Wednesday, January 14, 2015

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Steve Austin Show Ep. 185

Austin presents an old Heyman podcast 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: Steve Austin Show
Episode: 185 (Jan. 13, 2015)
Run Time: 1:39:13
Guest: Paul Heyman (11:40)

Summary: Austin’s back in LA again, but short on time to cook up a new episode he reaches back to when he sat down with Paul Heyman between SummerSlam and Night of Champions. Though he originally deemed this chat a waste and re-recorded a podcast (released months ago), he decided now to bring this interview to light. Austin and Heyman discuss movie gigs, promo work, SummerSlam and the (then upcoming) Brock Lesnar/John Cena rematch. After a break, Austin gets Heyman going on his entry into the business, what he learned from working with Jim Ross and the peak of their partnership at WrestleMania X-Seven. Heyman explains why it’s unfair to both parties to compare guys like himself and Austin to earlier stars like Bobby Heenan and Bruno Sammartino. He then waxes on being a survivor and defining success before ending with thoughts on “Superstar” Billy Graham as well as Cesaro.

Quote of the week: “I’m afforded the opportunity to cut my own promos. I know the concept that we’re going after. I pretty much know the storyline. But the rest has been, fortunately, up to me — because I haven’t screwed it up yet. And you know this as well as I do, Vince will give you enough rope to hang yourself. And the first time I screw the pooch, the first time I don’t live up to his expectations or the audience’s expectations with my description of Brock Lesnar or John Cena or the storyline that we’re involved in, will be the last time I’m afforded that opportunity. I approach every Monday Night RAW as my audition to be on the program the next week. And if you take that attitude going into it, I think you will drive yourself to your best work ever.”

Why you should listen: Because Paul Heyman is a great talker. His praise of Ross’ work for the Austin-Rock main event got me excited to go watch a 14-year-old match just to listen to the commentary. He indirectly explains why Cena-Lesnar remains such a compelling program and, through a great Dusty Rhodes anecdote, helps fans understand the difference between being a good actor or working a good character and actually selling something fans want to buy.

Why you should skip it: There’s some overlap with the episode Austin actually released. And although Lesnar is back on TV now, the build to Night of Champions isn’t the most timely topic four months down the road. Further, if you’re coming to this episode looking for any great insight into the mind of Paul Heyman, you’ll likely be disappointed. It’s not that he isn’t honest or forthcoming — he predictably dominates the conversation, with Austin trying to shift topics when Heyman comes up for air — just that what you see with Heyman is more or less what you get. If there’s any surprises left to be uncovered, they’re not even hinted at here.

Final thoughts: If you missed the original Austin-Heyman chat (Episode 146), you’ll want to go back and hear more about Heyman’s background as a fan-turned-photographer who curried favor with Vince McMahon Sr. And if you do that, you might get your fill of Cena-Lesnar talk. I’m perfectly OK with Austin releasing this episode despite the few redundancies, and waiting until mid-January seems like the right amount of time to let it breathe. If the alternative was yet another email response show, this was a great choice on Austin’s part.