Everybody’s Talking: The Best of the Week in Pro Wrestling Podcasts
In a week dominated by news of Ric Flair’s hospitalization and, of course, all things SummerSlam, the wrestling podcast world was at no loss for content. And while those subjects were certainly the most heavily discussed, there were lots of other odds and ends to sink your… ears (?) into. Let’s get to it!
The Ross Report hit another home run this week, this time with JR interviewing Glenn Jacobs. As you’ve likely seen, the now mostly retired wrestler is running for mayor of Knox County, TN. JR points out that Knox County includes the city of Knoxville, and Jacobs explains the difference between being mayor of the county and of the city, specifically. It’s not nearly as boring as it sounds. We also delve into Jacob’s background, such as the fact that he was born in Spain. Turns out he was, in fact, born on a military base and actually grew up near St. Louis, MO. Bet you never thought about Paul Bearer being in the Air Force.
They discussed Jacob’s political platform (he’s a Libertarian running on the Republican ticket) and Ross then brought up Jesse Ventura. When you’ve listened to as many interviews as I have, you begin to observe certain things about the technique employed by the interviewer. By bringing up Ventura, Ross managed to transition seamlessly into a discussion about wrestling. This would prove to be the highlight of the conversation, as you got the sense that this was the first time in a couple months that anyone had asked Jacobs about something other than politics. He spoke openly and freely about his time working with the Undertaker and Stone Cold Steve Austin and even briefly touched on his own future in wrestling.
Chris Jericho kept the streak of excellent interviews alive, this week talking with Naomi. The two compared their light-up ring gear, and Naomi’s entrance into the business. She was a cheerleader for the Orlando Magic and discovered WWE while rehearsing at the Amway Arena around the same time as a Raw taping. She fell in love instantly and started on her path to get into the business. She talks about how she arrived on the main roster just as the transition was happening between WWE Divas and the Women’s Revolution. Naomi says she feels lucky to have gotten a taste of both. She came across as fun and likable and even got Jericho to admit that he listens to more than hard rock. As proof, he sang a line from Color Me Badd’s “All 4 One.” By passing on the go-to,” I Wanna Sex U Up,” Jericho convinced me that he’s a bit more than a casual fan of the group.
If you’ve listened to an episode of TMPToW, you have some familiarity with the hosts, John and Chad. Chad typically leads the charge with his made-for-wrestling-radio persona. He can introduce topics and set the stage as well as anyone in the game. Then there’s John. He doesn’t carry the bombast that Chad does. He speaks carefully and deliberately at a fairly low level. Each episode, these guys land pretty solid interview subjects, and inexplicably, John does the majority of the interviews. They aren’t done poorly, but it’s funny to listen to John speak in wrestling cliché’s and carefully laid enthusiasm when interviewing an unsuspecting wrestling personality.
I bring this up, not to speak negatively of the show or it’s hosts, but to get to the highlight of this week’s episodes. During a conversation with Bob Holly, Bob suddenly tires of being the interview subject and attempts to turn the tables on John. “Let me interview you, John. What do you do for a living?” After being taken aback for a moment at the question, John deadpans a response with the only answer I would find acceptable: “I work for a pharmacy buying group.” Bob calls a quick end to this experiment and we move on.
The interview also touches on what Holly is up to today and we even spend a minute hearing about a recent confrontation he had at a trade show with Rene Dupree.
Earlier in the week, the guys spoke with Mark Madden. Though he keeps his routine crisp with a daily sports show on Pittsburgh radio, most of us aren’t regular listeners. Therefore, it was cool to hear Mark’s voice again, going off on today’s product and even the origins of what would become his trademark Hawaiian shirt. It wouldn’t be an interview with Madden if he didn’t spend a few moments insulting DDP and Jim Cornette. Another solid week for TMPToW.
Sean Waltman had a great interview with NXT’s Aleister Black this week. This was prior to Takeover: Brooklyn, and Black talked about facing Hideo Itami for the first time. As someone who watched the match live, I’ll say the crowd definitely ate it up. It’s tough to steal the show in NXT, though, if you aren’t in a match with Asuka.
Black discussed growing up in the Netherlands watching NJPW and WCW and says he didn’t even discover the WWF until around 2000. The interview was rounded out with an excellent conversation about the art of striking and the difficulties in transitioning from MMA to wrestling. Worth the listen!
This week’s episode focused on Scott Hall’s time in the WWF. In addition to behind the scenes thoughts on Hall’s iconic ladder match at WrestleMania X with Shawn Michaels, we were given an insider perspective on the backstage power wielded by the Kliq and Bruce’s unique take on Hall’s departure from the WWF in 1996, culminating with the infamous Curtain Call.
Check out the full written recap.
