Tuesday, November 24, 2015

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Steve Austin Show Ep. 274

Austin gabs with a WWE director this episode
Photo Credit: WWE.com
If you're new, here's the rundown. We 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 many wrestling podcasts out there, of course, but this feature largely hews to the regular rotation we feel best fit the category of hit or miss. If we can save other folks some time, we’re happy to do so.

Show: Steve Austin Show — Unleashed!
Episode: 274 (Nov. 19, 2015)
Run Time: 1:22:16
Guest: Kerwin Silfies (14:45)

Summary: Austin welcomes Silfies, a veteran WWE TV director, to the Broken Skull Ranch. After getting into Silfies’ pre-WWE career, they look back at working with Gorilla Monsoon, Bobby Heenan, Jesse Ventura and Vince McMahon. Austin then shifts to a technical discussion, such as how many cameras are used for modern productions and the way the shows have evolved. Silfies talks about stressful situations and why WrestleMania is his favorite show of the year. He tells the story of suffering a heart attack at age 48 following WrestleMania XV — including his near-death experience — then begins to wrap up by thinking about his backstage colleagues and the possible end of his career. Right before ending, Austin asks Silfies his opinion of when McMahon decided to begin an in-ring career.

Quote of the week: “I think (McMahon) stopped (doing play-by-play) because he was frustrated having to sit there and not be able to control other aspects of the show because he had to be doing the commentary. And he could make do with someone else doing the commentary easier than he could sit there and watch everybody else, myself included, screw things up because he wasn’t able to help.”

Why you should listen: This episode is easily one of Austin’s best efforts. He brokers his personal relationship with a WWE employee into an hour-plus of fascinating stories and information that predates the Hulk Hogan era while still looking forward to WrestleMania 32. And because Silfies is a backstage guy, most of his interview is completely fresh for Austin’s listeners — or when he talks about familiar moments, he does so with a unique angle. The heart attack tale has little to do with wrestling, and certainly there will be skeptics, but hearing a guy talking about watching himself flatline on the operating table is interesting at the very least.

Why you should skip it: It probably goes without saying, but those who are endlessly committed to kayfabe ought to skip out on this one. Further, those who routinely find themselves appalled at the type of slavish dedication to the corporate master McMahon demands of his crew are likely to be aggravated listening to a little-known company man who is clearly more dedicated to Titan Tower than just about anything else in his life. And if you love hearing Stone Cold work blue, be advised the interview is family friendly (though of course the opening monologue is not).

Final thoughts: This was clearly recorded when Silfies was at the Ranch shooting the Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels podcasts being promoted on WWE Network. I’m going to go out on a limb that neither of those chats with repeat, oft-explored guests will be as entertaining as this little sitdown with a guy whose name I might have heard a handful of times before pressing play. You don’t need to have any TV production experience to enjoy this episodes (though it certainly doesn’t hurt), and I commend it to anyone from the most veteran listeners to those who have never downloaded a single episode. It won’t change your life or the way you view WWE, but it’s a terrific way to laugh and learn.