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Mitchell’s WWE Backstage Report! (3/31/20)

Backstage makes a live return!

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WWE Backstage 2020

Backstage is back, ALL RIGHT!♫

WrestleMania is coming and WWE Backstage won’t stay down any longer! What will Renee Young and Booker T have in store before Mania Weekend?

 

Renee is here via video call!

WWE Backstage has to take a different format, but hopefully everyone else is snug and safe in their homes, too. Renee introduces the other hosts available via video chat, it’s Booker T, Mark Henry and Paige! It is GOODT to see everyone, even at a distance. And huge news for this already “too big for one night” WrestleMania! Fox Sports is teaming with the WWE to bring the world the WrestleMania Preshow at 6 PM Eastern this Saturday and Sunday! And on Fox Sports PPV as well as the WWE Network, of course, will be THE WrestleMania event from 7 PM Eastern.

But with just days left, it was Paul Heyman who had the last words on the last Raw before WrestleMania Weekend! Heyman promises that this year, Drew McIntyre walks into WrestleMania special, but walks out “Just like everybody else: nothing more than Brock’s bi*ch.” How fired up is everyone for this WWE World Championship match now? Paige says McIntyre’s journey is very inspiring. From Vince’s Chosen One to the Three Man Band, to being released from the WWE to returning via NXT. Then McIntyre moves to Raw, wins the Men’s Royal Rumble and chooses to go after Brock Lesnar! “That’s huge for him!” Paige is VERY excited, and Heyman’s promo tearing McIntyre down actually builds him up as the star he is.

Renee knows that’s “Promo 101” as the panel has said for Promo School. You build up the opponent just so you can bring him down. Booker’s thoughts on Paige bringing up 3MB, that made him think of Jermaine Jackson’s “Let’s Get Serious.” Lesnar VS McIntyre is getting there, and both guys better take this unique WrestleMania serious. This is a moment because the focus has to be very different than ever before. Renee says having McIntyre on Backstage, talking about that focus, McIntyre said he never takes days off. McIntyre finds ways to keep moving forward, so how does Henry see Mania going?

Henry says this will bring out the true performer in everyone on the show, not just Lesnar and McIntyre. Everyone now has to project to the audience at home. The cameras are now the eyes of the fans that you need to play to. A lot of people take that for granted, being able to play to the audience just by showing up. But that’s not the case this year. There is no crowd to feed off of, the talent now has to almost overwork themselves for the sake of the people at home. Paige knows the feeling of starting with very small crowds to then very large crowds, but absolutely no crowd is crazy. But she also feels the talent in the WWE today has what it takes to adapt and do well. Booker adds that is the subtle beauty of this year’s WrestleMania.

Renee turns things to Edge turning Randy Orton’s words against him. The Rated R Superstar told The Viper that he dug himself a new hole. This time, Edge won’t help Orton out of it. Edge vows to bury Orton so far down that hole, he’ll never get out! Christian provides his thoughts with a video message. The Backstage Buddha speaks on the Orton VS Edge build, specifically the great promos back and forth. The word that pops into Christian’s mind: Passion. Having no audience has actually helped enhance the passion behind the promos for both men. It shows the talent of both men to give promos that still get us to hang on every word. “Grit” has also been thrown around, and Christian likes that both men have different definitions of that word.

Christian notes that Edge said exactly what everyone on Backstage has been saying: This IS the best work from Randy Orton ever, and it really did take Edge to bring it out of him. The feud is personal and it is money. Orton and Edge have built something. Sometimes, a match can be bigger than any title and this is one of those times. Christian can’t wait and is sure we can’t, either. So be sure to stay in, stay safe, and watch both nights of WrestleMania Weekend!

Back to the panel, Henry notes Edge’s promo was great. Edge has always been one of the best cerebral performers, and can find ways to reach you with just talking. Now Edge has proven he still has it. He was gone just long enough that people don’t remember, or maybe never saw Edge before period, and surely not the way we’re seeing him now. Edge is better than ever, and this is an eye-opening moment for fans that another major player is back. Edge can put Orton in check, and it’s been some time since that’s happened. Renee agrees, fans new to Edge are in for a treat. Booker wants to quickly point out Christian had an entire wall of pictures, of himself. Did anyone else see that?

Renee moves the talk to another killer promo in The Undertaker finally responding to AJ Styles. “You stepped in something now that there’s no coming back from.” Styles will pay the price for disrespecting Michelle, and he will Rest In Peace. What does Booker say to Taker’s list of greats including him? Booker admits he’s been around. But that Taker promo wasn’t the Dead Man per se, but just a man talking to another man about what’s coming. This time is bringing the best out of everyone, and Styles and Taker are going to bring the best out of each other for another moment that we all remember for the rest of our lives. Styles may not remember this Mania being all that good, and Booker admits to knowing what that’s like, too. But in the end, this is one for the ages to have.

Paige speaks on how personal this has gotten. To take a page out of Samoa Joe’s book there, making things personal is very relatable. But to speak on the promos themselves, Paige knows for herself that doing a promo, whether in front of people or just the camera, digging deep to get that emotion out is so hard. But Taker, Edge, Orton, Styles, they all do it so well! Renee agrees, even going so far as to included Seth Rollins, and how it’s those really tight, close-up shots or going backstage. Everyone has adapted really well this past week, it’s great stuff. Henry adds that Styles will see the inside of a coffin, just like he once did. The future is not bright for Styles, but very dark and quiet. Styles also will receive an eye-opening moment.

Henry has faced legend after legend, but Taker was so different. Being even just a few feet away, you couldn’t hear anything because of the thunderous crowd. Like an airplane engine! It rattles you. If you don’t weather the storm early, it gets you. This match might go quicker than we think. Well someone who doesn’t get rattled is Charlotte Flair, who will also join Backstage via video, after the break.

