As we’ve discussed on this site almost every Saturday since he joined as Kayla Braxton’s co-host, Talking Smack is basically Paul Heyman’s show now.
It’s not clear how many of the seeds the former Raw Executive Director plants on WWE Network’s blue brand post-show will lead to anything on television. But even if they’re just Heyman flexing his creative muscles and worked-shoot interacting with underutilized members of the SmackDown roster, it’s compelling stuff that I’ve come to look forward to watching every weekend.
Today’s standout segment featured Apollo Crews. On the Jan. 8 SmackDown, Crews came up short in his attempt to take the Intercontinental championship from Big E. Crews mostly treated the opportunity as a friendly rivalry, and there were times when the champ didn’t seem to take Apollo seriously as a challenger. That was all the opening Heyman needed to drive his psychological wedge into...
“You let your emotions get the best of you in the ring. You let your friendship with Big E get the best of you in the ring. You let all your dreams slip your fingers because you’re a sportsman, you’re a gentleman. You’re in there with a friend who you respect and you admire.
“And what does it do for you? Why don’t you let this man come over to your house, kick down your front door, take the food off of your plate, make love to your wife, and raise your children for you? Cause that’s what you’re letting him do.
“Let me ask you a question. Would Big E let you come over to his house and kick down your front door and make love to his wife and eat the food off of his plate and raise his children? No. But that’s how he views you. Cause you’re trying to take - forcibly take - the Intercontinental title away from him. Take away his dreams, his glory. Only one of you are going to walk out of that ring as the Intercontinental champion. Someone has to be a winner, and someone has to be a loser. And tonight, whether you like it or not, your children know in their hearts, ‘My father was the loser in a match.’”
Having broken Crews down, he set to building him back up again:
“And I know you, and you’re not a loser! You’re a winner. You’re a champion. And in my mind, you’re every bit as much the champion as Big E is. You have every right to claim to be the Intercontinental champion, because you pinned his shoulders to the mat and you let that go because you’re a nice guy.
“You’re not here to make friends. You’re here to make money. You’re here to stake your claim of greatness. You’re here for glory, and to build a legacy that lives on to your children and your grandchildren and for generations to come. You want my honest advice? You want some free counsel from someone who gets paid a lot of money for his special counsel?
Here’s what I have to say to you, and I say this - and it won’t sound respectful, but it is respectful - you’re sitting here just another wannabe challenger, a pretender to Big E’s throne. Leave here, just another wannabe challenger and pretender to the throne. Come back here in a couple weeks with the title like a man!”
Seeing as Heyman’s been gassing E up on this same stage for weeks, it’s fair to ask what his game is. Just pitting all of Universal champion Roman Reigns’ potential challengers against one another? Or recruiting people to fill out the chairs at Reigns’ table?
Or is he just giving talent something to work with in the event they get more minutes on television? While he surely has the ear of some creative types backstage, he reportedly doesn't have a role on the team. We’ve seen WWE ignore material from these fallout shows several times in the past. Maybe this won’t lead anywhere?
I’ll be paying attention to find out though, won’t you?