WWE doesn’t always bring ideas from the online/streaming interview shows Raw Talk and Talking Smack onto the televised programs they support. But in another sign of the blue brand’s superiority, of late they do seem to be tying SmackDown to its after-show.
Case in point, Apollo Crews. After coming up short in a bid to take the Intercontinental title from Big E last Friday, Talking Smack co-host Paul Heyman didn’t pull any punches when explaining to Crews why he failed to win the belt. Heyman’s also given Big E a few pep talks that seemed to be encouraging him to make a run at Universal champ Roman Reigns - to whom Paul serves as special counsel.
It’s the kind of interconnectedness and layered storytelling a lot of us have long been clamoring for. And it continued on this week’s SmackDown and Talking Smack.
On TV last night (Jan. 15), we saw Apollo sitting under Reigns’ learning tree in his (ultimately unsuccessful) quest to negotiate the most favorable match for himself at Royal Rumble.
"Stay... You can learn from this."#SmackDown @WWERomanReigns @HeymanHustle @WWEApollo pic.twitter.com/mc3qoI4tcr— WWE (@WWE) January 16, 2021
We also saw E lounging at ringside as Crews beat Sami Zayn. The Intercontinental champ was demonstrating the exact attitude toward his friend & challenger that Heyman used to fire Apollo up on Talking Smack a week ago.
As @WWEBigE sits by ringside, @SamiZayn and @WWEApollo attempt to make their case for a #ICTitle rematch. #SmackDown pic.twitter.com/B7KZSQ0xh1— WWE (@WWE) January 16, 2021
This continued onto the post-show this week, when E & Crews appeared to “debate” ahead of their rematch next Friday. Each man respectful spoke about why they would win, which didn’t sit well with Heyman. He wanted hatred from both men, and in an effort to get it, asked why the champ never invited Apollo to join in New Day’s success. E dismissed that idea, along with the notion that Apollo would hand the belt back to him in he won next week. Crews, however, said that Heyman had a point...
“Winners in WWE subscribe to the belief that hatred is a far better emotion in that ring than love and respect.” - @HeymanHustle #TalkingSmack pic.twitter.com/qYxF2MNSH9— frank | MVP LUKA SZN (@TheNextBlGThing) January 16, 2021
With losses mounting for Jey Uso, and seeing as Heyman’s labeled E as a threat to Reigns, the Tribal Chief and his consigliere seem to be recruiting Crews into the fold. There’s also been a lot of talk about Apollo’s family of late, and we know how central that is to Roman’s heel character...
Do they have a long-term plan in mind for the former U.S. champ, or are they just manipulating him temporarily to mess with E? If he aligns with them permanently, what does that mean for Jey? Uce never quite seems to deliver exactly to what his cousin wants from him. Where does Jimmy Uso fit in the picture whenever he’s cleared to return?
We’ll have to keep watching SmackDown - and Talking Smack - to find out.