Moments of 2016 is a series of articles that detail the year in review for WWE, whether it be specific moments, matches or superstars who've stood out on the WWE main roster and NXT, one way or another. You'll see this series of pieces go through to the end of December.
At near 3:30am in the morning UK, just after the post-SummerSlam Smackdown ended, one that was fantastic (Ziggler-Styles, the unveil of the two new tag and women's titles and more), The Miz wrapped up what was his best promo ever, the best promo of 2016 bar none and quite possibly one of the greatest of all time in the WWE, having just laid waste verbally to Smackdown Live GM Daniel Bryan. And in an empty house, all I could do was literally applaud what had just happened.
By that point, I was fantasy booking him and stripping him of the Intercontinental title, but rewarding him with a WWE World Heavyweight Championship match just for how brilliant the promo was. And since that promo, The Miz's stock has skyrocketed big time and having had an amazing feud with Dolph Ziggler and in the process have two MOTY contenders at Backlash and No Mercy, the latter of which certifiably should have main evented the show at the end of the night with the WWE Championship match kicking off the show. Not to mention, his ongoing feud with Bryan.
Look, I'm not going to write a lengthy post on it because, quite simply, the promo speaks for itself. But here's the transcript of what he had said in a Talking Smack episode which was full of drama already with a Carmella heel turn cemented by attacking Nikki Bella at the start of the show.
The Miz: The fact is you sit there and you have the new women's championship and the new tag team championship, you blew a whole platform from a whole set for them. Bring all the superstars out. But what did you talk about with the Intercontinental Championship? A title which has a rich history. Hall of famers have held this title. Pat Paterson, Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, Mr Perfect.
Daniel Bryan: We had you on like two weeks ago, Miz.
The Miz: Yeah and you obviously didn't hear my calling. This was the last title that you held, Daniel. The last one. And you said you wanted to make it relevant. You wanted to make it prestigious and honourable. That is what you said.
Daniel Bryan: Here's the deal. I have respect for the title, I just don't have respect for the person holding it.
The Miz: Why? What did I do? What is the thing that I do that was so wrong in the WWE?
Daniel Bryan: You haven't done anything wrong, I just don't like the way you wrestle. I think a lot of the fans don't like the way you wrestle either.
The Miz: You don't like the fact that I beat Apollo Crews at SummerSlam fair and square, no cheating, no nothing like you like. And I beat him one, two, three with the Skull Crushing Finale, but that's the bad thing? That's bad wrestling?
Daniel Bryan: Okay, what I am going to say is that I was very proud of you and Apollo Crews the way you guys went out there at SummerSlam. And to me, you guys had a good match. But I was more impressed with Apollo Crews than I was with you, to be quite honest.
The Miz: He lost!
Daniel Bryan: Yeah, he might have lost, but... I guess the kind of thing is you to me, there's no gentle way to say this, you wrestle like a coward. You wrestle like someone who's afraid to get hit.
The Miz: I wrestle like a coward?
Daniel Bryan: You wrestle like a coward.
The Miz: I'm the one---
Daniel Bryan: If I were to create a wrestler who to me embodies, like when I was an independent guy and I was thinking like, 'oh okay what's the soft WWE style?', it'd be that. WWE has transformed---
The Miz: Hold on hold on. You've had your chance to talk. You're the one who called me a coward in the wrestling ring. Lets talk about cowards for one second. The reason I wrestle the way I wrestle is because I can do it day in and day out all the time for ten plus years. I have never, never in my career ever have been injured. I don't get injured for six months-to-a-year. I am here each and every week. But you sit there and call me a coward? Let me tell you about a coward. Let me tell you about a guy who tells his WWE fans, the people that he loves that he will be back - he promises them - 'I promise you, I will be back in one year’s time to claim this title.' But you didn’t, Daniel, did you? But I’m the coward. I’m the one who doesn’t love the fans.
Daniel Bryan: Okay, if they would let me come back, I would come back.
The Miz: Oh, you would?
Daniel Bryan: Yeah.
The Miz: You love that WWE ring, you love wrestling, you love being right in that wrestling ring and you love wrestling, right? Well why don’t you quit? Why don’t you quit and go to the bingo halls with your indie friends, Daniel?
