Tuesday, April 19, 2016

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Steve Austin Show Ep. 316

Austin, shown above with Xavier Woods, runs down Mania in his latest podcast
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: 316 (April 14, 2016)
Run Time: 1:23:38
Guest: Court Bauer (4:45)

Summary: Austin is finally settled back into home life and on the phone with Court Bauer to break down WrestleMania 32. They start by sharing their overall impressions of the show, talk about the fallout over the ensuing two weeks of TV and quickly discuss recent NXT roster moves and American Alpha. Then they review WrestleMania from the ladder match to the main event.

Quote of the week: “You didn’t feel the stakes, and they didn’t really call the stakes in terms of calling the action that the whole complexion of the WWE — this could be the new era if Shane wins this, this could be Undertaker’s last ride at WrestleMania in Dallas — they didn’t, it didn’t feel as big, it almost was like they kind of muted that energy. And Vince, just one shot would have been enough to represent the stakes being so high. Show him in the skybox, show him with Jerry Jones, I don’t care where you show him, show the guy, and show that the stakes are high, this is his company, this is the legacy, and we didn’t get that. It was odd.”

Why you should listen: Austin is likely to refer back to WrestleMania for the remainder of the WWE year, so you might as well get his impressions from their initial appearance on wax. If you’re not into the blow-by-blow analysis, the opening moments are a sufficient synopsis, and I’m always up for Austin discussing any aspect of his interest in NXT.

Why you should skip it: Bauer comes off as overly negative, and Austin apparently hasn’t seen anything since the curtain dropped with Roman Reigns victorious in Dallas. For a show recorded more than two weeks after the event, it seems shortsighted to overlook WrestleMania’s role in the larger narrative. This level of analysis wouldn’t have seemed nearly as out of place if recorded the morning after the big show.

Final thoughts: It might be too much to ask of these guys, but it would’ve been nice if one of them challenged assumptions about the way WWE operates. Instead of simply complaining that WrestleMania didn’t play to an expected format, perhaps wonder if WWE might be slowly trying to recondition its audience. Instead of consternation about why the legacy stars from Sunday were nowhere to be seen Monday night, maybe consider if their use on RAW might have detracted from its obvious intended purpose as a launching pad for new talent. Not that they’re wrong and I’m right, but it must be said Bauer specifically framed a lot of his criticism as WWE not doing what he expected and never bothering to question the validity of his expectations. The end result is a paint-by-numbers look at WrestleMania barely differentiated from the social media groupthink, an output not befitting of someone positioned as a leading voice in wrestling commentary.