A Look Back at the Place to Be Podcast: Season 1
On February 11th, 2011, the podcasting world was introduced to a brand new podcast called the Place to Be Podcast which was created by best friends and longtime wrestling fans Scott Criscuolo and Justin Rozzero. After being friends for the better part of a decade, the two started to make their name with their reviews of classic WWE PPVs which were seen on various websites including TheHistoryofWWE.com. They would then create their own message board in 2007 and about four years later, they decided to take to the airwaves with their own podcast which would see them bring numerous guests on and cover the wrestling and sports world at that time while also bringing their written reviews to audio form. Now 11 years later, the podcast is about to celebrate its monumental 600th episode and we have had a lot of great memories for the past 600 episodes. So I decided that to celebrate this historic achievement, I would look back at the previous 600 episodes and go into discussion about some of the greatest moments in the history of the podcast. This will be broken into 6 parts covering each “season” of the podcast (each 100 episodes) and I will be covering the highs and lows of each season as a way to walk down memory lane while also encouraging newer listeners to go back and catch up on the older episodes. With that said, let’s begin with the very first season of the PTB Podcast.
From the outset of the show, one of the cornerstones for the podcast was the headlines where Scott and Justin would cover that week of WWE television, cover the news surrounding WWE, TNA, Ring of Honor, and other smaller promotions, and then they would go over the sports headlines from that week. They would cover all of the hot topics for that week and would also hype upcoming PPVs as well as the playoffs for the sports, and in the fall they would begin a tradition of doing their picks for the NFL season and keep score (Justin would predominately win each season). By the late summer into early fall, they would add a new segment to the headlines called the “Asshole of the Week” where they and the listeners would debate who deserved the title of the biggest asshole for that week. They would also talk about any breaking stories going on such as episode 80 (aired 11/10/11) where they covered the ongoing scandal involving Jerry Sandusky and Penn State. On occasion, they would also cover DVD releases including episode 68 (aired 9/28/11) where they ran down the entire match listing of the Steve Austin 4-disc DVD, and there were also times where the technology was still very rudimentary so some episodes had to be split into multiple parts. The headlines would include many great moments that went down in the history of the podcast which I will delve into later, and going back and listening to these older episodes make the headlines feel more special.
The Vintage Vault
If you ask most of the listeners of the podcast, the most popular topic that Scott and Justin talk about are their reviews of the WWE PPVs which would be dubbed the Vintage Vault, and in the first season they would begin their long run which started with the first Wrestlemania and made it to In Your House 2. Throughout the course of these reviews, we would get to know Scott and Justin’s love of certain wrestlers and we would get numerous trademarks such as Justin playing the Jim Duggan song from “Wrestlemania: The Album” much to Scott’s constant chagrin. More song playing would become common for Scott’s favorites such as LL Cool J’s “Hey Lover” for the Legion of Doom and Andy Gibb’s “I Just Want to Be Your Everything” for Ric Flair, and it was during this initial run of Vaults where our first character was created with Justin doing El Gigante at Wrestlemania IX (Episode 67, aired 9/25/11). This would lead to a humorous feud in the later half of the season between Gigante and OG listener J Arsenio D’Amoto which culminated at the end of the season which we will get to. This first season would set the template for what the Vaults would become as you can tell they are pretty rough around the edges early on, but Scott and Justin would get their groove going and that will clearly be seen in later seasons particularly when they go back to 1985 in later seasons to redo the PPVs from 1985-1992. In addition, the technology issues also occasionally reared their ugly heads here as both the 1995 Royal Rumble (Episode 88, aired 12/11/11) and the 1995 King of the Ring (Episode 97, aired 1/5/12) aired in two parts. While these early Vaults are very rudimentary and a bit rough early on, they would easily become the favorite shows of the listeners and would soon become the centerpieces of the podcast.
In addition to the headlines and the Vaults, Scott and Justin would slowly become known as well for their great interviews with various wrestling personalities, and while this first season only featured a few interviews they would clearly set the tone for future ones to come. The first interview was episode 9 (aired 2/28/11) when they welcomed John Walters who at the time was competing in Lucha Libre USA as R.J. Brewer, and they went over his career where he shared some pretty unique stories and opinions on the business. The second interview came on episode 21 (aired 4/11/11) where they welcomed the purveyor of TheHistoryofWWE.com Graham Cawthon, and they discussed Graham’s history as a fan, the website, and his being at Wrestlemania XXVII. Graham would later return in the season joining Scott and Justin for their 1995 King of the Ring review and also for episode 100 which I will talk about later. The third interview of the season was episode 43 (aired 6/29/11) as they welcomed ROH star Eddie Edwards who had just lost the ROH World Title to his longtime partner Davey Richards, and Edwards would discuss his career and his thoughts on the wrestling business at the time. The fourth and final interview for this season was the biggest one which was episode 55 (taped 8/15/11) where they had Stevie Richards, and they discussed his long career as well as his love of video games. These interviews would become crucial in Scott and Justin getting bigger names down the line and we will see the names that they would end up getting as we delve into further seasons.