 

WWE Backstage returns with The Queen!

Charlotte Flair joins Renee and Paige in discussing her path back to WrestleMania. Looking back at last year, what are some lasting moments from that historic Women’s Triple Threat Winner Takes All, the first women’s main event of a WrestleMania? Charlotte says it’s crazy that it’s already been a year. The one thing going through her mind all day was, “This is what it feels like to say you’re going to do something and do it.” Thinking of the performance, she stuck to her game plan that got her there. The pressure of the main event might make someone else do more, but Charlotte knows who she is and just sets out to do things her way. The moment was bigger than just Charlotte, Becky Lynch and Ronda Rousey, it sent a message worldwide. That is Charlotte’s main takeaway.

Paige says she has chills just listening to Charlotte right now. She is so proud of the Queen, because of how they both came up in FCW, and how Charlotte mistook eye cream for foundation. They’ve come so far. But WrestleMania was big last year, but that wasn’t Charlotte’s only Mania Moment. What would Charlotte say is her biggest Mania Moment so far? Her first one? The one where she realized eye cream isn’t foundation? Charlotte says her match with Asuka was probably even bigger. Sure, WrestleMania 32 was a success, and WrestleMania 33 was special because it was the same stadium that Ric Flair retired in. But WM34, title VS streak, that was something Charlotte had to prove. Asuka is accomplished around the world, and Charlotte was “a good performer,” but that night put her on that next level.

Renee talks about performances and brings up the promos with no crowds. How does that lack of crowd change Charlotte’s approach? Charlotte agrees with Henry from earlier that it’s about playing to the home audience. If you can’t feed off an audience, you have to take the opportunity to show everyone that you have that reserve. If you can’t pull from your own emotions, that’s a problem. Paige agrees and loves it. Paige also turns the topic to how WrestleMania really is a weekend, never been done before! Does Charlotte think that changes Mania much?

Charlotte admits that sometimes Mania feels like two days anyway. But this will be a great opportunity, too. More people will be able to be on the main card, and it might just give the talent more time for their matches. There’s more room to breathe as opposed to cramming story and match. There are stories that need to be told, ended or even new ones started, and giving Mania two days only helps everyone. And it shows how big Mania has become because it has to be two days. Unbelievable and historic, indeed, and every exciting to see how WWE adapts to the times.

Speaking of adapting, the rise of NXT that Charlotte helped build has reached even greater heights! The NXT Women’s Championship on Mania, Rhea Ripley defending against Charlotte, what can we expect? Charlotte says that thinking of NXT, she thinks back to watching the first ever TakeOver, and watching Paige VS Emma. She remembers wanting to pick up from that match and taking the lead. Charlotte feels like Rhea challenging Charlotte to challenge her is a way of saying, “Hey, NXT is THE third brand and we’re all equal.” Credit where credit is due, that takes a lot of confidence to do. This is a huge opportunity for NXT. NXT took Survivor Series so this is another opportunity for NXT to show how big it really is and show it deserves the same respect.

Charlotte coming full circle to compete for the NXT Women’s Championship blows her mind, and Paige’s. Plus, the NXT Women’s Championship on Mania is made even more historic because it involves the Women’s Rumble winner in Charlotte Flair. That’s the real mind-blowing part, because for decades, a Rumble winner has chosen Raw or SmackDown. Now it’s NXT. That just shows how big WWE has gotten, and how big the brand that was once FCW has become. Renee notes the magnitude of how big that is, for the company, the brand, the title and for Rhea and Charlotte themselves, it’s no wonder those two are going to “beat the hell out of each other.” Paige can’t even fathom how to prepare for that. Rhea is a star but Charlotte will elevate her even higher.

Charlotte says this is how crazy it is for Rhea. When NXT UK opened up just last year, Charlotte went there to speak to the talent. It was Charlotte, Finn Balor and Triple H who visited. Rhea was in the crowd and Charlotte called her out when she said, “You can do anything you put your mind to.” And here Rhea is a year later, walking into Mania as the NXT Women’s Champion. Charlotte went back and looked over Rhea’s career. The Mae Young Classic, the NXT UK Women’s Championship and now the NXT Women’s Championship, Rhea performs very well under pressure. And that pressure is something Rhea should want, just as Charlotte does. That pressure is what pushed Charlotte to the next level, so hopefully the pressure propels Rhea, too. Renee wishes Charlotte best of luck, but will Charlotte become 11-time women’s champion when she rides the Riptide?

 

WWE Backstage returns with a WrestleMania Watch With!

Mark Henry and Booker are back, and join Renee in reliving the third part of the Stone Cold VS The Rock WrestleMania trilogy! This is WrestleMania XIX, aka WM19, all the way back in 2003! Ready, set, roll film!

What Henry and Booker remember of the build was that Booker got to main event that night and was a bit too busy to watch. The crowd is electric for just the entrances, and making entrances in that environment is so different. Taker told Booker that sometimes, you gotta stop and feel that moment. The Rock knows that from experience, so it surely felt great for him, too. Renee has heard that advice a lot, too. What was the moment to revel in for each of them? Henry says his was getting his gear out and just realizing he is living a moment that will never come again. Being part of Mania isn’t a promise. You have to live in the moment of that one. So Henry was grateful to even have had one moment.

The glass breaks and everyone enjoys Stone Cold’s entrance. Booker was always jealous of the entrance because it pumps you up. Fan or wrestler, you wanted to be like Austin. Renee instantly perks up when she hears that glass break, too. Henry says that Austin is someone you can’t help but like, even when he’s being the baddest guy in the ring. The glass gives you the chills and you fire up. Booker says that both Stone Cold and The Rock, WM19 is a hard match because they’re two of the most iconic men in the WWE ever. Fans are divided because you want to vote for both. This is poetry in motion. And to think WM19 is the final entrance for Austin as an active WWE wrestler. Watching Austin move, you can see the trouble he has moving from nerve issues and pain in the knees.

