Thursday, September 3, 2015

I Listen So You Don't Have To: The Ross Report Ep. 81

Barnett is back to talk to Jim Ross
Photo Credit: Josh Hedges/Getty Images via
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: 81 (Sept. 2, 2015)
Run Time: 1:52:09
Guest: Josh Barnett (20:15)

Summary: Jim Ross’ guest this week is Josh Barnet, the mixed-martial artist with a pro wrestling background who does play-by-play for New Japan Pro Wrestling’s American show on AXS. They start in on the challenges of calling prerecorded matches, examine I this is a new boom period for wrestling and heaping praise on Shinsuke Nakamura. There is talk about modern day microphone work which bleeds into discussion of various MMA and wrestling figures, including Barnett’s upcoming opponent Roy “Big Country” Nelson, as well as Ronda Rousey, CM Punk, Billy Robinson, Harry Smith, Jon “Bones” Jones and Kurt Angle. They talk about the future of Bellator, Barnett’s wrestling background, performance-enhancing drugs, Reebok endorsement deals and the kimura lock.

Quote of the week: “If you’re an Olympic-caliber wrestler, than already I’m going to say yes, you have some (MMA) potential. The biggest thing is, I have no idea whether or not Kurt Angle could take a punch and how he would deal with getting punched. That’s the thing. As long as he wasn’t afraid of it, and he had the mindset of how to be in there and work around strikes and things like that, then A-OK. That’s the only thing holding back a guy like that.”

Why you should listen: Barnett is a great guest for people predisposed to liking MMA and Shinsuke Nakamura. The opening segment about the complications of bringing the A game to the commentary table for a prerecorded match was insightful, and a little evocative of the old WWF Coliseum Home Videos where play-by-play and color commentary came from Sean Mooney and Lord Alfred Hayes, respectively. The Billy Robinson stuff is interesting (though not fresh) and I would actually have enjoyed a lot more discussion about the kimura.

Why you should skip it: My common refrain when the guest is an MMA personality is that if the sport bores you, so will the podcast. I’d say the same if the guest came from the PGA or NHL. Barnett, of course, has enough pro wrestling bona fides to be compelling, but Ross is quite content to go full-on MMA mode for the majority of the interview. It’s not bad, per se, just bland.

Final thoughts: Ross is much more enjoyable when he focuses on history and the big picture, and thankfully that’s the case here. Aside from the obligatory Punk questions, he chose to work in broad strokes, and that should increase the appeal of the end result. However, it’s still far too much MMA talk for my liking, and the worst is that barely any of that chatter does anything to pique my interest — in fact, it more or less confirms I’ve not missed much by choosing to spend my entertainment energy elsewhere. I doubt that was Ross’ intention when he scheduled this phone call.