Everybody’s Talking: The Best of Last Week in Pro Wrestling Podcasts
By Jeff Rush, PWPodcasts.com Specialist
We are living through what is undoubtedly a golden age of the podcast industry. The medium has been around for years, but in my opinion, it truly exploded in the fall of 2014 when Sarah Koenig’s Serial took the world by storm. The popularity of her episodic true crime show not only put her excellent work in the spotlight, but shined a light on many podcasts that were already out there and paved the road for those to come. Staples like the TED Radio Hour and Stuff You Should Know routinely top the download charts. Every television show worth it’s catering expenses has at least one podcast dedicated to it. ESPN even got into the game this summer with their new 30 For 30 audio show.
While the rest of the world spends their drive time, laundry day, or workout listening to such shows, us wrestling fans have a hard time fitting any of them in. That’s because the pro wrestling podcast landscape is also on fire. In a vacuum, we feel the enormity of this boom more than non-wrestling fans can truly comprehend. This is a treat to fans of today’s product, who can catch interviews of current stars, sometimes even hosted by current stars.
The true reward, though, is given to those who relish the rich history of this industry. Fifteen years ago, the best way to learn about wrestling history was through the countless books hitting the shelves, seemingly every week. While those are still tremendous resources, at the time they did not offer the varied, and copious, amount of entertainment and information that now exists, usually at no cost, by simply hitting a couple buttons on our phones.
PWPodcasts is the only website of it’s kind – allowing readers to breeze through the dozens of hours of informative wrestling podcasts released each week in minutes. With this new column, I’ll attempt to save you even more time by running down the highlights of the week that was in the wrestling podcast world and recommending the shows that are worth a few extra minutes of your time.
One of the biggest arrivals this month, which is actually more of a return, is Lilian Garcia with her new podcast Chasing Glory. The focus of this show will be candid interviews with wrestling stars as well as athletes from outside the wrestling world. Thus far, Lilian has released a two-part interview with Dave Batista, and a new episode this past Monday with Samoa Joe.
While the conversation in both instances touched on experiences in the wrestling industry, we were also given a ton of insight into the wrestlers personal lives. Batista, for example, discussed at length, his relationship with his wife as they balance their marriage with their individual careers. He also told a funny story about being ribbed by the Undertaker over he and his wife’s age difference.
Samoa Joe talked about his demanding, but loving father, childhood summers spent in Hawaii, and his relationship with his two sons. It’s a different type of wrestling podcast, with extra touches that make it stand out, such as the biographical intros narrated by Lilian that open each interview. The wrestling industry and the podcast business it spawned are both male-dominated, so it’s refreshing to see a woman, and one with the industry experience of Lilian Garcia, launch such a high-quality show.
Killing The Town
Killing The Town with Storm and Cyrus released a fun episode last Tuesday. Both hosts, unsurprisingly, value work rate a great deal, and this helped shape their discussion on the G1, Disco Inferno’s dismissive attitude towards Japanese wrestling and more. There was great interview with Konnan, who talked about his days coming up in Mexico and working with Vampiro.
The highlight of the show for me, though, came during a segment towards the end titled Awesome and Awful. Each week, the two hosts discuss a great match and a terrible match either had by the same wrestler or that employed the same concept. This week, the subject was Terry Taylor.
If you listen to Bruce Prichard’s show, or stories told by a lot of people in the industry for that matter, it’s hard to find a nice thing being said about Taylor. As such, it was so refreshing to listen to Storm and Cyrus talk about what a great wrestling mind Taylor has. They dissected, in detail, Terry’s match against Nikita Koloff at Starrcade ’87, and really went out of their way to praise his acumen. The episode came in at under 90 minutes, but if you don’t have time for the whole thing, I’d recommend forwarding to the final 10-15. Very cool stuff.
Talk Is Jericho
Chris Jericho continues to line up tremendous guests week after week on Talk Is Jericho. Chris followed up his highly praised interview with Nia Jax two weeks ago by welcoming Breezango this past Friday. Both wrestlers discussed their individual paths to WWE in a fun, breezy (pun partially intended) setting.
Jericho also managed to squeeze an amazing interview out of Mike Tyson in-between those two shows. Now, I say that not because the discussion was amazing. It wasn’t. Obviously, landing Tyson as a guest, even in 2017, is a get, especially considering his career resurgence of the past few years. Tyson himself is not a good interview. He comes across as shy and reserved and it isn’t always easy to get a decent response out of him.
In this regard, Jericho proved to be the Ric Flair of interviewers and Tyson was his broomstick. Throughout the conversation, Jericho would bring up great topics – the Austin-Michaels angle in 1998, working with Chris in 2005, etc. Every time, Tyson would offer a couple words and clam up. Not to be deterred, Chris would keep the interview going, shifting subjects or offering leading responses. In my opinion, it was an interviewing clinic and my hat is off to Y2J.
Steve Austin – Unleashed!
Speaking of students of the interview game, Steve Austin’s show is always worth a listen. The guy will open with 15 minutes about making his lunches for work and it’s still pretty captivating. His interview style is the featured attraction of the show, though. His Unleashed episode from this past Thursday included a super interesting conversation with fellow podcast host, Sean Waltman. The two talked about wrestling hygiene, and in a more candid moment, both discussed regrets they had as fathers. The main event, though, was the opening discussion on planning out matches and general ring psychology. For me, the highlight came early as both guys praised the in-ring capabilities of Ric Flair and his ability to give queues to his opponent in a practically undetectable way.
