A Woman of Honor

When I started doing the Facelock Feministas podcast with my friend Sarah, we were so infatuated with the Lucha Underground product for a myriad of reasons. A major one was how they treated the women who worked for them. They were involved in well-developed storylines and intergender wrestling matches were utilized to demonstrate that their women were on par with their men, not secondary to them. The past few weeks worth of podcasts has highlighted how that seems to have shifted. We have not had a woman in a match in two weeks on Lucha Underground, and we’re now seeing female characters in more stereotypical roles than before. And frankly, I’m disappointed.

This seems to be par for the course in pro-wrestling, though. Just when we think we’ve made strides for women as wrestlers and as fans, we take two steps back. WWE changes the Diva’s Championship to the Women’s Championship in a theatrical presentation in front of record crowds at Wrestlemania 32 and then gives us months of pitifully short segments and matches for women on RAW, not to mention their inability to create more than one storyline involving female wrestlers simultaneously.

Another example is Ring of Honor, a promotion that has Women of Honor on a weekly YouTube segment, but does not have women’s wrestling during their televised broadcasts. Today it was recommended to me that I check out an interview Joe Koff, the COO of ROH, did with Jim Ross in which Koff says “I doubt if our roster will ever be a third [female…] We’re not that deep and […] I’m not even sure that the fans have necessarily the appetite to sit through two or three women’s matches which you would have to have to have that kind of people, to use them, and to let them make a living.” What? You don’t think the audience has an “appetite” to sit through two or three women’s matches? Where does this data come from?! Also, your fan base will rise to whatever you set before them provided the wrestling is of a certain quality. And Koff has something to say on that, too:

“But I think, at the end of the day, the women are not quite at the level, even though they’re getting there. Their matches are very fast and they’re very exciting, and I think some of the Japanese women that I’ve seen that have come over through New Japan are unbelievable. I think people like to talk about women’s wrestling because we’re a society where men like to look and let’s face it a lot of men are pigs when it comes to stuff like that. […] But at the end of the day, they want to see good action. So as the women’s quality gets better, I think we’ll see more women’s wrestling.”

What I’m taking from this quote is mostly that Mr. Koff doesn’t think women wrestlers are as good as men, but ROH puts them on TV in the capacity that they do in order for male to ogle them. Congratulations, Ring of Honor, you just made the top of my shit list. (Never thought someone would oust Striker, but here we are.)

What seems to really be at the heart of the problem is the absolute refusal of the people in positions of power (almost all men) in pro-wrestling to invest both time and money in women as human beings. There is a mass cyclical oppression happening in this industry (and film, music, art, sports, politics, science, ad nauseam) in which the lack of women in the ring discourages both a larger female fan base and potential future female wrestlers to invest in the product. In the same way (though admittedly on a smaller scale) that people of color are grossly underrepresented in film and television roles, the representation of women in pro-wrestling wildly skews the impression on the viewer that women can’t or shouldn’t wrestle, and that the product is not “for them”. To encourage the hiring of female wrestlers, to encourage the hiring of female writers and technicians and designers, is to encourage the diversification of professional wrestling both in product and in audience.

While watching Lucha Underground over the past 19 weeks, I have appreciated that the women were treated as equals to the men and given the same opportunities: the chance to be silly, to be violent, to be cheered, to be booed, and to be rewarded. The recent removal of the Catrina character from TV (though this is canon and will likely make sense in the future) married with the current status of Kobra Moon as a weird stalker girl and Taya as simply Johnny Mundo’s tagalong is a reversal of that. Lucha Underground was doing things with their female talent that no other promotion, save for all-female ones, were accomplishing in terms of equality. I have seen arguments that their women’s roster is much smaller than their male roster, and therefore it’s harder to get them screen time without overworking the female talent they do have. I don’t refute that, and agree that I would prefer not to see the talented women of LU out on injury due to working too many matches in a day of tapings. My response is far simpler: hire more women.

When I’m told the lack of imagination in storylines for female performers is based in the lack of women on staff, my response is the same: hire more. Do all women have the same experiences in life? No. I’m not suggesting that female writers should be creating content exclusively for female wrestlers. Having a diverse writing staff (and I mean to include gender along with diversity of race, religion, age, sexual orientation, etc.) creates an environment that will naturally breed a wider variety in plots. If everyone on the creative team at WWE was different from one another in all of the aforementioned categories, imagine the refreshing, boundary-pushing content they could be presenting to their audiences, even within the constraints of the TV-PG rating. It could potentially rival the Attitude Era in the way it would revolutionize the company and perhaps the entire industry.

