WWE Talking Smack Proves That Scripted Promos Are Not Needed


Talking Smack has become one of the more popular shows on the WWE Network thanks in large part to the worked shoot-nature of the promos the wrestlers deliver on the spot. Should scripted promos and memorizing lines be thrown to the wayside entirely?

Titus O’Neil recently made the seemingly weekly Botchamania rounds when he flubbed several of his lines during an in-ring promo he cut on Darren Young. The blunder may have cost the two a WWE TV feud as the rivalry apparently fizzled out from Raw entirely since then. Interestingly enough, when Titus and Darren were heels as the Prime Time Players, the two were found to be highly entertaining when they were allowed to be themselves, as was the case when the two did commentary.

So what happened between Titus “Pancake Patterson” O’Neil of then, to the Titus that we saw on Raw in the ring a couple of weeks back? The answer lies in the much-dismayed scripted promos that WWE has been utilizing for the better part of the PG era beginning in 2008. Scripted promos are a hotly debated issue in WWE.

On the surface, having scripted promos seems like a good way of curtailing and curbing the image that WWE would like to present, as they are and have been for some time now, a publicly traded, family-oriented entertainment company on the NYSE. On the other hand, WWE has quickly become much like the NFL in regards to its overtly image-conscientous approach.

However, with the recent Brand Extension draft, SmackDown has gone live, but perhaps even more noteworthy, Team Blue has its own companion show on the WWE Network called Talking Smack, perhaps a blatantly obvious reference to Talking Dead, the talk show that discusses and breaks down the most recent episode of the Walking Dead the hour prior. While Raw can be at times a three-hour slog, SmackDown remains two hours long, but when combined with its companion show Talking Smack, the overall SmackDown experience clocks in at around two-and-a-half, which is still reasonable. It’s not too long and not too short.

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What has made Talking Smack so enjoyable since its premier episode is the natural promos the wrestlers have been able to cut when posed a question from either Renee Young and Daniel Bryan. The talent seems more comfortable delivering their message in this format, and certainly does feel different from the typical backstage interviews that we’ve gotten accustomed to seeing. Talking Smack has a sort of post-game show vibe to its handling of promos.

Several wrestlers on the SmackDown roster have already benefited from appearing on Talking Smack. The Usos, Miz, American Alpha, Dolph Ziggler, Alexa Bliss, and Baron Corbin, especially the latter. Prior to his time on Talking Smack, one of Baron Corbin’s common points of criticism levied towards him was that his mic skills, while not bad, had not developed enough to allow him to stand out and be identifiable to the crowd.

This was perhaps due to Corbin being given lines to memorize; during SmackDown itself, Corbin was in a backstage segment with AJ Styles and one could clearly tell that Corbin’s delivery felt rehearsed and forced, a stark contrast to his appearance on Talking Smack an hour later where he was more natural in his response to Daniel Bryan.

Are scripted promos really necessary in WWE? One would assume that in their time down at the Performance Center and, presumably NXT, all future up and coming talent would have to learn how to know how to talk on a mic well before they find their way to the main roster. They would have to know how to cut a promo unassisted by producers, or without lines being fed to them.

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One of the points of contention is Brock Lesnar. However upon closer examination, Brock’s promos aren’t scripted. WWE realized Brock’s weakness in having him cut a promo by himself in front of a massive crowd was not his strong suit, and they were able to protect him and prevent him from stammering and fumbling over himself. Which is why WWE situated him with Paul Heyman as his mouthpiece once again. In reality, when you watch Brock’s taped or pre-recorded material, Brock is able to be himself, obscenities and all. Brock doesn’t come across as forced or rehearsed, as evident in his taped promos on John Cena heading into Extreme Rules 2012 and Randy Orton for this year’s SummerSlam.

Given the disastrous results of scripted promos seen with Titus O’Neil and Kalisto, and others who are well-documented in their mic skills being their cup of tea such as Neville and Apollo Crews, should WWE cut its losses and do away with scripted promos, despite their investment in hiring top-flight Hollywood writers? Has Brock Lesnar’s taped promos and Talking Smack done enough to convince WWE that perhaps having a team of writers cultivate lines for, in essence, a fighter, does not work as well as they would like?

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What do you think? Are scripted promos necessary in certain instances? Or just a bothersome aspect that in turn can harm the talent to a degree and the overall quality of the show?