WWE’s Talk Show History: Moments of Far More Than Just Bliss

In the world of WWE, no matter how much the pieces change, the overall puzzle in mind usually stays the same. Well, next week on Monday Night RAW, one of the promotion’s favorite verbal vehicles returns. In the brand’s first showing of 2019, we’ll be treated to the world premiere of ‘A Moment of Bliss,’ a talk show segment hosted by Alexa Bliss and moreover, the continuation of a legacy that regardless of era or talent, has now existed for over three decades of WWE programming.

The concept itself is a simple one: give a confident talker some promo time and further spotlight their character in doing so. As for the actual content, it’s just an excuse to further someone’s conflict, whether it directly involve the host or not. Considering that and the talent that’ll likely be featured, Alexa is obviously a great fit for the role. As just the second female to ever get this opportunity, Bliss will ideally shine a spotlight on the women’s division’s ongoing angles and with Ronda Rousey as her first guest, that starts this Monday on RAW.

As Bliss mentioned in her announcement of this event, Rousey is a fitting starting point for the brand new show. With her career proudly acting as a tribute to ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper, Rousey is a reminder of this format’s famous roots. While not officially the first of its kind, Roddy’s ‘Piper’s Pit’ segment is certainly one of WWE’s most iconic talk show settings. A genuine game-changer in wrestling’s television history, Piper’s sublime promo skill took center stage, creating visuals and soundbites that would last a lifetime and then some.

Whether he was making an ill-advised threat in Andre the Giant’s direction, enraging MSG with Bruno Sammartino slander or most famously, shattering a coconut over Jimmy Snuka’s skull, Piper left a legacy that laid the groundwork for everyone that’s followed since. So indelible was Piper’s impact in fact that the segment would return throughout the years, appearing on multiple one-off occasions until its final showing in December 2014. However, while ‘Piper’s Pit’s importance is undeniable, every era of fan will have their own memories of WWE’s talk show history.

This is particularly apparent during WWE’s last 80’s explosion, with Piper’s hiatus leading to the creation of a range of alternatives in its place. That was first the case with Adrian Adonis’ ‘The Flower Shop’ and soon continued, including the short-lived ‘Missy’s Manor,’ a segment featuring Missy Hyatt, the first ever female talk show host. There were some more long-lived outings too, with ‘The Snake Pit’ first coming to mind for me personally. One of wrestling’s most revered talkers, Jake Roberts was an obvious fit for the role and in hindsight, the show played host to a pivotal shift in his WWE career.

It was on ‘The Snake Pit’ of course that Jake’s character made the ultimate change, turning babyface at the hands of The Honky Tonk Man’s guitar. Arguably the show’s most discussed segment never aired though, the much debated starting point of a planned feud between Roberts and then WWF Champion Hulk Hogan. According to Roberts, the angle was canceled in response to the crowd’s reaction, a surprising cheer for Jake that controversially halted the programme’s future before it had even begun.

Regardless of that segment’s fate, moments of drama and importance were far from an outlier on WWE’s many talk shows throughout the years. In fact, it was Brutus Beefcake’s ‘Barber Shop’ that played host to one of the industry’s most iconic moments of treachery. It was there that Shawn Michaels betrayed Marty Jannetty, first with a superkick and then, by famously launching him through the shop’s glass window. The visual itself was an unforgettable one but its place in history is even more remarkable, playing launching pad to Michaels’ spectacular singles career.

In another pivotal moment, it was on the ‘Brother Love Show’ just a year prior that Paul Bearer debuted as The Undertaker’s manager. This was a fitting reveal considering that before long, he’d continue the legacy himself, hosting ‘The Funeral Parlor’ in the early 90s. Just like the now multiple shows that had come before it, Bearer’s segment was another vehicle to help promote the product’s ongoing programmes and feuds. That was most memorably the case in late 1991, as Ric Flair confronted Hulk Hogan in a long-awaited verbal exchange that resulted in a visual that encapsulated a whole generation of wrestling history.

As it once did for Roberts, ‘The Funeral Parlor’ was also home to Undertaker’s eventual babyface turn, in the end proving to be the segment’s final appearance too. There were other talk shows that emerged during the 90s but with RAW’s arrival, it’s Jerry Lawler ‘King’s Court’ that most obviously transitioned the concept towards its current direction. Outside of Sycho Sid’s WWE debut, Lawler’s show probably didn't provide as many lasting memories as its most famous predecessors but even still, it played a part in the format’s evolution.

