Thursday, October 23, 2014

I Listen So You Don't Have To: The Ross Report Ep. 36

Madden is Ross' guest this week
Photo Credit: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
If you're new, here's the rundown: I listen to a handful of wrestling podcasts each week. Too many, probably, though certainly not all of them. In the interest of saving you time — in case you have the restraint to skip certain episodes — the plan is to give the bare bones of a given show and let you decide if it’s worth investing the time to hear the whole thing. There are better wrestling podcasts out there, of course, but these are the ones in my regular rotation that I feel best fit the category of hit or miss. If I can save other folks some time, I'm happy to do so.

Show: The Ross Report
Episode: 36
Run Time: 1:52:16
Guest: Mark Madden

Summary: The interview starts after about 34 minutes. JR and Madden talk about Mick Foley, which leads into a discussion about Kevin Steen and some other NXT stars. Madden addresses his problems with Vince Russo, then there’s discussion about the concept of humor in wrestling and potential in-ring appearances of Steve Austin, Sting and the Undertaker. They trade some Brian Pillman stories, Madden explains how he “saved” the Ric Flair book, they look at the present and future booking of Brock Lesnar and end by comparing and contrasting TNA and Ring of Honor as part of a larger talk about the general state of the business.

Quote of the week: Madden: “A lot of people can look at something booked and they can’t come up with a better idea, but they can tell you with accuracy whether what they’ve been presented with will work or not. And I’ve always said if there’s one thing that wrestling companies need, if there’s one position that needs to be created, it’s quality control editor. It would be very wise for every wrestling company to hire someone who’s very smart to the business, a veteran, who does nothing but takes a TV script and goes through with a fine-tooth comb and points out flaws in logic, gaps in continuity, what makes sense, what doesn’t, maybe fine tune or suggest a little thing here or there. Basically the job would be to keep errors from getting on TV, because a lot of times, as you know, those gaps in logic and continuity just get on TV and make people scratch their heads. It can take a good storyline and you can lose people, just with one mistake.”

Why you should listen: Madden is nothing if not opinionated, and since he started working with WCW in 1994 he’s certainly qualified to offer insight on a few aspects of the world of professional wrestling. He’s obviously still following the current product in multiple forms, and JR is a willing match for Madden’s strong personality. The part in which Madden details his perceptions of the flaws in Russo’s philosophy seems to be a fair criticism, though it’s not hard to come out of an argument with Vic Venom looking like the smarter guy.

Why you should skip it: Like Russo, Madden also is well known for having something of a toxic personality. Ninety minutes is a long time to listen to a guy so full of himself and his own reputation with barely any contrast from the host. JR does state when he disagrees with Madden, but they rarely explore their contention and usually just move on to another subject. And of course there’s the unavoidable air of old guys complaining. That’s not to say they don’t levy some fair criticisms, but if you saw Madden’s name as the guest and were expecting crusty white dudes whining, those fears are not baseless. Also, if you remain concerned about the whereabouts of El Generico, skip the NXT talk.

Final thoughts: I don’t hate Madden as much as many folks, and I’m actually pretty tolerant of JR’s repeat visits to his now-tired talking points. There is a lot of familiar territory here — we’ve all heard plenty about JR’s vision for WrestleMania XXXII in Dallas — but for as long a chat as this was it’s not a horrible listen. Perhaps a break in the middle is advisable, and the format makes that quite reasonable. You just have to take Madden with a grain of salt, there are a few solid nuggets for anyone willing to pan through the rest of the stream.