Friday, August 7, 2015

I Listen So You Don't Have To: The Ross Report, Ep. 77

Piper, shown here at Legends House with Jim Duggan, was the subject of the first part of the Ross Report
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: The Ross Report
Episode: 77
Run Time: 2:01:18
Guest: Al Snow

Summary: Jim Ross devotes the first part of this episode to Roddy Piper, whom he says was the best family man he ever met in the wrestling business. He also points out that Piper was an original performer who absolutely never copied anyone. After the opening segment, JR gets on the phone with former WWE and ECW performer Al Snow. Because Snow has been wrestling and training since 1982, he has many stories from his time in the business. JR is particularly excited to hear about Snow's tryout with Ole and Gene Anderson, where Snow tells of fellow trainees getting their jaws broken by the Anderson brothers. The bulk of the conversation centers not on Snow's time as a wrestler, but as a trainer and behind-the-scenes man. JR probes Snow for his thoughts on ring psychology and the most important aspects of wrestling for a trainee to learn. They do eventually discuss some of Snow's time in WWE and ECW with the Head gimmick, as Snow fondly recalls his action figure being banned from Wal-Mart.

Quote of the Week: Snow - "The basic tenet that everyone has forgotten about the wrestling business is the one thing that we're selling, the one thing the audience pays to believe in, the one thing that we should care about, and that's the win and the loss. The real basis of ring psychology is that you've got to try to get people to buy into the belief that you're out there trying to win and trying not to lose. Not just doing moves for moves' sake, which is what the majority of talent do these days. I'm not condemning them, it's just that they've forgotten that the focus is not on what you do, it's on when and why you do it."

Why you should listen: Snow's stories of breaking into wrestling are highly entertaining, and he and JR sound very believable when they say that back in the day, it was easier to get into the Mafia than to get into the wrestling business. This grit and determination that Snow has needed to get through every aspect of his career comes through in the interview, as he is very grateful for all of his opportunities. Snow clearly has thought a lot about how wrestling should be presented, and since talking about the presentation of wrestling is one of JR's very favorite things to do, this episode rolls and rolls without slowing down. And in keeping with the theme this week for The Wrestling Blog, J.R.'s stories and words about Piper are quite moving and genuine.

Why you should skip it: Al Snow has had a crazy 33-year career in wrestling, but you wouldn't know it from listening to this episode. Because JR is mostly interested in telling today's wrestlers and wrestling companies that they're doing everything wrong, this is less of an interview and more of a mutual complaining session between two industry veterans. I would have loved to hear much more about Snow's time in ECW, or his early jobber days in WWE, but because so much of the conversation is focused on ring psychology and better ways to present wrestling, we miss out on actually hearing about Snow's life. If you were hoping to hear about Snow teaming with Marty Janetty, you will be a very disappointed Marty Janetty fan.

Final Thoughts: I really could go either way with this episode. It's fun to think about the presentation of wrestling, but I can only hear so much of that type of thinking before I drive myself insane and stop actually enjoying wrestling, so this episode might not be good for me. And again, JR needs to ask interview questions instead of just leading his guest along the same line of conversation that he feels like traveling on. But Snow is a smart guy with lots of experience and little ego, so you can't really go wrong in hearing him talk for 90 minutes.