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PODCAST RECAP AND REVIEW: The Steve Austin Show with Vince Russo on Brian Pillman’s infamous ECW promo, the WWE wrestler who is most comparable to him, lack of character development in pro wrestling, differences between WWE and UFC

The Steve Austin Show

Release Date: March 13th, 2018

Recap by: Joe Aguinaldo

DIRECT LINK TO LISTEN/DOWNLOAD

0:00 – Intro (The podcast actually starts at 1:52. The first 1:51 are sponsor reads)

Steve is on vacation in Nevada visiting his in-laws, doing a bunch of four wheeling and riding his utility vehicles.He’ll also be doing some antique shopping. Steve has been keeping an eye on the road to WrestleMania. He got a chance to watch the most recent PPV and says it will be an interesting ride to WrestleMania. Steve will be making two appearances on WrestleMania weekend. Check out www.wrestlecon.com for more details.

Steve has been reading the book ‘Crazy Like A Fox’ which is about Brian Pillman. He talks about the promo Brian cut in ECW in 1996 and will be discussing that as well as other wrestling topics with today’s guest, Vince Russo (click here to view the promo).

6:55 – Vince Russo

Steve welcomes Vince to the show and they jump into the topic of promos. In the past, Vince has told Steve it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. Steve decided to contact Vince to discuss Brian Pillman’s promo in ECW and asked Vince to watch the promo to get his opinion.

Vince sidetracks and talks about the Attitude Era slowing down in 2000 (11:02 into the podcast). When Vince left the WWE to go to the WCW, he knew he had done everything he could in the WWE. His goal was to further the evolution of professional wrestling and move forward from the Attitude Era.

When Vince went to TNA, he was the heel and would show up unannounced at the buildings and hit the ring. No one outside of Jeff Jarrett and the Harris brothers knew when Vince was coming to the ring including the talent. Because no one knew he was coming, everything Vince did in the ring was 100% improv and the only person who would go toe to toe with him on the improve was Mike Tenay because none of the other talent knew what to do. He says this was the most creative he ever was and says it was even better than his work in the Attitude Era.

He also talks about a situation with R-Truth that turned into a bit of a shoot as well as an incident with Roddy Piper who was cutting a promo in the ring about Russo being responsible for Owen Hart’s death, not knowing that Russo was in the building. In both situations with R-Truth and Roddy Piper, he wanted these angles to come across as real which is where Vince thought the evolution of pro wrestling should have gone where a lot of it was improvised. However, wrestling has gone in the opposite direction (where things are scripted).

They start discussing the Pillman ECW promo and one of the things Vince liked about the promo was the intensity (18:58 into the podcast). Vince goes as far as to say he did not think Brian had this persona inside him and wonders if something happened to Brian personally or professionally to bring that out of him.

Steve says WCW broke up the Hollywood Blondes then Steve left to go to the ECW and later the WWE. Brian was left in the WCW and was looking for ways to increase his value. Brian started studying other wrestlers such as Bruiser Brody, old school wrestlers who came up through the carnivals as well as studying serial killers (as a side note, I remember reading somewhere that Pillman was a huge fan of Lou Thesz’ bio ‘Hooker’. If you are interested in the history of wrestling, I totally recommend that book). Brian would spitball ideas with his friend Ken Wood and also spoke to Dave Meltzer a lot. Steve says Brian was very smart and would often read vocabulary books when travelling. Steve brings up the story of Brian crashing a Natpe convention where Brian ‘worked’ Vince McMahon (22:43 into the podcast) and how this was part of the evolution into the Loose Cannon persona. However, coming back to Vince’s question, he doesn’t know where Brian’s head was personally or professionally at the time.

Steve comes back to the ECW promo. Brian starts off as a babyface at the beginning of the promo but ropes the crowd in before crapping all over them. Steve asks what Vince thought about the promo. Vince starts off by comparing Brian’s promo with today’s promos and wonders what happened. Vince thinks pro wrestling should have been an evolution of Brian’s promo. Vince clarifies he is not attacking the wrestlers but has issues with the writing.

In 2018, the only guy you can compare to Brian Pillman is Dean Ambrose however, it’s painful to watch. There is nothing natural or believable with Dean. Everything seems forced and painful to watch. Vince says Pillman is so good that you would either think he should be in Hollywood or he’s completely nuts because no-one that good should be in pro wrestling. Vince goes on to say however, there were a few things done by others involved in the promo that hurt the promo.

Vince says there were two things that killed it for him. First, Todd Gordon telling security to get Brian out of the ring on mic was not realistic. Steve adds the use of the word ‘brother’ in an angle like that did not fly. Second, Vince would have had the guy from the audience try to hit Brian instead of trying a worked punch and once Brian put that guy in the ring, it became a work for everyone to see. Aside from these little things though, Vince (and Steve) say Brian’s performance and intensity was amazing.

Vince brings up a show he’s doing called ‘Castrating The Marks’ where he takes quotes from the dirt sheet writers, plays them on his show and rips them to pieces (33:41 into the podcast). Because of this, there’s a part in Pillman’s promo that resonated with Vince, specifically when Brian turns on the crowd by calling them smart marks and turning them against him which Vince thought was brilliant. He also thinks most wrestlers, especially today, put in the same situation Brian was in would not have known how to react.

