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WWE NETWORK REVIEW: TALKING SMACK
FEBRUARY 13, 2021
BY NICK MORGAN, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Hosts: Kayla Braxton and Paul Heyman
This week’s guests: Sami Zayn, Sasha Banks, and Cesaro
– Kayla welcomed us to the show noting that we are one week closer to WrestleMania and that Smackdown this week really “set the stage” for the upcoming Elimination Chamber PPV. Turning to Paul Heyman, Kayla said that he must really be excited by what happened and initially Paul sat relatively stone-faced before Kayla asked him about Jey Uso being in the Chamber match. She said that she really wanted to talk to Paul about it, but Paul simply said “no” he didn’t want to talk about it. As Kayla pressed him, he shot back at her.
– Kayla brought up Kevin Owens and Paul said he’d rather talk about Jey Uso. In other words, let’s not talk about Kevin either. Kayla finally gave up trying to get Paul to talk about Roman Reigns and the Elimination Chamber match and brought out Sami Zayn who was accompanied by his documentary crew. Sami immediately went into his “everybody is more important than me” shtick at which point Paul interrupted everything and said that in fact he wanted to talk about Sami Zayn. He said he brought it up in the pre-production meeting, but Kayla shot him down.
Morgan’s Analysis: I love it. Paul throwing Kayla under the bus.
– Sami called Kayla a corporate shill but made sure to say that he had nothing against her, which led to a brief discussion of how to say “against,” and an off the cuff comment by Paul about Canadians saying “eh.” Kayla asked Sami about possibly facing Roman in singles action for the first time, to which Sami spent several moments complimenting Roman and saying that he used to be the corporate front man that Sami rails against, but now has realized it and turned things around and therefore now has the power over the WWE rather than being their stooge.
– Kayla said her goodbyes to Sami at this point, but there were several more moments of general mayhem right after.
Morgan’s Analysis: During this segment there was a lot of talking over each other by all three people, which was great. You could tell there was real chemistry between all of them and it was evident that it was not scripted, but instead was real people sitting around and talking and having fun together.
– After Sami left there was a great moment when Paul noted that Sami claims there is a conspiracy against him and Paul confirmed that there was. He then said that when he was executive director on Raw, he conspired against Sami and that he (Sami) is a prick and Paul doesn’t like him.
– The next guest up was Sasha Banks. Sasha came out dancing and invited Paul to join her, but Paul said he doesn’t have the hips to dance. Kayla brought up Bianca Belair and Sasha said that she would love to face Bianca. Banks reiterated a line she used earlier – that Bianca maybe the strong-EST and the tough-EST, but she is not the BEST. Banks says that is her and that she would love to face Bianca and that she can take Bianca to that next level and make her a star.
– Kayla got a bit serious and asked Sasha how she felt about Bianca not choosing her. Kayla also said if Banks vs. Belair happens, it’ll be the first time that two African American women would be competing for the championship at WrestleMania. Sasha paused a moment and said her heart was beating and she really seemed to be gathering her thoughts. Kayla even alluded to the possibility that Sasha and Bianca could “main event” WrestleMania (could this be a hint that they may headline the first night?) Sasha loved the idea and noted that she had achieved almost everything in WWE, except main eventing WrestleMania.
– They then moved off into Sasha dumping on Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax coming onto “her” show. She did a good job discounting them and ended it by saying that she would just shoo them on back to Raw. Kayla followed up by bringing up Sasha being the honorary starter at the Daytona 500 and proceeded to list all of Sasha’s other projects including a quick mention of the Mandalorian.
– Now it was Paul’s turn. Paul went on a relatively short monologue noting that champions by nature have to be a bit paranoid and ruthless, but said he is not seeing that in Sasha when it comes to Bianca. Paul seemed to be alluding to the fact that if Sasha doesn’t get her older persona back, Bianca could very well beat her and take the title and everything that it means from her. Sasha paused for a moment and then smiled and said to Paul, “then she has to choose me to find out.”
