Thursday, April 2, 2015

I Listen So You Don't Have To: The Ross Report Ep. 59

Big Dave stunted with Peter Rosenberg and Wale before Mania, and talked to Jim Ross afterwards about it
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: 59 (April 1, 2015)
Run Time: 2:17:05
Guest: Dave Meltzer (15:10)

Summary: Jim Ross’ guest for the week is Dave Meltzer, Wrestling Observer founder. They spend the bulk of the chat rehashing WrestleMania 31 and looking ahead to next year in Dallas, but after that’s over there’s time to talk Global Force Wrestling, Lucha Underground, Ring of Honor and NXT, as well as a brief look at the San Jose/Santa Clara WrestleMania weekend.

Quote of the week: Meltzer, on restoring prestige to WWE’s secondary titles: “You can always revive the title. Always. It just takes commitment to doing it. I mean, the Intercontinental Title in New Japan is the perfect example — and WWE’s doing that right now, I think — they took a title that was essentially nothing, and they put it on (Shinsuke) Nakamura, and he’s won it and lost it a couple times, but he’s a top guy, he closes pay-per-views, and he may be the best wrestler in the world, and he’s certainly close. And now that championship can be main event. … the thing that we’ve learned over the years, and it’s really always been true, is that it’s not the belt who makes the man, it’s the man who makes the belt.”

Why you should listen: The main reason might be to see how Ross and Meltzer differ from the takes presented in Tuesday’s Steve Austin Show interview with Wade Keller. The subtle differences add another layer of understanding to WrestleMania. Further, this episode is a little heavier on looking to the future, which is fitting given Ross’ experience on the creative side. And whereas Austin and Keller spoke very little about anything but Sunday’s big show, Ross was wise to take advantage of Melzter’s time to take stock on a few other ongoing stories.

Why you should skip it: There’s actually very little of the aspects of Ross the podcast host that turn off many listeners. The most frustrating things are when we don’t get more on a certain subject. This was especially true of NXT — I’d much rather hear about the actual performances than Ross’ gratitude for the choice seats and crowd recognition — although he did come around in his wrap-up to heap praise on a handful of performers. The implication Ross did not go back to watch the tag team title match he’d missed before the podcast was irksome. And I don’t have tolerance for much MMA talk at all, so everything outside the Ronda Rousey chatter was just time I’d rather spend thinking about wrestling.

Final thoughts: I often chide Ross for not laying back and letting his guest take the shine, but the purpose of this episode was for each man to bring their distinct perspective to WrestleMania analysis, so the balance worked much more naturally than on a typical interview show. As with the Tuesday Austin show, this certainly isn’t a must-listen, and it’s less useful because there’s fewer times when either man really unpacks the creative or in-ring choices that combine into the overall WrestleMania feeling. Still, there’s something to be said for only listening to Ross on the Wednesday after a WWE pay-per-view, and if that’s your routine you won’t be upset by giving this episode your time.