Everybody’s Talking: The Best of the Week in Pro Wrestling Podcasts
By Jeff Rush, PWPodcasts.com Assistant Editor
As you know, the mission of PWPodcasts is to provide you with written recaps of all the great pro wrestling podcasts out there that you may not have time to listen to. When you find you also don’t have time to read them, we’ve got you covered with this column. Below are ten of the shows that stood out from the pack this past week.
The JJ Dillon Show
JJ Dillon recently commented that he prefers to keep his show classy. This comment was ridiculed by a couple other podcast personalities shortly thereafter, but I feel it is a refreshing take. In an age where we can hear tell-all accounts of most historical happenings complete with whatever spin the storyteller chooses to apply to it, I’m happy to continue enjoying tales about an industry rooted in kayfabe told by someone who prefers to keep the curtain partially drawn.
That said, JJ Dillon caught me by surprise this week when he told a story about the time he pulled a somewhat mean-spirited rib on someone – smashing in the prized hat of Black Bart. Dillon seemed confounded by the light of present day as to why he even did such a thing, but mentioned that he did confess to the infraction ten years after the fact.
The show was supposed to primarily feature tales of the Andersons, and he did manage to touch on some of them. What was told, though, we’re mostly tales of Gene and Ole and their unscrupulous behavior – Gene beating the crap out of a young Scott Hall and Danny Spivey to “teach them” how the business worked, to the point where they were left urinating blood. He told another story about the time the two charged unsuspecting aspiring wrestlers for training. Gene would corral the bulk of the group while, one by one, Ole would have his way with the other one. This would happen, presumably, until the entire lot was left hobbled and Gene and Ole walked off with a bag full of “training fee” cash.
Dillon is such an old-school personality, though, that he recalls these tales and in the same breath, absolves the perpetrators of any wrong-doing with a “they just loved the business so much” type reverence. He even retells the famous tale of Hulk Hogan having his ankle broken by Hiro Matsuda in a way that has the listener feeling a fondness for the sanctity with which Matsuda regarded professional wrestling.
Good on you, JJ. Part 2 of the Anderson’s story comes to us next week.
Steve Austin: Unleashed
I’ve mentioned before that part of the charm of Steve Austin, podcast host, is that he can keep your attention even while discussing the mundane details of everyday life. If you agree with that sentiment, you’re going to love this week’s episode. Not only did we get to hear all about Steve’s feelings on his beloved pickup truck being broken into in an attempt at stealing it, he was also joined by his wife for a lengthy segment where we heard her version of the story in addition to some adventures in home decorating. The two seem like they really enjoy one another, so it’s never an unpleasant listen even if, like me, you’re mostly checking in for the wrestling talk.
In that regard, this episode didn’t disappoint. You just have to forward to the final forty minutes to get there. During a Listener’s Emails segment, Steve gets into some really good stuff – his recalling of how Bret Hart directed the finish of their famous WrestleMania 13 match as well as his Smackdown showdown with Chris Benoit in 2001 and everything that happened between the two backstage. That segment is absolutely worth catching.
E&C’s Pod of Awesomeness
This show has become one of my weekly must-listens. Both Edge and Christian have such great minds for the business, but more so, they also possess progressive mentalities where it pertains to a lot of the negative stereotypes associated with professional wrestling.
This was on perfect display this week as they hosted a conversation with long-time WWE head writer Brian Gerwitz, who is also a good friend of both guys. They told the story of the time they were brought to Wrestler’s Court, explained the process, and then gave their thoughts on the ridiculous nature of the proceedings. This stands out because it’s not the standard defense you would normally hear about some of the juvenile-sounding antics often reported on from behind the scenes in pro wrestling. Where you’re often far more likely to get a boys-will-be-boys take from someone in the industry, it’s refreshing to hear from a couple guys who not only stood apart from the pack while with the company in terms of their sense of humor and general mentality, but who now fully recognize that stage of their life is behind them, have embraced the new chapters of their life, and can look back on certain aspects and see them for what they truly were.
Towards the close of the show, the three also recalled a laugh-out-loud story of the time Vince McMahon wanted more backstory for Dave Batista. This brought us to the hilarious song (dubbed the Sad Ballad of Little Dave Batista), the guys cooked up that was inspired by that situation.
Prime Time with Sean Mooney
Sean Mooney is off to an excellent start with his reformatted podcast. Until a couple of weeks ago, he and Jim Duggan would discuss historical events throughout the bulk of each episode. When Hacksaw decided to step away a few weeks back, Mooney made the call to rework his approach and turn to a guest format. On the first solo episode, he asked listeners to Tweet him with requests for future guests. Given Mooney’s resume, I instantly created a top 5 list in my head and, lo and behold, one of those names appeared on this week’s show in the form of Mean Gene Okerlund. The legendary interviewer does not make many podcast appearances these days so it was definitely a cool get, and Sean didn’t disappoint.