The bell rings on the match and the two icons stare down. And then they start throwing hands! Booker knew Austin down in Texas as “the ultimate technician,” a truly incredible pure wrestler. Austin obviously evolved as he throws hands on The Rock against the ropes, as the “badass ass kicker” we all know and love. Booker says that was by necessity as Austin whips but The Rock reverses to swing a clothesline. Austin kicks low but The Rock denies a Stunner and bails out. Austin pursues and clotheslines him at the ramp! Henry likes that “Uh oh moment” where The Rock narrowly avoided the Stunner. Austin brings The Rock over and bumps him off railing right in front of the fans, then CHOPS him.

Booker loves the fans being so fired up as Austin bumps The Rock off steel steps. Austin CHOPS The Rock more. No one did it better than Austin, even with all the damage he took. Austin drags Rock to snake eyes him on the barriers, then CLOBBER him over the announce desk! Commentary clears out as Henry notes that no wrestler wants to show fans they’re other than what they are. Henry says Booker is much the same, and knows Booker’s still got it. Austin pursues The Rock and keeps him out of the ring to snake eyes him on more barriers! And then the steel steps!

Henry admits that when he got to a point where he couldn’t do what he used to do, he started to doubt. But Austin never did, and was still Stone Cold. But even Austin knew he wouldn’t look this good a year or two down the road, so that is when he started the transition. Austin puts The Rock in the ring and stomps away on him! Renee asks Booker and Henry about The Rock and being behind the scenes. Austin chokes The Rock as Booker notes that working with Rock “was an experience.” You get in there and realize you need to take it up another notch. Austin back suplexes The Rock high and hard! Cover, TWO! Booker remembers the stories about MC Hammer, being told to tone it down and responding with, “No, I gotta pump it up!”

Austin brings Rock up and whips him corner to corner as Booker notes going against icons like those two, you have no choice but to bring your A Game. Just look back at Austin VS Booker in the grocery story. Austin whips The Rock corner to corner again, then again. The Rock reverses but Austin comes out to LARIAT! Henry notes this was also a time of transition for The Rock. The Rock was going Hollywood and filming Walking Tall. Austin chokes The Rock on the ropes but the ref backs him off. Austin argues with the ref, but The Rock chop blocks Austin’s legs! Renee sends WWE Backstage to break, but promises there will be more WrestleMania watch-along when we return.

 

WrestleMania Watch With continues!

The Rock now has Austin on the defensive, and he gives him another chop block! Henry points out the attack on the legs. That’s smart strategy given Austin’s bad knees. The Rock puts Austin on the desk to SMASH the knee on the monitors! Booker says that’s the “Bobby Bowden clip.” The Rock stomps Austin around the way. Renee asks how working matches in a feud, what are some of the psychological tips for a third match like this? Booker says the first thing is, “We’ve been here before.” The Rock stomps away on Austin’s legs as Booker says that the familiarity already tells both wrestlers what they need to do the next time.

Again, The Rock and Stone Cold know the business, they know just about every aspect to this, and the key is to go and “create pandemonium.” The key is to instill a feeling fans haven’t felt before. The Rock slams Austin’s legs against the apron! He drags Austin to the post and brings it up the middle! Booker notes that The Rock can make a spit-punch into something so big, that’s the sign of a true puppet master. Renee notes how the fans are turning on The Rock because of how he’s playing the Heel. Henry says another thing that people might not realize, but Jim Ross was perhaps at his best calling this match and telling the story. Austin rallies back with haymaker after haymaker and then a whip. The Rock kicks back then kicks the bad leg out!

The story telling in this match is incredible. JR deserves as much credit and respect for this match as the two men in the ring. The Rock smashes Austin’s knee and then puts on his version of the Sharpshooter! Renee notes how much JBL helped Booker with his commentary chops to help propel stories forward. Booker agrees, it takes a multitude of guys to pull things like this off. But The Rock making his transition, he is still the most beloved wrestler in this business. And still being able to flip a switch and get people to dislike him is truly what makes the business. Austin gets the ropebreak and The Rock undoes the Sharpshooter, only to drag Austin out to the apron and throw hands. The Rock drags Austin to a corner as the ref reprimands. The Rock scares the ref off with a show of the backhand!

Renee notes that the same kind of turn is notable in Austin VS Bret Hart. What does that feel like to mentally prepare yourself for when the crowd turns? Booker loved it, being both good guy and bad guy. But there is of course a huge difference in the two roles, though obviously the Face gets more praise. The Rock takes it to a new level as he grabs Austin’s vest and puts it on. But if you’re the ultimate Heel, you revel in it, and The Rock was able to do that. The Rock shows so by dumping a bunch of water on his head and then splashing everyone around him.

The Rock struts to the ring but Austin is on him with haymakers! Henry says that’s what makes The Rock The Rock. He could poke fun at himself just as much as the other wrestlers. Austin whips but The Rock reverses, only for Austin to dodge and lariat back! Henry points that exchange out as both men are down, this is a well disguised breather break for them. This is the halfway point, give or take, so you need the break to make it the rest of the way. Booker loves that The Rock still has the vest on. The Rock throws hands but Austin counter punches! Austin whips to swing a back hand but The Rock dodges, only to run into Austin’s Thesz Press! Booker says that is the art of being a great worker, and no one else did it like those two. Henry can’t help but agree.

Austin runs to drop his double dirty bird elbow! Cover, TWO!! Henry notes that this match here, Austin VS The Rock at WM19, stacks up against all the other great matches in Mania history. And that includes Andre VS Hogan at WM3, as much as it did for WrestleMania as an event. This match, though, is just as pivotal because of two undeniable Mount Rushmore of Wrestling members going head to head. Booker agrees with that. Austin stomps a mudhole, flips off the ref and then stomps some more. Austin whips The Rock but The Rock dodges and ducks to LEAPING LARIAT! And kips up! Fans fire up and Booker again says this is truly what the business is. The Rock fires up but turns around into Austin stealing The Rock Bottom! Cover, TWO!!

