Reviews

WWE Network Reviews: WWE Talking Smack for 5-15-21

With Wrestlemania Backlash this Sunday, Talking Smack kicks off with host Kayla Braxton and Paul Heyman. Kayla asks Heyman how he is feeling which he answers that it is fight week and is stressed to the max. Kayla talks about Smackdown, beginning with Rey Mysterio beating Dolph Ziggler in a singles match. The Talking Smack host mentions Rey and Dominik can make history by becoming the first father-son Tag Team champions with a win at Wrestlemania Backlash. Kayla wishes the best of luck to the Mysterios when Heyman questions why does she wish the Mysterios well and not the Smackdown Tag Team Champions. Heyman asks if Kayla has the “hots” for Dominik which she laughs. Kaya responds, saying she is excited to see history being made. On to the Smackdown Women’s Championship, Heyman says he is beyond intrigued for this match because he is a huge admire of both competitors and is not sure who will win. Heyman says his answer does not satisfy Kayla, noting that Dominik should run in the other direction and head back to San Diego.

Aneil’s Take: Good, funny opening to Talking Smack with a chirpy Heyman. Not sure if Heyman and Kayla plan out their conversations for Talking Smack, but their banter is pretty funny. I thought it was funny that Heyman asked Kayla if she has the “hots” for Dominik. As for the Smackdown Tag Team Championship, I do not see the Mysterios leaving as champions. I think if they wanted to give them the titles, it should have been done last month at Wrestlemania in front of the live crowd.

The first guests are the new WWE Women Tag Team Champions Natalya and Tamina. Kayla congratulates the two, saying it is about time both women join them with championship gold. Natalya says she was talking to Tamina about always chasing destiny. Neidhart says she always knew she would be a tag team champion but did not think it would happen. She said their championship win is a message to anyone that had a dream that passes them by. It is a message to keep fighting for your dream and make it a reality. Her and Tamina did that on Smackdown and it is a great feeling that great thing happens to great people. Kayla says Natalya and Tamina are acknowledged as locker leaders which makes this more rewarding. An emotional Tamina says she thanks Natalya for believing in her and respecting her to make this come true. Second, she thanked her family and especially her kids for allowing them to share their mom with the WWE Universe. Afterward, she thanks her Dad, the late Jimmy ‘Superfly’ Snuka for showing her the world of wrestling. She continues by thanking the WWE universe, and the people who work behind the scene. Finally, she thanked everyone from the bottom of her heart for what she accomplished which she cannot put into words. Before ending the interview, Kayla asks the new champions if they have any words for future challengers. Natalya called the tag team title “passports” as it allows them into every corner of the company from NXT to Raw, even NXT UK so they can represent the women’s division. They are putting everyone on notice, naming the Riott Squad, Naomi and Lana, and even Shayna and Nia before ending the interview.

Aneil’s Take: I cannot lie, I got teary-eyed hearing Tamina thanking everyone after her emotional win. Similar to Kofi’s championship win, Tamina has been on the main roster for over ten years but is seemingly overlooked by upcoming talent. However, no matter how long the journey takes, it was rewarding to see Tamina finally win championship gold. I think it was cool for her to win with Natalya for the comparison to Owen and Yokozuna winning. But also because Natalya was also someone who was floundering in the Smackdown Women’s Division yet they found a way to make their team work and got the fans behind them. Congratulations to Natalya and Tamina!

The next guest is Smackdown announcer Pat McAfee. Kayla runs down his accolades before welcoming him on. Pat says it is an honor to be on Talking Smack but because Michael Cole has never been on. He also says it is an honor to sit next to Paul Heyman and Kayla. As for being on the Smackdown announce team, it is a dream come true as Smackdown has become the best show and is having an absolute blast. Kayla says Pat is doing a great job which he disagrees with, mentioning his mishap with Heyman and the Apollo segment. Breaking down Wrestlemania Backlash, Heyman says he wants to the biggest match (The Universal Championship Match) but instead talks about Smackdown Women’s Championship match. Pat believes Bayley is going to get her ass beat by Bianca. Heyman turns to Pat, saying he watches his show and enjoys it. He then brings up the Universal Championship match and asks Pat to acknowledge Reigns as his Tribal Chief. McAfee asks Heyman if he has not acknowledged the Tribal Chief on Smackdown before saying he is a Roman Reigns guy. However, Heyman wants McAfee to say he acknowledges Reigns as his Tribal Chief. McAfee avoids Heyman’s request, by bringing up the first he saw Reigns after playing against him in college. Heyman tries once more but McAfee says he is not Heyman’s puppet. Heyman says Jesse Ventura is rolling over in his grave and he is not even dead yet as the segment ends.

