In a show that constantly bordered between kayfabe and shoot — not unlike the weekly Talking Smack and the post-PPV Raw Talk shows on the WWE Network — Peter Rosenberg represented the WWE Universe while grilling JBL and Paul Heyman about such topics as John Cena having the greatest run in professional wrestling history, why WWE is drawing out the Lesnar/Goldberg feud, and whether or not it’s likely that Conor McGregor or Hulk Hogan will ever be a part of the WWE in the future.
The most interesting part of Talking Smack has been when Daniel Bryan tiptoes the line between what he’s supposed to say and what he’s not really supposed to mention at all. It would appear as though WWE recognizes that the fans like this sort of programming, and want to control it as much as they can. So, topics that are normally considered taboo — such as Hulk Hogan’s future with WWE and whether Sasha Banks and Charlotte Flair have ruined the Raw Women’s Championship already — were treated as fair game. Although, undoubtedly, nothing aired without prior approval from Vince McMahon.
Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar
The show started off with Heyman and JBL responding to a few “hot topic” WWE issues. Regarding the match between Brock Lesnar and Goldberg at Survivor Series 2016, Heyman mostly deflected questions from Rosenberg, saying that Lesnar remains the biggest story in WWE regardless of how his matches play out. Then they started discussing the Lesnar/Goldberg feud from a business perspective, commenting that WWE was smart to book the initial “rematch” as part of the Royal Rumble Match, so that they can save the one-on-one rematch for an event like WrestleMania 33.
In the second segment, JBL and Heyman were given 60 seconds to give a quick “Yay” or “Boo” to a topic and explain their answer. JBL gave James Ellsworth a “Yay” and said that anyone who felt he didn’t deserve his spot on SmackDown doesn’t understand how a meritocracy works and that Ellsworth delivered ratings. Heyman then gave 205 Live an emphatic “Yay” (five of them, in fact), while JBL gave the Cruiserweight competitors no sympathy for being forced to follow the SmackDown LIVE main event.
When talking about the feud between Charlotte Flair and Sasha Banks, the question was raised regarding whether or not the title changing hands so frequently reflected negatively on the championship or the division as a whole, but that question wasn’t answered directly by JBL or Heyman. The general consensus was that it is an important feud and that it will be hard for Sasha Banks to move on and focus on something else.
John Cena: Greatest Of All Time?
They briefly talked about whether or not SmackDown LIVE has started to give Monday Night Raw a run for their money as the WWE’s “flagship program” and how John Cena’s apparent move towards a part-time schedule impacts that debate. Somewhat surprisingly, Paul Heyman said that Cena has unquestionably had the best run in professional wrestling history: better than Hulk Hogan, better than Stone Cold and better than Bruno Sammartino.
When asked about who they would like to see from the NXT roster make a surprise entrance into the Royal Rumble Match, JBL said he’d love to see Shinsuke Nakamura. Paul Heyman said he’d love to see Nakamura, Samoa Joe and a few others from the NXT roster in the 30-man battle royal, but he believes it should come after a great deal of hype and promotion, not as a surprise.
— WWE (@WWE) January 3, 2017
The Undertaker at Royal Rumble 2017 — The Undertaker vs. John Cena
When asked about when they expect to see The Undertaker between now and WrestleMania 33, neither Heyman nor JBL denied the possibility that Taker could show up at the Royal Rumble on January 29. Regarding an opponent for WrestleMania, Peter noted that many rumors point towards The Undertaker vs. AJ Styles at Mania. JBL said he’d love to see the Dead Man face Styles or even Baron Corbin a year from now, but thought that they should bring someone bigger in this year like The Rock. Regarding the idea of John Cena vs. The Undertaker, Bradshaw agreed it would be a huge match that “needs to happen” before Undertaker retires for good.
After prefacing his statement with the clarification that he likes Bret Hart as a person and as a Hall of Fame wrestler, JBL brought up the fact that Bret Hart has a reputation for getting angry over silly issues related to WWE. In not so many words, he indirectly told the Excellence of Execution to take a chill pill and leave Seth Rollins and Michael Hayes alone.
Regarding fans saying that Monday Night Raw should be reduced to a two-hour program, JBL reminded the WWE Universe that the company has contracts with television distributors all over the world that run through 2019. Those contracts are currently worth $173 million a year to WWE, by far their largest source of income. That being the case, there’s no reason to think WWE will shorten WWE Raw anytime soon, if ever. He noted that they also make over $130 million from the WWE Network and more than $100 from live event ticket sales.
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Halle Berry, Ric Flair and The Bella Twins
Peter asked them if they believed it was true that Halle Berry “road Space Mountain” — slept with Ric Flair — as the rumors have stated. JBL said that he hoped it was true, and hoped that Halle had a thing for wrestlers, because Berry was his “hall pass” with his wife.
On the heels of The Bella Twins launching their own YouTube channel, Peter asked what they thought Nikki and Brie brought to the WWE besides their in-ring contributions. But Paul Heyman cut the conversation short, saying he’d rather talk about “real news” like Conor McGregor.
Conor McGregor and Hulk Hogan
Incidentally, not a lot was actually said that any other fans who follow both UFC and WWE couldn’t have said. Conor McGregor clearly has the charisma to be a WWE Superstar and knows how to get people talking. While everyone agreed it would be great to see McGregor inside a WWE ring at some point, no one provided any sort of insider information — or even a guess — about when that might actually happen.
— WWE (@WWE) January 3, 2017
The final segment centered on Hulk Hogan and his possible return to the WWE. Both Paul Heyman and JBL said that the comments Hogan made were inexcusable. However, they both believed that he would eventually be welcomed back to the WWE — whenever Vince McMahon is ready.
Where to Watch WWE: Bring It To The Table
The premiere of Bring it to the Table aired on the WWE Network immediately following Monday Night Raw. Replays of Bring it to the Table are available to stream on-demand with a subscription to the WWE Network.
[Featured Image by John Pendygraft-Pool/Getty Images, Michael Reaves/Getty Images, and Frazer Harrison/Getty Images]