Henry loves that the gap between stealing the move and going for the pin, Austin sells his knees. This is just masterful, all the nuances and subtleties. Henry could watch this match over and over and find new things in it. Austin waits for The Rock to stand, but The Rock blocks the Stunner to STEAL the Stunner!! And everyone loves that the fans go wild. The Rock crawls to the cover, TWO!! “A thing of beauty.” And this is already about 20 minutes. Both men are on adrenaline and the fans’ reaction. It’s like extra oxygen or gas. The Rock throws those signature haymakers, then gives double dirty birds, only to swing into the STUNNER! The Rock really sells, too! Henry says The Rock was always the best at that. Renee says Byron Saxton from a couple weeks ago is pretty good.

Austin rises first and looms over The Rock. The ref argues with him, but Austin pushes the ref away. This allows The Rock to LOW BLOW! The Rock knows the fans saw it but it doesn’t matter what they saw! And now The Rock stands over Austin and he prepares the most electrifying move in pro-wrestling! The People’s Elbow MISSES! Austin wants a Stunner but is denied, to a SPINE BUSTER! Off comes the vest, and the other elbow pad, to another try… PEOPLE’S ELBOW! Cover, TWO!!! Booker knows fans knew this wasn’t the end yet still felt it might have been. You set the hook and bait the fish in! Henry says the one thing different about this year’s Mania, the false finish(es) really only work when fans can fall for it. The Rock hits the ROCK BOTTOM! Cover, TWO!! Another example right there.

The Rock waits for Austin to rise. Booker notes that a lot of the crowd excitement is from being conflicted. The fans don’t want Austin to win, and they don’t want The Rock to lose, badum tsh. But Renee says it really is magical when you don’t know how to feel. Austin slowly gets up, The Rock intensely glares all around, and fans reach a fever pitch. Austin fights off the Rock Bottom, but then turns around INTO A ROCK BOTTOM! Cover, TWO!!! “Look at his eyes!” Booker knows the wrestling part is one thing, but the theatrics is another. You need to take the fans on a ride they will remember forever. That is this match!

The Rock waits for Austin to rise again, and it takes a bit longer than before. The Rock grabs Austin, takes a dramatic pause, and then hits ANOTHER ROCK BOTTOM! Cover, The Rock wins! Again, masterful story telling from two living legends. And The Rock was forever thankful for Austin giving that final match. In fact, The Rock reflected and posted an Instagram video about it! “This was his last match, Stone Cold Steve Austin. And when I mean his last match, I mean literally his last match.” The very last match of Austin’s career. No one but they knew it, and it still gives The Rock goosebumps. “I hit him with three Rock Bottoms,” and that was the appropriate level needed to win against The Texas Rattlesnake.

Rock remembers whispering, “I thank you so much for everything you’ve done for me. I love you.” Austin replied with, “I love you, too.” Rock gave Austin a slap on the chest and left the ring. Austin retired that night, and it was truly unforgettable. Renee says WM19 was a great match and an end of an ear, so to speak. But this is not the end of WWE Backstage! Another icon steps back into the ring this WrestleMania Weekend! Is John Cena in for the fight of his career?

 

WWE Backstage returns with the full panel!

Paige returns, and Renee notes Cena’s return to SmackDown this Friday and WrestleMania this weekend. What does everyone want to see out of the 16-time world champion when he faces The Fiend? Henry says he isn’t sure what we’ll see, but he also knows this is the first-ever Firefly Fun House match. He is very curious as to what that will be. Booker adds that, as JBL used to put it, “Big Match John” Cena is going to show up and perform. And who better to face than Bray Wyatt right now? The Fiend character is something people are already comparing to The Undertaker, in that we’ll be watching for years to come.

Becky VS Shayna is also happening for the Raw Women’s Championship, how does that one look? Paige loves Shayna and promises to keep this short and sweet. Paige thinks Shayna takes the title! The Glampire apologizes to her buddy, Becky, but it’s time for a change! Booker is still on the fence as far as Shayna, but he’s ready for Shayna to prove him wrong! Henry tops it off by saying he also wants to see the title change hands. And with that, Backstage wraps, ready for anything and everything this two-night WrestleMania will bring!

 


 

My Thoughts:

First, just because this article is publishing on April Fool’s Day doesn’t mean this is a joke. There really was a new WWE Backstage episode during these troubled times. Being via video was fine for the panel of hosts, but why was most of the video recaps in the same Skype call quality? Just an odd thing to note. But it was great to have Charlotte on to speak to her Mania matches, and I figured she’d go with her match against Asuka as her personal number one moment. And I like that even Backstage was consistent with the other live WWE programming in replaying a classic match to fill time.

I myself never got to watch the days of The Rock VS Stone Cold growing up, and just haven’t had/taken the time to go back through those classic moments. Maybe I should. But seeing it for the first time, even as part of that watch party with Renee, Booker and Henry, obviously it’s an amazing match. I appreciate the panel being optimistic for WM36 with it being split up, but also can tell it’s them sticking to the WWE marketing line. Mania wasn’t so big that it had to be two nights, it had to be two nights because of the global concerns. But Charlotte’s point about more time for matches and stories to breathe is still valid, so that instead of a crammed slog of 7 hours, we get two manageable 3+ hours. I think just on that pacing, this Mania will feel very strong as compared to other years.


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Mitchell’s Raw Talk Report! (1/25/21)

Who wants to Talk With Elias?

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WWE Raw Talk

It will be a golden Raw Talk before the Royal Rumble!

