10 Wrestling Podcasts You Absolutely MUST Hear

10 Wrestling Podcasts You Absolutely MUST Hear

There are tons of pro wrestling podcasts nowadays. It seems everyone in wrestling has a podcast now, and more are popping up almost every week.


Your time is precious. So how do you know which wrestling podcasts you absolutely must hear? We’ll tell you.

I listen to wrestling podcasts whenever I’m driving, doing stuff around the house, running errands, and pretty much whenever else possible. It’s the only way to keep up with all of them, but it’s worth it. They’re incredibly entertaining, always interesting, and contain a plethora of information and stories that we use here on The Armpit.

Wrestling podcasts can also be extremely successful, with some reaching several hundred thousand listeners per week. With those kinds of numbers, I’m beyond baffled as to why WWE hasn’t started their own podcast network. With their reach and power, they’d be able to have big name hosts with big name guests.

Until then, Podcast One, Major League Wrestling, and other podcast networks will continue to reap the benefits and rewards of a thriving market with an audience that has an unquenchable thirst for hearing about all aspects of pro wrestling.

We’ve identified 10 wrestling podcasts you absolutely cannot miss, and we’ve ranked them in descending order. We’ve also named a few podcasts you should check out if you have time.

There are other popular podcasts you might like that aren’t on the list, and this isn’t meant as a knock on any of them. If you have the time, listen to as many as you can. We simply had to pick the very best, in our opinion, and this is the final list we came up with.

Let’s begin!

Foreword

Before we start the list, it’s important you make the podcast listening experience as easy and enjoyable as possible for you. There are plenty of podcast apps you can download to your phone or tablet, but I personally recommend Podcast Addict. I’ve tried them all and I’ve found it to be the most user friendly, and of course it’s free. You can easily subscribe to all the podcasts you need, and for those podcasts that require a paid subscription, you can create a virtual folder so you can listen to those shows on Podcast Addict easily as well.

Get yourself a hands-free device like a Bluetooth earpiece, and you can listen to podcasts on the go with ease. I don’t automatically download new episodes of each podcast, but I subscribe to them and it’s easy to refresh the app so that it lets you know when new episodes are available.

I also recommend you save all podcasts to your hard drive or cloud service of choice, as Podcast One (for example) requires a paid subscription when accessing shows older than a certain amount of time. This means you have to pay for some classic episodes I’ll be referencing here.

Also, several of these podcasts, or at least clips of them, are available on YouTube. So if you prefer listening to them that way, that may be an option some of the time.

10 Wrestling Podcasts You Absolutely MUST Hear

We strongly recommend you read our reviews of each podcast in this list for detailed explanations of why they were ranked, along with their strengths and weaknesses. For now, here’s the quick and dirty list:

10. “Is Wrestling Fixed” with Bill Apter
9. “MSL & Sullivan” with Kevin Sullivan
8. “Talk is Jericho” with Chris Jericho
7. “Bischoff on Wrestling” with Eric Bischoff
6. “Killing the Town” with Lance Storm & Cyrus
5. “The Ross Report” with Jim Ross
4. “Unleashed” with Steve Austin
3. “What Happened When” with Tony Schiavone
2. “Wrestling Observer Radio” with Dave Meltzer
1. “Something to Wrestle” with Bruce Prichard

Honorable Mentions:

“X-Pac 1-2-360” with Sean Waltman
“The Raven Effect” with Raven

bill-apter-is-wrestling-fixed

10. “Is Wrestling Fixed” with Bill Apter

Co-host: Nick Hausman
Drop Day: Every Friday
Run Time: Around 75 minutes
Network: Podcast Arena
Start Date: November 11, 2016
Website 

“Is Wrestling Fixed?” is a relatively new podcast named after Bill Apter’s book, and you’ll recognize co-host Nick Hausman from the Eric Bischoff podcast (he also did a Pick My Brain with us).

Everyone associates Bill Apter from Pro Wrestling Illustrated (PWI) in the ‘70s and ‘80s, which is both its biggest selling point and also its major drawback. Read on.

Apter is a huge, influential figure in pro wrestling history dating back decades. Getting coverage in his family of magazines (PWI, Inside Wrestling, Pro Wrestling Insider) was considered crucial in the territory days to getting nationwide exposure, and thus, increasing the profiles and salaries of those who got favorable coverage.

Anyone over the age of 35, including myself, has very fond memories of reading the “Apter mags” (a term Apter dislikes, and rightly so, as if anything they should be called “Weston mags” because the publisher was Stanley Weston) as a kid. I recall rushing to the magazine rack at the grocery store in the late ‘80s as my mom shopped, because back then it was all we had before newsletters and the internet rose to prominence. I spent many family holidays in the corner, reading PWI by myself while all the adults and older kids watched sports.

Still, PWI and Bill Apter always lived in fantasy land, coming from an era that protected the business and treated it as if it were a shoot. Amazingly, Apter still likes to cover the business as such on his podcast, although that’s pretty much impossible these days. But you can tell Apter is uncomfortable with any talk that “exposes” the business, as it’s simply entrenched in his nature to kayfabe his listeners.

Strengths

Nostalgia: Nothing can replace the feel-good nostalgia and childhood memories that Bill Apter brings to the table. Sure, younger listeners might blow Apter off as an out of touch old guy, but those of us who grew up in the ‘80s or ‘70s will always hold a special place in our hearts for all things Apter. It’s great knowing that such a big part of our early fandom is still out there working it.

Classic interviews: Apter has been around a long, long time. And he’s saved everything. On every podcast he plays old audio clips from his early career that are simply fascinating. He’s played old clips from Bruno Sammartino, Dory Funk, and a very real phone conversation with a young Rick Rude that was gripping in hindsight. There’s simply no one else out there who can offer this kind of content other than Apter.

Experience: Because of his longstanding status within the industry, Apter is able to secure guests for his podcast that others aren’t. He’s got decades worth of contacts and he’s very well respected for his longevity. Whereas Dave Meltzer and Wade Keller were seen as “the enemy” for years, Apter was welcomed by most promoters because he protected the business and gave them invaluable coverage and exposure. Such guests that fall into this category are Gene Okerlund, RVD, Sid Vicious, and Ata Johnson (the Rock’s mom). These are not people who regularly do a lot of podcasts, yet Apter manages to get them.