I am regularly met with resistance when I discuss the issue of women in and out of the squared circle. I’m told the industry will never change, that some things are what they are. I’m asked time and time again, why do I bother? Why am I a part of an all-female wrestling podcast, why do I blog and write articles for other sites about representation and booking? These questions always seem silly to me, as they have a very simple answer. It’s because I LOVE wrestling. I love it. It has been there for me when I really needed it. And now I want it to be better. I want to give back to it, not just with my money or my time but with my voice. I want to encourage it to evolve and to change with the times and grow.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with me outside of the pro-wrestling world, I went to college to become a playwright. I wanted badly to be a female Aaron Sorkin (who many of you probably know from TV shows, but who got his start writing A Few Good Men as a stage play before it became a tremendously successful film). In my favorite television show The West Wing, which Sorkin was the showrunner for during the first four seasons, one of the main characters is deciding whether or not he should run for congress as a Democrat in an overwhelmingly Republican district – a district that hadn’t elected a Democrat in a dog’s age. In arguing for his running, the character tells the following story:

“I worked in a State Assembly race in Manhattan in a district where Democrats outnumbered Republicans 16 to 1. But everywhere we went, there’d be one lone poster of a right-wing nutbar who wanted to eliminate the income tax. And he was holding up signs and canvassing everywhere and bugging the local reports until we had to comment on it. So I introduced myself to his campaign manager, and I said ‘what are you doing? Your candidate doesn’t have a chance and neither do your issues.’ He said ‘this is what I believe. And no candidate gets to run in my district without speaking to my issues.’ I came this close to voting for him.”

I am a pro-wrestling fan. So are all of the members of the #PWGrrrlGang, and thousands more men and women like us. We believe women should be hired more, booked better, and should be more well-represented in this industry. We believe female fans deserve a fun, inclusive, and safe environment in which to be spectators. If you produce pro-wrestling events, you will address our issues. I intend to make sure of it.

-The Lady J Says

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The Hero-Maker

After making such a huge deal out of Vince Russo poorly promoting his appearance on Jim Ross’s podcast, The Ross Report, I felt I had to listen to it. And I did – the whole thing. Russo is grating to listen to, but not always wrong. I certainly agree with his point that it would be beneficial for WWE to return to a format wherein entire segments happen between commercial breaks. I’m getting REALLY tired of commercials interrupting matches. It doesn’t make me want to come back when the break is over, it makes me want to forgo the end of the match. Russo did make me want to scream when discussing why he doesn’t like Kevin Owens, though, so I’m not a convert – don’t worry.

I also listened to Steve Austin’s podcast, The Steve Austin Show, featuring guest Wade Keller of PW Torch. I certainly enjoyed Keller more as a guest than Russo, but found issue with his views, as well. I’m not entirely sure why he thinks putting the diva’s title match as the penultimate match at TLC makes it important. It came in between the Intercontinental championship surprisingly changing hands and a killer main event. If memory serves me, the women’s match at Wrestlemania XXX came in between a huge upset (Undertaker vs. Brock Lensar) and a massively cathartic main event (Randy Orton vs. Batista vs. Daniel Bryan.) Did that elevate the diva’s? No. It swallowed them. While Keller was discussing the match, I actually had to go look up the finish because I forgot. That doesn’t make it “almost-main event” status. That means it wasn’t important.

What I did learn from both of these podcasts is that these gentlemen who host the podcasts are running at a distinct disadvantage. In trying to crank out podcasts that are produced at a certain quality that we expect from them and podcastone.com, they’re forced to work within certain time constraints. By the time both of these podcasts aired, RAW had already happened, and the storylines had already changed. Maybe it would be beneficial for them to air later in the week – or in Austin’s case, air something else on Tuesdays and a recap show on Thursday. Just a thought.

Back to RAW. After the TLC PPV on Sunday (which was not only a good show, but a really fun experiencing sharing it with someone who had never watched a PPV before) I was certainly concerned that I would not have as good of a time watching RAW the following night.

When the show opened with Stephanie McMahon starting a promo vaguely turning her nose up at feminism, I nearly shut the whole thing off. She may be a great promo, but she regularly manages to make me feel like being a woman is somehow something she has to overcome and it makes me want to beat her senseless. But then Roman came out. I was already on social media basically BEGGING WWE not to let him sleep. I would have been totally satisfied if Steph fired him without ever letting him appear on TV, and keeping him off-air until the Royal Rumble at the end of January. Instead, he came out, wished his daughter happy birthday (because he’s a good Dad, we’ve all seen the ads) and then told his boss to go ahead and fire him.

She didn’t.

What she did do, though, was slap the crap out of him (props to those two for making it both believable and uncomfortable. I don’t care that this is pro wrestling, your boss should not smack you around.) On top of that, because of our society’s issues with gender, there was nothing Reigns could do to retaliate. He just had to take it. Then Steph set the mood for the rest of the night by letting us all know that Vincent Kennedy McMahon was on his way to the arena.

I saw a really great meme after RAW on Twitter of Vince sitting in a chair at ringside during the main event and it said “I’ll just get him over myself, damnit.” This is basically what happened. I don’t know that I’ve seen anything as good from WWE as we saw last night since Daniel Bryan left. That’s a shame, too. But it takes a really long time to build to a payoff like RAW gave us. And I don’t think it was entirely planned by WWE creative.

