Tuesday, October 14, 2014

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Art Of Wrestling Ep. 219

The Franchise is Cabana's latest guest
Photo Credit: WWE.com
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: 219
Run Time: 1:10:25
Guest: Shane Douglas

Summary: Colt Cabana and Shane Douglas have something in common as wrestlers with college degrees and a time spent as teachers. Douglas, however, is nearly 16 years older, and so he has lots of stories about his early days in the business at the end of the territory era. Among other topics, he speaks about his influential relationship with Dominic DeNucci, training alongside Mick Foley, early 1990s backstage WCW politics and influences on his legendary “Franchise” character.

Quote of the week: “My generation was more athletic than Bruno’s. These kids are exponentially more athletic than my generation was. The difference I was brought into the business at a time when it was demanded of me to learn step one to get to step two, and if you didn’t learn it the first time, you might get a rare second opportunity. But it was rare a third one came. … There was always constant pressure to learn and ask questions and pay attention and watch the matches.”

Why you should listen: My worry was this show would be an ECW love-fest, and it’s anything but. In fact, there is hardly any mention of ECW for the first 40 minutes of the interview, and even then it comes up because Cabana wants to talk about Douglas’ microphone work specific to that time period. Cabana does a great job letting Douglas trace his career history, starting with his childhood fandom, and the gentle nature of the conversation allows Douglas to present as a far more rich personality than what he has come to be known only through the relatively brief time of his most famous run.

Why you should skip it: Longtime listeners know Colt Cabana was a huge ECW fan during Douglas’ run at the top, so some folks might actually tune in (or whatever) hoping to spend an hour basking in that nostalgia. If you want that, skip to the very end for a two-minute, expletive-laden Franchise promo. If you only want to engage Douglas at his bluest and most extreme, if you have no time for contemplation and respect for many generations of performers and promotes, well, please move along.

Final thoughts: Anyone open to considering Douglas as a veteran wrestler and lifelong fan, and not just the Franchise caricature, should definitely make time for this hour. It’s another big-name get for Cabana after his DDP show two weeks ago, and again it’s clear he’s earned the respect of people he grew up admiring. Guys like Page and Douglas have little to gain by giving time to Cabana — he might spike their relevance, but each man’s career easily speaks for itself — so when they show up and bring total honesty, it’s a boon for the host and a blessing for the listening audience. It’s not like the greatest hour of your life or anything, but none of the usual complaints about Cabana or Douglas are evident, and that makes for another strong Art Of Wrestling offering.