Airing often in some of RAW’s early years, ‘King’s Court’ took the concept inside the ropes, a departure from the separate sets that had become standard in the years prior. In truth though, this was one of the 90’s final WWE talk show stands of note, with the product’s overall shift somewhat removing them from the concept. Nonetheless, as the WWE’s approach steadily edged back to its 80s roots, the talk show segments slowly returned, once again becoming a mainstay of sorts in the mid-2000s.

The first example of that remains arguably the most memorable: Chris Jericho’s irreplaceable ‘Highlight Reel.’ Initially just a route to bait Goldberg, Jericho’s talk show segment eventually became a regular, starting many of his conflicts and perfectly highlighting his almost unmatched range as talker and personality too. The show lasted over a decade and its greatest highlight has to be one of the promotion’s all-time great talk show segments. In his first heel turn after returning in 2007, Jericho assaulted Shawn Michaels, violently launching him through the ‘Jeritron 6000’ screen.

A key turning point in one of the company’s most revered rivalries, the segment was not only dramatic but more than that, acted as a poetic nod to Michaels’ aforementioned betrayal of Jannetty. That segment stands out from the pack but in that time period, it’s far from alone. Whether it be Christian’s ‘Peep Show,’ ‘Carlito’s Cabana,’ MVP’s ‘VIP Lounge’ or even ‘Matt Striker’s Classroom,’ the talk show segment was well and truly back. While probably not quite to the extent of Jericho’s ‘Highlight Reel,’ Edge’s ‘The Cutting Edge’ segment also very much made an impact of its own.

Interestingly, Edge’s talk show only emerged due to an injury, with it initially acting as simply a vehicle to keep him on TV. That was also supposedly the case with Michaels’ ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ and this Monday on RAW, that story likely repeats itself in the case of Bliss. Either way, ‘The Cutting Edge’ was a perfect complimentary piece for Edge’s ascension, constantly starting or building his latest conflicts while spotlighting his character’s evolution along the way. In the last few years though, the format has probably found one of its great incarnations yet, with ‘Miz TV’ becoming a WWE segment of almost unparalleled consistency.

The Miz first entered the format alongside John Morrison with ‘The Dirt Sheet’ but in Miz TV, his talent’s immense potential has certainly been realized. It’s been a constant go-to in the modern landscape, building angles for almost everyone on the WWE roster and giving Miz a sustained voice in doing so. It was there that the conflict with John Cena and Nikki Bella reached a fever pitch. It was there that main event angles took shape and it was there that more often than not, The Miz’s greatest plans would meet their fate, for better or worse.

In recent times, that of course even included the ploy of a fake Monroe Sky Mizanian but for me personally, Miz’s hometown career tribute to…himself stands out in particular. After brilliantly celebrating his own rise to greatness, Miz was confronted by Dolph Ziggler and in their programme’s key moment, baited him into putting his career on the line for a shot at the Intercontinental Title. Considering how this format started, and where this concept built from, that segment felt like the perfect tribute to its talk show roots.

Regardless of the show’s name, look or even the participants talking, this was a great example of what’s made this style of segment such a constant. It allowed two characters to talk. These were two characters with genuine history and now, they had a real reason to go back and forth. That’s of course what this is really all about. The set and presentation add a unique, individual touch but that’s just the icing, it’s the core that counts. This is a matter of spotlighting your roster’s finest talkers, developing their characters and trusting them to elevate others along the way.

This Monday, Alexa Bliss will make her own attempt at furthering that history. ‘Moment of Bliss’ could be a short-lived period of Alexa’s career or it could become the cornerstone of it, only time will tell. On paper though, this feels like a fitting opportunity, as one of the modern era’s most confident characters takes centre stage in the continuation of one of WWE’s longest legacies. The TV show may change and the talent certainly has but no matter the era or on-screen authority figure, talk show segments have almost always been there regardless.

We’ve had moments of comedy, moments of treachery and now this week on RAW, we’ll even experience the very first ‘Moment of Bliss.’

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