Wednesday, September 2, 2015

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Steve Austin Show Ep. 251

Austin and Wade Keller break down SummerSlam
Photo Credit:
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
Episode: 251 (Sept. 1, 2015)
Run Time: 1:50:39
Guest: Wade Keller (15:00)

Summary: Stone Cold is finally ready to talk SummerSlam with his regular reviewing partner Wade Keller. They first analyze the overall strength of the WWE business, and analyze promotional strategy for the big weekend. While talking about the matches they take a bit of a sidetrack into the way the ringside announcers are produced, Keller fills Austin in on the build to a few of the matches and Austin gives a lot of technical notes about specific moves and spots he observed. This portion of the review covers only the Sheamus-Randy Orton opener through the Wyatt Family vs. Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose tag team match. The remainder (and at least the NXT Women’s Title bout) are promised for the Thursday show.

Quote of the week: “I think people have a chance to distract themselves with their phone or their tablet while they’re watching RAW, but they want to have the option, if they’re watching RAW, to think what’s going on in the ring is the most important thing happening in the world at that moment. … I wish the announcers acted like the most important thing in the world is what’s happening in that ring. Because if people get bored, they’re going to just look at their phone for the latest Twitter update or email or text, so you don’t have to worry about actually keeping people occupied constantly. What you don’t want to do is breed a culture on your show that what’s happening in the ring, the whole reason you tuned in, to see these stars fight over something that matters, actually isn’t as important as banter about pop culture or what’s coming up next or what just happened before.”

Why you should listen: This right here is how you break down a pay-per-view. Keller is more useful for big-picture analysis while Austin will get as specific as breaking down a single Rusev standing elbow drop, but as a whole the guys’ knowledge and expertise blend quite well in a way that really helps fans gain both a deeper appreciation for the way things work and why certain creative choices are made as well as a sharper critical eye for consuming future productions.

Why you should skip it: If you prefer to just eat your sausage with zero knowledge of its origin, run away from this episode. If you’re concerned only with the star-studded latter half of the show, you might as well wait until Thursday. And if you want to retain your image of the Don’t Trust Anybody Texas Rattlesnake, you might be uncomfortable hearing a Steve Austin who is willing to stick up for the suits. It’s not so much toeing the company line as it is being pragmatic in respect to when a business decision is just the right option.

Final thoughts: If anything, this makes me regret having listened to Jim Ross try to analyze SummerSlam. I continue to be a little less harsh on the Cheap Heat crew because their feedback was inextricably linked to the in-person fan experience. And while now, two RAWs after the fact and rolling headlong into Night Of Champions, it might be too late for many to spend any energy rehashing SummerSlam, this two-part series promises to be the best audio analysis of what could be a turning-point weekend for WWE, so it is likely to stand as timeless once all the other dust settles.