Friday, December 26, 2014

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Steve Austin Show Eps. 178/179

Koloff is Austin's latest guest
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 Unleashed
Episode: 178
Run Time: 1:24:43
Guest: Ted Fowler

Summary: Austin and Ted Fowler watched RAW together and didn’t much care for the show. They talk a bit about the state of the deer herd, and between their own rambling and listener emails start to discuss Goldust, ring props, WrestleMania XXX, Shane McMahon, comparing RAW and NXT, how John Cena would have fared in the Attitude Era, Hulk Hogan rumors, and a preference for a general manager or WWE brand split and draft. Stone Cold previews the upcoming birthdays of he and his wife and ends with the Match of the Week: NXT Takeover R-Evolution, which he and Fowler plan to watch together and discuss on the podcast.

Quote of the week: Austin, on the Dec. 15 RAW: “Watching that show, it’s heavily scripted. It is what it is. Now, it’s shiny, it looks great. But it lacked a feel of spontaneity, it lacked urgency, the sense of urgency that we used to have back in the day. I always hate to say back in the day, but back in the day you thought anything could happen because it was live. And these guys are live, too, but the atmosphere is just a little bit different. I wish all these guys and gals could just go back 15 years in a time capsule and just go out there and fly without a net and everything is OK.”

Why you should listen: Once again, if you want to feel like you’re drinking with Austin and Fowler, this is the show for you. There’s a bit more of the comments from the Vince McMahon episode seeping through for further analysis, and I continue to support any time Austin tries to sell his audience on NXT. Though it’s hard to listen to only the high spots, I did enjoy the Goldust chatter and the analysis of why NXT succeeds when RAW struggles, and especially the question about ring props such as Ric Flair’s robes and Jerry Lawler’s crowns.

Why you should skip it: Many of Fowler’s criticisms aren’t out of line, but he doesn’t have enough standing to warrant such frequent airing of his personal grievances. And as with any Austin listener show, some familiar questions make return appearances, or are so obviously uninteresting as to be little more than a waste of a few minutes of air time.

Final thoughts: Unless you’re a completist, take a pass here. A bad RAW tends to breed a bad podcast unless the hosts can really find a unique angle. To simply here “there wasn’t enough wrestling” or “the promos are too scripted” doesn’t really enrich anyone’s fan experience. Fowler is growing on me as a de facto winter cohost — perhaps mainly because I’d grown to loathe Austin’s solo efforts — but sometimes the chicken salad just doesn’t come out quite right.

Show: Steve Austin Show
Episode: 179
Run Time: 1:23:44
Guest: Ivan Koloff

Summary: Stone Cold is unexpectedly back in Los Angeles this week, so he opens with a bit of ranting about city life. He and Koloff start their chat focusing on various injuries, which leads into conversation about “Superstar” Billy Graham and the steroid culture of the 1970s. Austin asks Koloff about ending Bruno Sammartino’s legendary WWWF Title reign and about his transition to working for Crockett Promotions. Then they go backstage for stories about substance abuse and legitimate fights involving wrestlers. Austin brings up working with Andre the Giant and seeks Koloff’s thoughts about tag team wrestling. They talk about Koloff's pairing with and education of Nikita Koloff, which leads to discussing how Ivan re-found religion. They plug a few current projects before Austin asks Koloff about Rusev. The Match of the Week is the documentary “CM Punk: Best In The World.”

Quote of the week: “Whenever you tell a kid, ‘Man, I believe some day you’re going to be a famous guy, you’re a great athlete, aren’t you?’ What you instill in that kid, he’s going to take that home. And he’s going to end up thinking of that and reacting to that time and time again over his lifetime. That’s what my mom said to me, too, when I came home and told her I wanted to be a wrestler at eight years old. She says, ‘You can do it.’ Every time she sees me, she says, ‘There’s my little champ. He’s going to be a wrestling champ one day.’ And that always stuck with me.”

Why you should listen: When was the last time you heard an Ivan Koloff interview? This is great, old-school stuff here. When Koloff says “Vince” he means Senior, and his shoot fight stories about Buzz Sawyer, the Iron Sheik and others are as legendary as the tales of his substance abuse are harrowing. He and Austin have an easy chemistry and it’s nice this time of year to get away from the current WWE product without relying on another shoot-the-bull session with Ted Fowler.

Why you should skip it: Kayfabe disciples will be shocked to learn Koloff is Canadian, not Russian. Some folks won’t want to hear Koloff’s come to Jesus tale, and even those who don’t mind a little religion might be confounded by how easily he claims to have weaned himself away from various addictions. As a career retrospective this actually is pretty light on substance, with Austin seeming to favor breadth over depth.

Final thoughts: I really enjoyed most of this chat. I had to listen to a few segments at normal or 1.5x speed instead of my usual 2x, but that’s a personal preference. Searching for a quote of the week I realized Koloff never really got too deep or personal — he shared many facts, but few feelings — which may have been a result of Austin trying to be respectful of Koloff’s current position. This reminded me a lot of the initial episodes that drew me in to the Austin show, and I’d like to hear more in a similar vein.