We immediately launched into the surprising story of Gene’s upbringing on a reservation in North Dakota, heard about his time as a musician and then got all the details of his experience in the wrestling world. Perhaps the most interesting revelation told by Gene was the time he eavesdropped on the phone conversation where Vince McMahon attempted to buy out Verne Gagne. Fascinating stuff. If you’ve ever thought you could use a little more info on Mean Gene, you should definitely check out this show.
Talk Is Jericho
Much like Austin’s show, this is one I tend to skip when I see the guest will be a non-wrestler. Because of that, I only get into each of these shows every few weeks. Every time, I’m rewarded with the overall quality and left thinking I should check it out more often. Both Austin and Jericho have honed their craft exceptionally well. Jericho seemed half out of it this week (He mentioned he was on tour with Fozzy early on, which may have had something to do with it), but when he started out slurring his words a bit and sounding more hoarse than usual, I was concerned about how the next 90 minutes would go. Not to fear. The Austin Aries interview was great.
The summary of the conversation, to be fair, seemed a bit gaudy in hindsight, considering what was actually told. Listeners were promised “the whole story” and “exclusive…details of the split” between Aries and WWE. That turned out to be one of the least interesting parts of the interview. What was great, however, was Aries recounting of his experience joining the WWE announce crew, Vince’s feedback, the banana story, the eye injury, and even Aries take on his diet. It’s certainly worth checking out, just don’t get caught up in the window dressing.
Something To Wrestle with Bruce Prichard
This week’s episode was a four-hour walk through the existence of the New Age Outlaws, how they were formed, their time in DX, and pretty much anything else you ever wanted to know about Billy Gunn and Road Dogg. Well, not everything. The guys did leave room for the possibility of a Smoking Gunn’s episode taking place sometime down the road. I just don’t see it. One highlight here was Bruce’s story of Terry Funk fighting through a brutal injury while attempting to downplay it and have Bruce secure him half a dozen screwdriver cocktails in the process.
Speaking of four-hour episodes, Brian Last rarely leaves you questioning his brevity. This week was another loaded show sure to please fans of old-school wrestling. Highlights included a conversation with AWA historian George Schire and a show-closing interview with Kevin Sullivan. It was great to hear Sullivan’s take on working with the Varsity Club, including a rib he played on Rick Steiner at the Boston Gardens that left Kevin lying on the concrete floor. Sullivan is one of the sharpest wrestling minds of the past 40 years, so it’s always great to get his take on the current product. That said, he sounded awfully cranky when it came to his thoughts on the Bullet Club’s hand gesture. This was part one of two with more to follow next week.
Keepin It 100 with Konnan
This week’s featured guest was Bill DeMott, who Konnan mentioned he had not spoken with in over 15 years, which would put that around the time WCW was purchased. The conversation was solid, touching on DeMott’s Hugh Morris character and the early years of his career. They also discussed the time DeMott broke his neck in 2003, which was news to everyone on the show. If I had a complaint here, it would be that the interview segment was too short. I would’ve loved to hear the two former colleagues catch up a bit more. Disco Inferno is not the most popular man in the world of wrestling podcasts and he is all over this show. His reputation for being unlikeable is a running joke amongst guests and those who plug the show during breaks. He lives up to the charge when attempting to discuss politics and aspects of human nature he doesn’t seem to fully understand. He’s a bit more tolerable when discussing wrestling and the conversation he had with Shane Helms regarding independent wrestling was the highlight of this episode. Helms is naturally funny and likable. His returning segments on this show and appearances elsewhere are highly recommended.
Dinner with the King
If you’re new to this show or, at best, a casual listener, this short episode is a good listen. With a mix of listener mail and Q & A, there was a lot of interesting discussion. Most notable was host Glenn Moore talking about his background, how he got together with Lawler and how the show came to be. That aside, we also got to hear the King’s opinion on the current state of Impact Wrestling and his thoughts on the Ric Flair 30 For 30.
The Ross Report
This week’s guest was Magnum TA and it was fun to hear his voice again after so many years. It was also great to hear two old colleagues catch up with one another. The highlight of this episode, however, was undoubtedly JR and Jason Powell discussing Impact Wrestling’s Bound For Glory. Like most folks, they did not speak in glowing terms about the majority of the show, but it’s clear they both follow Impact and are invested in the product. I honestly feel that the company should post a link to this episode of the Ross Report on their website, as having a wrestling mind like Ross and someone with the credentials of Powell dissecting their product so thoughtfully and thoroughly instantly gives Impact more credibility than anything the company has managed to do for itself over the past several months.
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