Wednesday, November 5, 2014

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Steve Austin Show Ep. 165

Austin takes listener calls this episode.
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: 165
Run Time: 1:14:27
Guest: None

Summary: In an episode recorded a few weeks ago, Austin is still in the Podcast One studio taking calls from listeners. They discuss some of his alignment shifts, the overplayed role of the heel promoter, the Buried Alive match against the Undertaker late in 1998, crowd reactions, the importance of well produced vignettes, plans for future match commentary episodes, gym stories, the Booker T supermarket brawl, working with Paul Bearer, Eric Bischoff and Dutch Mantell, the appeal of the Rosemont Horizon, breaking in to the WWE past one’s physical prime and the lingering effects of unprotected chair shots. Austin also offers a match of the week — actually an entire show, Starrcade 1985.

Quote of the week: “Anybody will tell you, if you light up a place and get one of those monster pops, it’s a thrill that’s about as addictive as anything I could ever imagine. If someone could harness that and sell it, they’d be a billionaire.”

Why you should listen: It’s a concise show, and there’s actually some new material here, specifically the story about the Buried Alive match and the value of wrestlers being able to hear crowd reactions. The call from the earnest 14-year-old who watches old Memphis wrestling on YouTube is wonderful, but my favorite was the first caller, whom Austin chose to pepper with his own line of interesting questions that led to a decent discussion about the way the Mr. McMahon story shaped wrestling narratives for 15 years.

Why you should skip it: If you’re a 39-year-old married man with a day job and two kids who has visions of somehow landing on the WWE payroll, you’re not going to want to hear the Stone Cold truth about your prospects. The concussion talk skims the surface — Austin surely could talk at great length, especially with the right guest, about one of the most challenging things about perpetual wrestling fandom. There are a few retread topics, and after Thursday’s fleshed out Match of the Week segment, it was disappointing to get so little of Austin’s insight regarding Starrcade 1985.

Final thoughts: Because they’re so brief, the two personal stories Austin tells this week — the opening monologue about getting his toes ready for a dinner party and the listener-prompted tale of farting during a gym session — might be the unsung highlight of the show. Beyond that, you know what you’re getting with the call-in shows. They get incrementally better as Austin learns how to effectively guide each brief chat. That said, there’s nothing essential in this episode — no new insight or thought-provoking commentary on a key issue. It’s not a bad way to spend an hour, but it won’t change the way you see the world, either.