The Hurt Business put in work and the Queen is worried about usurpers, but they’re here for some Raw Talk ahead of this Pay-Per-View Sunday!

 

#CharTruth welcomes us back to the show!

Charly Caruso says we’re on our way to one of the biggest PPV’s of the year, the Royal Rumble! She cannot wait! But she also can’t wait for tonight’s episode of Raw Talk, with Truth, who is still WWE 24/7 Champion! Isn’t she also champion by association? They should center the belt. And not to rub it in or anything, it’s been a long night for everyone, but Truth had his shot to officially enter the Men’s Rumble and it didn’t work out! What happened? AJ Styles is phenomenal and he has Omos with him. Omos is big. A mountain of a man! Hugigantimongous. Mount Everest or Mount Kilimanjaro? Both. You gotta look up, and East to West. You can’t focus on Styles with Omos there, there and over there. Charly almost thought he was here, but Truth says you’d have seen Omos if he was here.

And then speaking of directions, there was an interesting misdirection with the main event, Lil’ Miss Bliss, The Fiend’s protégé, what even do we call her? Truth says they’re family. And then Orton with his sunburn face gave her an RKO! Hard to know how to react to that, other than that was the worst thing that could’ve happened. Or one of them, maybe. Orton wants revenge for what happened to him so he took back his pride, dignity, etc. Truth says Orton needs some Aloe Vera or something. But Truth getting that close to Orton might get him in Alexa’s sights, too. Truth can’t risk that, Charly needs him to be a cohost. Truth needs Truth to be here, so he’s going to just move on.

Moving on to an exciting match coming at the Royal Rumble, the WWE World Championship, Drew McIntyre VS Goldberg. We almost got a throw down between them but they went after Miz ‘n’ Morrison as they were egging everything on. That’s what they get, though! Spear AND Claymore! But that won’t stop them from going after each other on Sunday. Who you got? Charly will make a prediction. Just because of what he’s done in the WWE and that Charly has a lot of respect for him, she goes with McIntyre. Nothing taken away from Goldberg, but Charly’s voting McIntyre. Truth is with Gillberg. Well, alright then. And speaking of another big time champion with something going on at the Royal Rumble, it’s the Queen!

Charlotte Flair joins Raw Talk!

Charly says Charlotte looks amazing these days and Truth agrees. Super shredded, and very happy, but of course because she has the championship. Charlotte’s got Andrade at home to help her, after all. She hopes she got the roll of the R just right. But yes, a lot of things to be happy about. A live-in trainer, some championship gold, but also some problems… Just a little. Let’s talk about that after her mindset for tonight’s match with Shayna Baszler that didn’t even turn out that way. There was some involvement from Lacey Evans, the “problem” they were about to bring up. Charlotte was looking forward to facing Shayna, given the history with Shayna’s buddy, Ronda. Maybe they texted like, “Do you remember when Charlotte kicked your ass?” Whoa~!

But Charlotte says Shayna means business, so she knew to give her the best. But then there was Nia Jax and all that. The tag titles will be on the line against Nia and Shayna, how is Charlotte feeling about that? Charlotte has Asuka so there’s that. Truth knows Asuka is great, and Charlotte may sound cliché but she knows she doesn’t want anyone else with her as she goes into battle. Charly said it before and will say it again, Charlotte and Asuka are two of the greatest women in the WWE. But Nia and Shayna were very strong tonight. Charlotte says they were just mad tonight. Truth agrees with that. Charlotte has had the opportunity to be in the ring with the Irresistible Force, and it isn’t often she faces someone bigger than her, but they bring out the best in each other and expect nothing different.

But then Charlotte also wants to be in the Women’s Rumble, but there’s everything with Lacey and Ric Flair. Some family drama, Lacey attacked Charlotte in front of Ric, what is going on? Charlotte knows Ric thinks he’s being cute and funny, and for the last couple of years it’s just been hard. Everyone around Ric are Yes People, they just praise Naitch, and then they leave and it’s just Ric. Charlotte has only ever wanted to protect the Flair legacy. She would do anything to do that. So looking Ric in the face and pointing out how Lacey is sexy and all over him, she can get that. But Ric is going from legend to creepy old man and she will say it because she’s not the villain here. Charlotte doesn’t even have time for Lacey, who is just an opportunist. Are the intentions the title? Is it really about Ric?

Truth says how could it not be about Ric? He’s the Nature Boy! Charlotte knows Truth is a Carolina boy but slow down. Charlotte has done everything she can to show she’s here because of her work, not her name. But then those who will do anything to get to the top, that is Lacey. You hear about it while everyone else is doing things the right way, but you see that kind of girl everywhere at every level. It’s hard to be sure why Lacey is doing this to Ric and Charlotte, but she’s definitely doing it to get at Charlotte.

So Charlotte has her hands full with the tag title challenge, Lacey’s antics, and then the Women’s Rumble. Charlotte is sure people think she’s had a happy-go-lucky life as Ric’s daughter, but she’s used to obstacles in her path. People don’t see it, but the ones who have obstacles don’t talk about it. Charlotte will be prepared for everything coming her way. Truth loves it and Charlotte feels like she has a hype man. Charlotte says she has mac ‘n’ cheese to share with him. Is there pork chop in there? Truth only does light pork chop in the mac. But Charly thanks Charlotte for her time and wishes her luck. See you later, champion!

Elias & Jaxson Ryker join Raw Talk!

The Drifter and his follower are back and they talk BBQ after what we just got. What is his favorite? How do they mean? Regional, Carolina, Tennessee, etc. They vote for Carolina, which is Truth’s liking. Charly makes sure everyone knows the question wasn’t just because they were talking BBQ with Charlotte there. Charly was testing if they could come to an agreement given the miscommunication the last few weeks. Wow, Charly! They’re pals, but great journalism move. So then what is happening? There was discord but are things moving in the right direction?

