WWE Network Review: Talking Smack for 4-17-21

This week’s Talking Smack kicks off with hosts Kayla Braxton and Paul Heyman. Kayla informs us that this episode will be a champions edition as Smackdown Tag Team and Women’s Champion will be on as well as the Intercontinental Champ. Kayla asks how is Paul doing which he answers that he is in a fantastic mood. Heyman brings up the “Then, Now & Forever” intro package, mentioning that Freddy Blassie and Andre the Giant are on it but are dead. However, Heyman is not on the intro even though he had a memorable reaction after the streak broke at Wrestlemania 30.

Aneil’s Take: Short introduction for Talking Smack. Pretty cool to hear this will be a champion’s edition. Interestingly, no mention of anything that happened on Smackdown. There was no talk about Reigns being interrupted by Cesaro or the main event of Smackdown.

We get to our first guests, the Smackdown Tag Team Champions, Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode aka The Dirty Dawgs. Heyman congratulates the Tag Team Champions on their victory before Ziggler says they will keep it short. Ziggler says The Street Profit said it was a take-back season, but now they can “take back their ass to the back of the line”. Roode adds that they are going to bed even though they have not gotten any sleep and it has been a pleasure before leaving. Heyman tells Kayla if she wants to go to their victory party, she can go since he carries the show anyway.

Aneil’s Take: Brief interview with the Smackdown Tag Team Champions. Not sure if they will continue their program with The Street Profits or move on to The Mysterios who seem to be in the midst of a feud with Alpha Academy. While the Smackdown Tag Team division has four teams, it feels thinned out to me. Just one thing for me, looking at Bobby Roode, he is one guy I thought would have had a better singles career in WWE. I know he is 43, but he was over with his Glorious gimmick as a babyface, and we never had a chance to see him as a singles heel.

The next guest is the new Smackdown Women’s Champion, Bianca Belair. Kayla congratulates Bianca on winning the championship, adding that she deserved it. When asked if her victory has settled in, Bianca answers that it is still setting in. From being across the ring with Sasha Banks to celebrating after the match with her family and husband, it is setting in with every step. For her, it is unreal but still real. Talking about showing respect to Sasha, Bianca says she will always have respect for her and wanted to prove she is the best against Sasha. As for her goals as champion, Bianca says she wants to be a fighting champ and wants to prove herself. She wants to face Sasha as soon as possible to prove her victory was not a fluke. On the subject of future opponents, Bianca mentions Bayley after hearing her promo on Smackdown. However, she brings up pinning Bayley and Sasha, so she wants to pin the other two members for the Four Horsemen, that being Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair. Heyman says he has respect and admiration for Bianca but adds that it is not about the opponents she pins but defeating every expectation she has as champion. He continues by saying that now it is time for Bianca to carve out her legacy. For her, it could be a career that goes down in history as one of the best ever. But now she has a target on her back, and Heyman says he knows Sasha is not someone who will let go of a grievance. He says it is not only Sasha but other superstars in the women’s division that will be after her. Heyman says this is his her time, but it could be short or long. Heyman concludes by telling her to defy the odds and says out of the other rookies he has seen, she has deserved her success before shaking her hand.

Aneil’s Take: Out of all the guests on the Talking Smack, you can feel the genuine emotion from Paul whenever he speaks to Bianca. It is like listening to a mentor speak to his student and truly wanting the best for her. It is especially big praise for Heyman saying Bianca has been the most impressive of the rookies he has seen, especially working with someone like Brock Lesnar whom I think has had the best rookie season of any superstar. The sky is the limit for Bianca and we are only seeing the beginning of a possibly legendary career. My only concern for Bianca is with management putting the rocket on her, will the fans slowly turn her similar to Reigns? Outside of that, I am excited to see what is in store for Bianca. I would love to see a rematch between her and Shayna Baszler or a new matchup with a returning Becky Lynch.

