Wednesday, July 13, 2016

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Steve Austin Show Ep. 335

Vinny Ru's second part airs this week
Photo Credit: Vince Russo's 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: 335 (June 21, 2016)
Run Time: 1:13:20
Guest: Vince Russo (18:42)

Summary: This is a continuation of Austin’s last chat with Russo, so it opens with the guest ranting about the skill level of current WWE writers and Vince McMahon’s failure in putting his daughter in charge of creative, then explaining why he didn’t return to the company in 2002. Austin contextualizes the conversation with his experience heading into WrestleMania 13, then they take turns suggesting ways the current product could be improved. At the end, Russo rants about his wife’s perceptions of him working from home while Austin talks about the challenges of being on the road.

Quote of the week: “When I watch the show, my gut feeling why everything is scripted, why everybody is in a box, my gut feeling is Vince trusts nobody. He doesn’t trust the talent, he doesn’t trust the writers, he doesn’t trust Stephanie, he doesn’t trust Triple H, he doesn’t trust Shane, he doesn’t trust anybody and he doesn’t have confidence in anybody. That’s the feeling I get when I watch the show.”

Why you should listen: Truthfully, the best reason to tune in is if you need material for a Fire Joe Morgan-style takedown of Russo. His internal logic is so conflicted all you really need to do is juxtapose his quotes one against the other, oftentimes even in the same breath of air. It’s not that all his points are bad, it’s that he contradicts his own rhetoric so frequently it’s almost impossible to tell which position he actually believes. All that said, he’s not really offensive here (given some of the outlandish attitudes and opinions shared elsewhere), which makes it at least tolerable — until the moment you start applying your own critical thoughts.

Why you should skip it: A lot of this seemed like worn ground based on what I’ve heard Russo say on previous Austin episodes and at least one stint with Jim Ross. Perhaps that’s what dulled me to anything that might have seemed offensive — at this point it’s just Russo being Russo.

Final thoughts: I’ll give Austin this — he’s trying his damndest to try to figure out a better way for WWE to present its television product. It might help if he were a little more involved, but he really does try to see things from all aspects of his career (from entry level to hottest act in history) as well as his current role as a guy who follows along (mostly) in TV. He stands up to Russo when balance is needed, though not as often as he could. But ultimately, the decision on whether or not to listen to an episode like this is weighted fully on the listener’s ability to tolerate Russo. Nothing presented herein is worth biting that particular bullet if you find doing so distasteful.