Positivity: Bill Apter refuses to talk politics or any negative subjects, and he doesn’t rip the current wrestling product. This is a welcome change and makes the show easy to listen to without getting offended or insulted. Apter is a friendly, genuinely nice guy (surprising since he’s from the hostile city of Philadelphia) who tries to keep things upbeat.

Hausman: Nick Hausman is probably the only guy who could made this podcast work, as he’s young and “hip” enough to prevent you from thinking you’re listening to an old guy rambling about the past. Hausman has every right to poke fun at Apter for being out of touch, but he instead shows him an incredible amount of respect and makes Apter seem funnier than he really is. Also, when Ata Johnson was a guest, Hausman asked her a question, and then cut her off and said “It doesn’t matter what you think!” and it was podcast gold. Johnson laughed it off and Hausman immediately apologized, but it was worth it. I mean, how many people can say they did that to the Rock’s mom? Awesome. It almost makes up for the fact that Hausman didn’t even know what PWI stood for (absolutely inexcusable).

Weaknesses

Kayfabe: The “magazine style format” (as Apter calls it) seems so out of place in today’s world. It has its charm, but I think Apter would be better off going with the flow. He’s been around awhile and I’d love to hear his genuine thoughts on booking, promoting, and things that could be improved about wrestling. Instead he usually plays the role he’s been playing for decades, glorifying the business even when it doesn’t deserve it. You’re not going to get much intelligent insight or deep thoughts about the business on this podcast, and like I said, that’s both its strength and its weakness.

Silliness: When the podcast started out, Apter wanted Hausman to play the role of a young, inept intern who would call him “Bill Apner.” I will say that they at least ditched that act, so it’s not a big problem anymore. Still, you will hear the occasional corny jokes that many older people make, and to Hausman’s credit, he plays along instead of rolling his eyes.

Impressions: Whereas Bruce Prichard does the best impressions in the business, Apter does the worst. Hausman, who has a very distinct voice, isn’t much better. They’re so bad at doing voice impressions that it’s almost comical.

 

msl-kevin-sullivan

9. “MSL & Sullivan” with Kevin Sullivan

Co-host: Mister Saint Laurent
Drop Day: Every Thursday
Run Time: Around 60 minutes
Network: MLW Radio Network
Start Date: May 2016 
Website

Kevin Sullivan is the unsung hero of WCW’s success with Monday Nitro. While Eric Bischoff gets (and takes) all the credit for Nitro’s game-changing success, the booker who was there from the very beginning was Kevin Sullivan. His vast knowledge of wrestling history and booking, which he mostly learned from the genius Eddie Graham in Florida, helped propel the NWA to artistic success in 1989, and later WCW during their heyday.

If you’re a fan of the Monday night wars era of wrestling, and if you watched the glory days of WCW Nitro, this podcast is a must-hear. If you’re at all curious about that piece of history, it’s a chance to hear it straight from the source. And while he’s not as articulate or well-spoken as Eric Bischoff, Sullivan’s memory is much better and his knowledge of pro wrestling is infinitely superior. Bischoff was the big picture guy, and very competent in that role (at least in 1996-1998), while Sullivan was the day to day booker for most of that legendary run that nearly destroyed the WWF.

Each week Sullivan, along with co-host Mister Saint Laurent (former indie wrestler and current indie color commentator), takes a look at old Nitro episodes and answers questions that arise based on the booking at the time. He also gives his take on current wrestling news and topics, usually with intelligent insight that comes with his decades of intimate knowledge.

Strengths

Interesting: I lived and loved the Nitro glory days, as did most of you reading this. I love hearing Sullivan’s thoughts on things such as the nWo, the cruiserweights, and even minor things like the reasons behind his push of Prince Iukea. Bischoff gets his dates mixed up and can’t remember much, but Sullivan’s memory is still sharp and MSL asks good questions.

Educational: If you’ve always been fascinated by the art of booking wrestling, Sullivan’s words are very educational and it’s like going to school with one of the masters. Sullivan also talks about his territorial days, which are a significant part of his career. He has in-depth knowledge of many of the legends in this business and how they were behind the scenes. Sullivan also followed ECW and was with that company in the very beginning, and often times he lends his thoughts on the Chris Benoit story (Sullivan was married to Nancy “Woman” Benoit before Chris was).

Weaknesses

Chemistry: There’s not a lot wrong with this podcast, but I wouldn’t necessarily call the chemistry between MSL and Kevin Sullivan all that cohesive. Each is good on his own, but together there are times MSL talks over Sullivan and cuts him off just as he’s about to say something really interesting. Sullivan is polite enough to never call him out on it, and MSL isn’t always sharp enough to recognize when his listeners want to hear the rest of Sullivan’s thoughts. Contrast this with Conrad Thompson, who has a tremendous feel for what his audience is thinking because he’s a fan himself. Each podcast features Sullivan in the middle of a great story and thought, and yet MSL is so oblivious to it and cuts him off, changes subjects, and we never get to hear what Kevin wanted to say. SMH.

Lost Potential: It’s not that MSL is a bad co-host, because he’s not. It’s that Conrad Thompson is so damn good that he makes co-hosts like MSL and Nick Hausman pale in comparison. Conrad can take ordinary topics and turn them into captivating podcasts that last several hours, while MSL can’t do anything close to that with Sullivan. Here you have the booker of WCW during its peak, and hordes of interesting topics, yet MSL fails to produce the kind of riveting, captivating audio that Conrad is able to. If he would take his job a little more seriously, do more research and dig up all those Observer newsletters the way Conrad does, this podcast could be umpteen times better.

 

talk-is-jericho-chris-jericho

8. “Talk is Jericho” with Chris Jericho

Co-host: None
Drop Day: Every Wednesday and Friday
Run Time: Around 90 minutes
Network: Podcast One on the Jericho Network
Start Date: December 2013
Website

I’ve never forgiven Chris Jericho for cutting his hair, but the man is one of the hardest working people in the industry. Despite being a busy father of three, he has a rock band, owns outside businesses, wrestles full-time for much of the year, and also hosts not one, but two podcasts every single week.

