Ring Of Honor TV Taping – 6/20/2015

When I started watching SmackDown back in 2001, I had know idea how many companies or promotions there were in the industry of pro-wrestling. I had no idea how far it spread or how many people were involved in it. I really didn’t know anything at all. I am far more aware now, but I have never advertised myself to be an expert. There are plenty of names I don’t know and things I’ve yet to experience. Back in January, I attended a Pro Wrestling Syndicate show called Frozen Fallout in New Jersey, which was a lot of fun and featured a lot of recognizable names. But this past Saturday, I decided last minute to take a short train ride into New York City for the Ring of Honor TV tapings at Terminal 5.

Let me start off by saying two things: first, I will not spoil anything for anyone who is trying to avoid what will happen between now and Death Before Dishonor in July. Second, I really knew next to nothing about Ring of Honor going into this event, so these are fresh eyes and ears taking it all in.

My mindset waiting on line outside of Terminal 5 was just that I wanted to have a good time – and also that I didn’t end up in a fight with some of the morons standing near me. I will say there were some ridiculous people in the audience that night who were trying very hard to ruin the experience for everyone else, but we all know this is not a promotion-specific, or even an industry-specific phenomenon. For those of you out there who get your jollies off of ruining an evening for everyone sitting around you, karma’s coming for you. And I don’t mean the wrestler.

Once we were inside, we were sent to the balcony, which provided seating that was excellent for viewing the ring and the entrance way. I couldn’t believe how great the set-up was – not sure there was a bad seat in the house. We couldn’t have been hanging out for more than 40 minutes before streamers were passed around, announcements were made, and the show began.IMG_1367

The thing that is, unfortunately, going to stand out the most about that night is that I watched over five hours of wrestling, and we were at the venue for six and a half hours, total. I understand this is how they maximize the dollar – you pay everyone (wrestlers, crew, venue, insurance) once for the whole night, and you get all of your programming done from now to the next iPPV. But by the end of the night we were all tired, and more than a little cranky (this is New York, after all. We get bitchy.) I’m not sure if there isn’t a sacrifice in terms of the audience for the price put on the evening. Though I must say, as someone new the whole experience, it was a great way to get a crash-course in the roster. By the end of the night you’d seen pretty much everyone wrestle at least twice, so you knew who everyone was, became well-versed in their gimmicks and story lines, and had formed clear favorites.

Over the course of the evening, I saw fifteen matches. FIFTEEN MATCHES. For reference, this year’s Wrestlemania (with pre-show) was five hours and only featured nine matches. Granted, a Wrestemania Main Event match can clock in at over 15 minutes, but that’s still ridiculous. The thing that I think is important here is PACING. And I don’t mean how the matches go. There isn’t a lot of down time at a Ring of Honor taping until you get to intermission after the third episode is done. They are constantly moving on to the next thing, which is great. It’s harder to get bored that way. It wasn’t until we were well into the fourth episode that the crowd started to come unglued (but I’ll get to that).

Because I follow a variety of people on Twitter, I have been exposed to a lot of different wrestling fans. I’ve heard a lot of the ROH roster’s names before, so it was easier for me to figure out how everyone fit into the bigger picture. The design of the whole event was, clearly, very different from a WWE event. There were no backstage segments projected to us from the big screen. I actually liked this much better, because I got to spend more time getting to know the wrestlers by their interactions with each other, with the crowd, and by their in-ring performance.

There was very little promo work to speak of. There was an interview between Nigel and Jay Lethal (Lethal had just won the ROH World Championship the night before at Best in the World 2015) that was short and sweet and set up Lethal’s next opponents for each belt that he now holds. I think it was very obvious, even from that short promo, why Lethal is with Truth Martini – promos are not his strong suit. But he was great to watch in the ring. We saw another few short promos from the likes of Dalton Castle (this was GREAT), The Addiction, and The Kingdom (mostly from Maria.) But towards the end of the night I witnessed an absolute train wreck, a promo courtesy of BJ Whitmer of The Decade – prominently featuring the Terminal 5 audience.

