By: Jeff Rush, PWPodcast Assistant Editor
We’re two episodes into the What A Rush podcast hosted by Joe Laurinitus, AKA Road Warrior Animal, and I feel as though the show has yet to tap into its full potential. The format doesn’t appear to follow any sort of template. Week one was a brief “Get to know Animal” introductory episode. Animal’s earliest days in the business were touched on, but not really lingered over. Assuming this show is in for the long haul, we’ll hopefully be returning to that period again soon, as I feel the surface was barely grazed.
Episode two featured a guest – “Precious” Paul Ellering. Animal is still adjusting to the role of holding people’s attention for 90-ish minutes per week based on his acumen for pro wrestling in general and the details of his career he remembers well in specific. It seems fitting he would bring on a guest he’s shared so much of his career and life with such as Ellering as he eases into interviewing other people from the industry.
Ellering was as articulate as you may remember him from his interviews in the Road Warrior’s heyday and it was a real treat to hear from him. Since his reemergence in NXT in June 2016, we’ve all just sort of accepted his role managing the Authors of Pain. Therefore, it was great to hear him tell the story of how it came to be and what his thoughts are on the position.
We also got to hear a bit about his career as a wrestler, how his transition to managing came to be, and of course, reflections on his time spent managing Animal and Hawk. Anytime you can get two guys with the history and chemistry these two share on the same show, it’s a joy to kick back and listen to the conversation unfold. In that regard, Animal was solid, just enjoying catching up and not worrying too much about the direction it was taking. It was even endearing to hear the two friends trip out about advancements in technology since the 1980’s and how much more difficult traveling used to be.
Animal has spent substantial time with several territories throughout his career. His ability to open up about his experiences will ultimately determine how well he performs in this role and he seems to be up to the challenge.
The bigger test lies at the feet of co-host, Joe Roderick. His radio background is apparent. He has the voice, poise, and presentation to fill the position and seems comfortable steering the wheel while Animal presses the accelerator. The determining factor of how successful he’ll be in this endeavor, though, lies in his depth of knowledge and love of pro wrestling.
On the first episode, he’d mentioned only knowing Animal for a couple of months. It’s unclear as of yet whether his interest in wrestling goes back much further than that. For his sake, I hope it does. Fans hold wrestling podcasts to the same standard with which they view wrestling itself. If they can’t buy into you, they won’t stick around.
At one point, Roderick brought up the fact that Animal had never worked against “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. To me, this immediately brings to mind the time they headlined a PPV on the same team. I’m standing in a laundromat with my headphones in, looking like a nutjob, muttering “Canadian Stampede, Canadian Stampede” over and over. I realize we’re not talking about a match they worked against one another, but these guys shared a ring in the main event of one of the greatest PPV’s in pro wrestling history. This seemed like a natural segue. Let’s hear about it.
Roderick is wading into waters currently dominated by the likes of Conrad Thompson and Brian Last. If he’s going to achieve a fraction of their success earning those sweet advertising dollars, he needs to know his stuff. More so, he should be able to recognize an opportunity to pivot into subject matters wrestling fans will want to hear about when they present themselves.
The thing I enjoy most about this show thus far is that it’s a wrestling show. Animal doesn’t appear to have any desire to interview reality TV stars or discuss politics and pop culture. I’m sure bits and pieces will weave their way in here or there, but it’s been established early on that each episode of this show will cover professional wrestling and Animal’s experiences inside that world. That alone should buy the What A Rush Podcast enough time with potential listeners to settle into whatever it will become.
Episode 2 Rating: 3. Ricky Steamboat*
To check out this show, visit the What A Rush Podcast.
*Episode rating is based on Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s Top 10 Wrestlers from May 1989.