Thursday, February 19, 2015

I Listen So You Don't Have To: The Ross Report Ep. 53

Kelly is on the Ross Report to gab ROH
Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein
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: 53 (Feb. 18, 2015)
Run Time: 2:04:14
Guest: Kevin Kelly (29:45)

Summary: Jim Ross brings to the podcast his old colleague Kevin Kelly, a longtime WWE employee now working as the voice of Ring of Honor. They open by discussing Kelly’s WWF audition and his earlier days in wrestling. That leads to reflection on some hard financial hard times in WWE and Vince McMahon’s quiet generosity. Ross then asks about Kelly’s famous segments with The Rock. After a break, Kelly discusses his career influences, working with Ross and Michael Cole on RAW and what he learned. Then they preview the upcoming ROH pay-per-view, talk about ROH stars who move onto WWE, the importance of developmental systems, ROH’s production values, Jim Cornette, what wrestling Kelly consumes, and a quick rundown of NJPW, WWE, Lucha Underground and TNA.

Quote of the week: Kelly, on ROH stars moving on from the company: “I have a slight tinge of jealousy. I would love for them to be able to stay and be rich and provide for their families and earn the money that they deserve in Ring of Honor. But if that opportunity isn’t there, and they have to go elsewhere, then I can never begrudge them. I want them all to retire as millionaires. So, you know, it’s like seeing your kids off to college: You’d love to have them stay, but there’s just some that have to go.”

Why you should listen: If you know Kelly only from his WWE stint, this will serve as a fine introduction to his entire career. Ross addressed some of his concerns about ROH last week with Adam Cole, but it seems more of a fair exchange when the same issues surface with Kelly. The story about Curt Hennig, Mr. Fuji and McMahon s a highlight, and anyone curious but clueless about the ROH pay-per-view should have good use for the preview talk.

Why you should skip it: This episode is the epitome of broad and shallow over one good deep dive. Just when you think you’ll get some good (read: fresh) stories about Kelly’s WWE days, it’s on to the next topic. The same thing happens when Kelly starts to unpack his thoughts on certain ROH stars. The rundown of what’s happening with current promotions is about twice as long as it needs to be given that Ross checks in with each during his weekly monologue and Kelly isn’t following the same shows as closely. If all you really wanted was stories about Kelly’s legendary Rock interviews, you only need to listen to just the right five or so minutes.

Final thoughts: Look, this isn’t a bad episode — there certainly are worse. If you can stomach the usual (Ross interjecting or shifting the focus inward, in one case basically asking Kelly to talk about Ross himself), Kelly comes off well enough and he sells the heck out of ROH in general, if not the upcoming show. That said, this episode would have been much stronger if it were just a Kevin Kelly career retrospective or only a deep dive on ROH to look ahead to a big show. It’s neither of those things, and it’s a few others it didn’t need to be either. So of course it checks in at more than two hours. I’d have much preferred a more tightly concentrated two- or three-episode collection instead of what we ended up with here.