The final guest is the new Intercontinental Champion, Apollo Crews with Commander Azeez (formerly Dabba-Kato). Apollo says it is a new day because he woke up as the new Intercontinental Champion before asking Kayla and Heyman to take a picture of him. They take a picture before Heyman takes another with Apollo holding the championship and Commander Azeez. Kayla says Apollo had many attempts but did not work out until Apollo cuts off her, upset at her negative attitude. Apollo says it does not matter what happened in the past because he is now the champion. When asked about Commander Azeez, Apollo says he wants to clarify that there were no rules to the match and it is not his fault for thinking ahead. Apollo says Commander Azeez was kicked out as a Nigerian guard for being too aggressive and not following the rules. Fortunately for Azeez, Apollo hates rules and loves aggression which is why he is here. As for what is next for Apollo, he says he has to continue the celebration as there is a parade in Nigeria for him, adding that the Prime Minister wants to meet him. Apollo says he does not care who you are, he will defend the championship with his life. Heyman takes over the interview, a bit nervous by Commander Azeez’s presence. Heyman tells Apollo that he knows Big E is coming after the champion. While he hates Big E, Heyman says Big E is a man, a tough man that is with a legit gripe. Heyman asks Apollo what will he do when Big E comes back. Apollo says Heyman has known him for a while, noting that the special counsel gave him his first opportunity on Raw as United States Champion. Apollo looks to the camera, speaking to Big E, and asked if he is scared of him. The Intercontinental Champion says if Big E thinks he will run away, he is a fool. Apollo says Big E does not have what it takes to beat him and the Commander is only here so he can pull him off of Big E. At Wrestlemania, he went to war and took a part of Big E’s soul which he fully intends to keep. Apollo ends by saying it is time to continue the celebration before leaving the set.

Aneil’s Take: I love seeing the growth and character development of Apollo which helped him capture the Intercontinental Championship. While it will not be said, I think Heyman does deserve some credit for helping Apollo as through these Talking Smack segments, he has helped him develop this new persona. I think we all know how great of a talent Apollo is but to be successful, you need a character which he missing. Now with a natural character that is based on his Nigerian roots, he can build off of it. I liked the logical answer Apollo gave about exploiting the rules to bring in Commander Azeez. I also liked Apollo giving some insight on Commander Azeez, saying he was this guard that was aggressive and broke rules which he can accept. Interested to see where this goes between Big E and Apollo Crews.

The last segment for Talking Smack is with Paul Heyman. The special counsel says during the commercial, he thought about the champions being envious of Roman Reigns for main eventing his fifth Wrestlemania. Heyman asked if there was any other performance more dominating than Reigns especially after stacking up and pinning a Hall of Famer in Edge and a future one with Bryan at the same time. He then asked if anyone has ever seen anything like the conclusion of this Wrestlemania and says there is no precedence for Reigns’ dominance. Heyman says it is not hyperbole and wonders if there is anyone man enough to face Reigns. Heyman asks if anyone thought he would anything after Brock Lesnar or if Jey Uso would be the singles superstar he is especially winning the Andre the Giant Battle Royal. The Talking Smack host says people will tell their grandkids about Reigns dominance and that this beginning of season two of Roman Reigns. Heyman says Reigns will the main event next year’s Wrestlemania, ending with “it’s not a prediction, it is a tribal chief guaranteed spoiler” before Talking Smack ends.

Aneil’s Take: With Talking Smack being a champion’s edition, I would not be complete without a word from the Universal Champion. Well at least from the special counsel for the Universal Champion that is. Great promo by Heyman, continuing to sing the praises for the dominant Tribal Chief. With Reigns moving on from Edge and Daniel Bryan, I wonder who will be next to challenge the Universal Champion. While it seemed like Cesaro would be next in line, his feud with Rollins will seemingly continue after the ending of Smackdown. Maybe Edge will get his singles match that was supposed to have at Wrestlemania. One person I would like to see face Roman is Shinsuke Nakamura especially with Reigns costing him the gauntlet match a few months ago. It is rare for Smackdown not to follow up on that.

Overall, it was a solid episode of Talking Smack with the champions.