Wednesday, August 17, 2016

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

Strowman is a guest on the Austin show
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: 348 (Aug. 4, 2016)
Run Time: 1:18:03
Guest: CT Fletcher (10:41)

Summary: Steve Austin catches up with bodybuilding YouTube star CT Fletcher. After a quick health update, Fletcher gives some details on an movie he’s shooting with Bill Goldberg, does some retracing of the rise of his YouTube popularity and dishes a bit about the many cars he now owns. Austin walks Fletcher through his Ten Commandments of Muscle Growth, then they talk a bit more about filming fights in other movies. After a quick check on Fletcher’s heart condition, we hear about Fletcher’s future projects.

Quote of the week: “I get the greatest pleasure from them, from walking out into the parking lot and just being able to say, ‘This is my shit.’ I have been so broke that I fuckin’ — everywhere I went I had to fuckin’ walk. So when I said I get two nickels, I’m gonna buy me a goddamn car. And then I, you know, I got a couple nickels and I just went crazy. Now I got a parking lot full of the motherfuckers.”

Why you should listen: The four-letter words are flying in this one, which (to my scattered memory) makes it one of the bluer Unleashed episodes of late, certainly to be appreciated among those who hit the download button because they remember bird-flipping Stone Cold. It’s perhaps also relevant to those who want a little extra bit of motivation to start clanging and banging in the gym, or those wondering if they, too, might be the next person to use a webcam to go viral and spend lots of money on cars they don’t really need.

Why you should skip it: Wait, who the hell is CT Fletcher? My only experience with this dude is a prior appearance on the Austin show, and I haven’t spent a second thinking about him since that episode ended. The same is likely to be true after this outing. I just don’t find him that interesting, and even the amusing parts — such as Austin talking about filming a fight scene with Sylvester Stallone — are stories told many times over on earlier episodes.

Final thoughts: I will continue to award Austin points for having live guests over reading listener emails. Obviously I’m going to be less interested in a YouTube star than a Ricky Morton interview, but I’d also rather hear Stone Cold trade fake promos with CT Fletcher than Jim Ross telling Ricochet he needs to slow down. In order to understand Steve Austin, podcast megastar, you have to be familiar with his entire catalog. Of course, he’s been at it long enough most people don’t need to actually listen to these episodes to be able to place them in proper context. Long story short? Take a pass, and wait to download until a more interesting guest surfaces.

• • •

Show: Steve Austin Show
Episode: 349 (Aug. 9, 2016)
Run Time: 1:23:00
Guest: Braun Strowman (13:04)

Summary: Steve Austin was backstage at RAW in Anaheim and took the time to sit down with Braun Strowman. The go over the erstwhile Wyatt Family member’s unusual size and strength history, his diet, taking part in Strongman competitions and personal, motivation. Then Austin asks Strowman about getting into WWE, which brings up talk of his amateur background, and Strowman talks about the joys of being a Wyatt. Austin gives Strownman some career advice as he breaks out to work solo, runs through Strowman’s moveset, asks about his goals and gets a few stories about road life.

Quote of the week: “I don’t want to be rushed into any kind of position like that, because I wanna hone my skills as a worker to where people go, ‘Holy crap, like, this guy’s huge, but not only is he huge, he can go.’ And do things like — I feel like I have things stashed away that I can do that people are gonna go, ‘How did he just do that? He’s not supposed to be able to do things like that. Guys that big don’t move like that, don’t do things like that.’ So that’s what I’m working on is being not just a big guy, but being something different, something more than … a circus attraction where it’s just, ‘Come see the bearded lady, see the strongman. Come this frickin’ giant that runs across the ring and just smashes people and can work a hold.’ ”

Why you should listen: It’s quite fun to get so much insight from a guy who’s on-screen character is so notably silent. While I often bristle when the host goes into lecture mode on a guest, in this case Austin’s genuine interest in Strowman and his young career shone through, along with the respect Austin gives him for already getting to this stage. The interview definitely humanizes Strowman and instantly has me more invested in his success, which I can only assume was a significant part of Austin’s intent in setting up the conversation in the first place.

Why you should skip it: If ever an audio-only interview would have benefited from the WWE Network studio approach, it’s this one. Hearing tales of Strowman’s prodigious size and strength would certainly have been enhanced with images of his younger days. And while Austin’s comfort with Strowman and his position is endearing, it also seems to have robbed Austin of the instinct to press for follow-up questions on things like what precisely he learned working tag matches with Kane and Big Show. He does get a bit of information from his guest about Bray Wyatt’s influence, but on balance it seemed Austin accepted a lot of the answers because he understood a deeper context that would not naturally exist among the wider audience.

Final thoughts: For my money (and yes, these shows are free), this is exactly the kind of podcast Austin should be cranking out several times a month. Although he reveals he’s not been as up-to-date on the current product as he is during WrestleMania season, the chance to connect with a young star clearly invigorates Austin, and this backstage stuff is exactly the sort of channel for rising talents to endear themselves to an audience independent of the on-screen character-driven narrative. It’s one of the strongest Austin offerings in quite some time, and if you have any interest in Strowman I’m confident you’ll enjoy the interview.