Thursday, November 13, 2014

I Listen So You Don't Have To: The Ross Report Ep. 39

Ross chats with a former colleague of his
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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: 39
Run Time: 1:50:43
Guest: Alex Greenfield

Summary: JR and former Smackdown head writer Alex Greenfield have a long talk about the writer’s often tumultuous WWE career. They start with a look at Greenfield’s early wrestling fandom and career foundations. That leads to a discussion of whom he worked well with backstage and who offered more resistance. They talk about struggles in the WWE work environment, share stories about Undertaker, JBL, Vader and others, spend a good deal of time breaking down Greenfield’s contentious relationship with Vince McMahon, offer some high praise for Mark Henry, analyze parlaying WWE work into the rest of the entertainment industry, reflect regrets and end with Greenfield discussing the wrestling-based work of two obscure media personalities.

Quote of the week: “It’s Vince’s sandbox and I was being allowed to play in it. And that’s not the way I treated it. My ego got away from me after I got promoted. … We didn’t get along, and most of that’s on me. … I never found the right way to work with him. Ultimately that’s why I quit. It just got to be not worth the trouble.”

Why you should listen: Can’t get enough firsthand accounts of backstage drama? Here you go. Greenfield certainly has direct experiences worth revisiting, and his self deprecation is genuine. Unlike others who offer tales from their time on the front lines, Greenfield seems to have learned about the business and himself, so while he’s not afraid to be blunt, he also lacks the defiance and self righteousness that’s often off-putting in such interviews.

Why you should skip it: Much like JR’s insistence his interview with Magnum TA was inspirational, he repeatedly says Greenfield is controversial. The episode description promises an “explosive, uncensored conversation.” But unless you’ve never heard an interview with a former WWE writer — and really, who hasn’t at this point? — you won’t be surprised by anything. Also, though it should go without saying, skip the monologue. The interview starts around 28:30.

Final thoughts: Greenfield’s specific experiences are unique to him, but his general impressions of life as a writer is not. JR gets strong points for not shifting the focus to himself, and it’s always pleasantly surprising when host and guest avoid the temptation to be self congratulatory and overly nostalgic. This by no means the highlight of The Ross Report, and it’s sure to pale in interest to next week’s show with Matt and Jeff Hardy. But it’s a solid effort showing JR might be getting more of a handle on the aspects of his personality that turn off certain listeners and moving his show toward a greater relevancy.