WWE Network Review: WWE Raw Talk for 01/11/21 and Talking Smack for 01/09/21

WWE Network Review: WWE Raw Talk for 01/11/21 and Talking Smack for 01/09/21

Note from John Canton: This is a guest review column from Aneil Komal. It was sent to us by Aneil after he inquired about writing a review column, I told him to check out our Contact Us page that has simple instructions on how to send in a sample column and that’s what he did. Here’s Aneil with reviews of Raw Talk from last Night and Talking Smack from Saturday.

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WWE RAW Talk – 1/11/21 by Aneil Komal

The second RAW Talk of 2021 begins with Sarah Schreiber (filling in for Carly Caruso) alongside the 46-time 24/7 champion R-Truth welcoming us into the WWE Thunderdome. Sarah jokes around with R-Truth, gently touching the 24/7 championship and about possible nicknames. After going through the shenanigans, Sarah transitions to the final moments of RAW with Triple H and Randy Orton in the ring. They show a replay of Triple H with the flaming sledgehammer and then the lights in the ring turn off. Purple lights would fill the ring with Triple H disappearing, leaving Orton by himself. The Viper would turn around to see Alexa Bliss standing in the corner and then shooting a fireball into his face. Sarah questions whether The Fiend’s presence was felt during the arena, although Truth did remind her that The Fiend was set on fire by Randy Orton. Sarah brings up the point that Alexa Bliss has nothing to lose as she has already lost the Firefly Funhouse and The Fiend which Truth agrees. However, Truth wonders about Alexa’s motivate for blinding Orton with a fireball in the face. Sarah thinks it might be from the terrible things Orton had done in the past with the legends but Truth disagrees, believing the fireball was too much.

They would then transition to the other major news of the night with that being WWE Champion Drew McIntyre testing positive for COVID-19. While in quarantine, McIntrye via video message accepted Goldberg’s challenge to defend his WWE Championship at the Royal Rumble. Truth believes this will be a good match and slightly goes with McIntyre as the winner since the champion is a “fighter”. However, he does not want to bet against Goldberg because of his legendary background. Truth does joke about McIntryre having a sword, wondering whether the sword’s name is Excalibur.

Aneil’s Take: Sarah has been doing a good job filling in for the regular host Carly Caruso. Of course, when you have R-Truth with you, it does make the job easier I would think. When talking about Orton receiving the fireball to the face, I was kind of surprised by Truth’s response about it being too much. As for their discussion about McIntrye facing Goldberg at the Royal Rumble, I would have to agree with Truth’s pick for Drew although you never know with Goldberg.

The first guest on RAW Talk is Angel Garza. Garza begins by asking Sarah why is she so alone before giving her his signature red rose. While being ignored, Truth decides to put a bunch of gummy worms all over Garza’s head and shoulders. Sarah reminds Angel that he lost the 24/7 Championship to Truth last week and asked if he is disheartened by it. Garza replies that he is only focused on Sarah, who then reminds him of his flirtatious behavior with some of the female legends. Then they bring up the Cardi B backstage incident in which he thought he was going to meet the rapper but instead found himself with The Boogeyman. Disregarding the question, Angel continues to flirt with the host when she tries to bring it back together by reminding him that he’s flirting and rose giving cost him the championship. When asked again if he felt discouraged about it, Garza does say he feels “a little bit” discouraged, but when he sees Sarah, everything is gone. Truth tells Sarah not to believe what she is being told which Sarah says she hopes there are no referees around which Garza says he did not bring any. Tension starts to build when Garza turns his attention to Truth, asking the 24/7 champion if someone asked him anything and instructed him to “shut his mouth”. The interview concludes with Sarah asking Garza his plans for 2021 in which he playfully telling Sarah that this is his year and that championships will be around his waist.

Aneil’s Take: I have to give it to Garza for not laughing as Truth constantly showered him with gummy worms. Besides that, Garza did his usual thing by flirting with the beautiful interviewer. I thought with the big attention WWE received from the Cardi B segment, maybe they would have continued with Garza asking to take the rapper on a date. I think it would have been interesting to have Garza try to regain his 24/7 championship against Truth while on RAW Talk but maybe that is a moment waiting to happen on another episode.