Back from break, Vince goes into why he brought up his show ‘Castrating The Marks’ and says he is misunderstood. Vince criticizes today’s brand of wrestling but for a good reason, which people don’t hear. He says the match has become the most important thing in pro wrestling over characters, story and psychology. Vince says pro wrestlers have a limited window to make money and what he’s trying to tell wrestlers is be safe and prolong their careers.

Vince brings up the All-In show (40:33 into the podcast) coming up later this year. He says this is the type of wrestling he makes fun of on his show and says they should get Vince to cut a promo on that show to get create a buzz and some controversy. He says people don’t think like that anymore and says all everyone cares about is the 5 star match. Vince says he would rather watch the Pillman interview versus a 5 star match. Steve talks about a match between Bray Wyatt and Woken Matt Hardy at a recent PPV and says even though people did not like the match from an action perspective, he enjoyed the match because it was two gimmick/character guys.

Steve also brings up the fact he was a great mechanic when he was Stunning Steve Austin however, when he developed the Stone Cold character, that’s when he peaked and started making money. His hottest years were character based not necessarily his work rate in the ring. Vince jumps in and puts heat on the agents for not properly agenting matches. They are the ‘old school’ guys who should be teaching the younger talent to slow down and about psychology.

Vince says the style of matches today have killed the character and he says he noticed this happening 10 years ago (51:09 into the podcast). Today’s wrestlers are concerned with memorizing spots that character goes out the window. If character goes out the window, what you have left are a bunch of wrestlers and the only people that will watch the show are wrestling fans. You will never be able to expand the audience like they did back in the Attitude Era because there are no characters or stories casual fans can get interested in.  Steve adds when you give a wrestler a scripted promo they have to memorize lines at the expense of character and emotion because they are trying to recite the promo verbatim.

Vince brings up the differences between UFC and WWE (55:47 into the podcast). Wrestling used to do huge PPV numbers then UFC came along and took over the PPV market (although, he does mention the WWE Network as being part of the reason as well). He continues saying given a choice, if fans only had enough money for one PPV, they would pick UFC because they know it’s a real fight.

He continues saying if UFC is a real fight and people want to pay money to watch a real fight, why would wrestling emphasize the ‘fake fight’ in the ring as opposed to the story and characters. Vince says if you don’t want characters or storylines, then go out there and fight for real. If you forget character and stories and concentrate on the ‘fake fight’ then you’re only going to draw crowds that are interested in that, not the casual fan. Vince says even though the WWE is successful and making money, how much more money could they be making if they were doing this correctly. Steve says wrestling should go back to emphasizing characters and says it doesn’t matter what you say, it’s how you say it.

Vince brings up the angle where Steve threw the IC belt into a river. The creative team (Stephanie included) as well as the wrestlers went to shoot the angle in addition to working RAW at the arena. Vince says wrestlers today do not go the extra mile off hours or away from the arena and wonders why the WWE doesn’t do things like that anymore. He says the only reason he can think of is laziness. Steve doesn’t think it’s laziness but rather it’s because the talent is overwhelmed with shooting so much content. He also thinks there’s an element of complacency because there isn’t a WCW breathing down their necks.

Vince says he is getting tired of being critical of wrestling and needed to something else to talk about (1:05:47 into the podcast). He has been watching the show Teen Moms for the past 10 years and decided to do a podcast about the show. People who were on the show started following Vince on Twitter and want to be on his show.

Vince talks about his podcasts. He does 7 shows a week including the Teen Mom podcast and a conspiracy podcast all on Podcast One. He pushes the ‘Castrating the Marks’ show on the Realm Network.

Steve thanks Vince for being on the podcast and Vince signs off.

1:12:32 – Show Wrap

Steve thanks Vince Russo once again for being on the show, thanks his sponsors and that’s a wrap.

Rating 8/10

Overall, this was a good podcast. The breakdown about Brian Pillman’s promo on ECW was very cool. I found myself agreeing with Vince regarding character development (or the lack thereof) in pro wrestling (and I’ll admit, I absolutely do NOT like Vince Russo) although, I’m not sure I entirely agree with his assessment about wrestling being all about the action and match. He sounds very much like Jim Cornette in his assessment about today’s pro wrestling which is funny since by all accounts Cornette does not like Russo. Anyways, if you’re a fan of Pillman or like hearing about the psychology of wrestling definitely have a listen…if you happen to be a ‘Smart Mark’ or whatever the term is, you may not enjoy this one.

Timestamps

0:00 – Intro
6:55 – Vince Russo
11:02 – What The Evolution Of Pro Wrestling Should Have Been
18:58 – Brian Pillmans’ ECW Promo
22:43 – Pillman Works McMahon
33:41 – Brian Calls The Crowd Smart Marks
40:33 – Vince Talks About The All-In Show
51:09 – Today’s Match Style Kills Characters
55:47 – UFC vs WWE
1:05:47 – Teen Moms Podcast
1:12:32 – Show Wrap

Writer Bio

Joe lives in Toronto, Canada with his wife and two boys. He’s been watching wrestling for about 40 years (give or take) but don’t consider himself any sort of expert. He just likes wrestling.  Check him out on twitter and instagram @ja113.

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