Tuesday, April 28, 2015

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Steve Austin Show Ep. 214

Douglas recounts a harrowing tale of addiction on the Austin show
Photo Credit: WWE.com
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 Unleashed
Episode: 214 (April 23, 2015)
Run Time: 1:42:55
Guest: Shane Douglas, part one (21:51)

Summary: After a lengthy farting story, Austin gets on the phone with his longtime colleague Shane Douglas. The talk at length about Douglas’ struggles with and triumph over addiction to painkillers an the physical toll of his time in ECW. After a break, the conversation turns to lighter fare, such as his amateur wrestling days, success in education, how he idolized Bruno Sammartino and got into professional wrestling through the guidance of Dominic DeNucci, his time in the UWF and working with Bill Watts, bleeding in the ring and honing the mechanical aspects of a pro career. Austin promised another hour of conversation next week, then read a bunch of Urban Dictionary terms for farts.

Quote of the week: “I committed that second, like this is it, it’s either going to kill me or I’m gonna get off it. And I left home, told my wife a lie, that I was going on the road, and I left and went over to Orlando, I was living in Sarasota at the time, went over to Orlando, checked into the hotel that TNA kept its boys in, to sleep in. Paid for a week, told the guy at the front desk I was gonna be working on my book and didn’t want disturbed for any reason. Went over to Walgreens right across the parking lot and bought a roll of duct tape, duct taped the curtains shut, took my last dose and laid down for what I was hoping would be, you know, a quick one and done. I laid there about eight days in a puddle of my own puke and shit, just too weak to get to the bathroom. But I was able to kick it, thank God. If you said right now, ‘Shane, I’ll give you 10 million bucks to go through it again,’ I’d think about it for a second, but I’d definitely turn you down.”

Why you should listen: The addiction talk is real — much deeper and raw than what Shawn Michaels discussed with Austin and Jim Ross (though to be fair, I’ve not read Michaels’ new book). Unlike Michaels, who says he just quit cold turkey, Douglas went on a roller coaster ride and nearly paid the ultimate price. Douglas’ comments on Sammartino are always welcome, and while I can’t promise anything for part two, this episode is fully free of the unvarnished ECW nostalgia that often drives a wedge between Douglas and modern fans.

Why you should skip it: After the drug talk ends, most of the episode overlaps with Douglas’ Art Of Wrestling appearance. At one point, Douglas is surprised with how much backstory Austin knows, overlooking the way Austin utilizes Wikipedia in his prep work. It’s not unusual for Austin, but frustrating because he scratches the surface of their time working against each other in early 1990s WCW tag team matches. I was hungry for much more of that and a lot less of what I could read myself.

Final thoughts: It’s not really fair to judge a two-part episode until the second part is released. There are a few hints part two will address most of what I considered to be omissions from this half, so it’s entirely possible that by next Thursday it’ll all come off as well done. That said, it might not be necessary to listen to this one to have context for the next, so if you’re really bothered by the addiction story, take a pass.