her way out of it and complimented Sonya as a fighter. Paul gave Kayla big props for talking her way out of that gaff. As Kayla continued and tried to speak with Sonya about her appearance out of nowhere two weeks ago and the stir she caused, Sonya and Kayla had some good back and forth, with Sonya showing just enough heelish tendencies to keep me interested.
Morgan’s Analysis: Pretty good stuff as they built some tension here and continued to build on Kayla’s “frustration” level at not being taken seriously. All the while, Paul just had this little grin on his face. I can see Kayla at some point just hauling off and smacking him, though I hope not. I just think this is going to be their thing, poking and jabbing on the surface, with an undercurrent of friendship that peeks out now and then.
– In her frustration, Kayla tossed things back to Paul to finish up the segment. Before Paul could say a word, Sonya started being catty regarding Kayla’s outfit (lavender shirt with gold jewelry) to which Kayla came right back and said that Sonya’s silver jewelry didn’t go with her outfit.
– As Kayla ended the segment and “thanked” Sonya for coming rather briskly, Sonya shot back with “wow, that was rude I will see you later, oh yeah, I am in authority, I WILL see you later.” Sonya quietly thanked Paul and the segment ended.
Morgan’s Analysis: I have absolutely no idea where this is going, but I am along for the ride.
– Next up was Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode, the new Tag Team Champions. Dolph came on strong and said that he had noticed that on the schedule he had seen the Street Profits were supposed to be the guests tonight and started going after Kayla because she didn’t think they were going to win the championships. Paul jumped in and said that Kayla hadn’t even congratulated them yet.
Morgan’s Analysis: They should rename the show this week, Let’s Pick on Kayla.
– Kayla soldiered on and pointed out that because they had injured Montez Ford previously, the Street Profits were not 100% and asked if the new champions were upset about that. Ziggler and Roode asked her if she was kidding. They said that they won the championships, it doesn’t matter what they do as long as they win. Paul defended them while putting Kayla down for her unprofessional questions.
Morgan’s Analysis: Okay, the whole dump on Kayla thing is starting to get old. It was good at the start, but over halfway through the show they are beating it into the ground and it’s getting boring. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, I mean “mean-spirited” is WWE’s middle name.
– From there, Paul basically cut the heel promo for Roode and Ziggler. While Kayla and Paul bickered with each other, Ziggler acted like the interviewer and asked Roode about their win. Roode said that he loved it and that it worked out just as they planned. He then pulled out an old “A-Team” reference, “I love it when a plan comes together.” They ended the interview with some more dumbing on Kayla and her “professionalism” and left the set in all their heelish glory.
– For the final guest of the night, Kayla welcomed Apollo Crews and started off the interview expressing sympathy for him not winning the WWE Intercontinental Championship during the show. She then offered him the opportunity to just talk about his thoughts. Crews said he was really disappointed, that he thought he had it won, but he just didn’t get it done and Big E ended up beating him fair and square. As he was talking, they played the key points of the match, including the first double pin, on the split screen.
– Kayla asked Crews what his attitude was towards Big E and Crews said strongly that he wants the WWE Intercontinental Championship. Crews said his and Big E’s friendship has nothing to do with anything once they get in the ring and he wants a rematch next week.
– Paul turned towards Crews and said, “hear me out, afterwards if you want to deck me, deck me.” Paul then said that Crews screwed up. He said he went into the ring tonight and pinned the champion, but that he had them restart the match. Heyman called that a big mistake. He said at that moment, Crews was either the co-champion or the clear number one contender and completely entitled to the next shot at the title. He told Crews that he let his emotions get to him and let the fact he is friends with Big E get in his way. Paul said that Crews basically let Big E kick down the door to his house, take the food off his table, make love to his wife, and raise his kids. Paul asked him if Big E would let Crews do that to him Heyman said that answer was “no, because the championship symbolizes all of that and Big E wouldn’t let it go. While Paul was talking, Crews was clenching his jaw and getting angrier and angrier. Paul just kept pushing and pushing.
– Paul said that Crews did this because he thought he was a loser, but Paul said that he is not a loser and that he is a winner. He said that he has every right to claim part of that Intercontinental championship. Heyman said that right now, because of the double pin, there is no “undisputed” Intercontinental Champion – only two disputed champions.
– Paul finished up by saying “you’re not here to make friends, you’re here to make money, you’re here to stake your claim to greatness, you’re here for the glory, and to build a legacy to leave your children and grandchildren…you’re sitting here just a wannabe talent, another pretender to Big E’s throne. Come back here in another couple of weeks with the title, LIKE A MAN!”
– While Paul was talking Crews was clearly getting worked up and angry, but not at Paul. When Paul finished, Crews took several deep breaths. You could see some of the anger bleed out of him. They then faded to black and the show ended.
Morgan’s Analysis: I’m not sure where this is going. Either this will be the impetus for a Crews solo heel turn (and when he loses to Big E again, perhaps he joins up with the Tribal Chief?), or he will listen to his better self, let it go, and continue to be a lower mid card babyface. I honestly don’t know.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Wow, did they cram a ton of stuff into 23 minutes. I really enjoyed the first five minutes of Kayla and Paul’s back and forth, but I also really wish they had kept it in that venue and not let it bleed so much into the rest of the show. First, I think it is totally counter-productive as she is really coming into her own and when the guests get into it along with Heyman, it cheapens it and it becomes boring.
Aside from that, all of the segments pushed storylines along (well Ziggler and Roode were just jerks, so not much forwarding there, but they did play up the injury to Ford angle). They are going somewhere with Sonya as an authority figure. At least until Adam Pearce’s thing with Roman is over. I will bet that her and Mandy encounter each other in the Women’s Royal Rumble match when Sonya pulls rank and puts herself in at number 30.
The Crews segment will be great in hindsight if it really sends him on a journey. I really think he needs Paul’s edge to move him up the card. Something drastic has to happen with him to get him out of his “goody two-shoes” babyface mode. This segment tonight could have been and should be it.
All in all, an enjoyable show. One thing they need to be careful with though is how they incorporate this into the main show. They can’t just have Crews show up next week as a bad ass. They have to replay this segment on the main show somehow to build investment with the audience.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S REPORT: 1/2 WWE TALKING SMACK REPORT: Heyman jumps in to prevent Jey from speaking and getting in trouble with Roman, Ziggler & Roode are told they get title shot next week, Billie Kaye annoys