Renee Young: Okay, I think you need to calm... That's not what this... That’s not what this show’s about.
The Miz: No! No! I got this! Me and the GM have this. Thank you very much, Renee, this is a great show, but we’re talking here. I need to talk to you real quick because the fact is you’re the one that calls me the coward, but you’re the one that doesn’t get in the WWE ring again.
[Bryan walks off the Talking Smack set at this point]
The Miz: No! Don’t you walk away from me, Daniel! Don’t you walk away! I’m the one that loves the fans. I’m the one that loves everyone and everything. You’re the one that gets up and walks away every single time! You’re the coward! I am not a coward, I am your Intercontinental Champion and there is a reason I am making this the most relevant, prestigious title the WWE has and I deserve the respect on Smackdown Live!
[gestures to get him on camera]
The Miz: Understand that this is day 141 of the never-ending Intercontinental Championship world tour. And I swear to you, I promise you it'll be the most relevant title on Smackdown Live. I could care less about those little kids out for the tag team titles, the women's championship and the WWE Championship. This is my show. My show! And I'm sick of all of you, my GM sitting there and criticising me calling me the coward. You're the cowards! I am the one here day in and day out in that wrestling ring beating people up. Thank you very much.
[literally throws the mic on the table]
That there is what you call a pipebomb.
The thing is Talking Smack has been consistently the best show WWE has put out this year. Smackdown, NXT, CWC are all in there, but even then, TS has had amazing bits like The Miz promo as well as several other promos from the likes of Becky Lynch, Dean Ambrose and John Cena ("Dean Ambrose doesn't like John Cena. John Cena doesn't care about Dean Ambrose."), the latter two as part of the build to their triple threat match at No Mercy for the WWE Championship with AJ Styles and where they put on some of their best mic work in their career to date, not just on Talking Smack, but in-ring too.
Talking Smack has been brilliant for enhancing character development - Dolph Ziggler even gave Apollo Crews, who was sorely lacking one, some character development during an episode - as well as just fun stuff now and then (the occasional TNA name drops and the give no fucks attitude Daniel Bryan seems to exude on the show, or AJ Styles 'Jesus Zipper'). But for the most part, Talking Smack has been about character and story advancement whilst letting superstars be a little more freeform in their words compared to perhaps an in-ring promo.
Talking Smack's concept was even tried for Raw after Hell in a Cell with Raw Talk, though the pilot wasn't very successful considering we've yet to hear if there is more to come from it since then, not to mention exposed the lack of mic skills of one or two superstars on the Raw brand, including a very exposed Bayley, who was starting to find her feet in mic skills at the tail end of her final NXT feud with Asuka.
Even this week's episode had a heartbreaking breakup with Beauty and The Man Beast and a fantastic promo from the Wyatts, with an amazing killer line from Luke Harper: "Send anyone you want... just don't send anyone you want back." The fact that Harper's face was zoomed out and in distance before he came into view just added to the immersion, which also tells you the kind of luck Talking Smack has fallen upon in the best way even in production. And we even got Miz-Bryan II in the post-TLC Talking Smack, to bring this full circle.
So yeah, Talking Smack. It's a good show. You should watch it now and then if you haven't already. And if the time comes the show gets pulled (please never), its biggest moment will always be that August evening when one man opened fire on his old-school NXT protegee.
Fight forever has taken on a whole new meaning with these two.
Day One: The Phenomenal Year (AJ Styles)
Day Two: Grateful (Daniel Bryan)
Day Three: Here Comes the Money (Shane McMahon)
Day Four: The Rising Sun (Shinsuke Nakamura vs Sami Zayn)
Day Five: The Queen - Making history (Charlotte - 1/4)
Day Six: Fight Forever (Sami Zayn vs Kevin Owens)
Day Seven: The Boss - A new era (Sasha Banks - 2/4)
Johnny Cullen writes about games for a living and has written for the likes of Eurogamer, VG247 and Official PlayStation Magazine UK and also podcasts about games for My Favourite Game. You can follow him on Twitter - for mostly games hijinks but also WWE tweets (and be a bit obsessive over Bayley), The Last of Us, Metal Gear Solid 3 and Jonsi & Alex) - @JohnnyCullen.