Tuesday, September 29, 2015

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Steve Austin Show Ep. 258

Hall's interview concludes on this episode
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: Steve Austin Show — Unleashed!
Episode: 258 (Sept. 24, 2015)
Run Time: 1:19:58
Guest: Scott Hall (13:01)

Summary: It’s the last half of Austin’s sit-down chat with Hall. They continue discussing his first days as Razor Ramon, including what he learned from working in Puerto Rico, the famous programs with 1-2-3 Kid and Shawn Michaels as well as the infamous curtain call. That leads into the origin of the nWo and Hall’s explanation of his business approach. They revisit working together at WrestleMania X-8, then talk about Hall’s battle with substance abuse. Hall explains how classic country artists inspired his microphone work and character psychology, and they end by talking about his relationship with son Cody Hall as well as Vince McMahon, then share a few thoughts about the Jake Roberts documentary.

Quote of the week: “I’m really close with Rey and Konnan, and that thing that went down, around last WrestleMania, when Rey’s first match back and a guy died. And I went to this event that they were hosting, and the main reason I went was to get with them and say, ‘Hey listen, it’s completely different circumstances, but kind of the same, a guy died. I didn’t know the guy, like you knew the guy, and all that.’ I said, ‘There’s people out there that can help you. And if you think you need to talk to somebody, do it. Like do it now.’ I said, ‘You take this for what it’s worth, but I feel compelled to say this: Don’t wait. Don’t wait 30 years like I did before you start dealing with it.’ And I said, ‘I hope I haven’t offended you or anything, but I really feel like I gotta say that.’ … I don’t think I really looked in the mirror too much. I didn’t like who was looking back. I remember always finding comfort in wrestling because I got to be that fake guy. When I could hit that curtain, man, I don’t have any problems. ‘You know, how you doing? Better than you.’ Now come back through — Scott Hall’s life is falling apart. But Razor’s doing great. I think I really liked that. The only time I felt safe was when I was in the ring.”

Why you should listen: Hall was audio gold on part one last week and definitely proved he was worthy of a repeat appearance. Although the entire focus this week is on the best-known parts of Hall’s career, the conversation is a bit more deliberate than the part one sprint. He’s got pretty good recall for various times at which he wasn’t thinking clearly, or so it seems, and Hall’s side of his relationship with McMahon is endlessly fascinating, to me at least, in that he seems to be able to read the chairman in a way few others can claim.

Why you should skip it: If you can only listen to one of the two parts, take the first one. If you haven’t heard Hall’s take on the 1-2-3 Kid story, chances are great you’d heard Sean Waltman’s side. The curtain call is an even more worn topic, as are the first appearances of Hall and Kevin Nash on Nitro. Likewise, Hall’s frankness about his struggles with drugs and alcohol aren’t exactly unexplored. His current lucidity adds a new layer of complexity, but there are listeners who don’t need to go back down that road.

Final thoughts: I most certainly feel you’ve got to hear both parts, and you might never need another Scott Hall podcast. Austin is the perfect host for this subject, as he somehow blends authority and curiosity to ask the perfect questions that get Hall to examine his own life in a way that is relentlessly interesting. Given how poor Hall’s outlook was just a few short years ago, that we have this interview at all seems like an unexpected blessing. That it has the side benefit of revealing just a little bit about Austin’s character is a cherry. Austin’s vital swing through Atlanta is going to make his future solo shows form the Broken Skull Ranch seem pathetic by comparison.