Wednesday, December 16, 2015

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Steve Austin Show Eps. 280/281

A double shot of Austin recaps
Photo Credit:
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: 280 (Dec. 10, 2015)
Run Time: 1:27:01
Guest: Ted Fowler (13:10)

Summary: It’s deer season at the Broken Skull Ranch, and that means Ted Fowler is back on the scene. He and Austin talk a bit about hardwood floors and the recent end of Fowler’s relationship before Austin’s harrowing tale of an encounter with a deer stand yellowjacket. After revisiting the demise of the ranch’s burn pits, they take listener questions and wander off into discussing mixing Jack Daniels with Dr Pepper, the possibility of live podcasts, where to go for fun in Dallas, exercise, Fowler’s dating scene, SUVs, deer watching, staying amused on the road, terrorism and capital punishment, if Austin and Fowler would ever do a hunting TV show, upcoming UFC fights and their favorite trucks.

Quote of the week: Fowler: “No streetlights, no car horns, no sirens. Every once in a while we’ll get a plane. You know, you’re absolutely right. We get to see stuff that city people don’t. And it’s totally cool, it’s a totally different type of work. You know, I mean, I work my ass off during the year, you work your ass off during the year. Come out here and it’s fun work, you know? That’s what I like. That’s why we do it.”

Why you should listen: Longtime Austin show listeners will relish a chance to get back into the winter vibe when Austin pals around the ranch with Fowler. The shows generally shift away from wrestling and toward drinking, hunting and having fun — certainly parts of Austin’s persona that attract many of his fans. In a way it’s great to be able to sense him unwinding on the air, and the proud rednecks especially must love this kind of episode.

Why you should skip it: We got kind of spoiled with Austin over the last several months as he was never more committed to either following WWE closely or at the very least bringing listeners the kind of personal wrestler interviews that framed the early days of the podcast. This is a strong departure from those types of shows, and for folks who haven’t clicked the download button two times every week since day one, it may be somewhat jarring.

Final thoughts: I’m not sure Fowler and I would have a heck of a lot to discuss in person, but I’ve come to view him as a character on the show, and he’s quite welcome in that capacity and serves as a pretty good second banana. That said, time is precious for a lot of listeners, and if you’re looking for a podcast that gives you good information or fun stories about the world of wrestling, look a little bit more, because No. 280 doesn’t deliver on that promise.

• • •

Show: Steve Austin Show
Episode: 281 (Dec. 15, 2015)
Run Time: 1:42:03
Guest: Wade Keller (7:23)

Summary: Austin is on the phone with Wade Keller, of the Pro Wrestling Torch, and aside from plugs at the end this episode is all about going beat0by-beat through the TLC card. They linger a bit on a few names, such as Big E, Luke Harper, Dean Ambrose, Ric Flair and, of course, Roman Reigns, but aside from ignoring the preshow, the guys give TLC complete and total attention.

Quote of the week: Keller: “I want to underline that I am absolutely appreciative of the effort, the athleticism, and a lot of the aspects what that we talked about specifically about the opener — but that bump meant something, because it’s two top guys. And that’s when bumps like that should be taken. Wrestling, you know, what’s the cliché? Wrestling’s not ballet, I get that. It’s when it’s violent and risky — and as you just said, that can do real damage — I want it to be for a purpose. And the purpose here was very real. …It really established the moment that it should have been Roman’s victory. And so you did a very big, dangerous spot for a very deliberate reason at a very particular part of a match, and that’s where I like those calculated risks.”

Why you should listen: Austin plays two roles quite well on this episode: the global icon and national treasure who is legitimately modest about his run as the most white-hot wrestling star of all time and also the pretty regular WWE fan who hasn’t been watching RAW lately and isn’t bothered by a lot of week-to-week aggravation. Keller, who is educated enough to have standing and not crusty enough to lose credibility, is a delightful foil for Austin, challenging some of the host’s conclusions as too friendly but ultimately deferring to the face who runs the place.

Why you should skip it: Austin loved TLC. If you didn’t, and don’t want his praise to damper your feelings for him, well, move along. Aside from that, there are plenty of podcast fans who are out on current day WWE, and it’s safe to advise those folks to take a pass as well as there’s maybe two dozen syllables altogether that don’t focus on a very small window of WWE programming. And for you sticklers, the chat was recorded Monday before RAW, so it is technically dated already.

Final thoughts: I’m never sure how much detail to go into on these pay-per-view review episodes. I’m assuming nearly everyone can make a pretty quick judgment based on the iTunes description alone. Still, I found this one particularly useful — perhaps in conjunction with a well-executed RAW — for helping to rejuvenate my fan excitement on the road to WrestleMania. If you usually skip the PPV recaps, I suggest giving this one a listen. Both guys have good thoughts on match pacing and card order that will help fans get a better appreciation for why they (or especially the live crowd) might respond in certain ways, and the difference of personal context between Austin and Keller enriches their discussion far beyond a session featuring two people who have seen exactly the same amount of broadcasts.