Friday, October 31, 2014

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Art Of Wrestling Ep. 222

Nova or Simon Dean, whatever your preference, is Cabana's guest this week
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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: 222
Run Time: 1:07:10
Guest: Simon Dean/Nova

Summary: Cabana can’t decide whether to identify his guest as Nova, the character he made famous in ECW, or Simon Dean, his much less successful but probably more widely known WWE persona. They discuss Nova’s training with the peculiar “Iron” Mike Sharpe and being a decent person in the locker room. There is a lot of talk about working with WWF/E as enhancement talent, both in the early 1990s and during their respective WWE careers on “Heat” and “Velocity,” with the added insight of Nova’s experience working on the office side booking and auditioning entry-level talent. There also is a look at the origin of the Super Nova gimmick and lots of specific details of how Nova transitioned from his ECW run into the WWF developmental system at Ohio Valley Wrestling.

Quote of the week: “When you’re a young boy breaking in and you’re green and you’re traveling everywhere, dude, part of your pay, whether you like it or not, is the experience you’re getting inside of a ring and in front of people. Because when you’re in wrestling school and you’re training, all you’re doing is training. You’re not working. … You didn’t work, because there’s no fans there. And if the fans are just the ones that you see all the time and you’re not in a different area and driving, and getting out there, then that’s not working.”

Why you should listen: Nova has an amazingly broad range of experience. He worked jobber matches against early 1990s WWF stars (Ludvig Borga, the Headshrinkers, the Heavenly Bodies), was a strong contributor for most of ECW’s prominence. He also was in the ring at WrestleMania 22 in Los Angeles. There are plenty of compelling moments of all those resume points peppered through the conversation. His recollections of getting called to and working through the OVW system are interesting, and his seven years away from the business, on his own terms, afford a perspective rare to wrestling podcasts.

Why you should skip it: The conversation does not go in chronological order, and as such is not a complete career retrospective. At a few different points Nova wants to turn the tables and focus on Cabana’s WWE dalliance, and though he succeeds in deferring, some listeners might find those moments to be distracting. And although Nova has worked with and around many of the biggest names in the business, he himself is not a legend. If you’re not into hearing about the big-league experiences of a guy who barely registered on your TV, this is not the show for you.

Final thoughts: I have almost no recollection of either Nova or Simon Dean for a variety of reasons, so I came into this show as blind as I do when Colt chats up an independent worker I’ve never heard about. That said, I found this to be a fascinating conversation on account of the breadth of Nova’s experience and his dual nature as someone who at one time had his life completely consumed by professional wrestling but now has a completely normal existence with full detachment. Having his toes in both pools and different points of his life, and working for $150 a night while also being on the biggest stage of all, gives him plenty of platforms from which to speak with validity. If nothing else, this episode proves Cabana, at 222 shows into his run, can still deliver a compelling conversation with a person he’s never before had as a guest.