What do you suppose the chances are that WWE knew Reigns would get booed out of the building at the Royal Rumble in Philadelphia, PA in January? What do you suppose the chances were they knew the audience would fight Reigns every step of the way after that? Do you think they knew the harder they pushed him, the harder the pushback would be? Did they see a RAW in Philly on the schedule and think they could get an even bigger pop if Reigns managed to win back the crowd that tried to destroy him? Do you think this was the plan all along? I don’t.

I think this was a happy accident. After having to return to the drawing board with too many people (particularly WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins) away from the company for a while, I think they tried to re-invest in Roman Reigns and made a tremendous mess out of it. I think that WWE had no choice but to dig way back into their arsenal of plot devices to come up with something the WWE Universe didn’t even know we wanted. To see the Vince McMahon character we all loved to hate one more time.

I believe I’ve mentioned in one of my blog posts that I once heard someone hypothesize that the reason we refused to put Reigns over is because we knew the powers that be (the McMahons and Triple H) were pushing him, and they have always been heels inside of WWE’s storylines. Thus, we as an audience should boo Reigns. You could argue that Reigns has basically always been facing off against the Authority, though, save for The Shield’s heel-alignments at the beginning of their run as a main roster faction. But you basically never saw Roman Reigns interact with Vince McMahon – the true power behind WWE. Vince will always be bigger than any storyline – bigger and more powerful than Stephanie and Hunter could ever be, maybe even after he shuffles off this mortal coil. If they really wanted to get Reigns over with the crowd, it makes complete sense to pit him against the biggest boss WWE has to offer.

All of the biggest stars in WWE have needed Vince as their opponent at some point. Steve Austin surely did. Triple H did. The Rock did. Mankind, The Undertaker, Bret Hart…they all did. The greatest character that WWE ever placed before us is Vince McMahon – he’s a star maker. I guarantee we will look back on this time in Reigns’ career and say that, if not for Sunday’s TLC finish, and if not for Vince’s appearance on RAW, Reigns would never have become whatever it is he is now heading for. And I don’t know who will make heroes out of boys when Vince is gone.

The Lady J Says

For the Love of JR

I like Twitter. If I had to choose one preferred social media platform, that would be it. I like how it connects people while forcing them to be concise (a talent I am still working to cultivate.) What I don’t understand is why, when there are only 140 characters before you, people still insist on not reading what you actually say.

I am a big fan of Jim Ross’s podcast, The Ross Report. I’ve listened to them all, and am never disappointed by JR’s professionalism, and his ability to get quality content out of most of his guests. So when I opened Twitter this morning and saw the following tweet, I was a little upset:

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My distaste for Russo’s tweet caused me to, perhaps, jump too quickly to respond. I took to my own Twitter account to express my concern for Russo’s flippant attitude toward’s JR’s show.

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This immediately garnered me a wave of responses – a great many people telling me to get over it, or just not tune in. The thing that really bothered me, though, was that my message was being interpreted as a dig at JR, including by the man himself, and that made me feel rotten. That was never my intention.

I have my own reasons for disliking Vince Russo – none of which are particularly interesting. But regardless of his history in the business or past actions on social media, I expect anyone who accepts an invitation to appear on Jim Ross’s podcast to treat it as an honor. You can tell that JR puts a great deal of work (researching, planning) for each show. He clearly enjoys what he does and takes great pride in providing his listeners with a thorough interview. You can also tell that it is a great honor to everyone who appears on his show to be asked. Therefore, I can see that this might create the chance for a guest to appear on the show to talk about a topic that isn’t there favorite, but they are willing to talk about anything just for the opportunity to work with JR. (I know I certainly would be.)

Everyone knows that Russo isn’t too sweet on the current WWE product – and neither am I, for that matter. But my distaste comes from a place of love – a passion for WWE that drives a desire for the product to be the best it can be. I think JR is of a similar mindset. It is best for the industry as a whole for every promotion to be working to the best of their ability, not sliding by with the lowest possible ratings they can sustain themselves on. Russo, however, doesn’t say that he doesn’t like what’s happening in WWE or that he’s appearing on the podcast to give JR an opposing view. What he actually says is “I don’t care what happens at all.”

If you don’t care, you should probably stop talking about it and find something else to do. It doesn’t encourage me to tune in when I know you are indifferent to any outcome TLC might have. I am all for JR interviewing someone whose opinions are in direct opposition with his own – in fact, some of his best podcasts have included this kind of back-and-forth. I’ve mentioned before that one of my favorite sayings is “if you’re dumb, surround yourself with smart people. If you’re smart, surround yourself with smart people who disagree with you.” And I don’t need to tell you, dear reader, how brilliant I think JR is.

The only thing that doesn’t seem smart here is Russo thinking that a good way to advertise being on a well-respected podcast is by letting the potential audience know he doesn’t care about the topic he’s been asked to discuss. The fans don’t treat JR that way and we expect his guests not to, either.

The Lady J Says

 

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

 

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