Thursday, March 5, 2015

I Listen So You Don't Have To: The Ross Report Ep. 55

The Funker was Jim Ross' guest this week, but Ross wouldn't let him talk
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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: 55 (March 4, 2015)
Run Time: 1:42:58
Guest: Terry Funk (27:19)

Summary: Jim Ross’ guest this week is the legendary Terry Funk. They start right out discussing the Funk family’s history with Japan. Funk clarifies his comments on the current viability of babyface and heel characters, the use of gimmicks and props and the personality of most current wrestlers. Ross discusses working with Funk on commentary, which leads to Funk recounting some of his favorite old-time talkers. After a break, Ross asks about Paradise Alley, which leads to a lengthy discussion about the viability of a union for wrestlers and the different places where talented performers can flourish in 2015. Funk tells Ross about his father’s death of a heart attack, and Ross transitions to discussing the various failings of current WWE narrative strategies. To wrap up, Funk explains what steps he must take to get back in the ring and discusses his residual earnings from Roadhouse.

Quote of the week: Funk: “I am not going to go ahead and die in a wrestling ring. And I am going to personally see that I am physically capable of going in the ring and performing. And I am 70 years old and I’m going to go into that ring, and one of the guys that we’re competing against is 36 or something like that. Doesn’t make me a bit of difference. Why? Because I know what I must do in order to be successful. … I have to get my body physically in shape and better off than what it’s been in the last five years. And that’s where I am right now.”

Why you should listen: Because it’s Terry by God Funk. Somehow despite his age and a sincere belief wrestling isn’t quite the art it used to be, Funk manages to explain what he sees as challenges for modern promotions while maintaining a healthy respect for the actual performers who are trying to become stars. He of course has great stories about the past, and until this show I had no idea he felt so strongly about workers’ rights and unionization.

Why you should skip it: Because the other half of the conversation is Jim Ross. Maybe it was because I listened to most of this at regular speed, but Ross was far more unbearable here than he’s been in quite some time. I’d long ago tired of his weak Funk impression in the weeks leading up to this interview, it was even more abhorrent listening to him spit his Funk voice right at Terry. He more than once cut off Funk in the middle of what started as a great response to abruptly change topics, and he of course gave in to his tendencies to tell his own stories instead of letting the guest shine.

Final thoughts: There are better Terry Funk interviews out there. There has to be. I really did not care for this much at all, and only a miniscule part of that is Funk’s sometimes fleeting ability to complete a cogent thought. I’d really like to see what David Shoemaker could do with a written piece after a sit-down interview with Funk, Ross simply wasn’t up to the task of getting the most out of his esteemed guest. He’s the victim of the high expectations he himself built for the episode.