Tuesday, July 14, 2015

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Steve Austin Show Ep. 236

Austin talks Lucha Underground this episode
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: 236 (July 9, 2015)
Run Time: 1:31:02
Guest: Eric van Wagenen (13:20)

Summary: Austin sits down this week with Lucha Underground showrunner Eric van Wagenen, who worked with Austin on Tough Enough and has a lot of experience with high profile reality shows. They talk almost entirely about the El Rey Network hit, from pre-production days choosing and staging the arena, building a roster, the influence of Mark Burnett and Robert Rodriguez, getting the show off the ground, the language barrier among performers, the casting of Dario Cueto and his importance to the project, how producers approach “promos,” what it will take to secure a second season, the locker room atmosphere and the way the show is trying to build “superheroes.”

Quote of the week: “(Rodriguez is) a director that has never done anything the way other directors do it. And that was funny, because I have a friend who was a writer for him, and he said, ‘The one mistake you cannot make, is you cannot come and say, ‘This is the way it’s done.’ You have to do things differently, don’t ever copy. They would rather you fail miserably not being the WWE than survive trying to be the WWE.’ So that was the mission statement from the beginning, doing things different.”

Why you should listen: This is a must-listen for Lucha Underground fans, but even for those only tangentially familiar with the show, it’s a fascinating interview because of the insight given into the careful ways LU was built to be unique while not departing from its pro wrestling core. van Wagenen is very well spoken, his rapport with Austin is noticeable and the entire interview moves along with hardly any low points. Even van Wagenen’s inside information on Donald Trump (carefully distances from Trump’s political views) made me think about the guy in a different light.

Why you should skip it: Honestly, my biggest problem with this interview is it made me regret all the unwatched Lucha Underground episodes on my DVR. If you don’t have 20 or so hours to binge watch after hearing this chat, there’s a chance you’ll be driven mad trying to fit it into your upcoming schedule. Beyond that I have literally no complaints. I suppose if you tune in each Thursday hoping to hear Austin cuss up a blue streak you’ll be let down.

Final thoughts: What else is there to say at this point? Austin absolutely crushed this one, and hopefully his affection for Lucha Underground blended with the way van Wagenen powerfully yet effortlessly sells the show with natural conversation will mean good things for the most innovate approach to televised wrestling in North America for quite some time. If you can listen to this interview and not appreciate both Austin and Lucha Underground, it might be time to pick a new hobby.