Jericho is one of the longest running podcasts hosts in wrestling, and knows the potential of the genre so much that he started his own podcast network (a couple shows of which are on this list). He’s constantly on the road and I don’t know how he finds the time to do two podcasts, especially since guests are often there with him in person. Because of his status with WWE, he’s able to score some top tier guests that other podcasts can’t, like Kevin Owens and Shinsuke Nakamura. And through his rock n roll and Hollywood connections, he can get guests outside of pro wrestling.

Strengths

Variety: As we just said, Jericho can land a wide variety of guests outside of wrestling. For example, last week he did a killer show with Sebastian Bach, who in my opinion is perhaps the greatest frontman in rock n roll history. Jericho may not look like a rocker anymore, but he still knows his music and can land guests who deserve recognition like Stryper’s Michael Sweet and Oz Fox, Lars Ulrich from Metallica, Tony Iommi from Black Sabbath, the aforementioned Sebastian Bach, and metal God Alice Cooper, among others. Nowhere else will you see guests that cool on a wrestling podcast.

Perspective: Jericho is of course a longtime wrestling fan, but he’s also a wrestler who was there for what is remembered as the glory days of pro wrestling (the Monday night wars), and has also toured the world with Fozzy. Thus he brings his own assortment of crazy stories and a perspective that others really can’t. He can talk about the Attitude era, Nitro’s heyday, ECW, SMW, New Japan, indies, Mexico, and singing in front of huge crowds at various metal festivals. He’s really done it all, has a few published books, and has lots of stories with interesting legends like Chris Benoit, Roddy Piper, Rick Steamboat, Shawn Michaels, HHH, and even Mickey Rourke. And of course, he’s been the highlight of Raw for the past several months with Kevin Owens.

Weaknesses

Variety: The downside of having such a variety of guests is that many of them won’t spark your interest. I end up skipping his show half the time, as sometimes he has guests like Kenny G that I simply don’t care about. But since he posts shows twice a week, I still end up hearing him once a week between both shows.

Insulted Intelligence: The commercial bumpers are so bad that they’re good, and at this point I have to think Jericho does them as a rib. He will be in the middle of a taped interview with his guest, and then cut to a post-produced bumper where he introduces the commercial break but pretends he’s still talking to his guest live. It’s so obvious it’s not live because the audio and voice sound so different, and you feel like he’s insulting your intelligence by thinking you’d actually believe it’s live. But like I said, it’s so bad and corny that it’s now comical.

Banter: Jericho is overly polite, and kisses the ass of all his guests. His responses of “Wow” to almost everything guests say get old in a hurry, and other times he’ll say, “Right, rightrightrightrightright,” which is equally annoying. He needs to be cognizant of this and change it, as it’s easily fixable.

 

bischoff-on-wrestling-eric-bischoff

7. “Bischoff on Wrestling” with Eric Bischoff

Co-host: Nick Hausman
Drop Day: Every Wednesday
Run Time: Around 90 minutes
Network: Podcast Arena
Start Date: July 2016
Website

The man who led WCW to prominence in the late 90s is back on the airwaves with a weekly podcast co-chaired by familiar voice Nick Hausman. Bischoff keeps busy these days with his production company that he owns with Jason Hervey, the famed child actor from “The Wonder Years” who has been a huge wrestling fan for years (and dated Missy Hyatt 25 years ago). He’s otherwise mostly retired and spends most of his time on his ranch in Montana with his wife, and watches enough wrestling to where can do this podcast and not sound completely out of touch with the current scene.

In addition to having some pretty big name guests, the show features Bischoff’s thoughts on the current scene, and also Hausman asks him about controversial topics from Bischoff’s long career in the business, usually submitted by listeners. While every show has largely been good, the two-part series with Lex Luger, particularly part 2, was among the best podcasts you’ll ever hear. They didn’t shy away from any topic, including uncomfortable subjects like the death of Elizabeth and his past drug use.

Strengths

Honesty: Like Kevin Sullivan with his podcast, Bischoff really doesn’t have anything to lose. He’s wealthy and retired and doesn’t need wrestling, so he’s free to speak his mind without consequence. You more or less get his unfiltered thoughts on everyone he’s asked about, even those he has a controversial past with. So much time has passed that Bischoff is on pretty good terms with everyone, even his former rivals like Ric Flair, Lex Luger, Steve Austin, and Chris Jericho. That wasn’t the case when Bischoff first came to WWE and half the locker room wanted his head on a stick.

Politics: While Bill Apter refuses to talk about politics, Bischoff does not shy away from it. He’s very much a conservative and isn’t afraid to call Democrats out on their bullsh*t, so if you lean right, it’s a comforting listen. If you lean left, Hausman is there to speak for you and counter (or at least try to) Bischoff’s points. The political talk has subsided since the election ended, but some weeks they can’t help themselves. Sometimes political talk can turn listeners off, but both guys are reasonable and don’t hammer you over the head in an offensive way (you know, like Jim Cornette does).

Star Power: Bischoff at one point ran the most successful wrestling company in the world, so he has strong ties to lots of top names. He’s had on some big name guests like Hulk Hogan, the aforementioned Lex Luger (an absolute must-hear), Gene Okerlund, Jake Roberts, Jim Ross, Kevin Nash, Scott Coker, Madusa, and several others. And whereas sometimes co-hosts can interject and be annoying, Hausman stays quiet during guest interviews and it sounds more like Bischoff is having a genuine conversation with old friends than it does an actual interview.

Weaknesses

Accuracy: Bischoff is a very smart man, but his memory admittedly isn’t the greatest. His timelines are way off and there’s a lot he doesn’t remember about certain angles, details, PPVs, and famous controversial topics. And Hausman, being a younger guy who never read the Observer until recently, doesn’t have the in-depth knowledge of wrestling history to jog his memory or challenge Bischoff’s answers. For example, Hausman asked about the time WCW negotiated with Mike Tyson before the WWF signed him in 1998, and Bischoff said that was bullsh*t. Of course it’s absolutely true that WCW was after him (Zane Bresloff was leading that effort), and Bischoff either doesn’t remember or wasn’t involved with it. But to say it was bullsh*t is simply not accurate, and Hausman didn’t know enough to question it, so he let it slide.

