One of the best damn wrestling podcasts out there.
“A walk down memory lane…with a steel chair.”
Young wrestling fans these days probably aren’t aware that there was life in the WWE before John Cena, but anyone who finds his act a little stale in the PG Era and longs for the days of big-time performers and incomprehensible ratings grabs would do well to listen to this podcast.
The Attitude Era Podcast is a show hosted by Kevin Mahon with his comrades, cohorts and colleagues Adam Bibilo and Billy Keable, who in each episode explore one of the monthly WWF pay-per-view events which took place in the late 90s and early 2000s.
Following the events of the infamous Montreal Screwjob which WWF owner Vince McMahon set up to rob outgoing world champion Bret Hart of his credibility as a potential Monday Night Wars winner for bitter enemies WCW, McMahon began to appear in character onscreen as the tyrannical chairman of the company, blurring the line between the ‘kayfabe’ his Superstars conjured up to maintain the performance aspect of professional wrestling, and the heated behind-the-scenes business world of cutthroat ratings rivalry. The venomous bile he spat at rising star anti-hero Stone Cold Steve Austin, coupled with WWF TV’s attempt to appeal to more mature audiences is partly what led to the golden age of wrestling known as The Attitude Era.
Starting with Wrestlemania XIV in their debut episode, the guys break down the events leading up to the pay-per-view before discussing each match, backstage segment and in-ring interview which takes place during the PPV broadcasts; celebrating the era of wrestling which they grew up watching with plenty of humorous observation and in-depth analysis of the events surrounding this period in wrestling history.
I love this podcast. I love the passion the hosts show for their fandom, and I love their sense of humour; it’s very sweary and rather risqué, of course, but that’s The Attitude Era for you. The podcast contains all manner of geek culture references that resemble any typical conversation you’d otherwise be having with friends; that mish-mash of references and playing off each other that verges on secret code from time to time. That’s not to say the conversation isn’t warm and engaging – it really is, the three are great hosts – but it is a rather specialist podcast after all so you’re bound to ‘get’ it because that’s why you’re listening!
As the guys relive the Attitude Era (or see it for mostly the first time in Billy’s case), it really comes across how thrilled they are to watch these matches again through fresh eyes, seeing the real star talents like Austin, The Rock and Mankind, as well as picking up for the first time on underrated guys like D-Lo Brown and Goldust who deserved more at the time, all the while re-evaluating their opinions on the matches and angles which played out along the timeline.
What’s equally clear, and hugely entertaining for the listener as a result, is the actual pain they’re suffering when forced to discuss the likes of Marc Mero, Sable and the Headbangers – the sloppy in-ring work, non-existent microphone skills and all-round lack of appeal – as well as the behaviour and sometimes questionable demeanour adopted by some of the ‘fans’ present at the events. The guys’ frustration is very well articulated through biting sarcasm, scathing criticism and even just audible groans whenever something particularly bad happens at the show.
As each episode also contains audio clips from the PPV under review – ahh, Jim Ross you are missed – the whole feeling and atmosphere of each show is fully conveyed, for better or worse; by listening to this podcast you’ll soon discover that the Attitude Era contained just as many misses as it did hits, no matter how much the WWE in its present form tries to pretend otherwise. For every beer bath Austin gave McMahon and the Corporation, there are just as many…well, Marc Mero and Sable matches. The series also includes bonus episodes; fully-fledged WWF events that aren’t essential in the timeline but make for some very funny analysis all the same. The podcast’s take on UK PPVs, the legendarily awful Brawl For All tournament and something called a Rage Party are brilliant asides to the narrative.
Although well aware of the legacy of the Attitude Era, for various reasons it actually passed me by for the most part, so it’s great fun for me to get involved and hear the highs and lows of this much-storied time in wrestling. All in all, The Attitude Era Podcast is a real treat for the discerning wrestling fan (or, as we’ve come to be known, Tudor), so be sure to “change your strategy”, follow @AEPodcast on Twitter and get it on iTunes from episode one.