(for a full written recap of the episode, click here)
Speaking of the Nature Boy, fans of old school wrestling will want to check out the 6:05 Superpodcast. They call themselves “The Mothership” and then back it up with the length of their shows. The average episode clocks in at right around four hours, but is filled with great content.
Last week’s episode included, among a million other things, a segment titled Slaughtering the Sacred Cow. Here, the host, Brian Last, and former wrestling photographer, Howard Baum, took a popular belief held among wrestling fans and presented an argument against it.
Howard started by stating that Ric Flair’s career began a downward slide when he started his run with the Four Horsemen. After a decent discussion, Brian offered up his “slaughter” – Bobby Heenan isn’t very funny. They weighed the differences between “wrestling funny” and actual funny, and pointed out specific references made by Heenan. I didn’t necessarily agree with either’s opinion, but they were presented in a well thought out manner by two informed wrestling fans.
More than that, the segment didn’t come across as controversial for the sake of a segment, but seemed to be how both guys genuinely felt. I also happen to think Brian Last has one of the best voices in wrestling podcasting, so I’d say definitely give this show a chance.
The Jim Cornette Experience
If four hours is too much of a commitment, you can also catch Brian co-hosting the Jim Cornette Experience. This week’s show made some headlines due to Corny’s rant on the Mick Foley-Joey Ryan match at an indie show. Neither Jim nor Brian are fans of Joey Ryan and expressed disgust with his style of wrestling – one that leans heavily on the usage of his penis.
If you haven’t seen the gimmick, it’s a tongue-in-cheek type thing where Ryan possesses tremendous strength in his genitalia. An opponent will grab him there for some reason, and Ryan will flip them over using only his penis. Cornette feels this makes a mockery of professional wrestling and is upset that Mick Foley partook in this gimmick at a recent indie show that ended up online. He concluded that Foley is too nice for the business and he wishes he wouldn’t diminish his own legacy by trying to help out people like Ryan.
Aside from his trademark raving, Corny also included a conversation with Ron Fuller about getting heat in the old territories. Fuller has been described as “the Johnny Cash of professional wrestling,” and his storytelling is hypnotic. Even if you can’t do an entire Cornette show, the Fuller segment right in the middle is worth checking out.
Something to Wrestle With/What Happened When?
The Conrad Thompson shows were a hit, as always. Something To Wrestle with Bruce Prichard tackled SummerSlam 1996. If you’re new to the show, you’ll fall in love instantly. If you’re a long time listener, this episode treaded into familiar territory with a focus on happenings in the summer of 1996, which they’ve gotten into before. This remains one of the better-produced shows in the podcast game, though, and is always worth the listen.
What Happened When with Tony Schiavone focused on Hog Wild 1996. This was a really interesting episode with discussion about how this was a pet project for motorcycle enthusiast, Eric Bischoff, more than anything. Tony was an odd mix of defensive and apologetic throughout the show, and that was most evident during the segment where he and Conrad discussed Bobby Heenan working the PPV while drunk.
E&C Pod of Awesomeness
Edge and Christian had a great back and forth on the E&C Pod Of Awesomeness this week, discussing Christian’s decision to leave for TNA in 2009, and Edge revealing that he once had an offer to do the same. Odd thing about this show: Both guys use extremely indoor voices throughout. Christian, particularly, sounds as though he’s hosting the show from his bed, trying not to wake up his wife.
Old School Wrestling Podcast
The guys over at the Old School Wrestling Podcast had a fun show this week, analyzing the Rage Party that the WWF held the night before WrestleMania XV. This included a close look at all the pop culture and fashion trends of the day, including Droz’s hat and the Rock’s sideburns.
This week’s Must Listen: The Ross Report with Tony Schiavone
I first gave Jim Ross’s show a shot a couple of years ago. I have always loved JR as a play-by-play man, but I found his presence on the Ross Report off-putting. He would spend a bit too much time preemptively ranting against people he was certain would criticize his opinions, for example. I get being annoyed with unfair feedback online, but at some point you just have to move beyond it. Anyway, JR has matured in this role.
The past couple episodes, a conversation with Tammy Sytch two weeks ago and, especially, this week’s with Tony Schiavone have been dynamite. Ross now allows for more self-deprecation, which works well for him. He also manages to work out some pretty funny impressions. I assume his Jim Cornette is more him doing Bruce Prichard doing Jim Cornette, but it’s a definite laugh.
Where he really got me this week was doing Jim Barnett fawning over Conrad Thompson. Perhaps that’s only something a huge fan of wrestling podcasts can enjoy, but JR can be surprisingly silly, in the best possibly way. He and Schiavone discussed their past working together as well as the projects they both currently have going on. They also touched on their brief passing in 2001 as Tony was attempting to get a gig with the WWF. Schiavone lets loose conversationally each Monday with Conrad, but there was something great about hearing him settling in to a rapport with an old friend and co-worker like JR. It was the epitome of what I mentioned at the top of this article – a nice slice of wrestling heritage, served up in the most convenient way.
All hail the golden age of the podcast. I’ll see you here next week!
Jeff Rush is a life-long fan of professional wrestling. He’s attended the last match of both Andre the Giant and Stone Cold Steve Austin’s careers and two of the three matches of the Rock-Austin WrestleMania trilogy. As a child, he was once yelled at by John Tenta for sitting too close to him on a bench at Hershey Park. Jeff listens to way too many wrestling podcasts and watches way too much WWE Network. He also catches as much indie wrestling as he can when it comes through his home of New York City. Follow along @jefflikesstuff