The Steve Austin Show – Unleashed!
Release Date: June 15, 2017
Recap by: Chris Gaspare
Top Newsworthy Items
– Austin is impressed with the fire Randy Orton showed on Smackdown, still sees hope for Jinder.
– Austin heaped high praise on Mojo Rawley’s promo.
– Austin still wants to see Seth Rollins step up his mic work and gives advice.
– Austin “popped” over The Fashion Files but more hesitant on the wrestling bear segment.
00:00: Sponsor Ad
01:18: Introduction to the show and next week’s format
4:14: Sponsor Ad
7:03: Austin and Wade Keller discuss the positives of the Brock and Samoa Joe angle
19:48: Raw discussion continues with Bayley and the wrestling bear/Miz segments
26:10: The two finally reexamine Bray’s and Seth’s promo abilities
35:00: Sponsor Ad
38:07: Austin and Keller move to Smackdown and breakdown Jinder Mahal and Randy Orton
53:20: Austin and Keller speculate about the Money in the Bank matches and discuss Mojo Rawley and Fashion Files segments
1:16:40: Austin and Keller react to the breaking news of the Floyd Mayweather/Conor McGregor fight in August
Introduction to the show and next week’s format
Austin informed the audience that today’s show was going to debut his new fifteen-to-twenty minute segment with Pro Wrestling Torch’s Wade Keller and, for the rest of the show, move into caller questions that Austin recorded last week. However, the Keller segment turned into an entire show, so he will be featuring the caller interviews next Thursday instead.
Austin and Wade Keller discuss the positives of the Brock and Samoa Joe angle
Austin and Keller started off talking about vacations as Keller is currently in Colorado. Austin said he was too “Type A” for his recent vacation. Keller is still working through the vacation and taking time to enjoy the vacation when he can. Austin mentioned how the Denver atmosphere used to bother him and cause most guys to “blow up” when they wrestled there. Keller went hiking in Denver and his heart rate spiked at first but his body adjusted. He’s still able to keep up with the WWE product as the resort had the USA Network, although he mentioned it was a different viewing experience to not have a DVR where he could rewind the show if needed.
They moved into talk about Raw and started with the Brock Lesnar and Samoa Joe pull-apart. Austin thought it was “pretty good.” He particularly enjoyed the superkick that Joe gave Lesnar and that Lesnar “didn’t oversell it.” Keller asked Austin on his philosophy of whether stars should be kept apart or get physical, and Austin said it’s a “match-by-match basis.” However, he knew Joe would win the Fatal Five Way because “he was most built” to take on Lesnar. With “anybody else you don’t see that physicality,” he said. Keller agreed that the physicality made sense in this case because WWE hadn’t “made [Joe] a killer” so far and therefore he needed this moment. Austin added that it was a mistake not to have Braun Strowman and Lesnar touch a couple months ago because it was a letdown. Keller asked if Austin thought Brock and Paul Heyman would have the appropriate respect for Joe and if there have been indications so far. To Austin, Brock is a “smart” guy who “wants the hottest dance partner.”
Ultimately, Austin sees Brock helping “make Joe” out of this match. In the actual match, Keller wants to see more than Lesnar do Suplex City and Austin agreed that he thinks “the story could happen without going to Suplex City” unless it’s “late in the match.” He thinks Lesnar will want “to put in time” in the match, and he wants to see a “bada** brawl” between the two men. Keller was convinced that Lesnar will win because they are saving him for Roman Reigns. Austin opined that “something’s wrong if [WWE] don’t see Joe as a star.”
Raw discussion continues with Bayley and the wrestling bear/Miz segments
They moved onto the Bayley interview next. Austin is a “big Bayley fan” and thought it was “a well-executed interview,” but he’s “thinking heel turn.” Keller quoted Bayley’s line, “I’m not here to put bruises on people’s backs; I’m here to put smiles on people’s faces” and added “That’s a f***ing heel turn.” Keller added that there’s historical precedent for WWE botching a character introduction as the Honky Tonk Man and Rocky Maivia both debuted as faces. In terms of the Dean Ambrose and Miz segment involving the wrestling bear, Austin was hesitant to endorse it because he’s “hardcore on pro wrestling,” but thinks it worked here. In his notes, he only had written, “Miz entertains me.” Keller said that “the right people are in on the joke” in the segment and it’s okay because it was “the heels who are being played.” He figured since so many people tuned into the NBA Finals instead, the mentality was to try something different, such as when “the teacher left the classroom” and kids thought, “Let’s screw around a little bit.”
