Thursday, December 31, 2015

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Steve Austin Show Eps. 283/284

HBK is on the front end of this Austin doubleshot
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
Episode: 283 (Dec. 22, 2015)
Run Time: 1:00:03
Guest: Shawn Michaels (3:20)

Summary: Shawn Michaels visited the Broken Skull Ranch for this interview, aired first on WWE Network. They open discussing Michael’s outdoors show and evolving idea of fulfillment and his son’s possible future in the military. There are lengthy looks at WrestleMania XXIV and Ric Flair, Survivor Series 1997 and Bret Hart as well as the Kliq, the curtain call and Triple H. Austin asks Michaels about his relationship with Vince McMahon and how it feels to hear a younger generation call him an influence. There’s also a little talk about Pat Patterson, Sweet Chin Music and any regrets Michaels might have regarding his career.

Quote of the week: “(McMahon) had to save Steve from Steve some times, right? Same thing with me. You want to know one guy he never had to do that with? Hunter. Never had to save him from himself. … I mean, you think about all the guys he’s dealt with over the years, everybody bringing some kind of insecurity, some kind of hang-up; with him he didn’t have to. Again, he’s not the all-knowing, all-seeing, Hunter’s not, but he didn’t come in with a bunch— he didn’t come in with any baggage. … He got this perfectly moldable entity, and, you know, Hunter’s the result of it. Like I said, he had the one puzzle piece that Vince didn’t have, and I think that bodes well for the future.”

Why you should listen: Michaels is a repeat guest here, and having the WWE production team involved keeps things moving at a much better pace than the typical Stone Cold-HBK phone call. Of course, this was old news to anyone who’d watched the video version, but catching up this way (especially at 2x playback speed) is a nice way to stay in the loop.

Why you should skip it: The video version has not just talking heads, but archival footage that complements the conversation. Hearing the faint audio from those clips is enough to make some folks abandon the audio-only format. Further, while this represents perhaps the best approach to an Austin-Michaels conversation, it doesn’t seem to approach any subjects the podcast previously explored, or ideas one or both men haven’t discussed at length elsewhere.

Final thoughts: It’s always tough to review these “simulcast” episodes because they seem targeted for a largely different audience than podcast aficionados, plus the actual interview usually has been dissected in far greater detail than I ever would, and on multiple platforms. That said, I always only consume them when they show up in the iTunes feed, and in contrast to a lot of what Austin’s released this year from the ranch, this is a breath of fresh air indeed.

• • •

Show: Steve Austin Show — Unleashed!
Episode: 284 (Dec. 24, 2015)
Run Time: 1:10:51
Guest: Ted Fowler (3:05)

Summary: It’s another Broken Skull Ranch bull session. Austin and Fowler talk about the ranch itself and a tractor repair before naming Austin’s second Cocksucker Of The Week honoree. Fowler explains the notion of Buck Fever and talks about the aftermath of taking a trophy animal. Austin recounts a rattlesnake encounter, then the guys talk abut wild turkeys. Listener questions cover catchphrases, deer, ghosts, relationships, UFC, beer and England. To wrap up, Austin asks Fowler about memorable Christmas gifts, then they cold-call an aspiring Broken Skull Challenge contestant.

Quote of the week: “This stupid cocksucker tries to pass me in the right-hand lane. I’ve got him by a length-and-a-half of vehicle and he tries to pass me on the right-hand side and damn near sideswipes me and kills me, and as I see him try and make this idiotic, stupid, cocksucking, maniacal, dumbfuck move, I jump on the gas, the supercharged 350 responds accordingly, jumps back out in front of him, and goddamit Teddy, I ain’t been so fuckin’ mad in 15 to 20 years.”

Why you should listen: Austin’s road rage tales are beginning to take on a life of their own. Fowler gets to show off a bit more of his personality here than usual — at least the parts that don’t have to do with drinking and chasing women. And while the caller listener Austin calls doesn’t give much more than two- or three-word answers, it’s still neat to hear Austin reaching out to a fan in that manner.

Why you should skip it: To be blunt, it’s just not very interesting. There’s a lot of laughter between the guys, but it’s clear they’re racing to get something on the books before Christmas Eve, and absent Fowler’s deer hunting escapades, this has filler written all over.

Final thoughts: We’re still in “could be worse” territory, because Austin has rolled out some real stinkers over the years. And while I find this a good way to kill an hour, I also feel perfectly safe suggesting nobody needs to listen to this episode if they’ve got better things to do.