Friday, November 4, 2016

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Steve Austin Show Ep. 373

Angle sits down with Austin
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: 373 (Nov. 1, 2016)
Run Time: 1:24:39
Guest: Kurt Angle (9:18)

Summary: Steve Austin heard Kurt Angle news making the rounds, so he placed a call to the gold medalist. They start by reviewing Angle’s current bookings and getting his thoughts on the independent scene, and especially Cody Rhodes. Austin asked Angle if his wrestling style hurt his career, which leads to plenty of raw talk about his litany of neck injuries and how hard he chased painkillers and other substances. The talk then flips to Angle finally going to rehab, what it felt like being on fellow wrestlers’ “death watch” and how he came to realize wrestling isn’t the only thing in life. Wrapping up, they look at Angle’s difficult relationship with the father who died when he was 16, his influences in professional wrestling and his life after wrestling, which includes trying to be a leader in substance abuse recovery.

Quote of the week: “(Wrestling is) just the only thing that ever went right for me, you know, including injuries. I had everything, you know? Just, you know, my family members are dying like, you know, dead flies and things aren’t going will with my parents … I didn’t have anything but wrestling, and I felt like I didn’t — I would never have anything but wrestling. I figured that was my destiny was I was going to be a wrestler and if my day comes, I was gonna die in the ring. And I just figured I’m gonna live my life recklessly and get in there and do the best I can and build a legacy for myself. I didn’t think that anything else was that important.”

Why you should listen: While Angle doesn’t get too deep into the issues plaguing his personal life, he says almost everything you’d want to know about being addicted to painkillers, abusing alcohol and “self medicating” through substance abuse. Austin carries an appropriate tone throughout, and this is the type of interview that can really only be handled by someone who has enough shared experiences as the subject, as it provides an ability for the audience to understand the things that led into and out of the depth of Angle’s struggles while also giving assurance of the validity of the guets’s otherwise unbelievable claims.

Why you should skip it: Austin acknowledges there are some F-bombs on this ostensibly “family friendly” episode, and gives fair warning inside the episode itself… but if you’ve got your kids listening you should be much more worried about the actual topic of the conversation than a few stray curses. Aside from that, as compelling as Angle’s life might be, I’ve also heard guys like Del Wilkes, Scott Hall and Jake Roberts give podcast interviews, and after a while the story becomes remarkably similar. Not to take anything away from Angle’s very real struggles, but there’s a good chance many fans can sketch the major plot points of this episode before hitting the play button.

Final thoughts: I’m really glad this was a single-episode interview, and I do think Austin was more or less the best man to get Angle on the record with a lot of this stuff — not that it was uncovered territory, as Austin himself only picked up the phone after reading crazy website headlines — so if you’ve got any interest in Angle you definitely want to tune in. That said, there is no shortage of stories to be told by wrestlers who struggled mightily with some form of addiction, and in that canon, this doesn’t particularly stand out.