Tuesday, June 2, 2015

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Steve Austin Show Eps. 223/224

The last two Austin shows, recapped!
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
Episode: 223 (May 26, 2015)
Run Time: 1:35:09
Guest: Josh Barnett, part two (2:27)

Summary: Austin brings us the second half of his in-person conversation with Barnett, a former UFC Heavyweight Champion and veteran of New Japan Pro Wrestling who provides commentary for the promotion’s U.S. TV show. This part opens with a lot of UFC talk before moving on to stories of life in Japan and a discourse on booze and fist-fighting. There’s a quick look at Barnett’s wrestling fandom and career before Austin defers to answer questions about his own road stories. The guys share their thoughts on podcasting and return to the UFC chat, ending by talking about training for different disciplines.

Quote of the week: “The biggest thing about fighting is attitude. Attitude, attitude, attitude. The first thing is, If you don’t want to be in a fight, then don’t get into a fight. Second thing is, if you want to take somebody’s head off, try not to get into a fight first and it’ll be a lot easier. Use your words, use eye contact, use body language. The biggest thing is, whether you want to get into a fight or don’t want to get into a fight, know where you’re at, know what’s around you.”

Why you should listen: If you listened to and enjoyed part one, this is more of the same. Barnett is a friendly, well-spoken guy. He and Austin have been friendly for more than a decade now, and every so often it’s good to hear Austin be totally relaxed for one of these instead of dealing with a phone or video call or a subject he’s never met in person.

Why you should skip it: If you listened to part one I think you might have gotten enough of the gist to know there’s not a lot of meat here. The other side of the “Austin is good friends with this guest” coin is a total lack of preparation for the interview, which results in disorganized banter. While pleasant and at times amusing, I’m hard pressed to remember anything I heard here that came across as new or interesting.

Final thoughts: Trimmed into one 90-minute episode, this would have been a fine interview. Spread out over three-plus hours of podcast time, however, it borders on dreadful. Maybe I just wanted to hear Barnett rave about NJPW, or maybe it’s residual frustration with Austin being backed into telling some of the same tired road stories on which he built the first six months of his show. Whatever the case, part two is pretty much unnecessary — the nicest thing I can say about it is you won’t be angry, as you might for a particularly rancorous Ross Report or overly heelish Cheap Heat. Time to kill? Might as well be here.

• • •

Show: Steve Austin Show — Unleashed!
Episode: 224 9May 28, 2015)
Run Time: 1:40:40
Guest: Sam Roberts (13:30)

Summary: Stone Cold is live at 316 Gimmick Street with Professional Broadcaster Sam Roberts. Austin asks Roberts about his favorite wrestling matches, before Roberts gives his impressions of WWE’s Performance Center, which leads into mutual raving about NXT. The guys connect over the challenges of hosting a radio show or podcast, then Austin gets Roberts to open up about his work with WWE and his Sting interview, which leads into talk about Bret Hart, the Undertaker, Bray Wyatt and Adrian Neville. They end trading thoughts on various chain restaurants.

Quote of the week: “I listen to radio shows that have been on the air for 10 years. And I listen to hosts introducing themselves to people as if it’s the first time they’re tuning in. And as somebody, even if it is my first time tuning in, if I know you’ve been on the air for 10 years and you’re still introducing yourself to people, I can’t see you as a show that’s done anything noteworthy. These guys, like your Howard Sterns and Opie and Anthonys, your shows that have been on the air for a considerable amount of time, they’re not introducing themselves, they’re known entities. If you don’t know who they are, you’d better find out and just start listening to the show. When I’m watching RAW, whether it’s listening to the commentary or the way they’re repackaging stuff that’s already happened within the show, it’s pretty obvious to me that that show is being programmed for non-wrestling fans.”

Why you should listen: Roberts is living the dream. He’s a superfan who gets to talk to seemingly all the big names in WWE, go backstage at the performance center and break down WrestleMania moments with Steve Austin. He’s a great talker, a knowledgeable fan and an unabashed Bray Wyatt backer. Compared to Austin’s lengthy Josh Barnett chat, this conversation has a natural flow covering several topics that make it seem breezy by comparison, even though it’s a slightly longer episode.

Why you should skip it: As Austin points out in his open, he intended this interview to air after a family-friendly chat with Roberts for a Tuesday show. Absent the context of the issues covered in that chat, it’s not entirely clear why Roberts earned the invitation to 316 Gimmick St. in the first place. And if you don’t care for Roberts, you’re unlikely to care a lick about what trips his fan trigger.

Final thoughts: I really enjoyed this one, and it came to me at the end of a backlog of wrestling podcasts. Even if you don’t care for Roberts, there’s a good chance you’ll appreciate how he gets Austin to really open up about his NXT favorites, which includes his very high opinion of Neville. Podcasts being what they are you might choose to wait until after part one is released to listen to this one, but for nearly wall-to-wall wrestling talk, a rarity on Austin’s show these days it seems, this episode is tough to top.