Wednesday, July 6, 2016

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Steve Austin Show Doubleshot

Russo is on the first Austin show reviewed
Photo Credit: Vince Russo Facebook
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: 333 (June 14, 2016)
Run Time: 1:24:02
Guest: Vince Russo (13:25)

Summary: Steve Austin is on the horn with his old colleague Vince Russo, who hosts his own daily podcast. They talk a bit about the Attitude Era before Austin gets Russo’s thoughts on the Will Ospreay-Ricochet match. Then Russo takes the reigns, talking at length about Austin’s feud with Undertaker leading into the Highway To Hell match at SummerSlam 1998 in Madison Square Garden. Austin responds with his own recollections. Russo talks about how he wrote the show based on minute breakdowns of ratings points, then contrasts that with how performers and roles currently are boxed in to certain expectations. The guys use The Miz and Damien Sandow to illustrate their points. Wrapping up, Russo has harsh words for people who say they’re “evolving” the product.

Quote of the week: “I don’t understand what would be the psychology of putting any creative performer/talent in a box. It’s almost like, bro, I’m gonna equate it to baseball. So I’m a baseball fan. It’s almost like you’ve got a shortstop at AAA batting .250. So now the Giants are gonna bring him up to the big club, and they’re gonna say to him, ‘Hey kid, we’re gonna put you on shortstop and we’re gonna be happy with you hitting .250 and you’re gonna hit .250.’ Like they don’t the guy to hit .300 even if he can. I just, I don’t understand the psychology of putting guys in a box and slotting them in and that not — I don’t know how that benefits the company.”

Why you should listen: This is Russo here, so “should” is quite a strong word. But I did actually enjoy hearing about the SummerSlam build and match from Russo’s perspective and then immediately countered with Austin’s version, especially since it’s a match he’s often discussed over the last several years because of the concussion he suffered early in the bout. Further, having both guys remember things differently is a good reminder than just because you hear someone speechifying on a podcast — even someone you respect — doesn’t mean they’ve got total recall.

Why you should skip it: If you don’t like Russo, this show isn’t going to help, especially all the other stuff aside from the SummerSlam memory. If you do like Russo, bro, you’ve probably already heard him discuss that bit on his own podcast and so this is likely to be significantly redundant. Chances are (and God help those who know this firsthand) he already retold Austin’s portion on his own podcast. Everything else is typical, grating Vince Russo. Even when it’s not patently offensive it’s still bluntly obnoxious.

Final thoughts: To be totally fair, this isn’t the most Vince Russo has annoyed me on a podcast appearance. I feel like he even turned down the “bro” count. But it’s still Vince Russo, and most folks will have to swallow hard to get through to the decent parts.

• • •

Show: Steve Austin Show
Episode: 334 (June 16, 2016)
Run Time: 1:28:20
Guest: Jocko Willink (14:08)

Summary: Austin’s guest this week is a retired Navy SEAL who has written a book and speaks about leadership. He starts by asking Willink about his youth and attraction to jiu jitsu. That leads into memories of SEAL training, his combat experience and the bonds built on a battlefield. Austin then gets Willink to discuss his workout regimen, what it was like to work with Iraqi soldiers and how his speaking/writing career evolved. That leads to Willink’s thoughts on the importance of discipline and his future plans. At the end he shares his memories of the man who inspired American Sniper, tells a memorable story from his book and finally gives his thoughts on some upcoming UFC action.

Quote of the week: “You know, to be honest with you, the only thing I ever remember wanting do to in my life was be some kind of a commando. That’s the only thing, ever since I was a little kid, ever since I can remember wanting to do anything, I wanted to have a machine gun in my hands and I wanted to go kill bad guys.”

Why you should listen: Are you desperately short on testosterone? Spend 70 minutes listening to this commando and your problem will be solved. The same probably could be true for folks who think their life needs direction or purpose. I’m pretty set there, but I do see where Willink could make for a successful motivator.

Why you should skip it: If you’d like to consider our elite military members as something aside from singularly-focused killing machines, this probably is not the show for you. I can’t say whether Willink is typical of a U.S. special forces member, but I can say he gleefully reinforces a stereotype that might rub certain people the wrong way.

Final thoughts: This one’s a hard pass for me, although it was better than the sandwiching Vince Russo episodes. Not a great run for Austin, but I will acknowledge this interview is pretty well in the wheelhouse for the podcast’s core audience. I’m not inherently opposed to the military as a podcast topic (I thought Serial season two was spectacular), I just don’t think Willink is the right kind of speaker for my particular sensibilities, and Austin isn’t really doing an interview here so much as guiding his listeners through the guest’s book jacket.