Friday, October 14, 2016

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Steve Austin Show Ep. 367

Austin gives Bull James a chat
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
Episode: 367 (Oct. 11, 2016)
Run Time: 1:19:06
Guest: Bull James (14:04)

Summary: Steve Austin has recently developed a friendship with the erstwhile Bull Dempsey, so he decided to put one of their conversations on wax. After a quick update on James’ independent schedule and how his current approach differs from his NXT days, James goes back into his childhood wrestling fandom and professional debut at age 17 while training in the New Jersey area. James explains the importance of his relationships with Matt Borne and Taz, then revisits his WWE tryout, talks about ring styles that influenced his development, working on his approach to microphone work and his connection to Dusty Rhodes. That spins into a larger talk about what it’s like to be in the developmental system, a retracing of his TV career and why he disagreed with the corporate leaders who saw him as too similar to Kevin Owens. As they wrap up, James talks about his plans to keep evolving his character in order to stay relevant and ready for any opportunity.

Quote of the week: “I don’t ever want be that guy with a six-pack. Because as long as there’s people coming up to me at shows — and they do it every show that I wrestle —and guys, you know, guys or kids or anybody, women, you know, saying, ‘You know, hey, these guys, a lotta these guys look like they’re in shape, but it’s nice to see somebody different who can keep up with ’em.” And I get it a lot. And it’s actually, like, surprising how many times, like, I get people who are like it’s, you know, tell me it’s an inspiration to them or just how much they enjoyed my stuff because I don’t look a certain way. So I think as long as there’s people out there that feel that way, I’m not gonna go and change who I am just to appease, you know, a group of people with maybe a bigger voice than others.”

Why you should listen: You might expect to hear a recently departed from WWE star land on Art Of Wrestling (Adam Rose, anyone?), but here Austin takes the reigns, which is interesting because it allows Austin to further establish his fan bona fides as well as his PodcastOne joint being independent from any and all WWE oversight. Anyone who had positive feelings about any part of the Bull Dempsey arc will most certainly enjoy hearing him upbeat as well as honest about his challenges in NXT. He definitely comes across as a real student of his professional who has a lifetime commitment to entertaining through wrestling, and that’s exactly the attitude I hope will keep him employed as long as his body holds up.

Why you should skip it: You’ve probably guessed by now, but this isn’t the place to come to hear disgruntled former employees burning bridges and shooting on Titan Towers. The Owens stuff is illuminating, but James couldn’t have found a higher road to take. Personally I would have appreciated more of Austin probing James on the parts of his NXT career we best remember, but it got squeezed out by the time given to his overall life story and future aspirations.

Final thoughts: This episode is definitely interesting for anyone who follows NXT with regularity. I’m always at least as intrigued about the daily life of developmental stars as I am with what I see on TV, and Austin’s interviews with Enzo and Cass and The Revival, as well as this session with James, are going a long way toward helping average fans understand what it takes to succeed in Orlando and how the capricious nature of Stamford decision makers can alter career courses almost overnight. James is an incredibly likeable person — which may conflict with his character’s mean streak — so ultimately this lands somewhere between interesting and enjoyable more so than essential and compelling, but it’s quite a nice way to spend an hour.