Monday, December 7, 2015

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Steve Austin Show Ep. 278

The Patriot is on Steve Austin's show
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: 278 (Dec. 2, 105)
Run Time: 1:29:56
Guest: Del Wilkes (5:42)

Summary: Austin is at the Broken Skull Ranch and on the phone with the man who played The Patriot. Wilkes discusses his new autobiographical DVD set and what it’s like to be on the appearance circuit. He then explains developing the Patriot character in GWF an and encounter with the other person who had a Patriot character, a story that has some parallels with his 1995 falling out with World Championship Wrestling. They spend a good while discussing Wilkes’ extended time with All Japan Pro Wrestling, the lasting effects of a serious neck injury and if he has any concerns about his brain as well as traveling with Doug Furnas and his relationship with Giant Baba. Wilkes recounts his WWF run, but eventually the topic turns to Stan Hansen and the rigors of working in Japan, as well as stories about the Big Boss Man, Vader and Terry Gordy. At the very end is a Wilkes family update.

Quote of the week: “It was like having a meeting with the godfather of, you know, a crime family with Baba. You just didn’t walk up to Baba and say ‘Hey man, c’mon, I wanna talk to you.’ You know, you had to go through the proper channels to set up a meeting with Baba and then they’d send back a time and a place you could meet with Baba and, you know, so we had a couple of those sitdown meetings and I just, you know, I couldn’t get him to see my point of view: I have literally busted my butt for you, man. I’ve come over on a handshake and given you everything I’ve got to the point of costing myself good health. I’ve destroyed my body for you. I signed up for this. Nobody made me do it, you know. I did it on my own. But, knowing that, that I’m literally tearing body down to work at this company and work for this company at the level I need to, hey, I gotta be out six months for an injury and a rehab process. Take care of me, that’s all I’m asking. Just take care of me like you do Kobashi, like you would Kawada, Misawa, Taue, any of your top Japanese guys. And he wouldn’t do it.”

Why you should listen: Wilkes is a repeat guest on Austin’s show, and this episode delves much more into his actual career while only touching in a few brief moments on his incredible history of substance abuse. More specifically, the focus falls extensively on parts of his career likely to be least known to American audiences — yet without ignoring those periods. To be fair to both men, Japan is where Wilkes put in the most significant ring work of his career, and he does an excellent job here focusing on the actual work and personalities, in contrast to other wrestlers who speak about Japan and tend to focus more on the culture and lifestyle.

Why you should skip it: Anyone who plans to watch the Wilkes DVD set can likely skip this one, as I can’t imagine a three-disc set somehow failing to cover something Austin unearthed. As good as Wilkes is at telling his own story — no small feat considering the ravages of wrestling and his remarkable drug use — he’s ultimately not that interesting. The people he mentions are fascinating characters, but if we’re being honest, Wilkes doesn’t offer much in terms of unique insight. It’s not offensive or dreadfully boring, but it barely rises above the level of what would easily be found with a few web searches.

Final thoughts: I’m trying to decide where to come down on this one. It’s great for Wilkes to be able to do an interview where he’s treated as just a wrestler and not a druggie who escaped the ultimate penalty. But… he’s also not all that compelling only in the context of wrestling. Austin deserves high marks for continuing to seek out guests and avoid the dreaded solo show, and Wilkes is at the very least not a crusty old guy complaining about everything, which is worth noting given what else is out there. Still, it’s just not an essential listen, so don’t feel bad if you’ve got better things to do.