Aneil’s Take: While Pat McAfee made his name in the NFL, I think he is such a natural fit for WWE. His commentary sounds fluid, not being feed lines, at least to me. He has that natural gift of gab, which also could be heard on his podcast. He also does a great job following the storylines and bringing different perspectives. While some might find him talking a lot or over people, I believe having Pat on commentary has been a great addition with Graves moving to Raw. I also think with his impressive ring work, Smackdown can possibly include him in certain angles as well.

The final guest is former Intercontinental Champion Big E who dances his way onto the set. He brings on an orange mallet as he reassures Heyman that he will not do anything. Kayla welcomes Big E back on Talking Smack as he puts his legs on top of the desk. Big E says it has been a while but thanks them for being back. Looking at Big E’s split legs, Heyman says it looks like a scene from Basic Instinct and jokes if he should say “Hey, Big E nice hammer”. Talking about the fatal four-way match for the Intercontinental Championship on Smackdown next week, Big E says his only issue with the match is the word “fatal”. He wants to win the match but knows no one is going to die so they need to find a middle ground between “fatal” and “friendly”. Big E then calls the Intercontinental Championship his “Uncle Mo” whom he kisses his head for good luck. However, Apollo and Azeez kicked the doors of his house and basically kidnapped his “Uncle Mo”. Big E says he will reclaim his “Uncle Mo” before saying who would have thought he would have lost his title in his hometown. Heyman says if Big E wins he owes him which The New Day member says it ain’t happening. However, Big E says once he reclaims “Uncle Mo” and becomes a three-time champion, he will build momentum to 2022, walking into Wrestlemania, face Heyman’s boy Roman Reigns for the Universal Championship and leave as double champion. Big E says he is thinking long-term and is not worried about the short term. Long term he will reclaim what belongs to him, then walk into Wrestlemania and walking out as double champion before leaving the set.

Aneil’s Take: I like the current Intercontinental Championship picture with new faces like Big E and Apollo Crews mixed in with veterans like Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens. For next week’s match, I see Apollo retain his championship although I think Big E should have an Intercontinental Championship title reign like Cena did with the United States Championship in 2004. I just do not want to see Apollo and Big E swapping the title. One thing I like is Big E still having his sights set on challenging Roman Reigns for the Universal Championship at next year’s Wrestlemania. Long-term booking!

Before Talking Smack, Heyman would speak about the passing of former ECW superstar New Jack. Heyman says he avoids eulogies as best he can because it sucks every time and there are no good spins to put on them. When he heard about New Jack’s passing, he had hope New Jack turn to his wife and ask his friends to read his obituary. Afterward, they would sell a bunch of t-shirts for him before revealing it was a joke. Unfortunately, this was not the case. Heyman mentions WWE paying tribute to someone by showing lots of footage of them. However, for New Jack, they cannot because he was the most non-PG perform in sports-entertainment history because he was a gangsta. Heyman says everyone who watched ECW knew that fact the moment his music hit. He would add that anyone who hears New Jack cut a promo knew how real he was. He says Jerome Young (New Jack’s real name) was quite an individual and deep in his heart he was every bit of New Jack. He wishes everyone a most extreme weekend gangster style before throwing up New Jack’s signature X hand gesture as Talking Smack goes off the air.

Aneil’s Take: Nice to hear Heyman speak about his former ECW member. While I did not grow up watching ECW, I had heard of the unpredictable New Jack. While his Dark Side of the Ring episode might have not shown the best side of him, his diehard fans will always remember the three-time ECW Tag Team Champion for his daring, extreme, hardcore persona.

Lastly, thanks to Paul Heyman for replying to my tweet two days ago. Glad he liked my joke!

Remember to watch Wrestlemania Backlash this Sunday on the Peacock app or WWE Network!

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