Wednesday, January 11, 2017

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Steve Austin Show Ep. 393

Dave Meltzer talks WrestleKingdom and other things with Austin this week
Photo Credit: [add later]
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: 393 (Jan. 10, 2017)
Run Time: 1:27:18
Guest: Dave Meltzer (15:48)

Summary: Steve Austin is back in Marina del Rey and ready to talk with Dave Meltzer about the Omega-Okada match at WrestleKingdom 11. After discussing the match itself, they consider Kenny Omega’s WWE potential, then Meltzer gives a brief history of the modern Japan pro wrestling scene, which evolves into a look at the prospects of a few of WWE’s current top stars and who might win the Royal Rumble. The final stretch includes discussion of UFC, starting with Ronda Rousey’s future.

Quote of the week: “You’re never gonna be hotter, and WWE’s looking for a new top guy, and I think they think that they got it in Roman Reigns, but, when I look at everything — I mean, he’s younger than AJ, he’s taller than AJ, he’s got a good body, he’s got a good look, he’s got a good promo, I mean, if you look at all the guys that they got that they’re grooming to be top guys, I mean, AJ’s 39, Roman has certain issues … he’s very good but he’s not over with the crowd and he’s not a great promo. And Kenny’s got more of everything than anyone on that roster has. … He’s more solid as a worker than Ambrose, I think he’s a better talker than Rollins, and he hasn’t been damaged, like Rollins has to me, by the booking because he’s fresh. … He could be, like, The Guy, you know, like the replacement that they’ve been looking for for Cena. I don’t know that they think that, but when I look at him I think that this guy, he’s got all the tools.”

Why you should listen: Meltzer fans clearly don’t need to hear anything else from him with regards to the Omega-Okada match, but even those who avoid Big Dave might be curious to hear Austin react to the biggest buzzworthy match of recent vintage. Aside from the main draw, though, is Meltzer’s praise for Omega and a frank discussion about many of WWE’s top talents between two men with legitimate standing to seriously analyze strengths and weaknesses, perceived or otherwise. Also the MMA stuff I guess is useful. My brain turned off there.

Why you should skip it: One of the downsides of buzz is fatigue, and that’s magnified in the modern hot take/instant reaction culture. I haven’t actually seen Omega-Okada yet but I read live tweets, measured criticism and then response to the live reaction and dated feedback, then takes about the takes about the takes and gosh darn it I don’t really know how to get off this feedback carousel. And did I mention the MMA stuff? Snoozetown. (You know, for me, personally.)

Final thoughts: Austin being back home from the ranch and ready to get back into WWE in time for the road to WrestleMania heralds a return to the type of show that feeds current wrestling fans hungry for every sliver of analysis and commentary. This show represents a sharp change from the last several weeks of podcasts. Also, even if it requires the consumption of multiple grains of salt, Meltzer’s influence on wrestling media can’t be ignored. Put another way, you don’t have to agree with anything he says, but there’s something to be said for being aware of his reporting and commentary and tracking its reverberations. Having him appear for free on this show — and counterbalanced by a guy guaranteed to have flown closer to the sun than Meltzer himself — is something of a service for folks interested in the world of wrestling beyond just WWE’s tentpoles and the images it tries to project.

All that said, this remains a pretty safe episode to ignore altogether. You don’t need Meltzer or Austin to validate your opinions on Wrestle Kingdom 11 or to tell you what to think about Reigns or Rollins or whomever. If you’re up to speed on WWE stories, you’re miles ahead of Austin and it will take him a few weeks at least to catch up. The bulk of this interview is at the very least amusing and at times thought provoking, but nothing herein rises to the level of essential listening.