Talking Smack Is Worth Your Time (watch.wwe.com)

Sean Rueter

When WWE announced the return of the SmackDown post-show Talking Smack, I was among the dubious. The Renee Young/Daniel Bryan era of the show is near and dear to my wrestling fan heart, and any attempt to replace it seemed… sacrilegious is probably too strong a word. But at least ill-advised, especially given rumors that Vince McMahon didn’t like the creative freedom the 2016 – 2017 edition gave wrestlers, which was a big part of its success.

But after a bit of a rocky start, due in part to confusion about who was co-hosting with Kayla Braxton, the rebooted Talking Smack has settled into a nice groove. Braxton is a steady presence, and she’s getting to show more personality here than she does anywhere outside maybe The Bump. The post-Draft addition of Sami Zayn as her partner has “really tied the room together, as a certain Dude might say.

The episode uploaded to WWE Network this past weekend (Oct. 31) was a real stand-out for a bunch of reasons, but especially for its Kayla & Sami interplay. Being Halloween, Braxton arrived in costume… as Intercontinental champion Sami Zayn. She was late – which was part of the impersonation. Greg Hamilton delivered the introduction Zayn’s been demanding since he returned from hiatus, and Kayla did a great job nailing several of the champ’s tics. It drove Sami nuts (when he wasn’t struggling not to break).

Enjoy these illicit clips while you can – but the show’s available on the free version of the Network, so if you’ve got an email address, there barrier for entry isn’t very high. Check that out here.

Zayn’s disgust/glee became too much, and he demanded Kayla go change. Which created an opening for his old pal Kevin Owens, who couldn’t pass up a chance to rib his former rival & teammate.

It didn’t help Street Profits, though. Montez Ford didn’t get hurled into the ThunderDome just to have Sami disrespect his cup like this!

It’s not all shenanigans, though. The Mysterios showed up for an interview that advanced the Aalyah/Murphy angle (mostly by having Sami yell uncomfortable questions at them, which KO then guilted him for). The Braxton returned so Bayley & Zayn could pick on her together, while giving the Role Model more of a chance to sell the story of her upcoming title match against Sasha Banks.

Is it essential viewing? Not really… you’re not going to be lost watching SmackDown is you skip it. Has it offered anything along the lines of Bryan and The Miz’s, or John Cena and Dean Ambrose’s worked shoot promos from the Talking Smack 1.0? Nope.

But is it a fun, breezy, 20 – 30 minutes that will make you smile and get a little better sense of who some of SmackDown’s wrestlers are as performers? Definitely. And that’s enough in my book.

If you’ve got the time, check out Talking Smack on WWE Network here.