Thursday, December 15, 2016

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Steve Austin Show Ep. 385

Austin talks to the former WWE timekeeper
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: 385 (Dec. 13, 2016)
Run Time: 1:25:42
Guest: Mark Yeaton (19:50)

Summary: Steve Austin is down at the Broken Skull Ranch, placing a phone call to the Pennsylvania farm of Mark Yeaton, who worked for WWF/E for about 30 years going back to 1984. They talk quit ea bit about Yeaton’s background as a referee, on the ring crew and life on the road. Topics include how the rings changed over time, memorable crowd reactions, his favorite arenas, how guys like Yeaton got paid and how he transferred to a role as timekeeper. Yeaton discusses who and what he misses about his former life, reflects on the Undertaker and other guys he liked working with, then they talk at length about his job of tossing beers to Austin at the height of the Attitude Era. They end with a few stories of backstage ribs.

Quote of the week: “There was a couple times where the bad guys won in LA, and literally the Samoans had to get me out of the ring under their protection because I was getting stuff thrown at me or (fans) trying to hit me, or fans would just try to kill me because the bad guys cheated and won and I didn’t see it. But things like that — it’s fun, it got a little crazy back in those days. I mean, Boston Garden, Nassau Coliseum, I was seeing D-size batteries flying into the ring, heads of cabbage coming flying out, I had a bottle break next to my head in Boston Garden. There were some crazy fans back in the early days.”

Why you should listen: Anyone who worked for Vince McMahon from 1984 through 2014 has a lot of stories to tell, and Yeaton’s relatively diverse resume gives listeners looks into a wider range than most guests provide. If you’re fascinated by things like ring engineering, signals from backstage to active performers and what happens when someone who is more or less part of the scenery all of a sudden becomes thrust into the spotlight, you’re going to enjoy this conversation quite a bit.

Why you should skip it: Austin has talked about catching beers from Yeaton countless times over his many episodes, as well as the guys notorious for quality pranks, which has the last segment bordering on redundancy. Further, it does seem fair to say Yeaton pulled a few punches here, but the guy obviously doesn’t want to burn any bridges. Not that he should ignite those flames, but listeners need to know they’re going to get happy memories from a company man and hardly any dirt.

Final thoughts: This definitely was an enjoyable conversation. Yeaton’s not quite ready for prime time, but Austin treats him as a friend and their discussion should help listeners understand the quality of a wrestling match involves far more than just the combatants. I’d certainly be down for hearing more of Yeaton’s stories from the mid- and late 1980s, backstage or simply ringside, but perhaps the best venue is through a seasoned writer. It’s impossible to ignore the gap in charisma between host and guest, which is neither man’s fault. If you’re cultivating a playlist of 2016 Austin episodes (hey, there’s an idea) you certainly want to include this one, even if it doesn’t warrant top billing.