Of course! They got on the same page, the communication problems are gone. They handled things on WWE Main Event on Hulu, but not like two weeks ago. The footage shows things, but Ryker & Elias took on Ricochet & Jeff Hardy on Main Event and took care of business! Hardy is a living legend, we all know that, and Ricochet is one of the most talented wrestlers in the world today! But Ryker is an intense animal that loves the Universal Truth, and Elias himself is a once in a lifetime performer. But those four on Main event shows how jam-packed Raw really is. Charly asks if Ryker sees Elias’ guidance as serving him well. Of course!

Wait, Elias is sinking in his chair. Truth says it’s cuz Elias is lying. Well it happened to Keith Lee but for a very different reason. Get us a montage of people sinking in the chairs. That’ll go viral. Elias says he wrote the Universal Truth cuz he speaks the truth and now he’s talking to Truth! Nice one! Okay, one last time to see if they can get on the same page. Who do they think wins the Royal Rumble? They say “WE are going to win the Royal Rumble.” Oh so if one wins, they both win. Yes, they are going to win. Simple as that. Watch this Sunday! Elias is declaring officially, so there you go. It is an official declarence. A declaration? Yes, that, too.

Well Charly will pass that along, though we don’t know the rules right now. Truth says it’s about opportunities but Ryker wants to take it. Ryker and Elias will write history at the Rumble when THEY win! 2021 will be historic! Well alright. Good to have them on the same page with the declarence, be ready for a Raw Talk BBQ. But now from BBQ to perhaps fine dining? The Hurt Business is here!

Bobby Lashley & MVP join Raw Talk!

MVP warns Truth, “Every word out your mouth tonight, measure very, very carefully. Because I am not here for it. And I give you my word, one, ONE, wrong thing out your mouth, and it’s on.” Like a pot of neck bone? Don’t play around, Truth. Charly seconds that because of what we saw the last few weeks. Bobby Lashley told us two weeks ago that he’s not playing around with Riddle’s bro-ness stupidity and Truth went and said something that angered MVP. MVP almost got Truth that night, and Charly is just happy that she wasn’t here for that. Things will not go that way this week, Charly won’t allow it. Oh, allow? Is that’s how this is? Y-Yes…? So if MVP slaps Truth, how will she stop him? Right, nevermind what she said, then.

Lashley tries to lighten the mood as he keeps MVP back and has a big smile. Riddle won tonight’s gauntlet match and has a rematch for the US Championship. Lashley’s feelings about Riddle, the one thing the Hurt Business wants to accomplish is to get rid of disrespect. Lashley beat Riddle before, Riddle is not a problem. But he was a problem for the rest of the team. No, the problem was inside the Hurt Business. There is some dysfunction, but they’ll sort that out. So why is it happening now? The VIP Lounge was meant to be a celebration as they have major titles, so why is it happening now? Lashley wants MVP to relax but MVP keeps glaring at Truth.

Truth tells MVP he’s missing out on interview time, they’re just asking questions. Lashley says when you get on top, sometimes things get tense. They’re all friends. MVP has been a great friend, as has Shelton Benjamin, and even Cedric Alexander is a friend. But they have titles, money, but that causes tensions to rise and things get out of hand. Truth says he was a friend and got put in the Nelson from the Simpsons. MVP says this is just a speed bump. It’s done, as is the line of questioning. What will Charly “allow” now? She just wants a feel for what’s going on. Individually and together, the Hurt Business is successful, but it is a bit worrying when things start to break down. You may want it to be a speed bump, you may want to rebound, but look at Conor McGregor!

Lashley says it’s been awhile since McGregor won. But the Hurt Business is fine. They’ll talk it out, it’ll be back in place. They can’t be crumbling if they still have the gold. Truth says he likes the THB necklace. MVP asks how much Truth likes it. He likes it a lot. Charly says not to push any more buttons. The show is done, MVP and Lashley head out, and #CharTruth says they appreciate their time. The Royal Rumble is coming, will that speed bump hit someone in the butt?


My Thoughts:

A pretty good Raw Talk, but I will say this. Elias and Ryker did a good job to plug WWE Main Event, and I like that they tried to put it over as proof that Raw is so stacked, they couldn’t fit their match with Ricochet and Jeff Hardy on the show so they put it on Hulu. That’s not true, I’m sure that match could’ve been fit on tonight’s Raw if things were a little different, but at least it’s happening somewhere. Charlotte had a good segment, nice little shoot on how she is with Andrade romantically, and for being able to play that confidence bordering on arrogance, she seems like a really nice person in her day to day life.

The Hurt Business had a really good segment to close, and I like that there is this ongoing story of tension with MVP and Truth. I really hope MVP gets the 24/7 Championship before the faction loses one of the other titles. And that shouldn’t be too hard, it’s the 24/7 Championship. He might even lose that title as the Raw Tag or US Championships are lost because Truth could just sneak in and roll him up. I just hope the Hurt Business lasts long enough to only break when they lose it all.


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Mitchell’s Talking Smack Report! (1/23/21)

DING DONG, HELLO~! Talking Smack!

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WWE Talking Smack

Talking Smack has a strong episode this week!

Cesaro, Bayley and Sami Zayn are all here to talk some smack on what went down! Will there be any sore losers among them? *cough* Bayley */cough*

 

Kayla Braxton welcomes us back to the show!

We’re just over a week away from the Royal Rumble, and Friday Night SmackDown had us on the edge of our seats! Kayla is here with cohost Paul Heyman, who has some explaining to do as he does his evil finger pyramid. Kayla knew right away Heyman had something planned, and he did, and instead of Adam Pearce VS Paul Heyman, we got Roman Reigns beating Pearce up. Roman did beat Pearce up, but Kevin Owens got back at Roman, too, and Kevin asked Heyman if he was watching. Were Heyman’s eyes open? Then yes, he was watching. “It was the perfect plan. Conspiracy theories abound and they’re all true.” They had Pearce locked in, Sonya was about to take over because Pearce was out the door. Heyman pulled the strings, he kept Kevin away all evening, but somehow Kevin screwed them. “Card subject to change.”