Bitterness: Bischoff still sounds like he has an axe to grind with “dirt sheet writers,” not unlike his pal Bruce Prichard does. The problem is that Bischoff, as the big picture guy who oversaw every aspect of the company, was so far removed from the minutiae that he calls bullsh*t on certain newsletter stories that do have some truth to them. The Mike Tyson story above is a vivid example of that, but there are others as well. And as noted, his memory is so faded that he often says things that aren’t true even when they were. This is not an accusation that Bischoff is lying, because he’s not and has no reason to. But listeners should keep in mind that people’s memories aren’t always the greatest. Bischoff also fails to mention that he was very close with Dave Meltzer at times, especially as the Fusient version of WCW was about to get off the ground (before it was axed and WCW was sold to the WWF). He also did some Torch Talks with Wade Keller back then. I’ve yet to hear him comment on the Death of WCW book, which would be interesting to hear.

 

killing-the-town-lance-storm-cyrus

6. “Killing the Town” with Lance Storm & Cyrus

Co-host: none
Drop Day: Every Monday
Run Time: Around 75 minutes
Network: Podcast One on the Jericho Network
Start Date: October 2016
Website

Lance Storm and Don Callis (Cyrus) co-chair this relatively new podcast as part of Chris Jericho’s growing network, and it has quickly risen through the ranks as a favorite of longtime ECW fans. Storm steers the ship, doing all the prep work while Callis more or less wings it. The two have solid chemistry, with Storm as the straight man and Callis as the egotistical jerk who mocks Storm’s lack of charisma. The two usually have guests every week, and always review an old episode of ECW TV. The latter is a show’s highlight, as each gives their memories of the show and provide behind the scenes stories that most of us have never heard before.

Callis got his current job with New Japan as a result of Kenny Omega’s appearance on the show, as the two are friends and Omega got him the gig. The show has a heavy Canadian slant, as expected given they’re both from Canada and so is their boss (Jericho). With Omega being Canadian as well, the pieces all fell into place.

Strengths

Professionalism: As you’d expect, Lance Storm takes this job very seriously. He’s on point, never late, and never skips a beat because he does his homework. This isn’t Ric Flair’s podcast, which would drop whenever Flair felt like it because he was too busy partying and never took it seriously. Callis is often late and you can hear his dog barking in the background sometimes, but it’s not like he phones it in.

ECW Nostalgia: Like I said, the weekly ECW TV reviews are a highlight, especially if you choose to follow along by watching the given episodes on the WWE Network. Storm’s memory is pretty good because he never took drugs, and Callis remembers a lot of stuff as well. Both are well-spoken and it’s interesting to hear their respective takes on both the old scene and the current scene.

Niche-worthy: This show is for the hardcore fan. Current fans who weren’t old enough to watch ECW may not get any benefit from the show, let alone know much about Storm or Cyrus in the first place. But if you were an avid ECW follower like I was, and you remember Storm’s stints in WCW and WWE, and Cyrus’s stint in the WWF just before the Attitude era, you will get a kick out of this podcast.

Weaknesses

Egomania: Callis is a pompous jerk and a natural heel. Of course that’s the role he plays, but you can tell he really does think he’s the best, that he’s the smartest, and that he’s responsible for the show’s success. He really does think he’s the only wrestler or wrestling fan with an MBA (far from it), and that it makes him smarter than anyone around him. He really doesn’t need to do that gimmick to make the show interesting, as he’s not the guy from TNN anymore trying to clean up ECW (his old role when ECW got a time slot with TNN before it was Spike TV). He can be more of himself and just drop the act, except part of me believes it’s not really an act. Aside from that, there really isn’t a lot wrong with this show.

 

ross-report-jim-ross

5. “The Ross Report” with Jim Ross

Co-host: none
Drop Day: Every Wednesday
Run Time: Around 90 minutes
Network: Podcast One
Start Date: February 2014
Website

Jim Ross is one of the longest podcasters around, having started his show not long after Steve Austin. I’ve been a fan of Ross for almost three decades now, and to me he’s without question the greatest announcer of all-time. The #1 traits an announcer needs to have are likability and respect, and there’s no announcer today who has those qualities in as much abundance as Ross had. WWE and even WCW have tried to replace him numerous times, and they’ve never come close.

Ross has a radio background, so in terms of being smooth and having an ability to talk, he beats everyone on this list. I’ve always valued his opinions on the current product, because he brings with him a wealth of experience and knowledge passed on by brilliant mentors like Bill Watts and Vince McMahon, among others. He still takes the time to watch the product today, from WWE to ROH to TNA, and of course now New Japan since he announces for them on AXS TV. He also commands a tremendous amount of respect from his guests, both the legends and today’s stars who grew up on his voice.

Strengths

Likability: This has always been Ross’s strong point. It’s very difficult to find anyone to say a bad word about Ross, and if you do it’s because Ross was put in the unenviable position of being Vince McMahon’s bearer of bad news to the talent (hiring and firing them as Vince saw fit). Fans know Ross really loves and appreciates pro wrestling, which always gave him an edge over the talking Ken dolls Vince and that idiot Kevin Dunn like to hire. He can appeal to everyone, and his Southern folksy style were always an asset, not a detriment like Vince, Dunn, and Vince Russo always thought. His charm continues to extend into this podcast.

Humor: Ross’s sense of humor is criminally underrated, and if you get him alone and unproduced, he’s very quick and witty. He displays a lot of that here, and unlike Bill Apter, doesn’t come across as corny or out of touch. He pokes fun at himself all the time, and his weekly impressions of Jim Barnett (though I question how many listeners know who that is), Terry Funk, Jim Cornette, and Stu Hart are always make me chuckle. He’s also awesome at reading commercials, to the point you don’t want to skip through them.

