Friday, December 19, 2014

I Listen So You Don't Have To: The Ross Report Ep. 44

Jarrett discusses NXT and New Japan on his Ross Report appearance
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: 44
Run Time: 1:50:58
Guest: Jeff Jarrett (10:50)

Summary: JR and JJ open with a quick look at Jarrett’s family and its history in wrestling. Then they start to talk about TLC and, to a lesser extent, the recent NXT supershow. Then Jarrett gives an explanation of the origin and nature of Global Force Wrestling as a means of setting up a lengthy talk about NJPW and specifically Wrestle Kingdom 9, the Jan. 4 show for which Jarrett hired Ross to serve as play-by-play announcer. They discuss how and why Matt Striker got hired as the color analyst. Eventually there’s an unexpected transition back to TLC before Ross brings up the controversy surrounding the 1999 dissolution of Jarrett’s working relationship with WWF.

Quote of the week: “In my opinion it was the energy level. You watch a good college basketball game or a good college football game, and you really don’t have to know the teams, but the announcers give you a little backstory, what conference, who sort of the stars are, but when guys are out there laying licks, and you know that they’re leaving it all out on the field, that’s the feeling that the NXT show is. It’s that raw energy. … It oozed through the screen in my opinion. The audience knew what they were watching was a special group of guys that are trying to make a name for themselves.”

Why you should listen: NXT fans will be happy to hear Jarrett adding to the growing number of establishment voices raving about WWE’s best-kept secret. NJPW fans (and I am assuming here) will be happy to hear how much of this episode is devoted to discussing the upcoming pay-per-view and the reverence Ross and especially Jarrett have for the promotion and more so its performers. And the 1999 Jarrett-Vince-Chyna stuff is unexplored territory in the podcast realm.

Why you should skip it: If you come looking for a review of TLC, you’ll realize that’s the bait and the real meat is a hard sell on Wrestle Kingdom 9. Both guys avoid criticizing much of TLC, though they do a decent job of further explaining what Austin and Meltzer said earlier this week about how the use of every possible weapon and gimmick put the main event players in a no-win situation. I also have a suspicion devoted NJPW fans will be let down by what might come across as a lack of knowledge about the promotion from the two people most tasked with making it palatable for American audiences.

Final thoughts: We’ve got a mixed bag here. On one hand, Jarrett was a much friendlier guest than I expected, but perhaps that’s because JR steered away from almost anything that could be construed as controversial. It was great to hear the NXT praise, though it ultimately was superficial without getting into the meat of why those shows work and how they succeed in the current WWE structure. As for setting up the NJPW show, I sort of expected a deeper look at the narratives heading to the big day, but Jarrett mostly talked up the individual performers and atmosphere and Ross is clearly ready to defer to Striker for context and background. Still, this is an interesting listen, especially to anyone ho might be on the fence about ordering the PPV. I’m looking forward to hearing feedback on that show from someone who jumped in only because of the English commentary option, and hopefully JR will have a good guest on to debrief after the show.