Tuesday, August 19, 2014

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Art of Wrestling Ep. 211

Cabana did a live show this week
Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein
If you're new, here's the rundown: I listen to a handful of wrestling podcasts each week. Too many, probably, though certainly not all of them. In the interest of saving you time — in case you have the restraint to skip certain episodes — the plan is to give the bare bones of a given show and let you decide if it’s worth investing the time to hear the whole thing. There are better wrestling podcasts out there, of course, but these are the ones in my regular rotation that I feel best fit the category of hit or miss. If I can save other folks some time, I'm happy to do so.

Show: Art of Wrestling
Episode: 211
Run Time: 1:03:10
Guests: Jeremy Borash, Mike Lawrence, Grado, Billy Kirkwood

Summary: Colt Cabana is still live at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. He spends the first big chunk of the show with Jeremy Borash, focusing on his time in TNA and WCW as well as the British Boot Camp reality show and its winner, Rockstar Spud. At 30:35 the guest is comedian Mike Lawrence, and the final 13:30 are, like last week, an interactive, wrestling-themed improvisational comedy bit.

Quote of the week: “The Internet has destroyed sincerity, and wrestling is the most sincere, honest thing that there is. … Wrestling has this beautiful purity to it. It’s just a bunch of people yelling and having fun. Whenever I go to see wrestling, I want to sit next to a kid. I know that sounds weird because I look like every pedophile, because they enjoy it on this level that we don’t. You know the whole thing of smarks and snarkily viewing things and trying to be inside? When you see a kid just like it for what it is, that’s how we all got into it. We kind of forget that.” — Mike Lawrence

Why you should listen: You want to go behind the scenes at TNA’s first event. You like old Tank Abbott stories. You’re down for tasteless humor about famous wrestlers, living and dead. You can picture yourself in the crowd of the event and don’t care about not being able to experience sight gags. You want ammunition for the next time Cabana appears thin-skinned about a joke made at his own expense.

Why you should skip it: You don’t care about Borash or TNA. You don’t want to hear Grado make “My [male organ] is like [famous wrestler]” jokes — or if you don’t like blue (to put it mildly) humor of any sort. You realize improv comedy is best left to trained professionals. You’re driven mad by feeling like an outsider since everyone is having a ball at the live show while you can only hear the proceedings.

Final thoughts: Give Cabana credit, he’s clearly gotten much better at putting on a live show that still appeals to his podcast audience, both in format and technical execution. Some of his earlier live shows, especially in foreign countries, made for dreadful a audio-only experience. If you’re down for the raunchiness, there are good laughs to be had. The best part clearly is Lawrence, who is fairly thoughtful about wrestling as an art form and the nature of being a lifelong fan, offering insight rarely found on a show so that almost exclusively delivers an insider’s perspective. It’s still outside the realm of a conventional Art of Wrestling, but a better experience for sure than last week’s live show.