Thursday, September 17, 2015

I Listen So You Don't Have To: The Ross Report Ep. 83

Demolition sits down with JR in this week's Ross Report
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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: 83 (Sept. 16, 2015)
Run Time: 2:00:00
Guests: Demolition (21:44)

Summary: Jim Ross brings us another in-person interview, this time with Bill Eadie and Barry Darsow, better known as Ax and Smash of Demolition. The guys kind of take turns, with Darsow discussing how he became Krusher Khruschev, Eadie revisits his collegiate background, Darsow talks about the influence of Bill Watts and working in Florida and Eadie recounts his 43 tours of Japan. Both guys talk about the social lives of 1980s wrestlers before Eadie explains how his work with The Machines gave rise to Demolition. They reminisce about road life, address the inevitable comparisons to the Road Warriors, name teams they enjoyed working with and recall when WWF toured with three troupes. Eadie tells the story of his out-of-body experience that preceded the end of Demolition. Darsow talks about becoming Repo Man, and the chat ends as they consider their WWE Hall Of Fame prospects and discuss their current lives and careers.

Quotes of the week: Eadie: “Barry and I have been together as much — and we’re both married, happily married — but we were on the road together and spent probably more time during that time than we did with our families. You don’t want to be around a butthead.”

Darsow: “The worst character that I’ve ever had in wrestling was Barry Darsow. It was so hard to be Barry Darsow. Even on interviews, it’s what is Barry Darsow? Who is he? What’s he do? But as soon as I became a name, a character, like when Bill Watts named me Krusher Khruschev, all of a sudden now I get that in my mind, and that I’m the bad guy, or when I became Demolition, it was I became that guy who’s knocking buildings down and would fight anybody. When I became the Repo Man, I became that sneaky guy.”

Why you should listen: Darsow and Eadie come across as wonderful guys — gentlemen, even — a stark contrast from their most famous personas. Darsow’s desire for Repo Man to become popular with kids so he could do Make-A-Wish visits is by far the sweetest thing I’ve heard on a wrestling podcast. The shellfish-induced out-of-body experience shortly after WrestleMania VI is quite a tale, and the guys’ stance on Demolition vis-à-vis the Road Warriors has to be heard to be believed.

Why you should skip it: The first hour is a total wasteland. Rather than engage his guests, Ross is either rhapsodizing about the glory of Bill Watts — including explaining the concept of athletic big men — or telling Darsow and Eadie his own stories (no tales longtime listeners haven’t heard) you begin to wonder if Ross perpetually thinks he’s on stage for one of his one-man shows. He finally gives them a little room to breathe, but aside from the origin story (which I found compelling) and a few minutes of talking about great 1980s WWF teams, Ross seemingly left a wealth of information completely unexplored.

Final thoughts: If you’re interested in getting to know the men behind some iconic characters, you won’t be disappointed. Darsow and Eadie have a genuine affection for one another, a large amount of respect for the wrestling business and the people with whom they shared locker rooms. But there’s hardly any discussion about actual wrestling matches — no questions about winning the WWF Tag Team Championships, performing at four WrestleManias and so on. As such, much of the nostalgia is virtually identical to what you’d get from any of the guys’ contemporaries, and anyone who regularly listens to wrestling podcasts can fill in those blanks. And all that comes with the caveat of knowing you need to wade through Ross’ legendary self-aggrandizement, which in this episode drips forth from the first second.