Wednesday, August 3, 2016

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Steve Austin Unleashed! Two-fer

Vampiro comes back to the Austin Show
Photo Credit: El Rey Network Site
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: 342 (July 14, 2016)
Run Time: 1:18:06
Guest: Vampiro (18:07)

Summary: Steve Austin conducts his first in-person interview with Vampiro. After opening by getting his guest to defend the notion of getting carried in a match, Vampiro discusses what wrestling he likes and what he doesn’t, and the guys go back and forth on the evolution of the presentation of professional wrestling, notably the importance of selling. After a break, Vampiro talks about how he developed his announcing style and shared some other thoughts on Lucha Underground and different acting projects, including why he prefers producing. He speculates about future opponents and ends with information on his martial arts studies.

Quote of the week: “If you get a beautiful Barbie doll girl, is that really gonna turn your crank for the rest of your life? Or do you want somebody with some grit, some scar tissue, some experience? It’s the same thing, right? Experience. Somebody who can kind of move you and compete with you and hold your curiosity and sometimes make you want to be a better person. Wrestling does that to you. You watch it, you go to wrestling because you want to be a wrestler, you want to get rid of your stress, you’re a fan, you’re freaked out, you like the energy. But if it’s just put together like a video game, it’s like, what are we doing here? Am I wrong to say that?”

Why you should listen: The interview checks in at a clean hour, which is a refreshing change for Austin. Also refreshing is to hear the Texas Rattlesnake actually talking about wrestling again amidst a flurry of episodes focusing on anything but. Obviously not everyone is into Vampiro, but the focus here stays heavily on the parts of his more broadly acclaimed work while skirting the parts of his personality and approach that grate on some folks. There’s no real Lucha Underground spoilers, but it was interesting to hear Vampiro consciously assess the potential intersection of his in-ring value to the company product with his own personal interests.

Why you should skip it: The first half is significantly less a Vampiro interview and much more Austin ranting about the way to be a good pro wrestler and seeking his guest’s approval of his opinions. It’s not bad entertainment if you want to hear something bordering on vintage Stone Cold, but it’s a disservice to the guest and those who came to hear Vampiro talk. Although the episode is concise, my interest generally waned at the very end.

Final thoughts: On the whole, this one was pretty enjoyable and definitely one of Austin’s better episodes of late. You don’t really need to be a Lucha Underground aficionado to appreciate this interview, but having a working knowledge of the show definitely helps contextualize some of Vampiro’s comments, especially those that might be considered critical of the promotion. The flipside to that is a Lucha Undeground diehard might not get what they’re hoping for out of this one since Austin didn’t seem ready to dive too deeply on season two. But ultimately, this is the most I’ve enjoyed Vampiro on anyone’s podcast, and I can definitely think of worse ways to kill an hour.

• • •

Show: Steve Austin Show
Episode: 347 (August 2, 2016)
Run Time: 1:13:38
Guest: Ricky Morton (13:50)

Summary: Steve Austin places a phone call to former guest Ricky Morton, who is anxious to talk about his wrestling school in rural Tennessee, including some specific thoughts on arm drags and working punches. He also shares memories of working with various incarnations of the Midnight Express, Minnesota Wrecking Crew and Four Horsemen, recounts some of minor injuries and gives his thoughts on why Ric Flair was so successful and what might have been for Magnum TA. He ends by giving Austin his definition of “getting over.”

Quote of the week: “You know, I have some guys that come in off the independent circuit wantin’ to learn a little bit more, you know. When you come in, don’t impress me, I done seen everything. You know, if you wanna impress me, eat a apple and shit a fruit salad, that would impress me. The rest of it I done seen.”

Why you should listen: Anyone curious about learning pro wrestling from Morton but not quite able to get to Chuckey, TN, should listen to the first half. Aside from hitting the ropes in one of his two rings, this is a perfect window into the world of Morton’s approach to teaching. Beyond that, this chat is perfect for people who need to be dipped in the nostalgic waters of Southern wrestling from the 1970s and 1980s.

Why you should skip it: Did you know old-timers think wrestlers today need to slow down and sell more? Morton and Austin aren’t rude or curmudgeonly here, but neither do they offer anything we haven’t heard a hundred times before from various sources. The same is true of the Flair and Magnum TA conversation. One is the best there ever was, the other very much could have been but for his auto accident. It’s not bad, just not fresh.

Final thoughts: I’m not taking any points away from Austin here. He has great respect for Morton and his contemporaries, and this chat — stale as it may be — beats the hell out of trading poop stories with a C-level comedian or walking through a garage and marveling at classic cars we can’t see. It’s a quick little interview and good for fans of today to be reminded of the way guys like Morton got famous and made a lasting name for themselves. It’s nowhere close to an essential listen, but I enjoyed the chance to take a few steps back in time.