Throughout the season, there were numerous episodes that Scott and Justin did that don’t necessarily fall into either the headlines or Vintage Vault categories, but these episodes are just as special and important as they also provided some big moments as well. The first of these was episode 2 (aired 2/13/11) where they delved into the MLB offseason and this is memorable as Scott will reference it several times in later seasons for the lack of quality they believe this episode to be. They would also begin their tradition of previewing that year’s March Madness tournament with episode 13 (aired 3/14/11) and they also covered the Big East tournament in episode 11 (aired 3/8/11), and they would host their first Wrestlemania Roundtable on episode 16 (aired 3/28/11). This season would also see the debut of List-a-Mania where they created various lists surrounding the big shows as they covered Wrestlemania (Episodes 17 and 18, aired 3/30/11 and 3/31/11), Summerslam (Episode 52, aired 8/8/11), and Survivor Series (Episode 83, aired 11/20/11). Sadly, this season also saw the first of what would be a few tribute episodes as they would pay tribute to the life and career of Randy Savage on episode 32 (aired 5/24/11), and they would also do a special episode focused on the TV show “The Office” as well as social media on episode 33 (aired 5/4/11). They would also do specific episodes previewing sports season including the NFL on episode 59 (taped 9/1/11), the NBA playoffs on episode 22 (taped 4/19/11), and the MBL season on episode 19 (aired 4/5/11). We would also begin the tradition of Scott and Justin doing a special Christmas episode starting with episode 92 (aired 12/21/11) though this was still a traditional headline show which included a Naughty and Nice list and we will see the evolution of the Christmas episodes going forward. Ultimately, the season would culminate with the 100th episode of the podcast (aired 1/26/12) where Scott and Justin brought on numerous guests to discuss a variety of topics including the Royal Rumble, Super Bowl XLVI, the upcoming March Madness, and others with a very memorable moment included which I will talk about later. These unique potpourri episodes are always fun to listen to because you never know exactly what you are going to get, and they are good in continuing to build the chemistry between Scott and Justin as podcast hosts.
From the outset of the podcast, Scott and Justin made it clear that they would have on various guests on different episodes and we would come to know these voices over the years while also getting to know more members of the growing Place to Be Nation family. The first guest we would know is their longtime friend Matt Rotella who debuted on episode 4 (aired 2/16/11), and he would also join Scott and Justin for their review of Wrestlemania 2 on episode 5 (aired 2/22/11). He would then return for episode 7 (aired 2/24/11) where he along with newcomer Andrew Riche discussed the first half of the NBA season, and the two would also join Scott, Justin, and Scott’s brother Chris for the Big East tournament preview and the March Madness preview mentioned earlier. Andrew would then return for episode 14 (aired 3/17/11) along with new guest Jordan Duncan as they talked a variety of topics and Matt would return for the Wrestlemania XXVII roundtable along with Derrick Leroux who had made his debut back on episode 8 (aired 2/27/11) for headlines. Matt and Andrew both returned for episode 35 (aired 5/30/11) for headlines and Matt would make appearances on episode 25 (aired 4/27/11) and episode 50 (aired 8/1/11), and Andrew would return to help Scott and Justin hype the NBA Playoffs on episode 22. We had our first female voice on the show as they brought on their friend Leann Griffin for episode 6 (aired 2/22/11) to discuss her career and the Jersey Shore, and she would return for the episode on “The Office” and social media which also saw the debut of Justin’s longtime friend Josh Richer. They would then have their first official guest for a Vintage Vault as Jeremy Nichols made his debut on episode 45 (aired 7/7/11) to talk Survivor Series 1990, and then they would be joined by Joseph Lee of 411Mania.com for episode 50 to talk the summer movies and that week in wrestling. Finally, we had a plethora of guests come on for the 100th episode which included pre-recorded messages from Jason Greenhouse and Austin Pfaff, and we also saw the return of Jordan (who won the contest to name the best moment of the first 100 episodes), Josh, and Jeremy while seeing the debut of Andy Flanagan, Steve Gross, Matt Mars, Mike Wilkinson, Michael McDonald, Matt Davis, Dave Hall, Grant Owens, J Arsenio D’Amato, Rob Houston, and Todd Weber (who won the first contest to name the funniest moment of the first 50 episodes and had Justin read his acceptance speech on episode 50). One other thing to mention is it was during this season that Scott and Justin would read the feedback from members of the Nation for the Vintage Vaults which would include many longtime fans including myself. It will be fun to see how this family continues to grow over the years because we will see a lot of new names pop in with each season though we do get some dropping off as time goes on as well.
