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WWE NETWORK REVIEW: TALKING SMACK
JANUARY 30, 2021
REVIEW BY NICK MORGAN, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Hosts: Kayla Braxton and Paul Heyman
This week’s guests: Daniel Bryan (with late arriving Otis & Chad Gable), Bianca Belair, and A.J. Styles w/Omos
– Kayla welcomed us to the show and as the camera panned out, we are greeted with Paul Heyman still having his makeup applied. As Kayla reminded him that they were live, Paul shooed away the makeup woman and he and Kayla had some quick banter back and forth regarding Kayla’s makeup as well. With the silliness done, Paul commenced with a really good rant about Roman Reigns and how he is the center of all things WWE. Heyman said Reigns is the sun to the WWE solar system and that all things come from the font that is the head of the table, Roman Reigns.
Morgan’s Analysis: Watch this to see a genius at work in building up a wrestler while still making the audience want to see him get punched in the face. Well done.
– With that, out came Daniel Bryan, much to Paul’s dismay. Daniel sat down and was wearing a pretty cool shirt with trees forming the “Yes” finger pointing up. Bryan noted that while he doesn’t usually tout his merchandise, that particular shirt is great and made from all recycled materials and that for every shirt purchased a tree will be planted. From there, Daniel got in a pretty lousy joke about how if Roman is the sun, that Paul must be the planet Uranus.
Morgan’s Analysis: Man, I bet Vince loved that joke, though you could kind of see Daniel cringing inwardly as he said it.
– From there, Daniel got down to business and went on a soliloquy of his own talking about how he has never won the Royal Rumble and that he is going to do his best this time so he can take on Roman Reigns at WrestleMania. He then turned very serious and in a low tone directed right at Heyman, discussed his love for wrestling (one of his favorite moments lately was wrestling at the performance center with no fans, and they just wrestled). Daniel said that he ultimately doesn’t wrestle for the cheers or the chants. He said he just loves it and he wrestles from the heart. He noted that he will beat Roman because Roman does not wrestle from his heart. Bryan said Roman doesn’t show heart and that when he premiered in WWE, he wore a bullet proof vest to hide his heart.
Morgan’s Analysis: This was a really intense mission statement by Daniel and I was really drawn into it. That was partly because rather than shouting and making grand gestures, Daniel kept it quiet and intimate with Heyman that demanded you lean in to catch every word.
– As good as that was, unfortunately they couldn’t leave it there as Otis and Chad Gable came in as Daniel touted his training regimen with the Alpha Academy. The segment devolved into a bunch or hip thrust jokes and Otis showing Paul how he would use his hips to toss people over the ropes.
Morgan’s Analysis: It’s very juvenile and depressing that 8-year-old style humor had to come after, yet in-conjunction with Bryan’s serious tone.
– Onward we go as Bianca Belair entered immediately. I have a sense that something else happened here with some interaction between Paul and Kayla, that either didn’t quite go as well as they wanted, or they were just short on time. It really seemed like an edit and a hard cut to Bianca’s entrance music.
– Bianca’s segment was pretty pedestrian. Paul shook her hand, Kayla raved over her new documentary on the WWE Network, moved to Bianca’s win over Bayley last night, and touted her record-tying Royal Rumble record from last year. Bianca just smiled and mouthed some standard platitudes about how she will continue to strive to be the best, and the “est.” She was definitely playing the babyface and while I love watching her in the ring, in these types of settings as a babyface she is pretty boring. The segment was short and they moved quickly to A.J. Styles and Omos.
– I don’t know all the facets of the relationship between A.J. and Paul and whether it is water under the bridge or not, but during their interaction there was not direct evidence of conflict until the end of the segment. Whatever the situation, they did shake hands (initiated by Paul). Moving on, Paul spent the initial part of the segment totally intimidated by Omos and Omos played into it pretty hard, totally staring daggers at Paul.
– After they moved on from “My god you are huge”, to quote Paul, A.J. cut a pretty standard promo that he has a plan to win the Royal Rumble, but would not say which championship he would go after. Paul used this to make the point that, “when” (changing from “if” due to his fear of Omos) A.J. wins the Rumble he gets to choose his opponent. Paul noted that A.J. has been considered the number one in-ring performer of this generation and while A.J. could choose McIntyre (or Goldberg) to fight at WrestleMania, he hopes he will choose to face Roman. Reason being, when Roman beats A.J. in the main event of WrestleMania, he will be easily acknowledged as the number one in ring performer after that.
– A.J. played it a bit coy, but did say that when and if he faces Roman and beats him that Roman would no longer be the Head of the Table and that Paul would be out of a job. He said nothing would make him happier. This was obviously feeding into the apparent backstage feud that Paul and A.J. had at the beginning of 2020. It was hard to tell if there was real animosity here or not.
– With that, A.J. left and Omos stood menacingly above Paul as they went off the air.
FINAL THOUGHTS: The show went 26 minutes tonight and was a really good show with lots of great Paul Heyman moments. Daniel Bryan was a joy to watch until the rather stupid interlude with Otis and Gable. While Bianca was very bland as a babyface, she does exude a joy in what she is doing and I’m looking forward to her eventual heel turn. A.J. and Omos were a good watch and whether there is any real tension left between Paul and A.J., they worked really well together on the set and delivered some interesting roads that this could go down. They did enough to make me think that WWE are thinking about putting A.J. over in the Royal Rumble match, but in the clear light of day, I don’t think it will happen. Not much more to add. Just a good half hour of WWE wrestling television.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S TALKING SMACK REPORT: 1/23 WWE TALKING SMACK REPORT: Bayley joins the show and Kevin Owens makes his presence felt