Friday, February 6, 2015

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Steve Austin Show 191/192

The Triple H podcast is replayed on this week's Unleashed
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: 191 (Feb. 3, 2015)
Run Time: 1:32:56
Guest: None

Summary: It’s important to note this episode was recorded before the Feb. 2 WWE Network interview with Triple H. Austin recorded the show open speaking (somewhat audibly) into his iPhone while taking a last drive around the Broken Skull Ranch right before watching the Super Bowl. The highlight of this was him yelling at the ranch’s resident alligator for refusing to be a guest on the show. The main segment, recorded even earlier, is Austin reading listener emails. Topics discussed include deer meat, podcast technology, his favorite holidays, being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, times he mixed up the appearance of his knee braces, where he learned the Texas Cloverleaf and his favorite George Strait songs.

Quote of the week: On his Hall of Fame induction: “When you’re in the business and you’re doing good things, you’re drawing big houses, and all that stuff, and you’re entertaining millions of people and they’re living vicariously through your actions, you’re like so close to the forest, you’re in the forest, you can’t even see the trees. You don’t really realize what you’re doing at the largest level, or in the present, because you kind of turn into what I call zombie mode. When you’re going through life and you’re going through everything that you’re doing, and you’re blinking your eyes and you’re walking and you’re paying bills and you’re getting rental cars, you’re jumping on airplanes, you’re in different gyms and hotels and tanning beds and bars and lounges, it’s just everything runs together, one thing, and then you go home. And for me, you know, when I was home, hell I was damn near still gone. You look at all that stuff and finally you’re able to see what you accomplished, what you actually meant to people. So it was a very special occasion.”

Why you should listen: To hear Austin get choked up describing the Hall of Fame induction experience. And I guess for the alligator yelling. That’s not to sell short the worthy part of the show — it was as real and raw as I’ve heard Austin in nearly 200 episodes — it’s just the only silver living.

Why you should skip it: The weak audio quality in the too-long introduction set a bad precedent. Then Austin goes on to barely talk about wrestling in a 90-minute show. The allusions to the Triple H interview, recorded before that session but released after it aired, but yet still aired before that interview went public in this venue, is discombobulating to say the least.

Final thoughts: You can watch Austin chat up Triple H on the WWE Network and be up to speed for the week. I don’t know how many more weeks he’ll have like this, but it’s something of a disservice to listeners to have them jumping all over mentally trying to account for which segment was recorded when, especially when what Austin sees in person so greatly affects the way he relates to a specific incident. This isn’t anywhere near his worst episode, it just adds very little in a week where his biggest contribution was outside the iTunes feed.

Show: Steve Austin Show Unleashed!
Episode: 192 (Feb. 5, 2015)
Run Time: 1:36:11
Guest: Triple H (17:30)

Summary: It’s another free month for the WWE Network and another live podcast with one of the company’s biggest names. Austin sat down with COO Triple H after the Feb. 2 RAW, and in case you didn’t watch the video feed, they talked about Roman Reigns, storytelling in the Reality Era, Triple H’s penchant for backstage work, NXT and the WWE Performance Center, the WWE Hall of Fame, the New World Order, D-Generation X, and CM Punk. Austin runs Triple H through a series of names for quick reactions before they talk about Brock Lesnar’s future with WWE and some of the struggles of the current RAW format. This version includes some of Austin’s comments at the front and back end of the main interview; he recorded those remarks on Feb. 4.

Quote of the week: “The jazz of me going down to Florida with these kids at NXT and that system and seeing the light bulb go off for a kid, and I’m creating something with them, and helping them to develop. My hat’s off to Vince for letting me have that and saying to sink or swim or fail or succeed on my own without having to have that input and having to have that fallback to go to him and say, ‘What should I do here?’ has been so great to me. … There’s a lot of times I don’t go and ask for things with him just because for me, ego-wise, I want to try to prove myself with that and prove that I can kind of do this and I don’t need that maybe.”

Why you should listen: I’m going to crib here from my write-up of the Vince McMahon appearance from November; if you haven’t seen the video version of the interview, it’s definitely worth hearing the words from Triple H’s mouth instead of filtered through Twitter or blog posts. I can’t imagine anyone who listens to wrestling podcasts wanting to skip this one altogether.

Why you should skip it: If you watched the video version, there’s not much to be gained here. (OK, Austin’s introductory monologue does shed some light on his thoughts from watching that night’s Raw as it happened, which sort of affected the outset of his interview. But there’s no essential information that deepens understanding of the main interview.) Further, if you routinely avoid the Unleashed episodes on account of the vulgarity, I highly recommend just sticking with the video, because the obscenities seem especially superfluous in this context.

Final thoughts: This interview was far less analyzed than the Austin-McMahon chat for a variety of reasons. I’m glad Austin released it in his podcast feed the same week instead of waiting until next Tuesday, but even so I’m not certain I can add much that hasn’t been said. I will say my biggest takeaway is how much I want someone skilled to explore the McMahon-Triple H professional relationship, and not just as it relates to RAW and NXT. Both guys are fascinating characters (McMahon in particular is a deeply intriguing personality) and the way they jockey for corporate position will continue to be incredibly compelling.