Dude, keeping up with wrestling in today’s era is a task. No, a labor of love. It wasn’t a thing when you were younger and in middle school or high school. Back then Monday was a godsend with the Monday Night Wars between WWF and WCW. Man, when Smackdown came out and debuted on Thursday nights? Being able to catch an ECW event on television over the weekend? You couldn’t tell me shit back then. However, getting older, time becomes more of a commodity.
Having gotten back into wrestling over the years, it’s harder to keep up with everything that occurs with storylines and character development (especially during the brand split), that is, until Smackdown’s Talking Smack came on and changed all that shit. The best part of my Wednesday is catching those 20 minutes where a WWE Superstar sits down and shoots the shit with Renee Young and Daniel Bryan.
Listen, Renee Young is a great interviewer. Young has without a doubt one of the most magnetic personalities in the WWE. Renee is a perfect adapter for any guest as she is able to relate to them and get them to unwind regardless if they are a face or heel. You pair that welcoming personality with Daniel Bryan who gives zero fucks. I’m talking none. You can tell Bryan is being himself and saying what needs to be said. Also, who knew Bryan was this fucking funny? Dude has puns, quips, and dad jokes all on deck for whoever is sitting in that guest seat.
I need to state this here and now: Young and Bryan are the best commentating tag team. Period. I’m not hearing it. When you talk about great duos on the mic in WWE you’re talking about Jim Ross and Jerry “The King” Lawler, Mauro Ranallo and Daniel Bryan (cruiserweight classic commentary was godly), Corey Graves and … (it don’t even matter, Graves is that good). There are so many inside jokes and one-liners when watching Talking Smack that keep coming back around (Hog spotting!). Young and Bryan are drift-compatible jaeger drivers in Pacific Rim. That’s how in sync they are with one another. When Bryan wasn’t there (he had a newborn) for a few weeks the show felt different. Shane McMahon filled in and we could see he’s a way more relaxed person than Daniel Bryan, which is fine. We got to see Shane’s laid back demeanor and dry humor (which I am a fan of). There was a lot to fill in for for Daniel, but once he came back the show was just a well oiled spontaneous machine again.
There isn’t an episode that goes by that you can’t highlight a specific segment with a tag team or singles competitor from the show. The Usos and Daniel Bryan have an entertaining dynamic of making Daniel Bryan cool in his father years, Renee (and Daniel as well) gushing over Naomi’s literal and figurative glow up from the beginning of her career in the WWE to her reign (at this time) as Smackdown champion. I was pretty neutral on Carmela until her time on Talking Smack post winning the Money In The Bank rematch. Her reaction to Bryan ragging her for the gray area win in the first one then perking up at congratulating her for winning (technically) again is perfect character development.
The highlight of this show is seeing how superstars come on and slowly get more over. There are superstars we don’t get to hear from so often, that really get to shine via their time on the show. You could see certain superstars become more comfortable and relatable for the audience. The entire dynamic of a heel and a face become blurred as the superstars become even more grounded (while still in character) expressing their point of view over a gripe or just their perspective in why they’re on a certain path as they’re talking with Young and Bryan and not at them. We saw evidence of this with A.J. Styles in his heel persona taking shots at Daniel Bryan’s tenure as Smackdown GM as well as Shane’s running of Smackdown.
Then, over the next couple of appearances (during a slow face turn), we see A.J. talking with Bryan about being a father and the few things he’s learned in his experience. It’s pretty touching, and then later on Bryan tries to instigate a hot dog eating contest between A.J. and Kevin Owens. Speaking of The Microphone Gawd, Kevin Owens by far is the best example of making the most with establishing a dynamic with hosts Young and Bryan, making the segment entertaining, down to earth, and outright fucking hilarious. WWE prides itself on being wrestling entertainment; we see stories of drama and athleticism, right? We’re seeing these wrestlers competing as well as acting.
Kevin Owens on Talking Smack is being himself as well as displaying a unique proficiency for improv within his wrestling character. The way he interacts with Daniel as well as (humorously) pestering Renee Young with random acts such as taking her mug, writing on her papers, executed out of nowhere which forces Young and Bryan to be on their toes and display genuine reactions of “what the fuck is he doing now?” for us viewers at home. There’s one segment where Owens leaves, Renee Young starts talking about the chip on his shoulder, then sees him come back and is trying not to laugh while saying, “please don’t take my things” as Owens of course, makes a mess of her things (and accidentally spills water on her phone).
This joke continued on Twitter as well, which makes this even more hilarious. Also, let’s not forget Owen’s crowning moment was the spoiler alert of calling attention to Young and Ambrose’s marriage without missing an awkward beat. You can’t get any better with interactions to make characters and hosts feel more human, relatable and provide nuance, little moments of entertainment that is genuinely funny.
Not that it’s all fun and games tho cause bruh, remember when Miz went off on Daniel Bryan for calling his ring style soft as fuck? That was an incredible promo that had to be 60/40 work vs shoot. You could tell Miz was tired of taking people’s shit when he’s done nothing but what has been asked of him, demanded of him, and delivered each time. You can’t help but fuck with the Miz’s perspective during that promo with being underrated and pigeonholed when he’s proven himself from his Real World, Tough Enough days to being your favorite heel’s favorite heel.
Plus, looking at the other side of that coin, you feel for Daniel Bryan’s frustration at not being allowed to wrestle when he’s still got so much more to give this sport he loves. The line between real and scripted became blurred for us as an audience and this is the segment that really pushed Talking Smack and had me watching religiously and giving, even more, credit to these athletes risking their lives and taking time away from their family to do this sport they love.
It’s these looks outside of the ring and into these wrestler’s day to day that make Talking Smack such a must see show weekly. Even if I missed Smackdown, I would watch Talking Smack for the recap of what happened, and then find myself scouring Youtube for the highlight reel of the show.
WWE has chosen to cancel this show weekly and it is a huge loss of a great tool for their wrestlers. You know how Robert Downey, Jr.’s Iron Man is the glue that connects the entirety of the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Talking Smack is the connecting component of the WWE Universe’s Smackdown brand in the same way. I’m of course upset to see it go from a weekly show to one that will air after PPV’s only, especially because this was as close to a weekly version of hilarity as the Southern Pro Wrestling skits can give us.
Talking Smack is the best show on WWE, man. (Grosse) point blank. Period. It’s got to be such a rare thing to find two brilliant personalities like Renee Young and Daniel Bryan that are able to have such great chemistry with one another as well as both be able to adapt to every guest on the show. The very best part of this show is Daniel Bryan making Renee Young go on a laughing tangent. Renee has the best laugh in wrestling and you can tell Bryan stays trying to get her to break character. These two are the epitome of co-worker goals. This shit pains my heart that we won’t be seeing them weekly anymore because I need to hear these two on the mic so I know there’s still some semblance of joy in the world. Man, you know what? Fuck the frail shit, these two deserve better. I want Renee Young and Daniel Bryan calling matches.
I want Young and Bryan commentating on upcoming tournaments, getting another show together, something. These two are perfection! Get my girl Renee Young in the announcer booth, yo. It’s been time for a woman color commentator to be calling matches man. Give my boy Daniel Bryan whatever the fuck he wants. If that man wants to wrestle again, fuck it, let the homie go out on his shield. If you really can’t let’em wrestle give that man whatever the fuck else he wants so he stays. Renee Young and Daniel Bryan make being a wrestling fan and WWE consumer fun. Give these two all the awards and all the applause. That’s all I’m tryin’ to say. #YoungBryanTalkinThatSmack forever.