This got really ugly. Up to this point, the yelling of particularly nasty or derogatory things were limited to a small group of obnoxious guys sitting ringside with a “Moose Crossing” sign. As a group of three or four, they were easy to ignore. However, Whitmer received a boo from the entire crowd that was so intense that it snowballed into him basically being cursed out and kept – at all costs – from even uttering a few words. This went on. And on. And on. It continued until I thought for sure he would end up just leaving the ring, promo scrapped. Eventually he was forced to try to tune everyone out and bulldoze through. I didn’t really even know what was happening until more people joined them in the ring and it became clear what the original purpose of the promo was, as I still hadn’t heard a darn thing he said.

Now, there were three possible failings here. First, I think they underestimated how ridiculous New Yorkers are. This is not a market to screw around in, especially when we’ve already been hanging out for four hours. I wouldn’t compare this to something like this past January’s Royal Rumble in Philadelphia, as the problem wasn’t that the audience wasn’t getting what we wanted (though, to a point, it was that we were all waiting around to see Samoa Joe’s last match and this was taking up too much time). But I think it’s fair to compare the two markets as areas where you don’t want to piss people off, because they CAN and WILL take over your show. The second problem was clearly that Whitmer not prepared to deal with that response. He kept giving in and dropping the mic from his face, which is surrender. He’d give it another go, the crowd would scream obscenities, and he would cave again. Maybe he suspected the crowd would eventually give in – wrong. Third, there was obviously no one in the ring with him at that moment able to do anything to help him out. Maybe his companions were inexperienced with that sort of reaction, or just aren’t able to think on their feet, but no one was doing anything but watching the disaster unfold.

Was this whole situation avoidable? Maybe. If the promo had happened half an hour to an hour earlier, I think the reaction might have been less aggressive from the audience – we’d already seen The Decade out once before and no one booed BJ quite as fervently as they did upon his second appearance. I also think if everyone in the ring had been thinking on their feet, they could have powered through it. Regardless of how loud the in-house crowd is, the guy with the microphone can always be heard by the television audience. If Whitmer had just kept going, everyone at Terminal 5 would eventually have to give up and listen (or would have at least been distracted as the promo moved on and more personalities were added to the mix.)

The highlight of the night is hard to pinpoint. Was it Samoa Joe’s final match – sure, maybe. That was great to watch and we were all on our feet for the whole thing. But a LOT happened that night. There were a lot of different types of matches, which kept my interest. I can understand why some people say that ROH is currently too “flippy” (what a ridiculous word) but there are plenty of people who don’t wrestle that way. I, personally, enjoy how many factions they have – regardless of who you’re wrestling there are clear alliances and rivalries. This also made it easy to keep track as we moved from tag matches to singles matches and back again. I, personally, preferred the tag matches, because you got to see a lot of sides of characters – it’s not just about your feuds, but how you work with your partners.

My favorite thing about this show, though, was by far the fact that the wrestlers were wandering around the venue when they weren’t working. I ran into two at the bar, exchanged pleasantries with Nigel while passing on a stairwell, and saw several of them spread out around the balcony, watching other matches. This investment in their product, and their willingness to interact with the fan base on a casual level is really impressive. I particular loved watching interactions in which guys came off stage, appeared in our area a little while later, and began passionately discussing wrestling with audience members – fans, all. There is not “us and them” mentality there. There are exceptions, of course, as we didn’t see the entire roster out wandering the room, but a good portion of the did.

All in all, it was a really positive experience that I would be happy to repeat at any time. And I have to admit, it definitely further took the flavor out of watching Monday Night Raw two days later. All of the production value of WWE can’t compare with an experience where you really feel a part of the whole show. I would highly recommend a TV taping to someone who is just getting into Ring of Honor – it’s a great way to learn about the company in one evening.

And if anyone at Ring of Honor needs help with their promos – you know who to call.

