Thursday, December 11, 2014

I Listen So You Don't Have To: The Ross Report Ep. 43

Waltman is Ross' guest this week
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: The Ross Report
Episode: 43
Run Time: 1:59:43
Guest: Sean Waltman (28:30)

Summary: After his usual monologue, JR starts his chat with Waltmann by looking at the start of his WWF career, the essential RAW match with Bret Hart, in-ring philosophy, tagging with and working against Yokozuna and Kane, the 1-2-3 Kid’s famous upset win over Razor Ramon, his thoughts on Chris Benoit and Dynamite Kid and his complex relationship with Chyna. After a break, they discuss the best way to develop young talent and analyze the former Shield members before talking about working repeatedly with the same opponent, a potential Steve Austin comeback, Brock Lesnar, the Kliq/Wolfpac history as well as perceptions of being in late-1990s WCW and WWF, the Montreal Screwjob, the plane ride from hell, Scott Hall and battles with sobriety before a quick talk about the importance of crowd reaction and some of Waltman’s ongoing projects.

Quote of the week: On personal issues plaguing wrestlers: “It’s a cocktail of things, Jim. We bring a lot of this stuff with us into the business. It’s not the business’ fault that we’re all screwed up. I think the business gets blamed an awful lot for stuff we bring with us. I know I brought it with me.”

Why you should listen: The discussion about match psychology is fascinating, especially with the real-world examples of Kane, Yokozuna and even Bill Watts. In this and a few other sections, Waltman displays his bona fides as a lifelong wrestling fan and dedicate student. It certainly incentivized me to seek out a few Waltman matches, which seems like the kind of result a good podcast should yield. Waltman also speaks from a place of experience with regards to substance abuse and complex personal relationships, and it’s nice to hear him now that he’s seemingly settled into a more stable life and able to address the way people fall prey to certain temptations.

Why you should skip it: While Ross does bring Waltman into some new territory, this interview is nowhere near as intriguing as Waltman’s earlier podcast appearances with Colt Cabana and Steve Austin. For much of the show Ross seems to be just asking questions from Twitter followers rather than build on his own professional relationship with Waltman, which makes it all the more maddening when he dips into the dried-up wells of Lesnar ending The Streak, Benoit and Montreal. If you want to hear about the stuff Ross only hints at — notably Waltman’s sordid childhood but also any semblance of a functional career retrospective — you’ll have to go elsewhere.

Final thoughts: In some ways I don’t want to bag too hard on this interview (but certainly skip the monologue and the 10-minute wrap up). It was scattershot, but even so it’s better than several of JR’s earlier efforts with Attitude Era stars. It does come across as something of a step back from some of his recent more compelling chats, though with Ross’ schedule there’s no telling when he actually recorded the conversation. Given how I’ve heard Waltman open up before, and knowing how Ross likes to push certain buttons, I expected more from this show. Perhaps it says something about JR that he spent as much time talking about Waltman’s salacious past with Chyna than pretty much any other topic.

Ultimately, this interview shows what happens when Ross sits down with an acquaintance as compared to one of his actual wrestling friends. It sets a challenging stage for next week, when Ross will review Tables, Ladders and Chairs with, of all people, Jeff Jarrett, a controversial figure in his own right who just went into business with JR after they didn’t speak to each other for 15 years.