Research: Ross has always been a consummate professional who takes his job seriously and does thorough preparation. He did that with his announcing, far more than anyone ever appreciated, and he does it here too. He has a long history with most of his guests, many of whom he hired and make the careers of (and he’s not shy about telling you whom he hired, nor should be be). Past guests read like a Hall of Fame, with all the big names you’d expect. And since Ross is hip to the current product, he has newer stars on all the time as well, even from ROH and TNA.

Weaknesses

Honestly, there really isn’t much to complain about with the Ross Report. He gives a lot of plugs, especially for his own shows, but that’s part of the game and he does so in an entertaining fashion. I’ve listened to every single episode of his podcast since he started, and no matter who is the guest, I always make sure to listen each week.

 

unleashed-steve-austin

4. “Unleashed” with Steve Austin

Co-host: none
Drop Day: Every
Run Time: Around 75 minutes
Network: Podcast One
Start Date: April 2013
Website

Steve Austin is the podcast king, being both the original big name star to do it, and he’s also the most successful at it in terms of listenership (several hundred thousand per week). He became so successful that he actually has two podcasts; this one, and a G-rated version called “The Steve Austin Show” that doesn’t contain any profanity. So he’s producing two shows per week, which isn’t easy, especially for someone with such a busy schedule.

Austin is a great interviewer, and he does his research. He brings on guests from inside and outside the wrestling world, and it’s also a vehicle to promote his television shows (Broken Skull Ranch and Redneck Island). And if you’re even a casual viewer of the WWE Network, you’ve seen the video version of his podcast and how good it can be.

Strengths

Humor: Austin is a hilarious sonofabitch, especially on the Unleashed show where he can swear with reckless abandon. His F-bombs are funny as Hell, and he once cut a long promo on a house fly that was better than almost any promo on WWE TV that year. His obscenity laced diatribes against those who text and drive, those who drive slowly, and people in general who piss him off are pee-your-pants level funny.

Guests: Austin brings an eclectic stream of guests, and he doesn’t care if it’s someone with a big name or not, he’ll be damn sure to get an interesting show out of them. For example, he did a two-part podcast with Rip Rogers that was really entertaining and contained a mountain of useful advice from Rogers, and Austin knew exactly which kinds of questions to ask. He’s also had Kevin Owens, Ricky Morton (great show), Braun Strowman (another good one), Missy Hyatt, the Revival (Austin’s favorite tag team right now), Dean Ambrose (you saw this on the network), AJ Styles (ditto), Vince Russo (ugh), and tons more. He also brings on guests from the music world, like Nita Strauss (Alice Cooper guitarist).

Stories: Austin of course has a ton of stories to tell from his time inside the ring, starting in Memphis when he was broke all the way through the end of his career and beyond. You get to hear how he was feeling in his last match with Rock, his time when he was on top of the world, and how he rose through the ranks. He also talks a lot about his WCW days and how he learned the ropes from guys like Rick Steamboat.

Weaknesses

Guests: I end up skipping the show half the time because he has on a lot of guests I don’t care about, like his friend Ted Fowler, or musicians I have no interest in.

Wade Keller: Austin often brings on Wade Keller from the Pro Wrestling Torch to do reviews of WWE PPVs, and I can’t fathom why. Austin is from an era where Keller was still halfway relevant, but there are a dozen people today he should have on to do this before Keller’s name is even considered. He does have Dave Meltzer on sometimes, but not nearly enough. Why not Bryan Alvarez? Plenty of other journalists could be used, all of which have twice the credibility Keller has.

 

what-happened-when-tony-schiavone

3. “What Happened When” with Tony Schiavone

Co-host: Conrad Thompson
Drop Day: Every Monday
Run Time: Around 2 hours
Network: MLW Radio Network
Start Date: January 2017
Website

Spinning off the success of Conrad Thompson’s success with the Bruce Prichard podcast, this one is really the same idea, except it examines WCW and the NWA instead of WWE/WWF.

Tony Schiavone is an interesting choice to be the point man for classic WCW/NWA, as he was never really part of the booking the way Prichard was, and he doesn’t follow the product anymore. You’d also expect him to be bland and vanilla, as most announcers are since they’ve always been the face of their promotions and tried to avoid controversy at all costs. Because of this, I was skeptical at first.

Luckily, my fears were all in my head. As it turns out, Schiavone is the PERFECT choice for such a podcast. Read on to see why.

Strengths

F-Bomb City: There’s something oddly hilarious about a company guy who’s called wrestling straight and serious for years suddenly drop F-bombs left and right. Schiavone gets to be himself for once, and he’s a dirty S.O.B. with a filthy little mouth, and it’s the funniest thing ever. Hear him tell his Twitter critics “F*ck you!” and constantly call Conrad a “motherf*cker.” Sure, they’re overused words, but no matter how many times Schiavone uses them, it’s funny for that reason. It reminds me of when “Evil Dave Letterman” would do the Howard Stern Show (back when it was funny) and use the F word, and it was always funny because you would never hear the real David Letterman say those things.

Conrad Thompson: I’ll reserve heaping praise on Conrad for my review of the Prichard podcast, but needless to say, he’s easily the best podcaster in the business today. Nobody does more preparation, asks better questions, elicits the right emotions (humor, sadness, anger, etc), and unlike MSL, he knows exactly when to shut up and exactly when to butt in. He knows just what his listeners are thinking, and asks the questions you want asked, because he’s a fan just like you and shares your curiosities. The Armpit never phones it in, and if you read our stuff, we always do extensive homework and research on what we post because we take this seriously and don’t want to half-ass anything. Conrad takes the same approach, giving us 2-hour and 3-hour shows that exhaust whichever topic the fans choose to examine. Conrad is so good at his job that I’d be pissed if I were one of his employees (he owns a successful mortgage company in Alabama) because of how much time he spends making these podcasts as great as they are.

Nostalgia: There are very few podcasts devoted to old school NWA and WCW, and this is one of them. Schiavone may not have been booker, but he’s been with Crockett since 1984 and remained with them until WCW went out of business in 2001 (except for one year in which he went to the WWF in 1989). His memory is pretty good and he does have a lot to offer in terms of what went behind certain angles and matches, far more than I had anticipated. I was a grade school kid during the old Clash of the Champions specials on TBS, and in college during the zenith of WCW. I love hearing old stories about those classic years, and if you were around for those times, this podcast is a must-hear. No excuses.