-The Lady J Says

 

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The Lady J’s American Dream

About ten days ago, I had started writing a post on RAW, as well as NXT. Nothing about what I was writing was coming together for me, though, so I scrapped the piece and took a break from my laptop. I went to the wedding of two dear friends of mine. I saw Dashboard Confessional and Third Eye Blind play an outdoor arena on the ocean in the pouring rain instead of watching Money in the Bank. Life just kept going.

In the year since I created the Lady J persona, I have been attempting to toe the line between fan and analyst. Anyone who follows me on twitter knows I am a passionate person who is prone to fits of all-caps ranting about the product while watching a live show. Anyone who follows this blog knows I take a lot of time to do research, to listen to podcasts and read other articles, and keep myself educated about “The Business”. It is often difficult for me to find balance between these two things.

I watched the Money in the Bank PPV on Monday afternoon, took a break for dinner, and then watched Monday Night RAW. I must say I wasn’t terribly impressed with either of these shows, though it did end on a high note for me when Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman returned to TV. It’s hard not to become frustrated as a fan. But isn’t that the point? Your “guy” isn’t always going to win. Your “guy” has to be beat down, so that when he rises up, it is triumphant. I think the Royal Rumble is a perfect illustration of how the fan base responds to quick ascents in this business.

On Paul Heyman’s DVD Ladies and Gentlemen, My Name is Paul Heyman, he talks about interacting backstage with younger talent, who have yet to become jaded by experience and what he can take from their perspective as newer individuals to the pro-wrestling/sports entertainment business. I am sure those young people are also taking away from their interactions with him the wisdom of his years in this business as well. There is no greater recipe for success than a happy marriage between experience and innovation. This business, which has been built on time-honored traditions, now exists in a world where the audience is smarter, and the competition on TV is not other comparable products, but rather television programming in general. Being an individual who understands both the contemporary broadcasting industry, and the traditional wrestling industry is where the dollar signs are.

It’s not easy for me to check my “fan” tendencies when watching a WWE program. When I returned to the product in 2013, it was as an escape from what was going on in my family, as my Mom’s condition battling Alzheimer’s Disease deteriorated. I became sucked in, and when RAW or SmackDown was on, I wasn’t thinking about anything else. As I became more and more interested in what was going on behind the curtain, trying to apply what I’d learned through writing and theatre training, I realized how hard it is to relegate the fan in me to the back burner and try to view the product with an educated eye. I tried to watch, read, or listen to anything I could that was being presented by individuals with decades of experience in the business, and marry in with what I knew myself about live performance and story writing.

All of this came to a head last night. I started at 8pm EST, watching the hour-long Tough Enough preview that aired on the WWE Network to introduce the audience to the 13 participants. It was a well put-together program, not only giving us insight into the contestants, but also into the perspective of the coaches and why those 13 people were chosen, as well as what personal obstacles they would have to overcome. I followed that up with an episode of The Steve Austin Show podcast, and The Ross Report podcast, both of whom took a significant amount of time to reflect on the passing of the American Dream, Dusty Rhodes.

I won’t get into memorializing Dusty, if for no other reason than I’m not sure I could make it through writing about him without breaking down into tears. They’ve shown the same video package on the PPV, Monday’s episode of RAW and all over the Network, and I still cry every time. What I think was most important about what Austin and JR had to say about Dusty, besides all of his accolades, his promos, his style, the kind of father he was…the thing that stood out to me was how he had dedicated his life to the industry. Even after his in-ring career was over, he began to work with the next generation. None of the tweets or blog posts about Dusty were more moving than those posted by the kids down in NXT, who were being supported, tested, encouraged, and pushed by Dusty. What a gift for them to have him as a resource as they begin their careers in WWE.