The next guest is The Irresistible Force, Nia Jax. Sarah congrats Nia Jax on her tag team victory against Dana Brooke and Mandy Rose but asks if she felt dejected for not being the one to pick up the victory. Nia denies it, saying she supports the win no matter who gets the victory although she was kind of shocked by it. Sarah then wonders with the Royal Rumble match being every woman for themselves, was their match a sign of things to come? Jax accused the host of starting friction but Truth would defend his co-host’s questions. Jax would answer saying Shayna should prepare because she is a legit competitor because of her history in the Royal Rumble. Sarah then brings up the time when Jax took Truth’s spot in the 2019 Men’s Royal Rumble which he claims she apologized for. Jax denies this. Sarah then teases whether there are any issues between Jax and Baszler when it comes to the Royal Rumble. Jax says she is aware that it is every woman for themselves but says beyond that, she and Baszler are still the dominant tag team they are. Truth questions if Jax and Baszler will remain close after the Rumble which Jax poses the question if he would trust her during the Royal Rumble. Truth with no hesitation answers with a “Hell Naw” which Jax shrugs her shoulders. Jax is asked if she and Baszler are still eyeing the Women’s Tag Team Championships which she says yes of course. They then follow up with the scenario of, if Jax and Baszler are in the Rumble at the same time, would they work together? Jax shakes her head before simply saying we will have to wait and see. Truth takes that as an interpretation that the friendship is over which Jax quickly tells Truth to “shut up”. The last subject brought up was how she felt about Baszler losing to Dana Brooke last week. Nia says from her perspective, she believed Baszler did not care to win, she just wanted to go out and kill. She did not see a loss but the killer side of her tag team partner. The interview ends with Jax still claiming she did not apologize to Truth about their Royal Rumble incident.

Aneil’s Take: I found it interesting that there were questions about the tension between Jax and Baszler. I thought Jax did a great job deflecting the questions or giving generic answers. The host tried to play up to Jax and Baszler’s individualistic mindset by wondering if they would work with each other in the Rumble. Jax kind of left it up in the air, although it seems like there will be a point in the Rumble when one woman will double-cross the other especially when she asked if Truth would trust her.

MVP absolutely loses it on R-Truth: Raw Talk, Jan. 11, 2021

The last guests of the night are The Hurt Business members, MVP, and the United States champion, Bobby Lashley. Sarah brought up their night with The Hurt Business and Matt Riddle. MVP says they were doing business as usual before asking for a close up of the bloodstain left by Matt Riddle on his suit. MVP turns his attention to Bobby Lashley who he says no one can beat. He even says if Lashley wanted to, he could take Truth’s 24/7 championship with a “Nelson” which is a reference to The Simpsons. They then watch a replay of Lashley’s match putting Riddle in the “Nelson” who then tapped out. MVP points out that he was glad by the officials’ quick response to the tap out, unlike what happened a few weeks ago where the referee missed the tap out. Lashley says it does not matter because Riddle did not beat MVP or him on RAW. MVP would go on to say he does not care if someone wins, especially if someone wins the match but loses the fight which Riddle did from his perspective. Sarah then asks if MVP was shocked when Riddle challenged him to a match after facing Bobby Lashley. The former United States champion rather called Riddle an “idiot” since nothing Riddle does shocks him. The host compared Riddle to a thorn on the side of Lashley since moving to RAW, which the United States champion says is more like a bump in the road. Lashley believes The Stallion is nowhere close to him and that he has big plans for 2021 and will not waste his time with Riddle. Truth, bringing up Riddle’s “Bro nuts” donuts, says MVP and Lashley look like they could eat a “good sack of nuts”. Of course, this upsets MVP and Lashley as they get up in Truth’s face. In a panic, Truth would scream for an apology from The Hurt Business for putting him in the “Nelson” about a hundred times. MVP says he won’t have Lashley punch Truth but they will make their exit. MVP warns Truth to watch his mouth, before telling Truth to apologize to them. Truth is reluctant until MVP grabs him by the shirt. Truth apologizes before Sarah follows up with one more question. With Cedric and Benjamin holding tag team gold and Bobby Lashley as United States champion, will MVP go after any championship? However, before MVP could answer, Truth interrupts him again. MVP grabs Truth by the shirt again and pushes him around. Lashley pulls MVP off of Truth as The Hurt Business leaves before closing out RAW Talk.