From the podcast that doesn’t have guests to one where that host is the guest, we got an appearance by Bruce Prichard this week on Sam Roberts show. When the interview starts, you’re thinking “What will Bruce talk about that isn’t his perspective on something that took place in the WWF years ago?” And then we spend 20 minutes talking about the Lex Express. It was interesting to hear a different host grilling Bruce. This stood out the most when Sam pressed him on why there was a post match celebration with balloons and confetti after Luger defeated Yokozuna by count out at SummerSlam ‘93. “He won the match,” Bruce deadpans, in a way that would send his usual podcast partner into an expletive-laden rant. Sam just took it in stride.
Edge and Christian rounded out a week of shows with terrific guests with one of their own, Daniel Bryan. While that segment stole most of the spotlight from this episode with Bryan’s explanation as to why he believes he can and will wrestle again, this duo always creates a highlight free of the guest interview, just through BS-ing with one another for a bit. This week, the two talked about their experiences with Ric Flair. Edge remembers wearing Flair’s robe on the side of a highway one November, with just his underwear on underneath. Christian opens up about Flair studying his matches on a European tour and complimenting his abilities.
While getting geared up for SummerSlam, Christian recalls tape recording the first SummerSlam back in 1988, but starting the recording too far into the tape and, thus, cutting off the end of the show (80’s problems). Therefore, his personal memories are mostly of Gorilla Monsoon calling the Ultimate Warrior’s squash of Honky Tonk Man. Edge then blows me away by commenting on how he remembers Christian’s situation with the tape, because obviously they were friends back then. Wow.
Check out the full written recap.
In Case You Aren’t Listening Yet:
Uproxx’s Brandon Stroud and Bill Hanstock launched the With Spandex: McMahonsplaining show this week. The show had been discussed for some time and the duo kicked things off with an interview with Ray Lloyd, AKA Glacier. It’s your usual hour plus show with a wrestling personality as guest, but punched up with the unique sense of humor these two have. At the start, they discussed abandoning the concept of a wrestling show and dedicating their time to a show about Mama’s Family. I was hooked.
This Week’s Must Listen:
If you haven’t listened to Jerry Lawler’s podcast before, the first thing that will stand out to you is the King’s old school tendencies. Clearly already aware of this, co-host Glenn Moore apologizes at one point for asking Jerry about “getting heat” and corrects himself to say “make people mad at you.” You know they’ve had a conversation. Later, Jerry accuses Moore of “always wanting something” when Moore suggests Lawler plug the podcast while appearing on WWE television. It’s funny that the King is suspicious of his co-host’s motives when the clear end game is to spread more awareness of the show.
Dinner With The King is hosted at Lawler’s BBQ restaurant in Memphis and works, in part, as a commercial for the joint. Perhaps the familiar surroundings balance Lawler’s discomfort with speaking so openly about the business, but things definitely picked up quickly.
The week’s subject was Ric Flair, and more directly, the times he and Lawler worked together. Shockingly, the two have only squared off four times throughout their careers. We touched on each of those occasions, from an appearance Flair made in Memphis while touring the territory in 1982, up to their final match, held on Raw in 2004. Interspersed throughout each segment were audio clips of promos Flair cut promoting each match. Of course, we also got priceless recollections and insight from the King.
It was noted during another podcast a few weeks back how Lawler seems to be playing a character based on a character based on a character, the idea being that his persona is so far out there; it’s nearly impossible to identify with. I must say, listening to Jerry sit around and talk about the old days working with Flair showed you there is very much still a real person underneath that crown.
If you’ve made it this far into this article, you’re clearly a wrestling fan. If you’re a wrestling fan, you will not want to miss this episode of Dinner With The King.
It Can’t All Be Wrestling:
We’re coming off of four straight nights of major wrestling events and perhaps some of you could use a short respite from the business. Each week, I’ll offer up something out there that can give you a break from pro wrestling for a while. My recommendation is Missing Richard Simmons. If you grew up watching Hulk Hogan in the early WrestleMania years, you’re no doubt familiar with the fitness guru. In February 2014, Simmons suddenly dropped out of the public eye. Like, entirely. Rumors have run rampant in the years since his disappearance regarding his condition. Is he being held hostage by his housekeeper? Having openly battled with depression, has he gone into a downward spiral following a serious knee injury or the death of his beloved Dalmatian? Filmmaker Dan Taberski was a friend of Simmons. He launched this search not only to track down his former friend and trainer, but to fill in holes and piece together various parts of Simmons past in an attempt to make sense of the seemingly nonsensical. This six-part podcast series moves fast, with each episode clocking in at under 40 minutes. There are no PPV’s this weekend. You’ve got time to give it a shot.
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