Tuesday, January 24, 2017

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Steve Austin Show Ep. 396

Austin talks to Embry again
Photo Credit: WWE.com
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: 396 (Jan. 19, 2017)
Run Time: 1:35:52
Guest: Eric Embry, part two (10:34)

Summary: Steve Austin makes his second phone call to Southern veteran Eric Embry. After some initial talk about microphone work and the merchandise table, Embry talks about the von Erich family, the guys trade stories about blading and Austin asks Embry to discuss his booking philosophy during the territory era. Embry then explains the means by which he became a draw in Mexico despite working an American style, then tells stories about working in Puerto Rico. After a quick tangent back to a story about booking for Fritz von Erich, Embry talks at length about shady dealings in Puerto Rico and the circumstances surrounding Bruiser Brody’s murder.

Quote of the week: “Dutch Mantell and Tony Atlas was in the dressing room, kinda saw what happened that night and did not go back for the trial. Well, I understand Dutch got subpoenaed, but Dutch said he got his subpoena after the trial was over, like two days or something after the trial was over he got a subpoena to be there two days ago for the trial. But in anybody’s defense that was in the dressing room that didn’t go back for that trial, there’s no doubt in my mind, Steve, if anybody had went back to that — for that trial, they would have not left that island alive, and they would’ve never made it to the trial. That’s how much control that office has on that island. It’s some heavy shit, ain’t it? But it’s the truth.”

Why you should listen: Unlike other segmented interviews that tend to overlap to the point of annoyance, this second interview with Embry picks up right where he and Austin left off at the end of their first call. This is the stronger of the two parts, as Austin’s questions really guide Embry into discussing the aspects of his career that beat distinguish him from his contemporaries and help this chat function as borderline educational. Embry clearly is not beholden to anyone still in a position of power, which gives his comments the perception of being free of spin, and in the instances where he does seem to be painting himself in a favorable light, it’s at least done without an uncertain agenda.

Why you should skip it: While Embry’s take on Brody’s murder did sound to me to be unique, that’s one of the genre’s more dissected topics, and some listeners will be put off by having to once again revisit this well-beaten path. And though part two is more entertaining than part one, the fact this one starts with hardly any background will leave fans unfamiliar with Embry totally void of the context needed to completely appreciate his experience and stories. It’s also probably fair to warn squeamish folks of the somewhat graphic nature of the blading and bleeding discussion, though it’s easily defensible as a fact of life for a wrestler of Embry’s vintage, especially given his lengthy experience in Mexico and Puerto Rico.

Final thoughts: If Austin really wants a must-listen episode, his next phone call will be to Victor Jovica, who might well want Embry dead as a result of both parts of this interview. In fact, if Embry does turn up toasted, this one becomes retroactively essential. Even if the far more likely outcome is realized and Embry keeps on keeping on, if nothing else his conversation with Austin reminds modern fans that disagreements between wrestlers and promoters used to be literal life or death matters. That’s not to say working conditions have been perfected — not by a long shot — but Embry’s presence here (combined with part one) is one of the better unvarnished looks at a bygone era that any podcast will provide. If that’s your bag, dig in and enjoy.