As I listened to Austin and JR (who, in particular, I love to hear break down matches and booking on The Ross Report) talk about what Dusty offered to the younger generation, my thoughts wandered to the crop of contestants on Tough Enough, who will never work with him. And then I thought, as I often do, how lucky they are that wrestlers are offered so many opportunities to get into the business today. As someone who knows her body could never withstand the demands of an in-ring career (nor have I ever aspired to have such a career) I know there are no clear paths for a writer in professional wrestling. There are no camps, no reality shows, no schools. There is only the individual, blessed with whatever talents they may possesses, and the product. That is why I continue to struggle each week to balance out the fan with the writer and the analyst. I remember every time I get excited about a story line, whether I am thrilled or furious, that the story is successful, because the only thing in professional wrestling that is poison is silence. I continue to study those whose careers I admire, and try to break down story lines and promos to understand the method behind the madness. Dusty is known for his brilliant promos – an art form many say was inherently a part of him – but one can sit and watch his “Hard Times” promo and see the things that made it connect with fans besides his natural charisma. There was a cadence, a rhythm to the way he spoke, a natural and sometimes barely noticeable rhyme scheme that made his words easy to remember and repeat. It’s these things that I try to write down, do remember, and hopefully use in the future, should an opportunity ever present itself.

Some WWE fans just want to be fans. They live their lives, raise their families, and remain loyal from their seats in the 12th row or on their couches. Some fans hope to one day be the guy with the belt. I am a pro-wrestling and sports entertainment fan who one day hopes to be Dusty Rhodes – not the Dusty with the Bionic Elbow, or the one in the polka dots, but the man sitting in promo class, helping to develop the next generation of talent. The Dusty with the book, the guy giving Steve Austin a chance in WCW. So that’s what I’m going to keep working towards, that’s what this blog is all about. Nothing worth having has ever been easy, but that’s what makes it special. One day, I’ll get there. But until then, that’s my American Dream.

-The Lady J Says

 

See the Whole Board – NXT 6/3/2015

I belong to a pro-wrestling group on Facebook. Someone I went to college with added me to the group and I don’t comment often, but I like to read people’s opinions or thoughts on what’s happening in the industry today. The other morning someone mentioned that they have been watching Attitude Era episodes of Monday Night Raw as well as PPVs in chronological order on the WWE Network. The thing that struck this individual was that for every amazing match involving all of our Attitude Era heroes, there are several mind-numbing matches involving people you forget quickly afterward. It occurred to me that the issue I wrote about in my pre-elimination chamber match is not a new one for this industry, and I imagine it is exacerbated on Raw currently due to the length of the program.