But Heyman isn’t done ranting! Wait until he finishes his point. Well he took a breath- Yes, he just took a breath! She made the mistake to jump right into any opening. Heyman continues to say that this is Kevin’s problem now: “The Royal Rumble, next Sunday, we’re not going to be pulling Card Subject to Change. Card will be delivered as advertised!” Which means KO is stepping into the ring with “an angry, infuriated WWE Universal Heavyweight Champion who understands that this match only ends when one man is left standing.” And it won’t be Kevin. That’s not a prediction, that’s a spoiler! Three, two, one, now your turn, Kayla. Kayla appreciates that. Let’s lighten the mood, the host of DING DONG, HELLO~!

Bayley joins Talking Smack!

Heyman shakes Bayley’s hand and says he is a great admirer of her work. Bayley thanks him for that and appreciates Kayla’s slow clap. Heyman introduces himself and says if she wants to see something outside of her own brilliance, watch Roman Reigns get his hands on Kevin Owens in the Last Man Standing match to not only defend his title, but to put Kevin down with a beating that will earn a Parental Advisory Warning. Bayley likes that! They should get their people on that. Kayla has people? Yes. Now, to the “Ultimate Athletic Obstacle Course Challenge.” Bayley is flexing now, but Kayla points out that while it was Bayley’s idea, it didn’t go as planned.

Heyman says nothing goes as planned on SmackDown! And they had the best plan! The absolute best plan! But Kevin screwed it up! Kayla brings this back to Bayley’s plan in the obstacle course. Kayla gets Heyman relates to that here, but Bianca Belair, the EST, proved herself on Bayley’s course. She even embarrassed her. Bayley says to stop the replay, get to the end. Fast forward, guys, c’mon. Kayla brings up Bayley kinda cheated, and still lost. Bayley says it can’t be cheating if it’s under her rules. This is fair and square as her first-time-ever obstacle course challenge. Is no one listening? Is Bianca paying them to play the footage?

But it doesn’t matter, SmackDown doesn’t do obstacle courses between the longest reigning women’s champion and “some new chick.” Bayley doesn’t even want her weird chair anymore. Does Kayla want to be in the Royal Rumble? Bayley will gladly “welcome” her into that as the Role Model, the CAPTAIN of SmackDown! She’ll grab Kayla by her ear piece mic and throw her out, just like she will Bianca and every other woman in the match! Kayla doesn’t discount that, Bayley is an incredible competitor. But in the obstacle course- Heyman speaks up because he doesn’t like the use of “incredible,” it means “not credible,” but Bayley is definitely credible. She is a GREAT competitor, and Kayla is envious! #BayleyEnvy, make a shirt, put Kayla’s face on it.

Kayla asks if Bayley underestimated Bianca and therefore underestimating the other competitors in the Rumble. Bayley will say Bianca is a great athlete, we’ve seen what she’s capable of over the years. Bianca eliminated EIGHT superstars, but did she eliminate Rhea Ripley, a former NXT Women’s Champion who had her WrestleMania moment with Charlotte Flair? No, Bayley did! Quality over quantity! The lights, the stress, it’s all making Bayley sweat. Kayla thinks Bianca was making Bayley sweat. Maybe Bayley did the obstacle course and that’s why. Kayla does appreciate the challenge, it was entertaining, until the end when Bayley attacked Bianca. OH? Let’s check the ratings and see if it was entertaining.

Kayla thanks Bayley for her time, Bayley has a party to go to, Heyman says Kayla is condescending but he would never do that. He again shakes her hand and says Bayley is a generational talent. See you in the Rumble, Kayla. In the match! But speaking of the Rumble, our next guest is a superstar who vows to win the Men’s Rumble, the Swiss Cyborg!

Cesaro joins Talking Smack!

Cesaro likes the high chairs. He shakes hands with everyone and takes a seat. Standing tall, sitting tall, as he should after his victory. Cesaro beat Daniel Bryan last week, has a bit of a chip on his shoulder and turned down the rematch challenge. Why is that? Cesaro says he always has something to prove. He likes new challenges. He beat Bryan already, why do it again? And Bryan wasn’t even dressed anyway so he’d just be taking advantage. Kayla has known Cesaro for awhile, this feels like a new Cesaro. Is he showing a different side to the fans? No. Does he really seem that different? Kayla says there’s more intensity.

Well Cesaro says this is less new and more the old Cesaro. Cesaro went back to the basics, his strengths, and it’s paying off. So what is it about Bryan that “irks” him? Cesaro says it’s not the way we might think. They’ve known each other for about 15 years or more, they had a rivalry since they’ve met and it’s been very competitive. It came to the WWE, after having some of the toughest matches ever with Daniel Bryan. So yes, Bryan “irks” Cesaro because Cesaro needs to beat Bryan. Bryan brings out the best in Cesaro, and Cesaro does appreciate that, but it drives him.

Both men have been very vocal about winning the Men’s Rumble, but with 30 men total, will they be the final two? Cesaro is confident that they will. Anyone else that says differently, they should not be in this building, in that ring, and certainly not in Cesaro’s presence. Kayla says that Bryan having never won a Rumble, that is why this is so important to him. Bryan’s hunger could be greater than the others. Yes, it could be. But what a great New Year’s Resolution. Cesaro isn’t a fan of those, because you should want to be better every day. Not just once a year, but every day, be better today than you were yesterday, forever. Bryan’s hunger may be big, but it’s opinion.

