Tuesday, June 30, 2015

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Steve Austin Show, Ep. 232

The Patriot talks with Austin in the latest Unleashed!
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: 232 (June 25, 2015)
Run Time: 1:45:06
Guest: Del “The Patriot” Wilkes (12:37)

Summary: Del Wilkes is the subject of a new documentary, The Man Behind The Mask, so he has an impromptu phone conversation with Austin. They talk at length about Wilkes’ unfathomable experience with pain pills, muscle relaxers and steroids, including how drugs factored in his college and professional football career. Wilkes explains how he got into wrestling, including training under Fabulous Moolah, and mentions a bit about his start in AWA and Wahoo McDaniel before discussing his career in Japan and feelings about Terry Gordy and Stan Hansen. They also discuss the injuries that plagued Wilkes’ career, his relationship with the late Doug Furnas, how drugs led him into nearly a year in state prison and how he’s lived clean since his release.

Quote of the week: “The night before I leave, I’m gonna go out with my buddy, I’m gonna go out to his bar and I’m gonna drink all night and get coked up, and then when I get on the plane I can take a handful of somas or halcyons and I’ll sleep the entire flight. So I been out all night, got up, running late, and I’ve gotta run to six or seven pharmacies to get my pain pills. My somas, my Xanax, my halcyons had all been delivered the day before through FedEx, and for some reason, I wasn’t afraid, Steve to carry all these prescription pills with me into Japan. It never intimidated me, I never felt threatened going through customs because everything was in prescription-labeled bottles.”

Why you should listen: Del Wilkes should be dead. Austin is stunned to hear the extent of Wilkes’ pill consumption, and the matter-of-fact demeanor with which Wilkes relives his past makes it clear he’s not sensationalizing for effect. Anyone reluctant to indulge in faith-based redemption stories should be comforted by knowing Wilkes, at least here, doesn’t go deep at all into that aspect of his life. As a bonus, anyone who skips the Thursday show because of its coarse language will be happy to know Austin kept it clean from a vocabulary standpoint.

Why you should skip it: Unless I missed it, there’s barely a whisper of how most fans will remember Wilkes, from his tag-team success in WCW to his brief main event run during the WWF’s summer of America vs. Canada feud. The drug-use resume, while appalling, at some point goes from jaw-dropping to mind-numbing. Anyone who plans to watch the documentary is probably going to be plenty well served by just waiting for the film.

Final thoughts: I give Austin a lot of credit for working in a relevant, live interview while he’s still away on location. It would have been a better use of everyone’s time to cut the substance abuse talk in half and go deeper into the extent of Wilkes’ wrestling career, or if the drugs were to be focal, then at least to do more than just focus on how many pills Wilkes could take in one session. Still, on balance it’s an interesting show — different, if nothing else — and I’m much rather hear Wilkes speak with Austin as host than Jim Ross.