Morgan’s Analysis: As Paul has done many times on Talking Smack, he takes over the microphone and then lets the wrestler get in a very simple declarative statement that really fits their character and gets them over. This one was shorter than most, but it was the best I have seen out of Sasha Banks in quite a while. Her initial buoyant back and forth with Kayla followed by the dead serious one sentence answer to Paul. Very well done.
– It was now time for Cesaro! Paul took the lead here and as Paul was about to talk, Cesaro interrupted and said he wanted to say something. After a tense moment, he introduced Daniel Bryan who came on really strong totally annoying Paul.
Morgan’s Analysis: As this unfolded, I was really disappointed because I was looking forward to hearing what Paul would say to Cesaro, but the segment quickly moved away from Cesaro and became all about Bryan. While I like Daniel, we have seen this whole thing many times and I would have liked to see something new.
– Daniel proceeded to annoyingly discuss the stipulation that Roman would face the winner of the Elimination Chamber match. He openly mentioned the fact that whoever it is that gets to face Reigns would have already been through a tough match and therefore making it easier for Roman to win. Daniel then proceeded to get very “behind the scenes” and spoke about a “broad contract.”
Morgan’s Analysis: While I have no idea what that means from this context, I can only assume it means a contract where the wrestler does not have to wrestle every week.
– Bryan continued to slap Paul on the back. In an irritating and screechy voice, he told Paul that he and Roman don’t know what it means to “enjoy wrestling.” Paul admitted that he believed in working less and making more. From there, Daniel went into a rant about Paul having money and everything being about money whereas he loves doing what he does and that that is more important.
Morgan’s Analysis: This is really irritating. Bryan is coming across totally fake in his over exuberance. Daniel is so good at promos and bringing legitimate emotion to his craft that I find myself really turned off by WWE putting him (or himself putting himself) in this position.
– After about five minutes of relative stupidity, Daniel finally toned things down and got down to the point. Daniel told Paul that if his plan was to get a tired opponent for Roman to face at Elimination Chamber, then his plan would fail because both him and Cesaro “could go all night long.”
– Paul responded with a question that you could see coming. He asked what would happen if in the chamber it came down to the two of them (Daniel and Cesaro) for the win and a shot at Roman Reigns and the Universal Championship. Cesaro chimed in first and said that he has beaten Bryan twice recently and would do so again. Bryan took a moment and then gave the vanilla babyface answer that he would be honored to fight Cesaro at that time and that if he wins great, but if Cesaro wins, Cesaro would finally get the chance that has been denied him for so long and he would be able to go into the middle of the ring and lay his claim to the championship.
– With that, Daniel left and Cesaro said that he would be honored to face Daniel at the end of the Elimination Chamber mach. He said that when he wins, he will beat Roman Reigns.
Morgan’s Analysis: Cesaro was rather understated and just gave a very even-handed promo. He’s a total babyface now. He was intense, but didn’t shout. He was trying hard and I think he delivered. My one criticism was that it seemed heavily scripted – even down to Cesaro tossing the mic down onto the desk. Being scripted is not a bad thing, but I wish WWE would give wrestlers talking points and then let them go. On the whole, I liked Cesaro here and his quiet intensity. I hope he gets the shot as I think him and Reigns could have a really nice match together.
FINAL THOUGHTS: A relatively long show today at 30 minutes, but it was good. The Sami Zayn segment was fun. Zayn, Kayla, and Heyman are really good together. Sasha was much better here than she has been on Smackdown and it wasn’t all Paul’s doing. I don’t know if they are going to turn Sasha full heel, but I think they are going to push her back to being more or a tweener where she can play off her natural inclinations and let her ability in the ring speak most loudly. The final segment with Bryan and Cesaro was up and down, though mostly down when Bryan was doing his screechy thing. It got a whole lot better when he was more serious and Cesaro was able to bring it home with his intensity. All in all, some good moving of angles forward and an enjoyable 30 minutes of mostly old-school wrestling promo work hyping a big PPV.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S TALKING SMACK REPORT: 2/6 WWE TALKING SMACK REPORT: Heyman runs down Pearce and Bianca Belair celebrates