The issue, to clarify, is not about wrestlers who aren’t very good coming out and having poor matches. Anyone can have an off night, and there have always been people in the industry who just don’t have “it”. Also, I imagine in the Attitude Era, guys who might have been more “over” at a different time ended up falling into the shadows of the big stars of the time. What I am discovering is key in any solid wrestling promotion is the proper use of everyone on your roster. You want to have enough people at your disposal so nobody gets burnt out (or becomes prone to injure from being overworked.) You want to have a variety of characters so you can create a variety of story lines and feuds. And you want to have a variety of talent so you’re not relying too heavily on how someone looks, how someone speaks, or even how someone wrestles. Everybody has something to bring to the table; let them shine.
As someone with a background in writing, I want to see challenging, fresh story lines in pro wrestling. But the more I examine the product, the more I realize there has to be a happy marriage between creative storytelling and solid booking. This is how I am approaching this past week’s episode of NXT.
In this episode we were given four matches: Tyler Breeze vs. Adam Rose, Carmella vs. Alexa Bliss, The Vaudevillains vs. Jason Jordan & Marcus Louis, and Finn Balor vs. Rhyno. Now, post-Unstoppable, my concern was that so much attention was on the Indie Darlings (as I so obnoxiously refer to them) and there was not enough attention being focused on that talent that needs the benefit of being a part of a developmental program. Therefore, when you get two back-to-back episodes of NXT that actually feature the rest of the roster, you can’t be angry. Not every episode should be all Sami Zayn or all Kevin Owens, all the time. It’s good to put Samoa Joe on TV to let the audience know what they have to look forward to, but it should be weeks before we see hime wrestle on TV, thus creating as much hype as possible. Special attractions cannot be special if you can get them at any time.
There are three belts currently in NXT: the NXT Champion, the NXT Women’s Champion, and the NXT Tag Team Champions, and not one of these champions wrestled last week. You had a solid women’s match that furthers the tag team story line that is leftover from Unstoppable because Carmella is aligned with Enzo & Big Cass, while Alexa Bliss is aligned with Blake & Murphy (c). This is good story telling and good booking.
There was also an interesting tag team match up that created some more audience interest in The Vaudevillains and painted them as baby faces again. This, in my opinion, was where they always belonged. They are nerdy guys who have a huge following (particularly as Simon Gotch is so vocal on Twitter and interacts with their fans constantly) and never should have been painted as heels just because of their old-timey gimmick. It also brings Marcus Louis back into the picture and aligns him with a current heel, Jason Jordan, who recently ditched his tag partner, The Dillinger. This is the beginning of solid story telling and good booking.
The opener of this program really baffled me, though. What is Adam Rose doing on NXT? NXT television broadcast is not purgatory for WWE wrestlers. I was at a taping of RAW a few weeks back, and saw Adam Rose wrestle Heath Slater in ACTUAL purgatory, AKA Superstars. The match between Rose and Breeze was not particularly exciting, though it was well put together. If there is a back story between the two of these characters, it’s so long ago I can’t remember it at this point, and that’s not good. Now that Breeze is out of the title picture (he’s lost his last three shots at the #1 contendership,) they need to think of where he’s going next. If it’s up the main roster, I hope his match with Adam Rose wasn’t foreshadowing. No story telling, sad booking.
As for the main event, I was completely surprised. I don’t like Rhyno because he cannot cut a promo to save his life. I would liken him to Scott Steiner – he rambles incoherently, and always seems out of breath, like thinking is exhausting to him. I understand that a wrestler’s promos should reflect their character, but I am never cool with someone’s gimmick being that they’re an idiot – so please, speak like you understand how the english language works, as you don’t appear to be foreign. This match was mercilessly short and went well, considering that Balor is adaptable enough to wrestle Rhyno differently than he does Breeze or Neville. That just makes him more believable. Also, having Rhyno come out and gore him after the match was fun but a little silly – after all these years in the business, Rhyno the character still doesn’t understand how to be aggressive with purpose? I hope Baron Corbin was watching. Mild story telling, as Finn is the #1 contender for the NXT Championship, decent booking.
Now I am now down on the entire show. There is an upside to everything, and it’s all about where NXT is headed next. We’ve brought some inter-gender story telling into the mix – PLUS. If the Rose/Breeze match is a step to re-branding Rose and promoting Breeze – PLUS. The return of the Vaudevillains and increased relevance of current “mid-carders” Jordan & Louis – PLUS. Hopefully moving Rhyno further up the cards means he moves out of NXT faster – PLUS. Anything involving Balor – PLUS.
Of course the show also had a series of promo downsides, though. If NXT has one universal weakness, it’s promos. I’m not sure why Dusty can’t seem to help any of these kids, but whatever is holding them back is contagious. From Devin & Greg, who are doing some of the poorest interview work I have ever seen (can we say red-light fever?) to individuals who aren’t sure how to work in front of a live audience, or who don’t know how to be dramatic without taking painfully long pauses (I’m looking at you, Solomon Crowe,) it’s an outright epidemic. And even when seasoned professionals are given promo spots, they end up being poorly produced. William Regal cut a press conference style promo announcing a ridiculously awesome event in Tokyo on Independence Day in which Balor would face Owens for the NXT Title. He was speaking to an empty room and the live feed of the in-house audience was cut so he spoke to absolute silence as well. Way to bury an epic announcement. Regal ought to have been speaking in the middle of the ring to the NXT audience itself. If that wasn’t possible for some reason, they could have at least pre-recorded it in front of the roster, like a massive staff meeting so there was some kind of reaction.
There are so many components and pieces in professional wrestling, I can see how difficult it might be to get them all working at once. What boggles my mind, though, is how a company as tremendous as WWE would be unable to focus on their flaws and give them the attention they require. Even in a smaller part of the company, like NXT, there’s no reason why things can’t be kept moving forward, and why we shouldn’t be seeing people improve week after week.
The Lady J “To Watch” List

