Monday, April 11, 2016

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Steve Austin Show Eps. 312/313

Big Show is the first episode on this back-to-back review
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: 312 (March 31, 2016)
Run Time: 1:18:47
Guest: Big Show (12:48)

Summary: Austin is in Dallas for WrestleMania week, and he scores an early sit down with The Big Show — this time without the fetters of the WWE Network. After looking back on their last interview, talking about Rusev’s iPhone prowess and a quick hit on the current political scene, talk turns to WrestleMania. Show talks about the current rash of injuries and heaps praise on John Cena. Then the guys commiserate about the current length and format of RAW. Austin asks about wrestlers who use a tour bus and how Show fills his down time. Show gives his version of the fundamentals of heel vs. babyface psychology, then Austin brings up the excitement surrounding NXT movement before they talk about the way working with referees has changed. After a break, they bond over guns, then revisit WrestleMania and Vince McMahon’s influence before riding off into the sunset.

Quote of the week: “We’ve got that extra hour of TV on RAW. I don’t think that helps us sometimes, ’cause there’s too much talking, there’s too much bullshit and we’re — the matches that should have more time don’t get enough time. You know, it’s like, it’s like a lot of matches that I’ve had lately has been six minutes. OK, well I got a minute worth of entrance, the other guy’s got a minute worth of entrance, you got four minutes. You can’t tell a story in four minutes. You can’t. It’s damn impossible, you know? And the matches that people think are so great are the matches that usually have two segments, three segments, because we give you time to get emotionally invested. I think that’s one thing we make a mistake of because we’re too concerned about people channel flipping because there’s so much going on, so they keep RAW so fast paced, I think we hurt our product a little bit sometimes by not giving people matches they can get emotionally invested in.”

Why you should listen: These guys come across as great old friends, but since Big Show is still active, they have fresh topics instead of Austin revisiting the same familiar stories like he does in interviews with Diamond Dallas Page or Kevin Nash. It’s nice to have this one to contrast with the recent heavily produced Network special, and also to have Show considerably more relaxed than after he’d just finished the main event segment of RAW. This review is too late for the next point to be relevant, but it was a great listen right before WrestleMania and added a degree of excitement for getting to see Austin and Rusev interact in the middle of the ring.

Why you should skip it: Lightly entertaining as it ay be, this episode is by no means essential. Show is a little freer than you might expect of an active WWE wrestler (wait, does he still have that ironclad contract?) but it’s not like he’s out here shooting on the McMahons or anything. Alternately put: If you don’t want to hear a WWE-made millionaire say nice things about John Cena and Vince McMahon, this isn’t the show for you.

Final thoughts: Simply put, Austin is at his best when he’s chatting up a fellow wrestler he respects as an equal. You learn a little about the backstage life, you get to see Austin’s fan side peek through and there’s a laugh or two along the way. With WrestleMania in the rear view mirror, it won’t be long when we’ll be clamoring for something close to this level, even if it’s nowhere near the strongest of his March/April shows thus far. Sometimes it’s just nice to be reminded why you fell in love with a show in the first place.

• • •

Show: Steve Austin Show
Episode: 313 (April 5, 2016)
Run Time: 1:23:08
Guest: Mick Foley (15:47); Noelle Foley (45:15)

Summary: It’s the audio-only version of Austin’s live WWE Network podcast with Mick Foley from WrestleMania week. They open by revisiting their Dallas connection, Foley explains how he’s getting in shape and his history being frugal and then Austin asks about Foley becoming Cactus Jack and learning to work hardcore matches. After a break, Foley’s daughter comes out to discuss the background of the new Holy Foley show. After she leaves, Foley revisits his WWF hiring, talks about portraying the different Faces of Foley and stresses the importance of working with the Undertaker, notably their infamous Hell in a Cell match. Turning to the present, Foley explains why he was so moved by his recent backstage scene with Dean Ambrose, his relationships with Stan Hansen and the Fabulous Freebirds and feelings about WrestleMania.

Quote of the week: “When I got home, you know, I walked in, we had a little apartment in Long Island, and my wife, first thing she did, she went, ‘Oh, my god! Was it a smoking flight?’ And I said, ‘No,’ — and I had my dad with me, I didn’t want my dad to worry about me too much, and all she kept saying was, ‘The smell is just awful. What was it?’ And then the moment my dad left, she goes, ‘Mick, seriously, what smells?’ And I rolled up my sleeve, and I went ‘It’s me, it’s me!’ ”

Why you should listen: As always with the Network shows, the “should” applies to people who haven’t already watched the actual show. The opening monologue is amusing if you want to hear which wrestlers drank Broken Skull IPA backstage at WrestleMania. As for the show proper, the only thing I’d consider essential is Foley recounting his recent work with Dean Ambrose.

Why you should skip it: Mick Foley. I absolutely love the guy, but there’s probably no single wrestling personality in 2016 who has less secrets. I’m grateful for his openness, but most folks who pay halfway decent attention will have heard 90 percent of the stories told on this episode on a handful of occasions. That’s why the Ambrose part stands out — it’s so fresh it hasn’t been overanalyzed — and although the Noelle bit also is new, it’s also dreadfully uninteresting. Their show might be OK, but nothing said in her brief time with Austin sets her or the show apart from any other reality joint.

Final thoughts: If you have the means and the time, just go watch the interview on the Network to experience the live crowd and the visual components that enhance the audio. It’s a quick enough listen via podcast at 2x, and inarguably entertaining, therefore probably worth a little bit of your time. Just don’t go into it expecting to be blown away by Foley and Austin going deep into uncharted waters. For these two, Foley especially, that’s simply not possible any more.