Wednesday, August 31, 2016

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Steve Austin Show Ep. 354

Patterson stops by the Austin show to promote his new book
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: 354 (Aug. 25, 2016)
Run Time: 1:41:10
Guest: Pat Patterson (1:13)

Summary: Steve Austin cuts right to the chase for his interview with wrestling legend Pat Patterson. Most of the discussion is drawn from topics Patterson covers in his new book, Accepted: How the First Gay Superstar Changed WWE, such as how Patterson works with wrestlers on match finishes, how his lifelong love of performing hot him into wrestling and a few of his shoot jobs. Patterson has stories about the influence of fellow legends like Killer Kowalski, Mad Dog Vachon, Roy Shire, Ray Stevens, Bob Backlund, Eddie Graham and Pat O’Connor, and tales of working in Portland, San Francisco and Florida. He explains what he likes about being a producer and originating the Royal Rumble and Intercontinental Championship. The end includes a few stories about Vince McMahon Sr., some of Patterson’s famous ribs, the Montreal Screwjob, his aortic aneurysm, why he decided to write his book, Legends House and the importance of being open about his sexuality.

Quote of the week: “Go to do TV, and after we’re done TV, I get in the truck with him, I’m having a few beers, he goes, ‘You better start working out, you look like shit.’ I said, ‘Holy Christ almighty.’ I wasn’t really into the workout thing, you know? And then he says, ‘I heard some of that shit about you.’ I says, ‘What’d you hear?’ He says, ‘Well, you’re different.’ I says, ‘What do you mean different?’ He says, ‘You’re different!’ I says, ‘Well, I’ll tell you, I’m gay.’ He says, ‘You dumb shit, you admit it?’’ I says, ‘Roy, I’m gonna work for you, you might as well fuckin’ know!’ He said, ‘You’re stupid!’ I says, ‘I’m not! I’m just telling you — I’m honest with you!’ So when I get home, my friend Louie is waiting for me, I says, ‘I don’t think we’re gonna be here too long.’ He tells me about working out, and he tells me about being gay, Jesus Christ. I was there 15 years.”

Why you should listen: Patterson is not just a foundational figure in pro wrestling history, he’s also a pretty good storyteller. The podcast format is perhaps not the most ideal for conveying Patterson’s unique charisma, his biography is no less fascinating in this medium. Austin does a good job taking the conversation through many different parts of Patterson’s career, which helps him come across more genuinely than what might be expected if WWE attempted to control the narrative to suit its own interests.

Why you should skip it: I haven’t read the book, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest the several hundred written words do a more thorough job of telling Patterson’s story than a 90-minute interview. Austin did say he tried to go beyond the book, specifically by discussing some of the old promoters and territories, but at best this probably makes the podcast more suitable as companion listening rather than a replacement to experiencing the book firsthand.

Final thoughts: I had high hopes for this one going in, and Austin and Patterson more or less met my expectations. (We should all hope that, despite the need to promote the book. Patterson stays far, far away from Jim Ross.) I could have done without the Montreal discussion — there is no more discussed topic amongst wrestling podcasts — but I at least there’s justification for having it come up in this interview. I have a hard time determining which type of wrestling fan wouldn’t like this episode, and chances are good the folks who put themselves in that camp would do well to listen with open minds.