1. The Enzo/Cass/Carmella feud with Blake/Murphy/Alexa Bliss. I have high hopes for all six of these characters, particularly Enzo & Big Cass.

2. The return of the Vaudevillains. Sort of like Return of the Jedi, but with less Slave Leia. I think.
3. Hopefully the development of some new characters, including the re-booting of some individuals from the main roster.
4. A worthwhile story line for Baron Corbin – or an exit strategy.
5. Charlotte on the main roster, for Pete’s Sake!

 

Sit Down and Shut Up – Paul Heyman on the Steve Austin Show

(If you’re looking for a round-up on Sunday’s Elimination Chamber, stay tuned. I am still recovering. If you’re stoked for tonight’s NXT – you should be. More on that tomorrow!)

For those of you who live in the back, I am a huge Paul Heyman fan. I don’t like to use the term “mark” when it comes to Paul, because I am generally a fan of him all around. Paul was the writer for SmackDown when I was first introduced to the WWE product, so my respect for what he does, and what he has given to the business, goes back a long way. I am, however, a mark for Steve Austin, and love his podcasts. I could listen to Steve interview anybody and eat it up, but some of the best episodes of The Steve Austin Show are the ones where he interviews Paul Heyman.

On Monday, following RAW, The Steve Austin Show, featuring Paul Heyman as Austin’s guest, was broadcast live on the WWE Network. I wasn’t on social media while it was happening, because I like to just sit back and listen – when you try to live tweet something, you inevitably end up missing something. When I went back to check twitter the next morning, I couldn’t believe how many people said they were bored by what they heard, with the exception being the last five minutes. I am so disappointed that so many people completely missed how much knowledge was dropped during that interview. But hopefully the talent was listening.

Steve and Paul start off by talking a bit about their back story, which is always interesting. Paul doesn’t do a very good impression of Good Ol’ JR Jim Ross (no one does) but he does an EXCELLENT Dusty Rhodes. There is also a great story about Rick Rude if anyone is interested in just some good old-fashioned nostalgia.

The second section of questions touches on Brock Lesnar and where he’s been and where he’s going. (There’s a weird little stop off where Austin and Heyman awkwardly become political. I imagine many of the points throughout the interview that they hit on are pre-planned, but this part seems to tumble over itself and I am sure Vince gave them both a lashing for it. {However, Heyman’s history of The Jews is not, you know, wrong.}) What I think is really key here is how Paul Heyman handles his explanation of how Lesnar got to the contract he’s on now with WWE. He speaks candidly about Lesnar’s enjoyment of his last run in WWE and why he decided not to defect back to UFC – but still manages to paint Lesnar as a beast in both companies by referencing the way Lesnar beat both John Cena and Randy Couture.

Along with the section on Lesnar, Austin asks Heyman about taking on more clients besides Lesnar so we can have more Paul Heyman on TV. Heyman explains that his personal relationship with Lesnar makes their on-screen relationship work, the same as it did with CM Punk (though their personal relationship as well as their on-screen dynamic, are different from the ones Heyman has with Lesnar). This goes a long way to explain what happened with Heyman and Cesaro, without directly referencing it. Heyman also takes a minute to put Punk over here in a really genuine way – sorry, Vince.

Austin and Heyman talk the state of business today – in particular Austin has a bone to pick about selling. What the two of them have to say about finishing moves makes perfect sense to me – if people kick out of your finisher, it’s not a very good finisher, is it? It should be not only the job of the wrestler whose finisher it is, but the job of the commentators AND the rest of the roster to put that finisher over. This way, as Heyman illuminates, when someone kicks out of it at a PPV (his example was Wrestlemania) it’s a huge deal.

