Friday, August 29, 2014

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Art of Wrestling Ep. 213

Cabana finishes his residency in Edinburgh 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: 213
Run Time: 1:16:05
Guest: Des Clarke (at 8:15), Noam Dar (30:00), Mark Dallas (45:21), Chris Brooker and Billy Kirkwood (1:00:30).

Summary: It’s Cabana’s last show from the 2014 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, following the same template as the previous episodes: standup comedian who’s also a big wrestling fan, slimmed down version of his traditional podcast with someone from the wrestling business, improv comedy bits with the guys from Whose Clothesline Is It Anyway?

Quote of the week: “ICW’s special because ICW sells not specific individuals. The company sells out before matches are announced. I’ve got friends kinda ribbing me a little bit, going, ‘Oh, you still doing the wrestling? You wrestling John Cena yet?’ … If I go, ‘Now look. Look at ICW. Watch these videos. See that documentary that was on? I’m part of that.’ And then folk have a different perception of it.” — Dar

Why you should listen: If you like hearing Cabana talk about his own nascent wrestling fandom, or early 1990s WWF nostalgia in general, you’re in luck. Clarke appears to be a generally funny guy who can get laughs outside his own standup bits. Dar and Dallas have some decent insights about the world of Insane Championship Wrestling; Dallas especially when discussing what it took to get the promotion off the ground. Since Cabana rarely talks to promoters, this is somewhat fresh territory for his show.

Why you should skip it: The Scottish accents are especially thick this week, so it’s going to take some work to catch everything. The interview with Dar only threatens to get into actual deep thought, it’s easy to notice how the live audience affects both men. They’re prone to wanting to elicit crowd reactions, and it dampens the chances for an in-depth interview. The improv bits at the end have really worn out their welcome after four weeks. Not that pro wrestling isn’t a ripe subject for mockery, it’s just not played well enough in this scenario to warrant praise.

Final thoughts: If you’re a completist, have a listen. If not, wait until next week when Cabana gets back to normal. Dar and Dallas have interesting stories that certainly could make for a great Art of Wrestling episode, but this is not the format for that to work best. Still, Cabana deserves credit for putting together a live show that still works in podcast form. It’s not what we’ve come to expect from Art of Wrestling over 200-plus episodes, but neither does it pretend to be.