Friday, September 26, 2014

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Art Of Wrestling Ep. 217

Page recounts the Spring Stampede 1997 story and more with Colt Cabana
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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: 217
Run Time: 1:17:39
Guest: Diamond Dallas Page

Summary: Cabana acknowledges Page is no stranger to most fans, but pledges his conversation (not an interview) will be about more than DDP Yoga. And it is, focusing on Page’s early attempts to get into pro wrestling, including his unorthodox attempt to hook up with the AWA, his longtime friendship with Jake Roberts and the pre-Nitro days in WCW. There is of course some chatter about DDP’s reinvention as a self-help guru, but comparatively little direct discussion the product, as Cabana is able to keep the focus on Page’s general philosophy.

Quote of the week: “If I’d have kept wrestling at 22 and met Jake at 25, and say my career was going up too, I know I’d be dead. Because we just would have partied.”

Why you should listen: If you bristle at Page’s relentless self promotion, it does seem to be in the background as much as possible here. DDP’s respect for Cabana as both a wrestler and a self-made businessman are evident throughout, and their common ground (though separated by a generation) sheds more light on Page’s story than has been revealed in his earlier interviews with guys like Steve Austin and Jim Ross. Basically, if you’re worried this is a 60-minute ad for DDP Yoga, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find plenty of genuine moments.

Why you should skip it: If you’ve heard the story about Page and Randy Savage working together heading into Spring Stampede 1997 once, you’ve probably heard it a dozen times. Somehow that recollection makes its way into this show. And although Colt does good work in steering the talk away from Page’s business, the fact is DDP has always been his own biggest fan and a dogged shill, even before he started pushing fitness DVDs. That trait tends to be a turnoff for some, so though it’s dampened considerably, it’s not eradicated. If you’re prone to be rankled, your goat will get got.

Final thoughts: I listened to most of this show while waiting in the emergency room late Wednesday, so I guess take everything I say with a grain of salt. Perhaps three grains, because I tend to give Colt and Page more slack than most. I just enjoy their personalities, and they actually kind of bring out the best in each other. It’s not a must-listen by any standard, if only because Page is so well examined at this point there’s hardly a chance for new insight. That’s not Cabana’s fault, however, and hearing his chat with Page does give the listener a chance to think about the motivation required not just to be a success in wrestling — in the face of those who say it’ll never happen — but to use that same drive to reinvent yourself once the ring stops being a viable option.