Tuesday, December 9, 2014

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Art Of Wrestling Ep. 227

Hey, the Slammy Awards were last night, this fits somewhat
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: 227
Run Time: 1:26:43
Guest: CM Punk

Summary: Punk is back on the show to debrief the Thanksgiving day epic in which he and Colt detailed the end of Punk’s WWE career. They rehash some of the same talking points from last week, but also get into some new territory, such as his future endeavors and whether he wants to be known as Phil Brooks or CM Punk. There is a bit of a response to Vince McMahon’s appearance on the Steve Austin Show and general breakdown of a lot of the more common feedback from Episode 226.

Quote of the week: “Hey, ladies and gentlemen, if you were ever a fan of mine, if you ever wanted to see me wrestle on television or live in person, or you purchased a shirt or texting gloves or any other number of ridiculous merch items, hey, I thank you and I appreciate it. I had to wait this long to tell the story for legal reasons, and it got out as soon as it could. If I’ve offended you, hey, sorry, there’s a chance you might need to lighten up. But there’s a chance I meant to offend you. I don’t really know. I don’t know where I’m going with that. I just want to say if you support me, that’s awesome, thank you. If you don’t like me, don’t follow me on Twitter. If you don’t like KISS, don’t buy their albums. You know what I mean? Find something that you love to do and do it. Don’t worry about what everybody else is doing unless they’re trying to murder or rape you.”

Why you should listen: This is a worthy successor to part one, and unlike most two-part podcasts that are really just long sessions broken into multiple episodes, there is the benefit of the time between the two shows with both men reacting to the reaction the initial interview provoked. Personally I found Punk much more clear this time around about his quest for closure. That’s not the tone of the entire session, and he’ll always sounds somewhat like a guy with an ax to grind, but taking him at his word, this talk was an important part of the process and it’s simply interesting to hear about his evolution since walking out in Cleveland, most notably navigating the complicated waters of being married to someone still fervently dedicated to the profession and workplace that pushed him to the brink.

Why you should skip it: Here is what this episode isn’t: First and foremost, it is not, as promised, a question-and-answer show going over all the emails the first episode prompted (apparently because a lot of folks missed the point of the questions the guys hoped to address). Second, it is not a full-on rebuttal to McMahon’s comments Monday night, though Punk does make some remarks in that direction. Beyond that, both AOW shows and the McMahon hit are just an awful lot of audio and fatigue is to be expected. If you’d rather read excerpts, you’ll probably get the gist — especially if you’re familiar with the tone of the first interview.

Final thoughts: My favorite part of this episode actually was Cabana explaining something people questioned regarding the first show — why didn’t he ask more questions? The answer is because he knew the story because he lived it, not vicariously through Punk but almost side-by-side as one of his closest confidantes. Passing no judgment on anything Punk has said on these two episodes or how he said it, I do respect both of them for choosing this venue for the message. As Cabana said, it was a safe place for Punk, free of ulterior motives, and certainly this process will affect Cabana’s relationship with WWE as well. Wrestlers need to talk about this stuff with each other because it’s a unique business, only other wrestlers truly understand the dynamic.

Would Punk have talked this candidly if he didn’t have a trusted friend with a platform? I highly doubt he would. And whether or not you agree with anything he says, whether you think his words are 100 percent slanted by his own ulterior motives, I think fans are better served with his side of the story finally on the table so we all can begin to move forward.

All that said, no one is forced to listen to any of this stuff, so if you plan to just take a huge pass and wait for Episode 228 and get life back to normal, well, that’s all good, too.