When you look back on each season, they are typically highlighted by some of the most memorable moments of the season whether they were expected or unintentional which makes them feel even more special. The first season of the PTB Podcast sees plenty of memorable moments as Scott and Justin start to create the format for the show that we would come to know over the next 11 years. As I mentioned when talking about the Vintage Vaults, we see a lot of quirks that come with the show including the songs for Scott’s favorites to Justin playing the Jim Duggan song from “Wrestlemania: The Album” to troll Scott, and after Duggan left the WWF in 1993 we were introduced to the “Rob Houston Memorial “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan Update” where Justin read off what Duggan was doing in WCW while the song was playing. We also had an unintentional great moment when Scott compared Mabel of Men on a Mission to New Edition which has led to “Candy Girl” being played during Mabel’s matches. As I also mentioned, we also got the debut of El Gigante at Wrestlemania IX which led to a war of words between him and Mr. D’Amato which culminated at episode 100 in a showdown between the two overseen by Graham Cawthon and we saw the debut of Ludvig Borga (performed by Scott) which ended in the two characters performing a duet. Other episodes would see numerous sound clips make their debut which would become common throughout future episodes and probably the greatest example of this was episode 79 (aired 116/11) where the two discussed King of the Ring 1994 and basically played all of Art Donovan’s commentary throughout the episode. Some of the other great moments of the season included episode 28 (aired 5/9/11) fittingly dubbed “Rant-a-Palooza” as Scott and Justin ranted about Christian losing the World Heavyweight Championship after only two days, and that episode also saw Scott deliver an epic rant on the Los Angeles Lakers being swept by the eventual NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks. We also saw Scott and Justin get into some heated debates including on episode 33 (“The Office” and social media episode) where they argued about Twitter, and then again on episode 89 (aired 12/15/11) where they had a lengthy argument about Tony Romo with Justin (a Jets fan) defending him against Scott (a Cowboys fan). Another memorable episode was episode 48 (aired 7/25/11) where they discussed Money in the Bank and the night after where Triple H took control of the company, and as Scott was away on a cruise during the two shows it was suggested by Rob Houston that Justin bring in a guest to replace Scott and Scott would go on a humorous tirade against Houston about replacing him. However, the rants weren’t limited to Scott as on episode 68 (aired 9/28/11), Justin delivered a memorable rant on the Boston Red Sox who were about to complete their epic collapse in missing the playoffs by losing to the Baltimore Orioles and the Red Sox fans specifically. However, amidst of the anger and angst of this season, we did get a heartfelt moment on episode 76 (aired 10/26/11) when Justin announced that he was going to be a father, and on their Christmas episode they would declare who was Naughty and Nice from the year. Finally, episode 100 was a historic moment in it of itself as we heard from numerous members of the Nation including two great fans from down under in Australia, and the ending was unintentionally memorable as one of the guests had issues coming on which would lead to future technical changes. While there will be many more great moments over the years, I think it is safe to say that longtime fans of the podcast will still remember some of these great moments as some of the best in the history of the podcast.
Overall, the first season of the Place to Be Podcast was a really fun season to go back and listen to as much has changed since the show first debuted back in 2011. When you listen to those older episodes and compare them to episodes from the last year or so, you can tell the quality has improved though that is not to say these episodes are bad because they certainly aren’t. It is pretty obvious that even though they’ve been friends for a long time, Scott and Justin were new to the podcast game and it took a bit of time to get the chemistry down though it wouldn’t take long at all. It will be interesting to see the continued evolution of the show as we hit the second season and aim towards the next big milestone of 200 episodes. Until then, go back and listen to these first 100 episodes if you want to hear some raw, early, and quite hilarious episodes and see the growth of Scott and Justin.
1. Episode 1 “Inaugural Episode”
2. Episode 23 “Headlines: Edge, Tough Enough, WWE, MLB, NHL, NBA, NFL”
3. Episode 26 “Bin Laden, Beer Pong, Extreme Rules, and Sports Updates”
4. Episode 28 “Rant-a-Palooza”
5. Episode 48 “CM Punk, Triple H, Money in the Bank, and Angry Scott”
6. Episode 50 “Movies, Wrestling, Todd Weber, and a Wedding”
7. Episode 68 “Wrestling Headlines, NFL Week Four, and a JR Rant”
8. Episode 80 “Headlines, Penn State, and NFL Week 10”
9. Episode 89 “Sports Headlines and NFL Week 15”
10. Episode 93 “Headlines and NFL Week 17”
1. Episode 3 “Wrestlemania”
2. Episode 10 “Wrestlemania III”
3. Episode 41 “Wrestlemania VI”
4. Episode 45 “Survivor Series 1990”
5. Episode 58 “Royal Rumble 1992”
6. Episode 67 “Wrestlemania IX”
7. Episode 75 “Royal Rumble 1994”
8. Episode 79 “King of the Ring 1994”
9. Episode 88 “Royal Rumble 1995”
10. Episode 97 “King of the Ring 1995”
1. Episode 2 “MLB Offseason Breakdown”
2. Episode 9 “John Walters Interview”
3. Episode 13 “March Madness Mega Preview”
4. Episodes 17 and 18 “Wrestlemania List-a-Mania”
5. Episode 32 “Randy Savage Tribute”
6. Episode 33 “Social Media and the Office”
7. Episode 43 “Eddie Edwards”
8. Episode 52 “Summerslam List-a-Mania”
9. Episode 55 “Stevie Richards”
10. Episode 83 “Survivor Series List-a-Mania:
Bonus: Episode 100 “100th Episode Extravaganza”