Monday, July 18, 2016

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Steve Austin and Goldberg

Austin and Goldberg chatted, in far less hostile terms than depicted above
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: 336 (June 23, 2016)
Run Time: 1:13:17
Guest: Bill Goldberg, part 1 (14:45)

Summary: Steve Austin has brought his recording equipment to Bill Goldberg’s famous garage. Goldberg explains his current training regimen and the importance he places on having a physical outlet. After discussing why they never matched up in WWF, Goldberg goes deep on his WCW experience, including talk about negotiating contracts, his training days and the famous match with Diamond Dallas Page. After discussing his relationships with various mixed-martial arts stars, Goldberg agrees with the assessment he’s suffered “shitpile” of concussions and assesses his current physical and mental state. Austin decides to bring up the 2016 election, then asks Goldberg why he ended his wrestling career.

Quote of the week: “I got this thing called cardio now. I never knew it, I never even knew it in football. And I mean, let’s be honest, what kind of cardio did I have to do to go out and, you know, squash guys, you know? I mean, that was one of my downfalls, you know, not only could I not chain wrestle for a long period of time, I didn’t have the cardio, I’d blow up like a fuckin’ fish. But when I do that now, bein’ as old as I am, I still wanna fuckin’ headbutt dudes. And so that I don’t end up in jail, and so I don’t hurt myself trying to hurt other people, I go to the gym.”

Why you should listen: I enjoyed Goldberg’s appearance on Art Of Wrestling a few years back, but Austin is a much better host to draw out the essence of the man behind the character. Though it didn’t seem to be Austin’s intent, this hour was really illuminating as to the nature of Goldberg’s approach to his wrestling career (before, during and after) and, aside from the election discussion, it’s an easy chat between two guys who have a lot in common while being wildly different.

Why you should skip it: Goldberg doesn’t seem to hold back at all, and that might be a problem for some folks. He’s definitely willing to poke fun at himself and makes a hell of an effort to explain his perspective about his place in wrestling history, but regardless there are listeners who will come away from this feeling less enamored with an icon of the Monday Night Wars than they otherwise might.

Final thoughts: It’s definitely not the “Austin Interviews Goldberg” scenario you might have envisioned in 2002 — though, come to think of it, could anyone have envisioned such a thing? This ended up being the first of a three-part interview, and chunks of it are easily among the best of the series. But you can say the same for part two as well, so picking and choosing is quite difficult.

• • •

Show: Steve Austin Show — Unleashed!
Episode: 338 (June 30, 2016)
Run Time: 1:16:25
Guest: Bill Goldberg, part 2 (8:56)

Summary: The conversation opens as a direct continuation from part one about why he retired and how he didn’t really fit into wrestling locker rooms. They joke about being mistaken for one another in public in the late 1990s, and then Goldberg explains how he defined his wrestling character and why he didn’t like his brief heel run. Austin asks Goldberg about his relationship with Hulk Hogan, then they talk more UFC. Goldberg revisits his iconic WCW entrance, then the guys recall working on Adam Sandler’s The Longest Yard. The talk turns to cars and drivers… which leads into a segue for the upcoming part three.

Quote of the week: “I really am a very caring person, and that tore me apart. … I know it would be badass. I woulda been one of the fuckin’ most ruthless sumbitch fuckin’ heels ever on the planet. I woulda been you at 300 pounds, you know? And I swear, that it, like Brock and his decision to go back to the UFC, it’ll haunt me, you know, from now until the day I die that I didn’t fuckin’ turn heel and give the fans the ability to see that part of me, because, man, there’s that wild animal in me that wants to just completely break loose and be lawless … I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t do it man. I couldn’t do it.”

Why you should listen: The undisputed highlight here is the guys trading barbs over how they dealt with fans confusing them for each other. Good-natured ball-busting is almost always enjoyable, and the distinction between Austin as a wrestling lifer and Goldberg as a flash-in-the-pan megastar only enhances the interplay. Goldberg’s thoughts on how he related to other WCW stars are well presented (if one-sided) and well worth considering amidst a seemingly constant stream of opinions about backstage life during the rise and fall of Nitro.

Why you should skip it: Once the talk turns to their time on a movie set, it’s definitely safe to check out (unless you’ve never heard Austin tell those stories), as the rest of the episode becomes less of a pointed interview and more of an aimless conversation, which is especially true once racing enters the scene. Also, if you’re expecting Goldberg to bury Hogan, you’re going to be let down.

Final thoughts: As usual with two-part episodes, we’d all be much better off with one well-edited conversation. Still, there’s something to be said for breaking up one session versus placing two distinct phone calls, and even if you listen to the episodes back-to-back, as I did, you probably won’t feel like this one is the same degree overkill as many other multiple installment episodes. Ultimately, I came away feeling like I got a much better understanding of Goldberg as a person. That’s not something I was necessarily craving, but it did make the experience seem somewhat worthwhile.

• • •

Show: Steve Austin Show — Unleashed!
Episode: 340 (July 7, 2016)
Run Time: 1:12:27
Guest: Bill Goldberg, part 3 (17:58)

Summary: Steve Austin finally gets to the fireworks factory: an audio tour of Bill Goldberg’s vehicle collection. They start with a 1970 Plymouth Barracuda and, in the midst of discussing several other vehicles, chat about how much time Goldberg spends in the garage, special things he’s able to do with his son, which cars he drives most often, stories of why he bought and sold certain rides and having Jay Leno over to the garage. At the end, Austin tries unsuccessfully to buy a few of Goldberg’s prized possessions.

Quote of the week: “That took a month and a half to get the garage ready for Leno because I’m on the road a lot, dude, and I mean, there’s a lot more important things than the floor of my 6,500-square-foot garage, you know, like my family. Like everything that has to do with them, whether it’s reading a book to with my son or, you know, being there for 10 minutes to talk to my wife before dinner. I mean, it’s more important than doing this shit.”

Why you should listen: Gearheads: here is your audio Mecca. Just because my brain instinctually shuts down when grunting dudes start saying words like “hemi” and “four on the floor” doesn’t mean there’s no audience for this type of conversation — especially after two episodes of Austin hinting at the sights around the garage while he and Goldberg simply talked wrestling. And as much time and money as Goldberg has invested in his collection, he at least seems to understand he’s incredibly lucky to have had the ability to do so.

Why you should skip it: Well, you didn’t want to actually see any of these cars and trucks and things that go, did you? Chances are even if you’re thrilled to hear all the car talk, you’re going to need to fire up the Google machine for some visual complements. And if you don’t care for cars, trust me when I saw the first two parts are all the Austin-Goldberg communication you need.

Final thoughts: At the end of listening to all three parts, I came away wishing that instead of mostly unedited audio, the entire experience would have been better off as a heavily produced 60- or 90-minute WWE Network special. What we ended up with isn’t horrible, and I’m really glad to hear Austin talking wrestling with someone who isn’t obsessed with complaining about the current product or stuck eternally in 1970s nostalgia (or worse, both), so I consider the car stuff kind of a necessary evil in return for some really fun stuff from Goldberg. But that’s the big-picture look at the three-part arc. In micro, this one particular episode is a snoozer for anyone who isn’t a car nut.