Wednesday, November 11, 2015

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Steve Austin Show Ep. 271

Austin talks to the voice of World Class 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: 271 (Nov. 10, 2015)
Run Time: 1:35:32
Guest: Marc Lowrance (17:38)

Summary: During a recent stay in the Dallas area, Austin recorded a sit-down interview with Lowrance, once one of the voices of Word Class Championship Wrestling and now a Methodist minister. The chat covers his personal background and how he got involved with Fritz von Erich and WCCW while still a student at Texas Christian University. Lowrance talks about the influence of Gary Hart and Bill Mercer, discusses production values, earnings and the varied roles he played, as well as how he interacted with the public. The guys reminisce about the Sportatorium, the Freebirds and the tragedy of the von Erich family, and Lowrance shares memories of Gino Hernandez, Bruiser Brody, Bronko Lubich and Skandor Akbar. He explains the adrenaline of working amongst a hot crowd, the negative influence of Jerry Jarrett on his announcing career, his transfer into full-time ministry and his personal life today.

Quote of the week: “To hear his struggle with cocaine … all that stuff made me so regret that I did not take advantage of the chance to develop that rapport. But that may be arrogant on my part. I may not have made any difference at all in helping Gino come to terms or peace with who he was. And I may have protected myself from something, you just never know. But I always regretted that I didn’t get to know Gino better.”

Why you should listen: At just 56 years old, and completely satisfied with his life after wrestling, Lowrance is an excellent historian of a spectacular time in wrestling history. Not too close to the wrestlers to have much more than affection, not so involved in production as to be bitter about his departure, he’s a level-headed talker (who also isn’t starstruck by Austin) who brings to life a lot of names gone far too soon. Further, he not only understands the way an unlikely career in wrestling changed him personally and professionally, but can put those feelings into coherent words and phrases.

Why you should skip it: Anyone full up on WCCW nostalgia can take a pass. I haven’t seen the Heroes of World Class DVD, but it’s hard to imagine that not covering substantially the same ground as this chat, outside perhaps of Lowrance’s personal biography. There are some sordid details herein (most relating to the Von Erichs), and the frank way in which Lowrance discusses them — despite pretty much everything being common knowledge — could be off-putting to some. And while very, very little attention is paid to Lowrance’s work as a minister, and he hardly comes off as devout or preachy, the faith aspect is always going to be a red flag in some circles.

Final thoughts: For as much of a wrestling fan as I claim to be, going all the way back to roughly 1987, I admit I’d never before heard of Marc Lowrance. I consider that pretty embarrassing, and I am grateful to Austin for making the introduction. On balance, this is one of Austin’s better episodes. As much as I enjoyed learning about Lowrance, my favorite part might have been listening to Austin ask questions with a mix of curiosity and boyhood fandom that underscores why he remains such an iconic figure years after his retirement.