Chemistry: I was also dubious that nothing could touch the perfect chemistry Conrad and Prichard have, and while these two don’t bicker like a married couple the way those two do, it’s still solid. Schiavone plays the role of the foul-mouthed, disgruntled employee who shamelessly blasts his old bosses as “dumb f*cks,” which is funny in its own right because we’re all used to the Ken doll Schiavone who speaks the corporate lingo. Conrad is the guy asking the interesting questions and reacting perfectly to the crazy road stories and F-bombs that Schiavone judiciously uses. For such a young podcast, they’ve already found their groove.

Weaknesses

None. For what this podcast is, it not only couldn’t be better, it’s also way better than anyone ever imagined it could be.

wrestling-observer-radio

2. “Wrestling Observer Radio” with Dave Meltzer

Co-host: Bryan Alvarez
Drop Day: Every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday nights (very late)
Run Time: Around 60 minutes
Network: Paid subscription to the F4wonline.com site
Start Date: October 1999
Website

This is the only podcast on the list that requires a paid subscription. And if you’re going to pay for any wrestling podcast, this is the only one you should be paying for.

I’ve been an avid listener of Dave Meltzer and Bryan Alvarez since they first started their show in late 1999, sitting in my cubicle at work and listening intently. The show has gone through various incarnations since then, first on Eyada and then on other on-air forums before finally winding up as their own paid show. It comes with a paid subscription to the online version of the Observer, which I switched to in 2014 after getting the print version for well over 20 years (I was running out of space to store them). The online version is superior, as it’s easier to read on the go or while at work, and these radio shows are a must-hear companion to the newsletter.

WOR is not the most entertaining podcast out there. But for factual, accurate wrestling news on a timely basis, there’s no other podcast you should be listening to. Its goal is to inform, not entertain.

And if you haven’t noticed, Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter is used as the factual basis for two other podcasts on this list (both helmed by longtime Observer reader Conrad Thompson), and there’s a reason for that: it’s the only truly reliable source of information in the business.

Strengths

Meltzer (need I say more?): Dave Meltzer is not a smooth radio host, even after all these years of experience. He stutters, he interrupts, he does the “uhhh” and “ummm” that radio guys are trained to avoid, and he speaks amazingly quickly. But he’s still the most knowledgeable person on Earth when it comes to pro wrestling. There’s no one alive today who can match his overall knowledge of wrestling history all over the world, and he has spent several decades watching every territory, every TV show, and every promotion worldwide.

Accuracy: Despite what Bruce Prichard and Eric Bischoff say, Meltzer is amazingly accurate with his reporting. Whenever they question something he has written, he will back it up and prove that he knows their business better than they do. Why would any of you blow your money on any other paid podcast, when they all get their info from Meltzer anyway? Why not just get it straight from the source? Meltzer is trained in journalism and knows all the traditional rules of reporting, unlike most of the schmucks who do it part-time or without any semblance of credibility. He will never publish anything off the record, and rarely reports anything he doesn’t know to be confirmed as accurate. I often see stories elsewhere that were never reported in the Observer, and I tend to not believe them until Dave reports them. Because if they were true, he’d have already reported them.

Timeliness: Dave and Bryan do three shows a week, at a minimum. It sounds like a lot, but it’s just right. The Monday night show covers Raw and other news. The Wednesday night show covers SmackDown, 205 Live, NXT, the new issue of the Observer, and other news. The Saturday night show covers the weekend news, and usually whatever UFC show there is. And if there’s a Sunday PPV, they do an additional show that night. They also do occasional breaking news audio on major stories.

Integrity: Meltzer has been reporting wrestling longer than anybody, and I don’t include kayfabers like Bill Apter in that category. He had already made his rep in the ‘80s before many of today’s internet goofs pretending to be journalists were even born. That rep was cemented with his Pulitzer-worthy reporting of the WWF scandals in the early 90s, the 1994 steroid trial, the Montreal screwjob (which turned Bret Hart from a major Meltzer critic into one of his best friends), the Monday night wars and ratings analysis, the rise/fall/rise of UFC, the death of WCW, and particularly the Chris Benoit tragedy. And of course he’s most notable for the awesome obituary pieces he’s written on every major (and not-so-major) star who passed away, which spawned two excellent books (Tributes and Tributes II) that re-published them. No one else has these credentials. Leave the Wade Kellers of the world for the internet marks who aren’t sharp enough to understand real reporting and the complexity of the issues. If you want in-depth analysis, there’s only place to get it, and this podcast is a must-hear complement to the Observer.

Effort: I wonder how Meltzer has any time for a social or family life, and I don’t think he’s ever taken a vacation in his career. If he does travel, it’s for his job. The idea of him taking a week off and going to the beach or on a cruise is laughable. The only time he took time off was when his appendix burst and he almost died. Don’t ask me how he’s able to raise his two kids, let alone spend time with them at all. The guy is a nonstop workaholic, giving up his weekends and free time to do all these shows and write the newsletter. Much, much respect. Everyone wants his dream job of making a good living writing about wrestling, but no one is willing to put forth the effort he does. AND he works out and has always maintained a physique that is better than several wrestlers (and you’ll never once hear him brag about it).

Bryan: We’d be remiss in not acknowledging the work of longtime Meltzer radio sidekick Bryan Alvarez. Bryan contributes relatively little when it comes to reporting the news on WOR, but that’s not his role. He organizes the show, hosts it, promotes it, and runs the business and administrative end so that Dave can be left alone to do what he does best: report, research, and write. But Bryan is no slouch, as he hosts a ton of other podcasts for Observer subscribers (none of which made this list, as there are only so many hours in the day and I wouldn’t classify any of them as absolute must-hear shows) and is a real workhorse. And unlike Meltzer, Bryan has been in the ring and trained as a pro wrestler, and also trains in MMA on the side. He’s able to add a perspective about in-ring action that Meltzer cannot. And he’s often very funny (although he’s funnier on paper than on the air).