That is what irks Cesaro. If Bryan wants to win that badly, then Cesaro wants to win even more. That is how this rivalry works, that is what is needed in the WWE. Use everything as motivation to get to that next level. Kayla agrees. Now say Cesaro does win the entire thing, which Kayla could see happening. Has Cesaro thought about who he will challenge at WrestleMania? The options are Roman and Kevin for the Universal Championship, or Drew McIntyre and Goldberg for the WWE World Championship. Cesaro said last week on commentary, he would challenge Roman Reigns on behalf of Shinsuke Nakamura. Now McIntyre mentioned Cesaro as a dream opponent and Cesaro would love that, too, but Cesaro is a man of his word.

Does Heyman have something to say on that? Heyman says Roman VS Cesaro is big box office. Heyman has sung Cesaro’s praises since he got into the WWE. Cesaro knows that respect and admiration, and is a very dangerous man. You don’t hear all this energy, he’s soft spoken and “means not to be anything else besides himself.” Cesaro is rightfully confident because he is uber talented, and is on a path to the top. There’s only one man who can stop him, and that is Roman Reigns, which is why that match could headline WrestleMania 37. Roman will put down Kevin, and Cesaro has a good chance of winning the Rumble, so we’ll wait and see.

Kayla thanks Cesaro for his time, and Cesaro tells Heyman to tell “Table Head” that he’s next. And finally, a man Kayla thought she’d never miss but definitely does lately, the “Great Liberator!”

Sami Zayn joins Talking Smack!

Sami notices he has no music. Kayla says he can try again but no, the moment has passed. “These are the little things I’m talking about.” Kayla says Heyman has a part in this but Sami says Heyman’s been in this business longer than Kayla’s been alive. Kayla can’t catch a break. Sami says Heyman is a lot of things, a lot of bad things, almost all of them true, but Heyman is not jealous of anyone. Sami says this is rather fitting that he’d get put on Talking Smack and then he gets disrespected. He brings up the conspiracy and brings in his film crew.

The documentary crew is here because Sami doesn’t recognize the cameramen and Sami’s been here 8 years. This is so the footage is true and unedited. Now, conspiracies. There is a long standing one against Sami, but it’s all the little things, the little acts of disrespect that add up. Everyone else gets music and a warm welcome, but Sami gets treated like a fool after being a cohost! Sami had his cuffs as a peaceful protest, the right to assembly. America loves their rights, right? This was Sami making a point, engaging in his right to do that. This was all to make management aware that he will not be silenced. But people act like he was in the wrong! Kayla does, doesn’t she?

Heyman voices his agreement. Sami says the thing is, but Heyman says it’s like a bad marriage. Sami was called an instigator, but he has the signs he brought to SmackDown. Let’s dissect these. #SAMI: Stand Against Moral Injustice. Those who don’t like this sign, why? Are they FOR moral injustice? Yes or no? But isn’t it hypocritical? Sami doesn’t like Apollo cheating but Sami was cheating a lot! Heyman has to tell Sami, he loves the sign, but he admits he kinda likes moral injustices. Sorry. Nothing against Sami, but still. Wait, Apollo Crews walks on set! Sami is glad to see him, though! Apollo wants to hear Sami in person. Keep going. Sami says this is perfect.

Sami brings up a sign that works for Apollo, “How Do You Sleep at Night?!” It works for Big E, too, who holds SAMI’s title! How does Apollo feel getting his title shot, cheating to win?! Apollo is okay with that?! That’s the difference between Sami and Apollo! Sami stands for something, he has a value system! Sami doesn’t want to upset Heyman but he wants Apollo to hear him. “How do you sleep, cutting these corners to get ahead?” Apollo acts like a nice guy with a million dollar smile, but then he’s okay with winning how he did? At best, Apollo should’ve given Sami a rematch and then we’d see who is the better man.

Heyman says Sami is upsetting Apollo but Sami says he doesn’t care. Apollo says Sami can talk, talk, talk, but eventually Apollo will get Sami in that ring. Well that’s a threat. Don’t make excuses, Kayla, it is a threat on her show! Heyman doesn’t like being in the middle of this, literally. Sami says he has to think about his camera crew’s safety. Apollo won’t intimidate Sami, but he is doing this for his documentarians. Apollo is going to be confrontational, he’s making Heyman uncomfortable, so Sami is going to leave. Not for Sami’s safety but his cameramen. Sami excuses himself, and Kayla says that’s fine, this is the end of the show anyway.

Heyman tells Apollo that Sami is just distracting him. It’s what Sami does. Is Apollo going to be distracted “by a prick” or be focused on the Intercontinental Championship? Apollo say she’s going to beat Sami’s ass, THEN go get the title. “Because I can.” Heyman is impressed. With that devious smile on Heyman’s face, Kayla goes to close the show, but then Kevin Owens shows up… Heyman and Kevin stare down, Heyman gives a nod, and Kevin leans over to tell Heyman, “You feel it.” Kevin then offers a handshake, and Heyman takes it. What did Kevin mean by that?


My Thoughts:

What a great episode! Heyman was great throughout the whole episode, but he’s great all the time really. Him trying to interject the Roman story into everything was great. Bayley had a good segment, and it fits her Heel persona that she takes a 360 on the obstacle course because she lost. Bayley VS Bianca really should happen on the go-home next week to get them both going into the Rumble. Cesaro made a good point, New Year’s Resolutions are a bit silly when you should be trying harder every day. And I really like that, though not fully Face, Cesaro is calling out Roman here on behalf of Nakamura. I still think Cesaro would be great as a Face, so we’ll have to wait and see.

And then the last segment was awesome stuff. Sami getting NO theme music, ranting on with Heyman on his side mostly, and then the surprise appearances from Apollo and Kevin to plug their stories, all of it was done perfectly. Apollo even somewhat defying Heyman was great. Whether he goes Heel or not, an aggressive Apollo is definitely a good move for him.


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