The Steve Austin Show
Guest: Vince Russo (Part 1)
Release Date: March 1, 2016
Recap by Corey Freedman
Top Newsworthy Items
– Russo and Austin both thoroughly enjoy Lucha Underground. Russo says it is a breath of fresh air in the wrestling industry.
– Russo enjoys NJPW for their strong style, but wishes they would develop their characters more.
– Russo criticizes today’s WWE for trying to appeal to kids and the (imaginary) IWC, not the casual fans who really move the numbers.
– Russo says one of the biggest problems in today’s WWE is that characters don’t stay true to who they are (he uses Dean Ambrose making empty promises as an example).
– Both Austin and Russo loved the Shane McMahon segment on Raw last week, but they both agreed the WWE could have done a better job weaving that storyline throughout the three hours.
Subjects Covered (w/timestamps)
0:00 – Sponsor Ads
2:30 – Introduction
13:00 – Sponsor Ads
14:25 – Vince Russo introduction (@thevincerusso on twitter)
21:20 – Lucha Underground
26:15 – Sponsor Ads
29:10 – Interview resumes
29:15 – New Japan Pro Wrestling
31:51 – WWE product today
43:30 – Sponsor Ads
45:48 – Interview resumes
46:00 – Attitude Era Raws
47:57 – Shane McMahon return
54:18 – End of part 1 of Russo interview/Conclusion
59:00 – Show ends
Introduction: Steve talks a bit with his wife. Steve says he did not have time to watch the Oscars because he was watching the Broken Skull Challenge and Redneck Island on CMT Sunday night. Steve talks about some of the women on the Broken Skull Challenge and how impressive they have been. He compliments Emily, one of the contestants from this past weekend. Steve talks about not enjoying going out to dinner in Los Angeles because it takes an hour just to get somewhere.
Vince Russo intro: Steve brings former WWF/WCW creative member Vince Russo onto the show. Vince jokes about getting a text from Austin and not believing it was from the real Steve Austin. He was worried it would be someone impersonating Austin. Russo talks about how he got into doing podcasts and video shows for his website. He talks about not being able to get WWE talent to do his shows. Russo talks about trying to contact/cultivate as many interviews as possible so that at the very least he has a backlog of interviews in case he can’t get new people to come on the shows.
Lucha Underground: Vince Russo says that LU is is favorite current show. Austin says he loves LU as well, and praises it as “refreshing” with their lighting, style, and mystique. Russo says he feels like LU represents the future and something new in the wrestling industry. Vince talks about how they treat it like a TV show which makes LU feel like a breath of fresh air to him. Austin compares LU to a Mission Impossible movie. He knows Tom Cruise can’t actually kill all those people and do all those stunts, but he wants to buy into that notion. He feels like LU embraces the notion that people want to buy into the storylines and universe of wrestling. Russo and Austin love the little videos/vignettes they put together to develop their characters. Vince uses Val Venis as an example of WWE building a character before he even debuted with great success. He talks about plenty of guys in today’s WWE that were given very little introduction before they debuted such as the Ascension.
NJPW: Austin brings up being a fan of the NJPW shows on AXS TV that Jim Ross will be broadcasting for going forward. Russo says he likes the strong style. Russo says it’s not must-see-TV for him because there is not enough character driven content. He talks about the WWE in-ring product really hurting their value because it doesn’t look like a real fight anymore. He praises the style in NJPW because, at the very least, their matches look like real fights between people that do not like each other.
WWE product today: Russo brings up Dave Meltzer’s comments about The Rock “this is your life” segment where he panned the idea. He brings up the notion that hardcore fans will always tune in, so the focus of the company should be on appealing to the casual fans. He claims that the WWE is booking to hardcore fans now. He says they lost the casual fans who aren’t hardcore fans and aren’t the kids who drag their parents to the show. Austin asks if the WWE needs to be more edgy. Russo says that would help but that isn’t the real problem. He says that nobody is over in today’s WWE. He says the WWE needs to create strong characters. He says that characters need to have consistent storylines and angles and, above all, they have to remain true to themselves.
Russo says when he used to write for Stone Cold, he would write the show from the perspective of Stone Cold (i.e. what would SCSA do if X happened vs. what would The Rock do if X happened). He says if the WWE stays true to all these different characters, the show writes itself. Russo uses an example from a few weeks back. The night that Reigns had to fend off half the roster in succession, Dean Ambrose was attacked by Kevin Owens and vowed to get revenge before the night was through. Owens started the “One versus All” match against Reigns to end the show, yet Ambrose was nowhere to be found. He asks how one of the top babyfaces could make a promise to the fans and not have him deliver. He says when Bret Hart used to know he was going over, he would always mention that he was going to win in his promos because he knew he was going to deliver on the promise for the fans. Russo says that never would have happened under his watch. Russo says the product could serve to get a little edgier, namely given the timeslot they are in late at night. He talks about kids not watching TV that late at night, so it makes little sense for the WWE to cater to them. He says he hates when wrestlers act like wrestlers and not real people/characters.
Attitude Era Raws: Austin asks Russo about his show where he reviews Attitude Era Raws. Russo says he never reached out to Austin to appear on those shows because he wasn’t sure what Austin’s ties to the WWE are currently. Austin says he is still technically with the WWE, but he is free to do whatever he likes as a podcaster. Austin mentions, as he has before, that he would love to talk about the Attitude Era but he remembers very little of the Invasion angle.
Shane McMahon return: Austin brings up that he didn’t feel like the WWE did a good job of weaving the Shane return throughout the full three hours of Raw. Russo talks about how Shane showing up, from a locker room/kayfabe perspective, should have been the entire show. Shane showing up represented a huge culture change for the company (storyline wise) and he thinks they should have focused on that more. Russo brings up that the WWE lost 800,000 viewers by the third hour of Raw. He continues that he thinks it was written the way it was because Vince McMAhon didn’t trust anyone else to know that Shane was going to be there, so the writers didn’t have the ability to write multiple segments involving the storyline.
Austin really enjoyed the opening segment with Shane and Stephanie. He asks Russo if he would have booked that segment differently and what grade he would give that segment. Russo says he loved that segment, one of the best they have done in years. He says that he is a Shane McMahon mark. He says the only thing he would have done differently is how they got to the actual match. He says Shane had all the cards, so it didn’t make much sense for him to accept a match at WM so easily (i.e. he has something over Vince, why would he have accepted fighting in the match if he has control in this situation).
End of part 1 with Vince Russo/Conclusion: Russo gives his information (vincerussobrand.com). Austin says that part two of this interview will air next Tuesday on the family friendly version of the SAS. He also says that he will join Russo on one of his shows to talk about the Attitude Era. Austin talks about his t-shirts, the Broken Skull IPA, Broken Skull Challenge and Redneck Island on CMT, and he thanks his sponsors.
Score and Review
Score (8.5): This was a solid episode of the Steve Austin Show. Vince Russo is always an entertaining guest, whether you are a fan of his or not, and Steve always conducts a good interview. I think they could have covered more ground, as they didn’t touch on a lot of topics I would like to hear Russo’s thoughts on, but perhaps they will cover more ground during part two next Tuesday. Overall, an entertaining listen and a relatively short episode compared to other episodes. Russo is always good for some hot takes, so this should be a fun listen for wrestling fans.