Monday, November 24, 2014

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Steve Austin Show Ep. 169

Austin analyzes this match in great detail
Photo Credit:
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: Steve Austin Show
Episode: 169
Run Time: 1:15:13
Guest: None

Summary: After a lengthy setup, Stone Cold gets to the main event: running commentary of his classic WrestleMania 13 encounter with Bret “The Hitman” Hart. It’s Austin’s defining match in his favorite arena, Chicago’s Rosemont Horizon. He narrates the entire match from the entrance of guest referee Ken Shamrock to his own slow, bloody walk back to the locker room.

Quote of the week: “Wham! Wham! Wham! Wham! Bam-bam-bam-bam-bam-bam-bam! Eff you. Wham! That last kick may have been a little bit snug.”

Why you should listen: If you enjoyed Austin providing commentary for his WrestleMania X-Seven main event against The Rock, you know what you’re getting here. Austin provides excellent context to the match (such as explaining how a certain Hart chair shot is supposed to invoke memories of Austin attacking Brian Pillman) and sheds light on things even devotees of this match might have missed (like how Austin responded when he sensed Hart’s arm was trapped during a guardrail clothesline). If you want to know how one of the all-time greats approached the actual mechanics of wrestling, or just to hear how fired up he is about this match some 17 years later, this is a great use of 75 minutes.

Why you should skip it: It’s not all sunshine and roses here. Unlike his previous outing, Austin talks over every second of the match, going so far as to encourage listeners to rewatch it so they can hear the commentary. The atmosphere of the ambient audio is missed — especially when all he’s doing is punctuating contact like John Madden breaking down instant replay during a football telecast. I can’t imagine the meat of this show is enjoyable at all without video of the match playing in the background. There’s plenty of good stuff in here, but it’s not all gold.

Final thoughts: These shows are close to great. Again, I can’t quite put my finger on what’s needed to elevate them to a higher level, but I very much appreciate the effort Austin clearly put into this episode, as it’s a far more rewarding listen than yet another listener call-in show. If these attempts continue to improve, listeners may regret Austin’s decision to start with his highest-profile matches since those ought to have the finest commentary as a companion. That said, it probably made sense to start with these two since the quality of the in-ring performance probably is more than enough to make the combined experience a sold, if not spectacular, listening experience.