Aneil’s Take: The part I remember the most of this segment was when Truth said MVP and Lashley could eat a “good sack of nuts”. That is something you do not want to tell those two men even if you did not mean it that way. Other than that, I liked The Hurt Business displaying their straightforward, no-nonsense attitude. You could feel their serious tone especially when they felt Truth was becoming a nuisance to them. MVP getting up in Truth’s face, grabbing him by the shirt, I felt like they could have beaten down the 24/7 champion at any moment. On a small note, I know John has to love MVP calling the Full Nelson, the “Nelson” as a reference from The Simpsons.

In closing, I thought this was a decent episode of RAW Talk. While the Angel Garza segment felt like any other segment with him, the Nia Jax interview did a great job of teasing tension between her and Shayna Baszler. And The Hurt Business also showed why they are no group to play with by merely intimidating the co-host. Until next time, stay safe and healthy!

 

WWE Talking Smack 01/09/21 by Aneil Komal

On this week’s Talking Smack, we begin with Kayla Braxton, alongside Paul Heyman, recapping the last moments of the Six-Man Gauntlet Match on Smackdown to determine Roman Reigns’ next challenger for the Universal Championship at the Royal Rumble. It would come down to Shinsuke Nakamura, who defeated Rey Mysterio, King Corbin and Daniel Bryan facing off against WWE’s commission, Adam Pearce who was forced into the match by Roman Reigns. Unfortunately for Nakamura, interference from Reigns and Jey Uso cost him the victory as Adam Pearce would become the number one contender. It was then announced that on the next week’s Smackdown, Shinsuke will go one on one against Jey Uso. As for Talking Smack guests, the new Smackdown Tag Team Champions, Dolph Ziggler and Bobby Roode, and Apollo Crews were announced. Kayla rounded out the news by giving an update about Bianca Belair and Bayley declaring themselves as entrants for the Women’s Royal Rumble match. 

Kayla then turns her attention to her co-host, Paul Heyman, with whom she had a dispute of sorts on last week’s Talking Smack. She would ask Mr. Heyman if he had any time to reflect on last week’s situation and if he had anything to say to her. Heyman momentarily paused before telling Kayla he “forgives” her and accepted her “apology” much to her confusion. Heyman explains that he understands the pressure which she might have working next to someone like him and then reprimands her for the way she acted towards Jey Uso. Heyman, “on behalf of Kayla”, would end by apologizing to Jey Uso before moving on with the show.

Kayla, visibly upset with Heyman turning the narrative on her, says she is not having it with Heyman which he then asked to get Renee Young on the phone. The tension between the two continues with Kayla reminding Heyman that she was on the show before him until Heyman shouts to Braxton to take the tone of her voice with him. Kayla looks away before Sonya Deville’s music plays.  

Sonya asks if both hosts are good as Heyman extends his hand out to Deville for a handshake. Kayla apologizes for the improper introduction and welcomes her back to Smackdown as well as Talking Smack. Kayla compliments Sonya’s three-piece blue suit before asking the former Fire & Desire about her feelings to be back. Sonya says “it’s never felt better” although, she believes it felt like it was never going to happen. Deville goes on to say 2021 will be the year of Sonya Deville and Smackdown. Sonya is then asked about stepping into more of an authoritative role which she says is a natural fit for her and will make a great duo with Adam Pearce. Her goal is to make Smackdown a good place to work and a great opportunity for the women of Smackdown. Kayla says Deville did cause a stir when she returned backstage which Deville replied believing she causes a stir anywhere she goes. The interview kind of goes off the rails when Kayla stumbles with a question after calling Deville “bossy” and then ends the interview with Sonya calling Kayla “rude”.

