Wednesday, October 14, 2015

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Steve Austin Show Ep. 263

Raven is Austin's guest this episode
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: 263 (Oct. 13, 2015)
Run Time: 1:38:11
Guest: Scott Levy (15:55)

Summary: Austin calls his old traveling partner Scott Levy, better known as Raven. Levy opens with his approach college and career plans. After a mutual digression into Santa Claus, Levy explains how he decided to go to wrestling school, waxes on the influence of Dusty Rhodes, uses an Elix Skipper story to segue into thoughts about working stiff, main event style, the specifics of working with Chris Benoit, Levy’s own approach to rinh work and promos, the influence of Jerry Lawler, and Len “The Grappler” Denton, his ability to read crowds and the appeal of tag team wrestling. While setting up a part two, Austin wraps up by revisiting his decision to quit rather than lose on RAW to Brock Lesnar and cursing in the “finish room.”

Quote of the week: “There’s so many categories, you know? You have to be a director, an actor, a producer, a writer — well, you don’t have to be a writer any more because now they just force you to read their scripts — a stuntman, there’s so many hats you have to wear. But the least important hat is the wrestling hat, you know? But people don’t get that. … When I got in the business, it was a mark of honor if you were considered light. … Now, guys are like, ‘I wanna work strong style.’ And I’m like, ‘Why?’ ”

Why you should listen: This is a case where “why you should” is, more than anything else, about putting fears to rest. Levy comes off here as both a legitimate fan of wrestling and also a studied professional. There’s barely a whiff of ECW nostalgia, and it’s clear Levy is absolutely independent from his most famous wrestling characters. Austin is more than willing to get into details about the construction of not just a wrestling match but an entire approach to being a character, and Levy is almost too excited to share his own thoughts, yet almost entirely without any of the “back in my day” vibe that permeates other shows.

Why you should skip it: Strict kayfabe keepers should run screaming from the play button. Most folks who are neutral to somewhat negative on Levy in general probably won’t be upset with his appearance here, but die-hard Raven haters (or the anti-Johnny Polo crowd) likely aren’t going to be moved to reconsider their stance. Austin being Austin, there are some lapses into tales all-too familiar to the regular listener, but that’s not a significant strike in this case.

Final thoughts: On the heels of the end of Austin’s time on location in Georgia, and in the midst of a two-parter with a country/hip-hop band that I probably won’t recap (because just the episode description is enough to tell you whether you should listen), this is a welcome oasis of Austin getting back to basics and absolutely delivering. It’s by no means a legendary episode, but if you’ve begun to wane on this show, here’s a perfect reminder of Austin’s podcast being a product of his real-life commitments, and that given the right opportunity, he can routinely deliver solid audio.