Tuesday, May 5, 2015

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Steve Austin Show Ep. 216

Part two of Douglas' interview dropped last Thursday
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: 216 (April 30, 2015)
Run Time: 2:08:48
Guest: Shane Douglas, part two (19:40)

Summary: After some more fart stories with his wife, Austin is back with the second half of his Shane Douglas interview. Douglas talks about his relationship with Eddie Gilbert, the current WWE product, how he started with ECW and the evolution of the Franchise character, the nature of working as a heel, how wrestlers dealt with the escalating violence of ECW shows, his different WWF runs, his post Dean Douglas return to ECW, a failed early 1990s attempt to learn from Ric Flair, Chris Benoit, contract dealings with his various employers, why both men prefer good wrestling to mixed martial arts, the science behind Douglas’ great promos, his stint with TNA and future projects.

Quote of the week: “One bad arena show could have spelled the end of ECW any way along the line. So that $36,000, which is what the gate was for the ECW Arena every three weeks, had that building not been sold out, say we shit the bed tonight and come back three weeks from now it’s half filled at 18,000, that literally could have spelled the end of ECW at that point. It was never mentioned, it was never brought up in words, but we all knew it.”

Why you should listen: In settings like this, it’s easy to forget the Shane Douglas we saw “crashing” an episode of RAW several months back. He comes off as not just a lifelong fan but a true student of the art form. He’s honest about the specter of imminent disaster that was ever present even during ECW’s greatest run of success. The Flair story is powerful, and if you’re interested in what wrestlers earn and how their contracts work, Douglas has nothing to hide.

Why you should skip it: Some of the stories return almost verbatim form Douglas’ appearance a few months ago on a live Art Of Wrestling episode. Even the parts that don’t suffer a bit from the fact the guys spent more than two hours on the phone together and tended to ramble a bit. More so than in part one, Austin a few points here falls into the Jim Ross pattern of spending too much time sharing his own views and back story, which while perhaps helpful to Douglas for context, are boring rehashes for any regular listener.

Final thoughts: If you take all the Austin-Douglas audio, remove everything Douglas already told Cabana, pare away Austin’s occasional monologues and put everything back in chronological order, you’ve got a fantastic interview between two major figures of the 1990s boom. We don’t have that, of course, we’re stuck with more or less raw audio. If you want to dig through it all for the good stuff, you’ll be rewarded for the effort. But the digging is unavoidable, so decide ahead of time if you’re ready for the commitment to listen to the chaff for a chance at the wheat.