The next guests to appear are the new Smackdown Tag Team champions, the “Dirty Dawgs” Dolph Ziggler, and Robert Roode. Kayla congratulates the new champions when Ziggler said he noticed on the scheduling sheet that the Street Profits were originally on but got scratched out. Kayla blamed Heyman for it, which he quickly tells Ziggler if he were the one responsible, Kayla would be gone by now. The tension between Heyman and Braxton builds more when he mocks her for not properly welcoming the new tag team champions. Continuing with the interview, Kayla questioned The Dirty Dawgs on whether The Street Profits not going into the match at 100% took away any satisfaction from their victory. Ziggler turned to Roode as they both smirk when he asked if she was kidding. Roode answers by asking why would they be disappointed in winning the tag team championship. Ziggler adds, saying the company does not seem to be behind him and Roode which is why they had to create their opportunity. Heyman chimes in, sarcastically saying Roode and Ziggler should relinquish the titles for doing what they had to do to gain an advantage. He would bring up the conversation they had last week with The Dirty Dawgs on the last Talking Smack in which Heyman said their strategy was not justified but it was successful. While the banter continues between Heyman and Braxton, Ziggler does a mock interview with Roode, asking him how does it feel to get what he deserves. Roode says it is a fulfilling feeling to set a goal and reach it, quoting the A-Team’s “I love it when a plan comes together”. Roode brings up the fact that the Street Profits were handed the Smackdown tag team championship when coming over to the blue brand. Ziggler then poses the question to Kayla if she constantly reminded The Street Profits that they were handed the championship. The interview ends with Heyman apologizing to Smackdown tag team champions before they leaving. 

The final guest for this week’s Talking Smack is Apollo Crews, who faced Big E for the Intercontinental Championship on Smackdown but lost. Both hosts greet the former United States champion when Kayla mentions that he might not be in the best spirit after not walking away with the Intercontinental Championship. She does try to find the bright light in the situation by mentioning that Apollo showed a different side to him and that his story might not be over. Crews say he has many emotions but being happy is not one of them. Apollo says he believed he won it and is disappointed in himself because he does not know when will the opportunity come back. He believes this (the WWE) is where he is supposed to be, but he let himself and his family down. As for him and Big E, Crews says he wants the Intercontinental Championship. The friendship between him and Big E has nothing to do with the match because he is a competitor whenever he steps into the ring. Apollo demands a rematch on next week’s Smackdown, reiterating that he is not worried about friendship, he is just concerned about winning championships. 

Kayla then asked if Paul would like to share something after notices him making a lot of faces while Apollo spoke. Heyman turns to his guest, lets out a deep sigh, and asks for the former United States champion to hear him out. Interestingly, He even permits Crews to deck him in the face if he wants to after speaking. Heyman reminds Apollo that he is sitting here with regrets because he screwed up and the person, he screwed the hardest is himself. The “Special Counsel” points out that Crews did pin the champion even though it was a double pin, but he did not leave with the title. Heyman goes on to make a point that Apollo did not have to restart the match right that same night and could have trained for another day, month, or even year since the victory was disputed. He goes on to say Crews let his friendship with Big E and his emotions get the best of him, costing him his dream. Apollo’s facial expression turns from grief to anger, when Heyman tells him he might as well allow Big E to break into his house, take his food, make love to his wife and raise his child because that is what he is allowing the champion to do. Heyman ends by saying he knows Apollo is a winner, a champion in his heart, and has every claim to be the Intercontinental Champion. So, he wants Crews has to stop being the nice guy he is and to come back to Talking Smack in a few weeks with the Intercontinental Championship. Talking Smack ends with Apollo taking slow deep breaths before looking at Heyman.

Paul Heyman tells Apollo Crews why he screwed up: WWE Talking Smack, Jan. 9, 2021