Weaknesses

Metlzerus Interruptus: As noted above, for all his strengths, Meltzer is a reporter first and a radio host second. He’s not smooth in the slightest, even with almost 20 years of experience now. His constant interrupting of Bryan is annoying, frustrating, rude, and unnecessary. While Dave’s opinion holds more weight than Bryan’s, he can’t even let the poor guy get out a single thought without rudely talking over him. Bryan has way too much respect for Dave to challenge him or call him out on it, but as a listener you will feel frustrated and hear yourself say, “Shut the f*ck up, Dave!” There are times Bryan has a really great point to make, and it will take him 4 or 5 tries to get it out because Dave can’t seem to let him talk. He also no-sells so many of Bryan’s points, to the point Bryan could say it’s 5pm and Dave will say, “Ummmm, it’s more like 5:05.” Gimme a break.

MMA: The name of the show is WRESTLING Observer Live. Still, he insists on covering MMA for some reason. Dave will constantly complain about how busy his job is and how he has no free time and how he works tons of hours, but he’s the one who chose to cover two huge sports. At first I hated the MMA coverage, and later when I became a big UFC fan, I loved it. Now I’m back to hating it again. He’ll never give it up, because so many readers subscribe only for the MMA coverage, but if you’re strictly a wrestling fan, expect to fast forward through many of the shows that cover MMA shows.

Politics: Meltzer always maintained that talking politics is a lose-lose situation, because in his words, “Why piss off half your audience?” Yet he didn’t follow his own advice during this last election cycle, and lost a lot of credibility with many readers with his embarrassing, biased comments. You cannot do a fair analysis of anything without examining both sides fairly, and he didn’t do that (and then went on Twitter to pretend that he did, which only made it worse). He was better off just not covering it at all, because, as he said so himself, it’s a lose-lose proposition. And he lost.

something-to-wrestle-with-bruce-prichard

1. “Something to Wrestle” with Bruce Prichard

Co-host: Conrad Thompson
Drop Day: Every Friday
Run Time: Around 2.5 hours
Network: MLW Radio Network
Start Date: August 2016
Website

Dave Meltzer has the best news podcast around, but for pure entertainment, nothing comes close to the winner by a country mile: Something to Wrestle with……… (long pause) Bruce Prichard.

Bruce Prichard, known to longtime wrestling fans as Brother Love in the late ‘80s, has a long history with the WWF/WWE as one of Vince McMahon’s right-hand men. He was there almost from the very beginning, and had a detailed hand in pretty much every major company angle, scandal, and booking decision. He did leave the company briefly for about a year, but was quickly re-hired and had another run with the company during the mid 90s, the Attitude era, and most of the 2000s. He later had a run in TNA, and he also had a lengthy run with the Houston territory before he ever came to the WWF.

In other words, he has a ton of stories to tell. And as luck would have it, he’s just about the best storyteller around.

Prichard gained fame in recent years for his Monday night wars debates with Eric Bischoff. They did a few shows on the road, taking fan questions, and I attended one of them in person in the front row and was fascinated by their respective perspectives (say that 5 times in a row). As long as you know when to detect their bullsh*t (and both are guilty of that), it’s still a very fun experience.

This podcast started as an idea Conrad Thompson had, based on private conversations they’d have between the two of them. It has now grown into arguably the most successful podcast around today, with good reason.

Strengths

Chemistry: What makes this show work is the absolute perfect chemistry Bruce and Conrad have. Bruce has often been accused of being a conman bullsh*t artist, and Conrad is not shy about calling him out on it every chance he gets. This show takes optimal advantage of the strengths of each guy; Conrad does the impeccable research and preparation, and Bruce delivers these awesome stories. The banter between the two is tense, comical, comfortably awkward, and as perfect as it could possibly be.

Conrad: As mentioned in the review of the Tony Schiavone podcast, Conrad Thompson is the man. For each episode he comes up with 4 possible topics and lets the fans on Twitter vote on which one they’d like to hear. He then does exhaustive research, digging up old Observers, Torches, and shoot interviews related to the topic. He prepares a detailed agenda of what he’d like to talk about, going through it point by point, eliciting awesome stories and exclusive retro news from Prichard as they go along. It’s just an amazing experience that never disappoints. Conrad is a longtime fan and knows exactly which questions to ask, almost all of which are the same questions you’ll find yourself having too. Conrad, unlike MSL, knows exactly when to talk and when to shut up, and has an excellent sense of knowing which stories are golden and which aren’t. Whenever Prichard drops a gem, Conrad will say so, and he’s always spot on. Whenever Prichard is BS’ing or pulling punches, Conrad again will say so, again being spot on. As a co-host, he leaves Nick Hausman, MSL, and all the others in the dust.

Frankly, if I owned a wrestling promotion, Conrad would be my #1 choice to be the face and voice as the lead announcer. He’s the only guy who could replace Jim Ross and command the same amount of respect, as he’s got the same likability that appeals to the hardcore fans in the North and the traditional fans in the South who identify with him. And his unmatched prep work and workrate make him the perfect employee. It’s really not a wonder he’s so successful in his career as the owner of a mortgage company. Ric Flair really missed the boat when he gave up both podcasts he had with Conrad, as Conrad was too prepared for his own good while Flair was out Naitchin’ and unable to keep up with the weekly demands of a podcast.

Impressions: Bruce Prichard is a master impersonator. The whole world caught a glimpse of that at WrestleMania 5 when he impersonated Roddy Piper on the Brother Love Show, but that’s just a small taste of what you hear every week on this show. No matter how many times he does it, his impersonation of Vince McMahon never fails to crack me up. You get to hear how Vince would talk about Eddie Guerrero behind his back (“He’s soooooooo tiiiiiny!!!!!!!”), and also his gravelly yells and screams that are just rip-roaringly hilarious. His Jerry Jarrett stuff is also priceless, as he clearly has no love lost for him and loves to mimic how he’d order chicken salads. He’s also very good at doing Randy Savage, Dusty Rhodes, and often does commercials in his Ultimate Warrior voice that are simply outstanding, award-winning stuff.

