Thursday, February 26, 2015

I Listen So You Don't Have To: The Ross Report Ep. 54

Helms stops by to talk Fast Lane
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: 54 (Feb. 25, 2015)
Run Time: 1:51:28
Guest: Gregory Helms (11:00)

Summary: Jim Ross mostly omits his traditional monologue this week to get to call-in guest Gregory “Shane” “Hurricane” Helms. After a brief chat about Helms’ knee and current work, they delve headlong into a review of Sunday’s WWE Fast Lane pay-per-view. Following is some talk about Helms’ praise of and problems with Ring of Honor, discussion of which rings are easier and safer for working, WrestleKingdom 9 and AJ Styles, performers whom WWE failed to use properly but later succeeded in other promotions, TNA, Lucha Underground, Helms’ upcoming bookings and a quick look ahead to WrestleMania.

Quote of the week: “What I want to see out of this story, is I want to see is Goldust vs. Stardust. What they gave, what we got was Dustin dressed up as Goldust. We were losing the character of Goldust in this story. And Goldust, his whole story is that he’s the maniac. He’s the insane one. If I was writing this, and Cody’s starting to lose his mind, I would just have Goldust go, ‘Oh, you think you’re crazy? I invented crazy. Let’s do this!' And let’s have crazy-ass Goldust go against Stardust. The character of Goldust, and I guess this is argumentative, but the character of Goldust to me, was way more over than Dustin Rhodes.”

Why you should listen: As usual with Ross’ post-pay-per-view recaps, this is more than just a rundown of the Fast Lane card, but also a strong check-in with Helms, and his current position as an independent wrestler as well as promoter leads to some interesting topics, notably his beef with ROH for pulling its talent from Helms’ shows with little notice. Helms also exhibits his ability to think deeply about wrestling a few different times, including during his rationale for appreciating intergender matches as presented on Lucha Undergound. Unlike most of Ross’ PPV follows, he actually covers the entire show and not just the stories he deems most relevant.

Why you should skip it: Also as usual, Ross recorded this chat before RAW, so there’s no way to factor any plot advancements that are now old news to listeners (though in this case, not much happened on Monday). Neither Ross nor Helms are WWE stooges, but both have a more favorable view of Fast Lane and the road to WrestleMania than what I tend to encounter on Twitter, so if you might find that positivity (not unfounded, but still) somewhere between off-putting and downright aggravating, maybe take a breather on this week’s show.

Final thoughts: Something about this week’s episode really clicked for me. Whether it was the choice to dispense with the monologue, the fact Ross covered the entirety of Fastlane or the easy chemistry he has with Helms, I was far more compelled than usual. Usually when Ross tells his guest a story about his own life it seems self-serving, but in this case it seemed far more organic, even when such diversions could have derailed the Fastlane recap. It’s not essential listening or anything — really, how much can (or should) be said about Fast Lane at this point? — but it was really enjoyable, far more so than I expected.