Thursday, July 16, 2015

I Listen So You Don't Have To: The Ross Report Ep. 74

Elgin is Ross' guest this week
Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein
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: 74 (July 14, 2015)
Run Time: 1:29:29
Guest: Mike Elgin (14:59)

Summary: Jim Ross is on the phone this week with longtime Ring Of Honor star Michael Elgin. They talk about Elgin’s childhood wrestling memories, the importance of watching classic matches, top Canadian wrestlers, how Elgin started training and why he took a shot at playing professional baseball. He discusses his marriage, the evolution of ROH since 2007, working with Jim Cornette and how ROH handles injuries. Ross asks Elgin about the current scene in regards to match pace, selling and working as a heel, and they wind down by examining the relationship between ROH and New Japan Pro Wrestling, Elgin’s thoughts on Moose Ojinnaka, his career highlight matches, the WWE prospects of Kevin Owens, Elgin’s upcoming participation in the G1 tournament and his long-term career goals.

Quote of the week: “It’s not only a big break, it’s a huge dream come true. You know, as I said, in 92 when I was watching Dr. Death and (Terry) Gordy, that made me venture out to Japanese wrestling. And the G1 Climax and guys who have been a part of it and just the history of Japanese wrestling has been a huge influence on me. My entire career, you know, if I listed my top 10 guys, the majority of them, you know, made their living in Japan and made their name in Japan, so it’s a huge milestone for me, it’s a huge opportunity. And not only am I happy and blessed to be a part of it, you know, I’m going over there looking to definitely turn some heads and hopefully win the G1.”

Why you should listen: The is a brisk session by Ross’ standards, and it’s nice of him to shine a spotlight almost completely outside the WWE. He gives Elgin plenty of time and respect, including giving him ample opportunity to stump for his St. Louis wrestling school and teaching style. It’s a cordial conversation, and whether or not you care for Elgin as a performer, Ross does a good job getting Elgin to convey some personality, in how he approaches his craft as well as his personal life as a wrestling fan.

Why you should skip it: There are plenty of awkward moments, such as Ross explaining to Elgin why, as a child, he was drawn to Gordy and Steve Williams taking on the Steiner brothers, Ross making assumptions about young wrestlers — very much a “kids these days” attitude — and copping to not watching the Elgin vs. Davey Richards match that earned five stars from Dave Meltzer. Further, Ross (per usual) backs away from nearly any and all previous criticism of ROH, asks no follow-up questions when the subject demands (especially true in regards to Cornette) and generally comes off trying to elevate Elgin’s profile without exactly knowing the best way to accomplish the task. Also it was really weird to keep referencing Elgin’s wife and her career without using at least her ring name.

Final thoughts: Even those who dislike Elgin aren’t likely to be aggravated by his time here, both because he’s bland and because Ross draws plenty of fire his direction. I would have appreciated much more talk about Elgin’s actual performance than to cover the same philosophical ground Ross always covers, as what we got came across much more like a job interview. If you really want to learn about Elgin, go track down his Art Of Wrestling appearance or just find his matches online. This interview sadly does little to shed any new light.