Wednesday, November 26, 2014

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Steve Austin Show Ep. 170

Austin's guest on this show was a veritable wrestling icon
Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein
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 Unleashed
Episode: 170
Run Time: 1:22:08
Guest: Bill Apter (13:00)

Summary: Austin welcomes a legendary figure from the pro wrestling world, magazine magnate Bill Apter. They talk briefly about the Pro Wrestling Illustrated 500 and Austin’s 1990 PWI Rookie of the Year award. Then Austin gets Apter to revisit his childhood and early days of fandom, which brings up names like Buddy Rogers, before talking about Apter’s career in the territory days and his stance on keeping kayfabe. The chat moves briskly to topics like Japan and names like Bruiser Brody, Stan Hansen, Dory Funk Jr., Jack Brisco, the von Erichs, Gary Hart, Andy Kaufman, Hulk Hogan and “Superstar” Billy Graham. They end with a look at Apter’s forthcoming book and a story about Austin’s 1997 neck injury. Stone Cold’s Match of the Week is the June 13 Smackdown encounter between Bray Wyatt, who is his guest next week, and Dean Ambrose.

Quote of the week: “I never broke (kayfabe) with the fans either. Because when the fans would talk to me about, ‘Hey, this is fake,’ I’d say, ‘Listen, if you want to talk about wrestling, you know, I look at it as a sport. So I’ll talk to you about wrestling all day and night, but I’m not going to defend fake or real and all that.’ I said, ‘These guys are the best athletes in the world, and I don’t question what this is. This is a sport to me.”

Why you should listen: Apter is a great interview. I think I first heard him on Art Of Wrestling in August 2012, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a wrestling fan of a certain age who has no exposure to Apter’s products. The deeper your experience went beyond the PWI 500 or Almanac, the more likely you are to enjoy and fully appreciate hearing Austin talk with a man he clearly respects and who obviously was a critical figure in the building the foundation for wrestling’s 1980s boom period. Beyond that, after the monologue, it’s one of the least-blue versions of the uncensored show in recent memory.

Why you should skip it: As much as I enjoyed this interview, I put myself in the place of the listeners I’ve heard call in to Austin’s show over the last several weeks. On one hand, such folks seem fanatical enough to listen to every second of Stone Cold audio regardless of content. On the other, this show is heavily skewed toward the fan side of Austin’s brain instead of his performing career. So if you’ve got no use for wrestling before 1990, certainly pre-Attitude Era, well, your loss, I guess. Also, the longest part of the chat is the Andy Kaufman story, and it’s one I’d heard in depth before.

Final thoughts: Perhaps there’s a segment of fans who know of Bill Apter and still don’t like the guy. But really, anyone who enjoys wrestling history will appreciate Apter’s recollections, and he and Austin clearly have an easy chemistry that makes the chat fly by. Conversations like this are the leading justification for things like Austin’s show to exist in the first place, so this episode comes highly recommended.