It's pretty amazing how quickly these went from "Must See TV" to "I'll probably try to catch that when/if I get a few minutes".
Which still makes for great WWE Network content, since the model is built around putting the time (and place) of viewing entirely in your hands. It's just takes a little getting used to since the first Stone Cold Podcast was something you really wanted to experience real-time. That edition with Vince McMahon is probably safe in being the most newsworthy one in history.
It also appears that the days of doing these live may be a thing of the past. WWE will release whatever viewership numbers they want to from their over-the-top service, but it's probably a safe bet that the expense and lack of editorial oversight that came with broadcasting live after Raw or a pay-per-view (PPV) wasn't worth it in terms of viewership numbers.
None of which means these aren't entertaining shows that you'll get something out of - moreso if you're a mark for the guest.
Here are the highlights of Steve Austin's conversation with Ric Flair:
- Kicks off with Austin putting over Naitch as the greatest of all-time, and Flair thanking him for it. The talk about the temperature and remoteness of Stone Cold's Texas ranch, where they filmed this.
- Ric's interesting roots are mentioned (he was apparently abducted as an infant and sold to the parents who raised him). He says he learned he was adopted around age 10, but never sought out his birth parents.
- Flair got in trouble as a teen, and was sent to boarding school in Wisconsin after getting caught trying to buy alchohol as a minor. He stayed in that area through college and was selling insurance after graduation ("riding high" after making a few sales, as moderation is admittedly not something he does).
- Living with Ken Patera, he was introduced to Verne Gagne. He tried to leave pro wrestling after only a few days of training, but the AWA founder wouldn't let him. It was a wake-up call concerning how he quit everything he started in life.
- He pitched a gimmick where he'd be Dusty Rhodes brother and go by the name "Ramblin Ricky Rhodes", but Gagne shot it down. He's been going by Ric Flair since.
- Unable to get a loan from Verne or his father, Flair finagled his way down to the Carolinas for the promise of more money. He was making a thousand dollars a week in short order. One of the first things he did was a buy a Cadillac.
- Austin brings up the plane crash in which Flair's back was broken. He was told he'd never work again. Naitch says Crockett Promotions still paid him weekly throughout his eight month rehab.
- George Scott told him not to wear his back brace because it would atrophy the other muscles in his body. He was booked in hour long matches upon his return to force him to "figure things out again".
- Stone Cold tried to raise the subject of Buddy Rogers and Flair's adoption of the Nature Boy character, but Ric talks about how expensive his robes were, etc.
- During his first NWA title run, Naitch immediately went on the road for nine weeks. This leads them to talking about his family life (only saw them ten or so times a year) and coping on the road (jokes about getting into trouble and multiple marriages; anecdotes about buying a $10,000 limo from the Governor of North Carolina and never wearing the same suit twice).
- They talk about if the gimmick would work today, and Flair says it would, but he'd have to tone down the after hours stuff.
- Discussing Dusty Rhodes, Flair says they had an "unusual" chemistry. They also tried to one-up each other in promos, in the ring, in whose house was bigger, etc. Great story about being stuck in the cage because fans were so mad they were trying to climb in it on the night Dusty broke his leg.
- The move to WWF is next, and Naitch talks about the changes Jim Herd wanted him to make (cut his hair, wear an earring). and how he hated them. In a telling anecdote, he said he wasn't recognized while walking through the Charlotte airport with shorter hair and how it bugged him.
- He did, however make a lot of money and have a lot of fun working with Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart, Undertaker and Randy Savage (his first TV feud). He didn't know Vince was planning on making him champ. Naitch talks about how great Bobby Heenan (his travelling partner) was - and could have been in the ring if he chose to stay that route.
- The focus moves to talking about his retirement angle with Shawn Michaels, and Flair puts over the guys he beat leading to the Mania match.
- He was devastated after that weekend, because he was no longer in the business (time in TNA or on the indy circuit is not brought up). Flair says he now lives vicariously through his kids, which was the segue to talking about the use of Reid's death in Paige's promo on Raw a few months back.
- Flair says that was hard on him, mostly because he doesn't like to see Charlotte cry. Her tears that night were real, and she's cried enough. He does think Reid would have approved since it meant he was still being talked about. In general, Ric doesn't like personal stuff like that in angles, and mentions Jerry Lawler going after Bret Hart's parents in promos as an example. He doesn't blame anyone for what happened with that promo or angle.
- Charlotte winning the Divas title at Night of Champions was the proudest moment of his career, partially because of everything they've been through in their personal lives.
- In answering a question about whether being a Flair helps or hurts Charlotte, Ric answers that he didn't have anything to do with her getting hired. John Laurinaitis hired her. He thinks the pressure of following in his footsteps wore on her at first, but she's gotten over it and realizes she's a better athlete than he ever was. That confidence is serving her well now.
- Austin brings up Flair being Triple H's idol, and Naitch said Hunter is his best friend. Haitch was the first person he called when Reid died, and has been instrumental in helping Ashley (Charlotte) deal with losing her brother.
- Flair puts over NXT, saying it's what the business should be about. He says Vince finally got on board with it - and specifically the women's division - after seeing the San Jose show before the last Mania.
- On Triple H, Ric talks how amazing it is that he can do all he does and still make time for Stephanie and his girls.
- Stone Cold asks about his relationship with Vince, and Flair has nothing bad to saw. He was grateful for being brought back into the fold, and says McMahon lent him money over the years (usually related to divorces) and the tab got to $800,000 at one point. Naitch paid him back with his retirement bonus, but had to insist because Vince wanted to let it go.
- Both talk about Vince being tough on even the biggest stars when he doesn't like what they're doing, but being fair and always being a man of his word.
- The two men talk the end of WCW, and Austin laments the lack of competition for WWE. Both agree there isn't any real competitor to the company. In a funny moment, Flair talks about how Austin would have "killed people" if he'd been in the WCW locker room.
- Austin asks for Flair's favorite story and gets one about a night at Caesar's Palace in a $4000 suite where Naitch paid a $1000 per prostitute for himself, JJ Dillon, Tully Blanchard and their pilots. He woke up to a $11,000 tab.
- Asked about his legacy, Flair says he doesn't dwell on it. He's happy being the guy who worked the hardest and was willing to work with everyone. Austin says he's tired of hearing how Hogan is the Greatest, because for him it's the Nature Boy.
- Flair wishes he'd had a chance to work a program with John Cena, but has no regrets.