wrestling / Columns

Csonka Looks at Talking Smack’s Cancellation

July 17, 2017 | Posted by Larry Csonka

Welcome back to column time with Larry. Today’s column is all about the death of Talking Smack as a weekly TV show. I didn’t watch the show on a weekly basis, I watched occasionally deepening on the guests and host, but judging by my Twitter timeline, it was appointment viewing for many people I know. So today I will discuss the some of the reasons why I feel that the show was given its marching orders as a regular weekly show. I hope that you enjoy, and feel free to share your thoughts. It’s wrestling, we love it and will disagree. The only rules are “have a take, be respectful of other’s opinions and don’t be a dick.”

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Diminishing Viewership: In all honesty, Talking Smack was a show designed to thrive. You don’t have to fly in guests because they are already at TV, the set is pre-fabricated and travels with all of the other equipment and isn’t exactly elaborate. It’s an easy set up and is reusable. The show also connected with the hardcore fan, the one buying the network and watching a lot of programming, with much lighter scripting and talent coming off more genuine. But one of the big reasons making the rounds for its cancellation is the lack of viewers; in theory this shouldn’t be a big issue since WWE owns its network and OnDemand viewership is one of the big hooks for the network. Every week, we post a list of the top 10 most watched WWE Network shows of the week (via VOD viewing). Here is a snapshot of how the show has done from May through this past week…

* 18th for the Week.
* 3rd for The Week.
* 9th for the Week.
* 11th for the Week.
* Placed outside of the top 10
* 20th for the Week.
* 15th for the Week.
* 9th for the Week.
* 7th for the Week.
* 8th for the Week.
* 13th for the Week.

Talking Smack started as a popular show in the weekly report, but over time, interest decreased and the show fell out of favor. As you can see above, outside of one week when it hit 3rd, the show was anywhere from 7th to out of the top 20 most viewed shows of the week. But WHY did the viewership drop? I have some theories…

Time Slot Change: I think that one factor that may have played a part in the lost interest in the show is due to the timeslot change. With 205 airing live at 10PM, taking Talking Smack’s original timeslot, I noticed a lot of complaints on Twitter and here on the site, with many people not wanting to sit through 205 Live to get to Talking Smack. Now in theory, with those not wanting to watch “live” that night, VOD numbers should have gone up. But many people liked the show because of the instant reaction nature following Smackdown. People I spoke with felt that it didn’t feel as important to see due to the delay, it’s a small sample size to be sure, but it does make sense. People are creatures of habit, and when their routine is thrown off, and with so much product to follow, it feels as if Talking Smack become expendable. But there are other reasons…

Lack of Daniel Bryan: Daniel Bryan was a big part of the success of Talking Smack. Not only was he really entertaining on the show, but he had a great chemistry with Renee Young. That chemistry, along with Bryan’s “I don’t give a shit and am just here to have fun” attitude made for a lot of fun. Bryan appeared to be having fun with Renee, with his other friends and his interactions with the Miz were absolutely great. When Bryan and Brie’s daughter was born, Bryan took some time off to spend with his wife and new daughter, which led to him missing several weeks of TV and Talking Smack. With Bryan taking some much-deserved family time away from WWE, Talking Smack never felt the same. Renee tried her best and was as fun as always, but JBL and Shane McMahon were poor substitutes and added nothing to the show. Shane was largely boring and added no excitement to the show, JBL towed the company line and spouted his outdated thoughts on the show or parroted Vince’s thoughts. They both felt extremely forced and didn’t really fit into the vibe of the show. I won’t claim that Daniel Bryan’s short absence was the sole reason fans lost interest and tuned out, but I do feel that it played a part in it.

They Lost The Miz: Whether it was intentional or not, it really feels as if Talking Smack was designed as a playground for the Miz. Daniel Bryan and Renee Young were outstanding hosts who not only delivered in their roles well, but also played well off of their guests. They knew when to give and when to take; but as far as the performers who excelled on the show and took full advantage of the format, The Miz was the MVP. Talking Smack, and Smackdown weren’t the same since the Superstar Shakeup and the departure of the Miz. The Miz was a vital part of the Smackdown roster and was appointment viewing on Talking Smack. The Miz thrived in the Talking Smack setting, “spitting fire” and “shooting” on almost every appearance. The Miz leaving the blue brand took a lot of the life and fun out of the main show and from Talking Smack.

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It Didn’t Fit The Script: At the end of the day, I think that talking Smack was a bit too free, too fun and not a slave to the regular WWE scripting. Despite the fact that WWE higher ups will tell you that you have to get yourself over and earn your chances, the thing is that they tend to get pissed when you dare do so; look at poor Zack Ryder. Rumors have come out that Vince canceled the show because it didn’t fall in line with the heavy scripting of WWE programming and “didn’t fit.” It’s all about the script, in WWE the script is life, and you don’t go off script or Vince & Kevin Dunn will get angry. You will love the script, and you will worship the script. Because how dare you have fun, how dare you get yourself over and how dare we get something other than the usual sterile WWE programming. At the end of the day, it all comes down to one man’s will and one man’s decision; kneel before Zod…

– End scene.

– Thanks for reading.

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“Byyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyye Felicia!”