Bray and Seth’s promo abilities
Austin had not seen the Seth Rollins and Bray Wyatt promos, so he asked Keller’s thoughts. Keller summarized the botched comeback last year where they turned him heel, but he was better this week with some “good lines” in standing up to Bray. Austin said one of Seth’s problems is that his promos aren’t “organic” and people don’t believe “he believes what he’s saying.” Austin brought up Mojo Rawley’s promo from Smackdown and praised it as “excellent.” “Watch how relaxed that guy is. It looked like a damn shoot.” He said if Seth could “come across like that” and use more diaphragm, keep the mic closer to his mouth, have “more emotion” and “some god***ed venom,” he could really hit his stride. He said people need “to care more for him.”
The conversation moves to Bray Wyatt and how his mic work has been recently. Austin’s opinion on Wyatt is that “as magical and wonderful and eloquent and articulate as he is,” they often have him go out and talk too long and what he says ends up not mattering. Keller said there have been promos recently that he’s liked better than he used to but that Wyatt is still “sing-song scripted sounding” and his act feels more like “community theater” than a real human being. Keller stated that because Bray’s dialogue is so complex, it almost has to be scripted, but if he could become more comfortable with the delivery and play down those theater mannerisms, it might get to the best “landing place” for the character and its portrayal. Austin suggested Bray needs to be “taken in a more serious light.” Keller responded, “He’s gotta win,” which Austin agreed, “You godd*** right,” but that his win/loss record is “on the office.”
Smackdown and a breakdown of Jinder Mahal and Randy Orton
The two men move onto Smackdown. Keller wanted to know Austin’s thoughts on Jinder Mahal since they last talked. Keller brought up their last conversation where he compared Mahal to Al Perez, meaning “he looks the part, but when he comes on the screen you’re like, eh, I kinda know what’s gonna happen here and take a break.” Keller’s opinion hasn’t changed much since that time. Austin likes Mahal’s promos when he switches to speaking Punjabi as that’s when “he starts throwing,” and the crowd starts giving him heat. He needs to “force feed them” that more, Austin said, and try to find in his English promos the fire he has in the Punjabi promos. He also made the point that nobody is scripting those short promos in Punjabi for him, so it’s the lack of scripting that makes it feel more real. He said, of course, that “wins will matter” also.
Keller wonders if Mahal can reach “a level” that makes up for the fact that “there was no foundation to the booking.” Jinder’s look and entrance make people think he’s a star, but he is saying the same thing in the same way during his promos. Austin said that his in-ring work will be important as well and that he should avoid the trend towards spots and “go away from” the athleticism and simply be strong. However, Austin isn’t familiar with his in-ring work much and said he will watch tapes and perhaps talk about it next week with Keller. Austin does have some empathy for Jinder, though, as he said having a strap put on you suddenly is a “head trip.”
He recalled winning the TV title from Bobby Eaton and how it made him think he was good but realizes now that he “couldn’t lace Bobby Eaton’s boots” back then. He said there is so much to learn about being a champion, such as how to defend the title properly and how to make the babyface look good in a loss. He said Jinder has to “grow into it.” Keller stated that Jinder has to learn to “be more subtle” and get rid of the over-the-top sneer. He argued that people would dislike him if he simply “carries himself with such pristine meticulousness” as he has been. Austin confirmed: “He’s trying too hard.” He continued, “If he can make that s**t real…it won’t be so shtick-ish.”
Austin, however, praised Orton’s fire on Tuesday night. He said the half victory lap after his RKO on Mahal, his pounding of the barricade, and running into the crowd allowed “the people to come to him and he let them in.” Keller loved his description of Orton “letting the crowd in” and said it articulated what he’s been trying to say about Orton’s commitment recently. Keller thinks Jinder will win, and Austin said, “I’m in on this ride.” Keller briefly brought up John Cena being called a “free agent” on television this week and wondered if it was a swerve where Cena will devote himself to Smackdown and challenge Jinder or if they are looking for him to move between brands as a ratings spike.
