Tuesday, October 20, 2015

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Steve Austin Show Ep. 265

Austin flying solo 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
Episode: 265 (Oct. 20, 2015)
Run Time: 1:14:05
Guest: None

Summary: Austin is sitting in the Dallas airport, retracing his days from playing football at Wharton Junior College all the way to his early days as a pro wrestler. The monologue takes Austin through North Texas State University, his difficulties in algebra and accounting classes, a football knee injury and position switch, watching World Class Championship Wrestling in his dorm room, working at freight dock, how he came to meet and train with Chris Adams, his first match with Frogman LeBlanc, memories of working against the Von Erichs and observing the Freebirds, waxing nostalgic about the Sportatorium and being in the main event of the first American Airlines Arena show. His match of the week is the Brock Lesnar/Kurt Angle iron man match from Smackdown in 2003.

Quote of the week: “The Sportatorium was an old rat hole building on the corner of Industrial and Cadiz. And this was an old white building and it had Sportatorium written in blue letters. And way back in the day, Elvis Presley played there. George Jones, Johnny Cash, I mean, it seated probably I’m guessing 5,000 people. And it was just, it smelled like beer, piss, hot dogs, popcorn, you name it, sweat, stench, concrete floors, and when it went down to the wooden floors — it was just one of the greatest buildings in the history of pro wrestling that I’ve ever been in. One of my favorites, especially when you had the people packed in there.”

Why you should listen: Hearing Austin’s story in his own words, in chronological order and to the best of his memory, is a treat. Even if it’s no more information than a Wikipedia entry, his inflections, asides and emotions elevate the simple subject matter, and this kind of personal history helps deepen the understanding and appreciation for the building blocks of the Stone Cold character that burned so brightly in the mid- and late 1990s.

Why you should skip it: This is episode 265 of Austin’s podcast, and he’s told every bit of the story recounted here at least a dozen times. Sometimes in fragments, but a few times straight through. Though previous iterations might not be as detailed and chronological, regular listeners won’t learn a single new thing — it’s all been said in some form or another, some of it too often to count.

Final thoughts: Outside of the podcast I’m not an Austin completist, so I can’t say if this ground is better covered in one of WWE’s many documentary projects. He was in Dallas for RAW and the Lesnar interview — not to mention getting back in his normal routine after finishing up work in Georgia — and it’s clear the nostalgia was overpowering. Longtime listeners certainly would have appreciated another voice to help relive the memories and shed new light, but if you’re new to Austin’s origin story, this episode is essential and perhaps will stand as the canonical first-person telling of his earliest days in the business.