Thursday, February 5, 2015

I Listen So You Don't Have To: The Ross Report Ep. 51

Bubba, you wanna listen to The Real on the Ross Report this week and not be jabroni like Virgil
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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: 51 (Feb. 4, 2015)
Run Time: 1:40:44
Guest: Jian Magen (30:15); The Iron Sheik (36:12)

Summary: Jian Magen is a co-producer of an upcoming documentary titled The Sheik, a film about the professional wrestling career of Khosrow Vaziri, known the world over as the Iron Sheik. Jim Ross is a longtime friend of the Sheik, whom he calls Khosrow through most of the interview as they discuss how he left Iran and ended up in a legendary Verne Gagne training class in Minnesota, some of the business’ great shooters, a review of his territory work in places like Tulsa, Charlotte and Portland and how he became addicted to and eventually broke free from drugs and alcohol. Magen is brought in and out of the interview, discussing the film itself, promotional work and especially the interview session with The Rock. Sheik also talks about Brock Lesnar, a locker room fight with he, Bruno Sammartino and some Pittsburgh Steelers and his thoughts on CM Punk going to UFC.

Quote of the week: “I have a lot of respect for the new generation in the WWE, they learn from Iron Sheik mistake and ‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan mistake, the all new generation they are good shape, they are killing, I watch the match every Monday RAW and every Friday and every now wrestling every Thursday.”

Why you should listen: The Iron Sheik is unique — no doubt about it. The interview does give something of a window into the man most know as a caricature and does well its main job of generating interest in the documentary. Vaziri is quite open about his heavy drug use and what it cost him over the years. Magen is a crucial voice for demonstrating what the Iron Sheik character and Vaziri’s background meant to Iranian-American children of a certain age, and his information about the way the film came together over several years is enlightening.

Why you should skip it: The Sheik’s famously heavy accent and scattershot speaking style can make for a difficult listen in many formats, but the telephone call aspect of a podcast is an added degree of difficulty (and don’t both trying to listen at an accelerated speed if you want to actually understand any of his remarks). Magen’s chances to talk about the film are too brief. While it’s helpful to have him present as something of a translator (Ross also plays this part a time or two, paraphrasing for clarity some of Vaziri’s responses), this episode lacks for Ross not allowing more time to interview Magen directly.

Final thoughts: I’m pretty mixed on this one. The usual glory days bluster comes from the guest here, not the host (Sheik thinks, in his prime, he could have handled Lesnar in a shoot fight despite giving up 100 pounds). The movie sounds like an interesting project. But the broken English and the lack of any semblance of order to the proceedings make it a struggle to get through. It’s by no means a worthless episode, just difficult.