Meltzer: The bickering about Dave Meltzer is one of the highlights of the show. Conrad worships him, and as noted, the show’s structure and outline are based on what he researches in the Observer regarding the chosen topic. Prichard at first questioned what Dave would write, and their bickering led to a feud that has now turned into a gimmick by this point where Prichard detests anything in the “dirt sheets.” It would be annoying if both he and Conrad did that together, but since Conrad rightly sticks up for the Observer and uses it to call Bruce out on his bullsh*t, it has turned into podcast gold. The winner in all this is Dave Meltzer, who gets free weekly advertising on a show that’s heard by several hundred thousand people, something even TNA can’t manage to do even though they hired Prichard himself for an on-air role when Jarrett took over in 2017.

Stories, Stories, Stories: Each weekly episode uncovers at least two or three good road stories, the best of which are captured here at The Armpit in our Road Stories section. The way Bruce tells the stories, and the way Conrad reacts to them, add yet another dimension to a show that already has so many. I’ve listened to every single episode these two have done, and wouldn’t dare ever miss a single week.

Analysis: All joking and entertainment aside, these guys thoroughly exhaust every single topic they cover. Whether they profile a certain wrestler (the Ted DiBiase and Curt Hennig episodes were stellar), a certain event (WrestleMania VI was great), or controversial topic (the WWF scandals, the steroid trial, the Radicalz, the XFL, the nWo in WWE, the last Nitro, the Lita/Matt Hardy saga, the ECW invasion, Brawl for All, Lex Express, etc) no stone is left unturned. You can thank Conrad Thompson for that, as he makes sure every single question is asked. They’ll take three hours to cover it all if they have to, and they never phone it in or half-ass anything.

No Guests: I don’t believe they’ve ever once had a guest on the show, and they don’t have to. At first they would cover the news of the week to get Bruce’s take, but they wisely stopped doing that after listening to fans who simply wanted to use that time to hear more stories and discussion about the topics at hand.

Weaknesses

Are you kidding me? This show couldn’t possibly be more perfect. Some might say it’s too long, and at times it does feel like running a marathon, but this is legendary radio. If you want half-assed content, listen to the plethora of other wrestling podcasts out there. These guys earn their bacon, and they even have sponsors that WWE can’t get. I download and save each and every episode, because they’re that damn good.

If you watched the WWF in the late 80s, early 90s, mid 90s, late 90s, and 2000s, you really are missing out on so much by NOT listening to this podcast. No excuses. Come along and see what everyone else is talking about, and you’ll quickly realize, as Arn Anderson would say, what’s caaaaausin’ all this.

HONORABLE MENTION

x-pac-1-2-360-sean-waltman

“X-Pac 1-2-360” with Sean Waltman

Co-host: Christy Olson
Drop Day: Every Thursday
Run Time: Around 90 minutes
Network: Afterbuzz TV
Start Date: September 2016
Website

This would’ve made the top 10, but it has gone downhill of late with some of the recent guests and increased involvement of Sean Waltman’s radio crew. If it were just Sean Waltman himself, or him with a competent co-host, this would be a tremendous podcast. Waltman is wise, mature, and asks great questions of his guests. He’s also got a very smart take on wrestling psychology, a good sense of humor, and comes across as a very positive person.

Unfortunately he’s stuck in a format that doesn’t always work. Christy Olson acts more like a TV host than a radio host, and in a sense she is, because this show is produced for Afterbuzz TV and can be seen on YouTube as well. She’s attractive, and her introductions of guests are so outrageous and overdone that they’ve now become one of the show’s comical highlights. This woman could make James Ellsworth sound as important as Ric Flair, which kind of ruins her credibility, but if she stopped doing them at this point, they’d be missed. She’s really made for TV, and WWE needs to hire her as a ring announcer immediately. She’d also be a solid replacement for Renee Young if/when she gets hired with a real sports network.

But the producer, Jimbo, is another story. At first he was quiet, testing the waters here and there with the occasional nervous comment or question. But now he’s all over the place, and his constant use of the word “like” has, like, grown, like, to become, like, really f*cking annoying. He might be a good producer (he did the documentary on the Young Bucks), but his knowledge of wrestling is cringeworthy, as are his jokes (“NXT has become developed-mental instead of developmental”). He sounds like a guy who gets his news from the Torch website, with no real understanding or historical knowledge.

X-Pac doesn’t need a co-host beyond the intros and outros Christy does. He does need a producer, but he should remain silent and let Waltman handle the talking. With that said, they’ve done a few great shows. Check out the ones he did with Matt Riddle, Eric Bischoff, Jerry Lynn, Lanny Poffo, and especially Gangrel.

 

raven-effect-podcast

“The Raven Effect” with Raven

Co-host: Johnny Swinger
Drop Day: Every Monday
Run Time: Around 60 minutes
Network: Podcast One on the Chris Jericho Network
Start Date: February 2017
Website

The latest addition to the Chris Jericho podcast network is Raven, and it’s a fine choice. The only reason this show isn’t on the top 10 list is that it’s still so new, with only three episodes produced as of this writing. I cannot lie; the show has had a rough start. Raven is very much winging it, and Johnny Swinger is a questionable host. The show is slowly getting better, and has potential to be one of the best if Raven puts his mind to it, as he’s got a ton of sleazy stories and is very honest about telling them. He’s also very smart to the business, and has tons of interesting experiences with the WWF, WCW, ECW, TNA, and Global to draw from.

Swinger was always underrated and had a great look, but even longtime ECW fans may not remember him. He’s a very health conscious, straight-edge guy now, living clean and focused on financial advice and fitness now. It’s a good contrast with Raven, but he needs to up his game in terms of being interesting and adding to the show.

Raven can be moody and inconsistent, and it often takes him awhile to get started. He’s also admittedly somewhat lazy, and not exactly Conrad Thompson when it comes to show prep. And he admits this. The show would be much better with a more prepared co-host who knew how to lead the show and draw the stories out of Raven. Leaving Raven alone to do this by himself is not going to yield great results every single time. But there’s only one Conrad, and he wouldn’t be the right guy anyway because this show needs someone with a strong ECW background. Eric Gargiulo, for example, would be a good addition to the show and I’m sure he’d love to do it.

This is one to keep an eye on. I do listen every week and hope the show can improve to where it can be as great as it has the potential to be.

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