Money in the Bank, Mojo Rawley, and the Fashion Files
Austin had not seen the A.J. Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, and Sami Zayn backstage segment, so Keller explained it to him. He said they portrayed Sami as a “flaky, talkative guy who is insecure” and that seeds were planted for something between A.J. and Shinsuke having a friendship that will eventually lead to a match after something goes down. Austin discussed a different solo promo of Zayn’s that he saw on the Network where he “felt a little edge” that gave Zayn more of an “identity.” He said if that’s not the seeds of a heel turn then it’ll still work to add intensity to him as a babyface.
Keller said that “Vince is trying to figure out what to do with him.” Austin did see the clips of the six-man tag itself from Smackdown. He liked seeing Corbin get beat by Sami. He said that they are “beating him at the right times” and avoiding a potential Roman Reigns situation of giving him too much too soon. Getting pinned made Austin like him more. Keller said that Nakamura didn’t do much in the match and lamented that they’ve made him “just another guy” and it makes him nervous. Austin said that his match against Dolph, while it was a good match, didn’t “make [him] clamor for the next Nakamura match.” He added that Nakamura’s “charisma is being lost by the situations they are putting him in.” Keller said they should have had interviews or segments where they touted his feats to make him special but that sort of resume highlighting is “too sports like for Vince” and now, unfortunately, he’s “just another top guy in the mix.”
Keller brought up the first ever women’s Money in the Bank match next. Keller said he’s a little over ladder matches as they usually feature no “long-term selling,” the competitors take unnecessary bumps, and they numb the crowd for spots later in the show. Last year, he thought the women would try to overdo it and compete with the men, but the outside the ring brawl a couple weeks ago changed his mind and that they deserve “a chance.” Austin is “all about the women getting a chance” but isn’t into the match concept itself and thinks there “has to be a better way” of doing things.
Mojo Rawley’s promo is brought up again. Austin liked his “energy level.” Keller liked that it “shows he can be introspective” after a loss. Keller laments that they didn’t “test” his ceiling more and push him a bit further during this singles run. Austin always liked the part of the promo where Mojo put over Jinder by saying he “was not the same guy” he beat earlier in the year. Austin liked the use of the word “devastating” to describe the loss because it made the idea of winning and losing matter. Keller said that WWE needs to focus more on creating “a journey” and wins and losses should be a part of that journey; instead, they are too worried about “putting smiles on people’s faces.” Austin retorted, “I’ll smile when you do something right.” Austin was a fan of Breezango’s Fashion Files segment. His note to himself read: “Very corny but I really popped.” Austin said, “I’m a serious wrestling fan,” but if WWE is going to do comedy then they need to do it “at a high level” like this. Keller added that it helped that the segment “didn’t overstay its welcome.”
The breaking news of the Floyd Mayweather/Conor McGregor fight in August
Keller brought up the late-breaking news that the Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor bout is set for August 26th. Austin admitted he hasn’t been a “boxing guy” since the 1970s and 1980s and he’s more of an MMA guy, not a “technical” MMA guy. He thinks though that if Conor can tag him, he will knock him out. Regardless, it’s going to be a “spectacle” that he’ll order on pay-per-view just to see. Keller said that according to expert opinions that “Conor has no chance with boxing rules.” They both agreed that the smart money was on the defensive-minded Mayweather but there’s always a chance for McGregor.
Score and Review (8/10)
Austin and Keller are always a pleasure to listen to discuss pro wrestling due to their great chemistry. Although Austin isn’t shy about giving his opinions ever, Keller is able to get Austin talking in a more open way usually, which is great because Austin’s opinion is always great – and often surprising – to hear. For instance, few commentators praised Mojo Rawley’s promo this past week like Austin did, and his comments make you look at things in a different light sometimes. If you are limited on time, the segments dissecting Seth /Bray and Jinder/Orton are the most interesting and engaging. PWTorch fans might want to check out the Bayley segment if only to hear the ever-professional Keller curse. Ultimately, the prospect that these two will be discussing Raw and Smackdown weekly will help the Unleashed podcast. As good as Austin’s non-wrestling interviews usually are, many fans listen because of his connection to professional wrestling, so this will help satiate that appetite.
Chris Gaspare is teacher from Maryland who has been watching wrestling since 1989 when he saw his first WCW Saturday Night episode and quickly rented as many NWA and WWF VHS tapes he could find in local stores. He also attended Tri-State Wrestling Alliance and early ECW shows in Philadelphia, which really kicked his fandom into high gear. He lapsed in the mid-2000s, but returned to the wrestling fold a few years ago.
For more, check out last week’s recap of Steve Austin Unleashed!