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WWE NETWORK REVIEW: TALKING SMACK
DECEMBER 26, 2020
REVIEW BY NICK MORGAN, PWTORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Hosts: Kayla Braxton, Paul Heyman
This week’s guests: Daniel Bryan, Asuka & Charlotte Flair, and Big E
– As Kayla welcomed us to Talking Smack with a great big Merry Christmas and introduced a very “festive” Paul Heyman, who was dressed anything by festively with his normal blue suit. Paul was in his normal curmudgeonly mood. Kayla was undeterred as she joyously celebrated Big E’s victory and ascent to the Intercontinental championship and teased his appearance later in the show.
– Kayla then turned to Paul and noted that she is sure that he had something to say about Roman Reign’s victory. Of course, Kayla heavily sold that Kevin Owens “fought the good fight”, etc. Blah blah blah. Paul’s response was, to paraphrase, Kevin you lost no matter what happened, and that Kevin needs to realize that Roman is better at everything (wrestler, father, human being, etc.) and Kevin just needs to deal with it.
– Kayla kept trying to sell that the reason that Roman won was because of the interference of Jey Uso and the handcuffs. Okay, WWE we get it, you want to keep this feud going so you are going to bash us over the head with: “Oh, Kevin is a fighter”; “He only lost because…”; and “Just wait and see”. Very typical WWE heavy handedness but what else can you expect from the unimaginative writing team whipped into submission by Vince. (Okay, getting off soap box now.)
– Turning from her selling of Kevin Owens, Kayla noted that Jey Uso was defeated by their first guest and introduced Daniel Bryan. Daniel immediately commented on Paul’s observations about Roman being the best whatever noting that he is not the best husband, but he tries to be, and he is not the best father, but he tries to be. Bryan then asked Paul directly if Paul thinks that Daniel is a better fighter and wrestler than Roman Reigns. Before Paul could answer, Bryan changed direction noting that while he may not be in “first place”, when he has a fight like he had versus Jey Uso, it makes him feel alive, not that he is in first place, but that he is striving towards it.
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– Kayla changed direction a bit and asked Bryan about the comments he made on Smackdown about winning the Royal Rumble. Bryan said that his forced retirement and subsequent come back has made him realize that you never know when it might end and that winning the Royal Rumble is his number one goal. He noted that if he wins the Royal Rumble, he will face whoever is the Universal champion and said directly to Paul, “I am a better fighter than Roman Reigns and I am definitely a better wrestler than Roman Reigns.” And if you meet Roman at WrestleMania “he will beat Roman Reigns”.
– Quick note here, throughout this whole segment Paul did not say a word while Bryan talked but conveyed so much with his facial expressions and body language. The man is a genius at this, and Bryan was great playing off it, despite Paul not saying a word.
– After that intense confrontation, Bryan loosened things up by complimenting Kayla’s Christmas jacket and left the set. Next up was Charlotte and Asuka. Asuka had a bit of difficulty figuring out how to display both her belts, but finally managed it. Kayla asked Charlotte how it felt to be back and to be a Tag Team champ and Charlotte responded that it was great to be champ, but also just great to be back. At this point Paul asked which of the two initiated their pairing up to be Tag Team partners, at which point, Asuka went off on a rather long speech, rant, whatever, in Japanese, that basically didn’t help anything. I know Asuka has some difficulty with English but having her do this was just bad. As much as I enjoy Asuka’s enthusiasm and seemingly joyousness, having her do a long sit-down type interview like Talking Smack is just a bad idea and really puts her in a bad spot.
– Charlotte then said, that in fact, Asuka called her and that’s how the team up happened. Paul then brought all the attention to the fact that no one understood Asuka by stating that Kayla doesn’t speak Japanese so could Charlotte tell her what she said. At which, Asuka began another barrage of Japanese. This was very uncomfortable and quite frankly pissed me off a bit. This should not be happening.
– Kayla kept right on going however asking which of the tag teams in the division they have their eyes on to which Charlotte did a bit of selling of the Dana Brooke/Mandy Rose duo and then pretty much said that she and Asuka are going to be tough to beat and as they were leaving came up with their team name: Queens of Tomorrow.
– On to Big E. Rather than come out and be serious, Big E came out dancing. I hope this isn’t where this is going to go. Big E calmed down and he and Paul shook hands and Big E thanked Paul for his words a couple of weeks ago about getting serious and if he did there is no place he can’t go. Big E proceeded to then break the fourth wall as someone off camera was making a gesture to him and he had no idea what it meant so he asked the stage manager (or whomever) what the signal meant. Not good.
– Kayla managed to bring Big E back and he proceeded to again thank Paul for his pep talk and noted that it really helped him and got him back on the path. Paul didn’t say anything. Instead Kayla asked Big E about how crazy the year had been, specifically the breaking up of the New Day onto different “Brands.” Unfortunately, while she was talking, Big E was cradling the Intercontinental belt like a baby and almost going full Big E. Big E noted that the breakup was not the end, that the business is like that and you just have to keep going. He then noted that winning the title was not the end, it was just the beginning and there was a lot of work still to do.
– Paul then took control and, while he complimented Big E on his focus and his noting that this was the first step, Paul understood what Big E was saying, that this was the first step towards Roman Reigns. Paul continued to tell Big E that he was now going to learn to love being a singles champion, that he is no longer a tag team wrestler, and that he will soon be going for the Universal Championship sometime in 2021. With that, he shook Big E’s hand, and they went off the air replaying the clip from Big E’s Intercontinental Title win, the confetti, and his being hoisted on the shoulders of the other wrestlers.
– This segment was all about showing that Big E still had some (I reiterate, some) of his fun, jocular attitude but that he also has a new seriousness and a new focus, and they were very smart to let Paul bring that out. I surmise that Big E, when left to his own devices, would lean more heavily towards, the silly, so having Paul out there to frame the segment and speak the truth of Big E’s trajectory is a smart play. I do not know if Big E has it in him to pull the serious side off full time, but I hope so, because I actually liked seeing and hearing from Big E when he is not joking around.
A nice quick 23 minutes this week, thank you very much. Two big takeaways this week, both Daniel Bryan and a newly serious Big E are in line for shots at Roman Reigns, if you ask me, I see Bryan winning the Royal Rumble and taking on Roman at WrestleMania and then Big E slated to face Roman at Summer Slam. Bryan will not win, Big E might. I know there are a ton of rumors about Goldberg versus Roman, I think that happens at the Royal Rumble, not at WrestleMania.
The Asuka-Charlotte segment was just so-so, but as I noted in my Raw Talk report this week, Charlotte is so much better in this environment than she is doing the scripted promos during the show. She is relaxed and off the cuff and just so much better. This is what they should do on the main shows, give her some talking points and just let her do her thing, like she is obviously doing here on the sit-down interview shows.
A really easy and enjoyable watch this week and I am so glad, that while he teased it a bit, Big E stayed away from his hyper-silliness and played the role of a man who has found a mission and started his climb.
Well, that is it for now, see you all next week. Until then, take care and stay safe.
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