Tuesday, August 18, 2015

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Steve Austin Show Ep. 246

Austin talks to Vampiro in the first part of a two-part episode
Graphics via ElReyNetwork.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: 246 (Aug. 13, 2015)
Run Time: 1:20:17
Guest: Vampiro (13:45)

Summary: Steve Austin got on the phone with Lucha Undergound commentator Vampiro. They talked at length about his match on the season finale match with Pentagon Jr., including the use of light tubes, thumbtacks and fire, what the TV edits eliminated, developing the match angle and coming down from the high of performing at that level. Then they shifted to discussing Vampiro’s childhood in Montreal, falling out of hockey and the influence of the Road Warriors. Vampiro discussed his time in the music business, including two years working security for Milli Vanilli, then explained what he learned from Abdullah the Butcher. He details the origins of the Vampiro character, recalls his early days working in Mexico and opens up about his hard partying days. Then Austin decides he wants to record a second half to release Aug. 20.

Quote of the week: “It’s like this, man, if he becomes a star, the company continues on TV, I got a job just that much longer, right? Wrestling’s a dying art, man, and the old school system back from 1920, all the way up today, it’s a dying art, and there’s not a lot of old-time guys left to teach that culture of how to be a professional athlete in the ring. If you have it, you gotta pass on the torch. If you don’t, the business is gonna die.”

Why you should listen: The discussion about Vampiro’s work with Pentagon Jr. is lengthy and, albeit one sided, likely of great interest to people with an insatiable appetite for all things LU. Having not heard any of the Milli Vanilli stuff before, or the influence of Guns ‘n’ Roses on the Vampiro character, I found those bits intriguing. Certainly anyone who plans to listen to part two would do well to fill up on the context of part one.

Why you should skip it: Vampiro could drive some listeners batty. He’s deferential to Austin but clearly feels he holds a place of importance in wrestling lore. He openly admits to being more interested in being a celebrity than a wrestler, but assures Austin that although he partied plenty hard, he always knew how to stay within his limits. Anyone looking for only stories about the Vampiro they remember form WCW needs to wait a week, as there’s almost no mention of anything but his earliest and most recent ring work.

Final thoughts: I might be a little rusty on these since I’ve been binge-listening to episodes from my vacation and had to remember how to listen with more of a critical ear, which I’m using as the excuse for why I’m middling on this episode. Also, having yet to catch up on Lucha Underground, I can only take Austin’s word for the excellence of the match and story in question. There are plenty of moments where Vampiro utters many phrases without dropping a “bro” or gratuitous f-bomb, and also while appearing to be completely honest, and those moments are great. But he routinely disrupts his own momentum as well, and that doesn’t bode well for part two, let alone make part one an essential listen.