In the fourth section (about halfway through) Heyman drops what I feel is the most important knowledge of this whole interview – his outlook on promos. He tells a great story about an early promo he cut where he put everyone over and wears himself out just being Paul E Dangerously and when it’s all over, Dusty says “that was so very entertaining, but where’s the money”. And this is something no one seems to remember anymore – a promo is a tool, something you need to have in your arsenal as a performer to be successful. And when you use that tool, you shouldn’t be waving it around wildly. Stay focused. What are you trying to sell. A match? A feud? An incident? Just you in general? Someone else? Your team? That is more important than anything else.
Well, almost anything else. Austin and Heyman go further with the promo breakdown, and Paul explains the method behind his madness. He explains how he developed his patented introduction “Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Paul Heyman, and I am the advocate for the beast incarnate, Brock Lesnar.” He refers to that here as “engaging the audience”, which is precisely what it does. He lets everyone know who he is, what he does, and then tells them what he’s doing there that night. He goes on to say that many of the promos we see, night after night, are pontificating, are talking at the audience, instead of engaging them. JUST AS A SIDE NOTE: just prior to writing this post, I checked out the Steve Austin Show Unleashed podcast with Sam Roberts. In it, Steve refers to Monday Night Raw as “wrestling for morons,” which is a pretty dead-on label to how I have been feeling lately which watching. Considering what Heyman says about current trends in promos, it’s no wonder the audience feels like the Powers That Be consider us stupid – they’re talking to us like we have no idea what’s going on. Things are repeated 100 times, beaten into us, and because of this story lines never get past the surface level.

Austin and Heyman go on to discuss more wrestling history, and Heyman explains how TV syndication works. Let me just state for the record: if you have any interest in the business side of pro-wrestling, you should know something about this. I recommend listening to what Heyman says here, as well as what he says on his first Steve Austin Show appearance, and what Eric Bischoff says on his appearance. There are a few things on the network that also tell the story of how the territories of pro-wrestling became what we see now on cable TV.

There’s also some juicy tidbits for those of you who love behind-the-scenes gossip, including Heyman denying he ever used cocaine, a story about Austin and Rick Rude, and a frightening story about traveling while in WCW. He also discusses his dynamic with Vince McMahon. I have a lot of respect for the fact that Austin asks Heyman about the “Infamous Plane Ride”, and Heyman doesn’t give details. He even says “Vince has never spoken about it publicly, so I don’t know if I’m in the right to violate that confidence” so he just vaguely explains that they had a bad show, followed by a fight, and things ended right after.

Then they cut a promo. Heyman asks Austin if he wants to fight Brock Lesnar, and Austin (at first) casually says he’d “beat his ass”. Heyman even goes on to remind Austin that Wrestlemania 32 is in Steve Austin’s home state of Texas. They seem to be working off-the-cuff, and Heyman reads things on his phone and cracks jokes before Austin finally says “three words: Texas Death Match“. This is where it becomes clear it’s a promo, because everything that comes out of either man’s mouth afterwards is perfect. Austin becomes the Stone Cold Steve Austin we all know and love, Heyman becomes the spineless jellyfish who tries to save himself by throwing up his arms and proclaiming “I’m just an advocate”, to which Austin replies “you’re about to advocate yourself an ass-whoopin’.” They leave things hanging, the air palpable, and the audience beside themselves, as Austin signs off.

The entire podcast was brilliant. There was enough technical stuff for the nerds like me, enough juicy tales for the historians, and a promo that will go down as one for the ages. I highly recommend checking it out on the WWE Network if you haven’t already, and heading over to PodcastOne.com to listen to Paul’s other appearances on The Steve Austin Show.

That’s it for me for tonight, cats & kittens. Check back tomorrow for thoughts on tonight’s NXT.

-The Lady J Says