Friday, November 21, 2014

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Art Of Wrestling Ep. 225

Davis, the head honcho of OVW, is Cabana's guest this week
Screen Grab via YouTube
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: 225
Run Time: 1:13:35
Guest: Danny Davis

Summary: Colt Cabana sits down with a longtime acquaintance, renowned wrestling trainer Danny Davis — not the bad-guy referee from mid-1980s WWF. They get right into the matter of Davis’ rough childhood, his early exposure to wrestling on television, his own training and entry into the business. They bond over the practice saving money and looking for ways to make extra on the side. That leads Davis to explain how he decided to start his own school and eventually converted Ohio Valley Wrestling into a WWF developmental site with the help of Jim Cornette. They took a quick look at some the biggest names to come through OVW, reflected on the life and loss of Lance Cade and others who have personal struggles and the slim chances of actually making it in WWE. The chat wrapped with Davis’ advice for those investigating any wrestling school.

Quote of the week: “OVW never sells a promise. In this business, you can’t promise anything, because there are too many variables. The only way to achieve success as an individual wanting to get into this business is never give up on yourself. You have to apply yourself and you have to give yourself 100 percent every waking moment in this industry and try to make your craft as good as it possibly can be.”

Why you should listen: Davis’ tales of growing up poor and following unusual channels into the world of pro wrestling might not be unique, but he’s a compelling storyteller with plenty of good material. His conversation with Cabana will be especially illuminating to any aspiring wrestlers, if not utterly inspiring, but also of interest to people curious for more information on the inner workings of a system that produced (at least in part) Hall of Fame talent like John Cena, Brock Lesnar and CM Punk. Further, those listeners who may be weary of Cabana’s humor will, excusing the monologue, find little of anything but the host having a pure conversation with a trusted mentor.

Why you should skip it: If you can’t tolerate Cabana describing himself as cerebral because he’s been frugal for several years, well, take a pass. If you’re hoping he presses Davis on the breakdown of OVW’s relationship with WWE, you’ll be disappointed. Neither is there a great deal of focus on Cabana’s yearlong OVW stint, and what mention there is seems largely confined to Davis praising Cabana’s possession of the “it” factor.

Final thoughts: An unfinished version of the podcast released overnight Nov. 20, with Cabana correcting the error later that morning. You definitely want to hear the full version because the part that got cut is the most interesting, that being Davis’ hardscrabble back story and most of his unusual tale of breaking into wrestling. Anyone familiar with Art Of Wrestling should know Cabana would both keep the show positive and also defer talk away from his own career to make sure his guest’s story took the spotlight.

Davis is near the top of the list of those whose names I’ve heard repeatedly without having any actual knowledge of that person’s story, and as such this was an interesting conversation. No one really needs to know about Davis to have a deeper appreciation for wrestling in general, but he very well speaks for his generation as both a performer, promoter and instructor.