The WWE news about the cancellation of Talking Smack did not go over well with fans, but the company’s decision to axe the show might actually be part of a larger trend that may eventually do away with all unscripted moments.
The 20-minute show followed the SmackDown Live broadcasts on Tuesdays and had commentary from WWE broadcaster Renee Young and General Manager Daniel Bryan, who would interview guests and give them a chance to give a bit of extra context to their characters outside of the constraints of the ring and in a more unscripted format.
As the Huffington Post noted, it even gave the WWE superstars a chance to drop out of character a bit and just be real.
“But Talking Smack was also where the ever so guarded fourth wall was broken, and if the moment called for it, these superstars were just normal human beings,” the report noted. “They dropped their act.”
The WWE had already dropped Raw Talk, a similar show that aired on Mondays, leaving fans with scant options to see live weekly talk programming. The last live talk show standing is now 205 Live, which airs after SmackDown.
CBS Sports tied in the cancellation of Talking Smack with a greater drive within the WWE to save money on programming. The company removed pyrotechnics from shows and stopped using specialized sets for pay-per-view events, the report noted, so it may seem logical that cutting Talking Smack was a cost-cutting move.
— WWE Network (@WWENetwork) July 24, 2017
While that may be true, the show’s cancellation could also be connected to a trend within the WWE that traces directly to Vince McMahon. A report last week from Bryan Alvarez of Wrestling Observer Newsletter that garnered little attention at the time noted that McMahon had banned the word “briefcase” during programming, which seems like a minor detail but could actually show a trend toward much tighter control over content.
Alvarez’s report claimed that McMahon wanted WWE talent to refer to the Money in the Bank Briefcase as the Money in the Bank Contract instead, which is not the first time McMahon has made demands about very specific wording.
As Pop Culture noted, McMahon was behind a long list of words forbidden from being spoken during the broadcast.
“Several years ago, a list was leaked containing some of the words specifically banned by Vince, as well as their preferred terminology. This included some seemingly ordinary words like ‘belt’, ‘hospital’, ‘house show’ and more. But even ‘faction’, ‘feud’, ‘wrestlers’ and ‘fan'” were among the banned terms, pushing the company’s standard for using sometimes awkward or made-up terms like ‘WWE Universe’ and ‘superstars’ instead.”
With Vince McMahon seemingly taking tighter control over the content and presentation of broadcasts, it may not be too surprising that the unscripted Talking Smack would be canceled. So while the WWE may be saving money by cutting the live show, the real reason could have more to do with control over programming than cutting costs.
[Featured Image by WWE]