SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
WWE TALKING SMACK
FEBRUARY 20, 2021
BY NICK MORGAN, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Hosts: Kayla Braxton and Paul Heyman
This week’s guests: Seth Rollins, Bianca Belair, Daniel Bryan
– Kayla welcomed us to the show while impressively wedging in three pay per views into a single sentence: “one week after an exhilarating Elimination Chamber and four weeks from Fastlane, the last stop on the road to WrestleMania.” After that she and Paul had a little bit of their normal banter and they actually seemed to be enjoying each other and having fun.
– Kayla brought up the angle from Smackdown and that Edge expects to face Roman in the main event at WrestleMania, but now Daniel Bryan might throw a wrench into that. Kayla turned to Paul to ask his thoughts and in a great Paul moment, Paul crumbles up his run sheet and notes, tosses them aside, and goes off without notes saying that Roman does not care who he faces. He emphatically stated that Roman will face Edge and that Daniel can have all the hopes he wants, but nothing would change. He definitively said it would be Edge vs. Roman.
– Kayla then introduced their first guest, Seth Rollins. In a bit of a contradiction to everything Paul had just said about Roman being the Head of the Table, Kayla noted that Seth is looking to lead Smackdown to the promised land.
(Morgan’s Analysis: This is part of the problem with Seth’s character, it just doesn’t fit well in the current construction of Smackdown.)
– After Kayla referenced Seth’s time in the Cesaro swing, Seth noted that his stomach ended up in the sixth row, but everything is back in place and he is good to go. At this point Seth went off on how Cesaro cannot get anywhere without him and continued to talk in his delusional way. The obvious thing here is building up a feud between Seth and Cesaro to last through WrestleMania.
– Paul picked up the show here and brought up how Roman is watching what Seth is doing and he appreciates Seth and that he (Paul) appreciates Seth’s vision, but worries that Cesaro may distract and hurt Seth’s pursuit of his vision. Seth followed up by complimenting Roman as Head of the Table and said that he appreciates Paul’s concerns, but he is confident that it will all work out. Paul then kind of gave Seth the “bum’s rush” by saying good night to Seth and Seth took the hint and the segment ended.
(Morgan’s Analysis: I’m not sure what the point of this was. Yes, they are setting up the Cesaro feud, but I think they were also trying to set up that Seth and Roman are on different plateaus or planes of existence within Smackdown, and that Seth’s desire to fulfill his vision and lead Smackdown, has nothing to do with Roman and his ultimate control over Smackdown. Seth is more concerned with the locker room, while Roman has his sites set higher. I might be giving WWE too much credit for nuance and subtlety, but maybe?)
– After Seth left, Paul noted that his back had not been feeling that good, but that when he shook Seth’s hand it felt better (not that he was healed or anything) and he urged Kayla to embrace Seth’s vision.
(Morgan’s Analysis: I think this was just Paul doing what he does to get wrestlers and their gimmick over. Bravo Paul.)
– After brushing this off, Kayla welcomed the EST of the WWE, Bianca Belair, to the show. I don’t know why but Kayla urged, and Bianca complied and climbed up on the desk to do a little WrestleMania dance. When Bianca returned to the floor and sat down, she totally touted her choice of Sasha Banks (while giving Asuka all the props in the world) and what it would mean to have two women of color in the main event of WrestleMania was a huge thing. Bianca, while not downplaying her own talent or abilities, spent a good amount of time building up Sasha Banks and what it will mean to her when she meets and beats Sasha Banks at WrestleMania and fully claim the title of the B..E..S..T of WWE!
(Morgan’s Analysis: This was pretty good. Bianca came across sincere and definitely babyface. Her cadence was a bit fast and like she was trying hard to get everything out that she needed to say. Hopefully, people will coach her to slow down a bit and let the words of the promo breathe a bit more. She is best (pun intended) when she shows off her exuberance in an honest way, like when she actually got up and danced happily on the desk. It seemed true. I think we are witnessing the birth of a star here.)
– After Bianca left, Paul really sold her hard, saying that he is looking forward to speaking with her on Talking Smack as the champion after WrestleMania. We then moved onto Daniel Bryan, much to Paul’s dismay.
– After a brief trip down memory lane with Daniel bringing up Paul’s mullet back in the 80’s, Kayla congratulated Daniel on winning the Elimination Chamber to which Daniel said that he was happy to have won, but by the end of the night he didn’t really feel like a winner. Daniel said that he was okay with not beating Roman, but that he was really upset after the fact when Edge speared Roman and pointed at the WrestleMania sign and he realized that the two men going to WrestleMania had not wrestled much this year while he has put it all on the line week in and week out.
– Daniel went on for quite a bit how he had pulled himself back for a year to push all the great young talent in the WWE and that after the Elimination Chamber he felt that he had failed.
(Morgan’s Analysis: Daniel’s whole point here was that he has failed especially when two men (Roman & Edge) who have only wrestled three matches this year will be going to WrestleMania. I think this is very bad optics. I know they are trying to paint Daniel as an underdog, but this was not effective in accomplishing that goal.)
– At this paint Paul chimed in saying that he “was going to make [Daniel’s] day”. Paul said that he was authorized by Roman to offer Daniel a rematch with Jey Uso next week and if Daniel wins, he gets a championship match with Roman at Fastlane. But, if he loses to Jey (interesting wording, so nothing mentioned about another double count out…stay tuned), Daniel must acknowledge Roman as the tribal chief, “your Tribal Chief” and the Head of the Table, the best of WWE. Daniel quickly accepted and followed up by swearing that he will say all those things and that he will even shake Roman’s hand.
– Daniel asked in return that the match versus Jey Uso be a steel cage match. Paul was very tongue-tied and while Daniel shouted, “steel cage match, steel cage match” and “are you saying Roman is a coward?” Paul stammered that he was authorized to make the offer to Daniel but not to add any stipulations. While Daniel continued to bang on the table, Paul picked up his phone as he was “receiving a text from Roman Reigns.” Paul put the phone down and very intensely leaned in and told Daniel that the match next week versus Jey Uso would be inside a steel cage!
– Daniel was exuberant and then laid out his mission statement: “I’m no longer be putting himself on the back burner, I’m no longer putting other people first, I am going out to take what’s mine and that is the name I had before CM Punk – the best wrestler in the world.”
– Kayla went off the air claiming how everyone is so excited by the news of this steel cage match and that “we are on the road to WrestleMania.” As they went off the air, the camera focused on Paul who had a rather angry/disconcerted look on his face.
FINAL THOUGHTS: At almost 29 minutes this week, Talking Smack, unlike its sister show, Raw Talk, really delivered. The Seth Rollins segment was mediocre, but Bianca was really good. While Daniel’s segment was a bit derivative for Daniel lately, it totally moved the angle along and Paul and Bryan have an interesting and enjoyable rapport together. So, while I can’t say that the show this week was “must see,” it was definitely worth the time and if only for watching Heyman get flustered.
NOW CHECK OUT LAST WEEK’S TALKING SMACK REPORT: 2/20 WWE TALKING SMACK REPORT: Apollo avoids discussion on Big E, Jey Uso drops in last minute, and more