Tuesday, January 6, 2015

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Art Of Wrestling Ep. 231

The good brothers were Cabana's latest guests
Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein
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: 231 (Jan. 1, 2015)
Run Time: 1:03:36
Guest: Bullet Club (Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson; 11:45)

Summary: Colt Cabana invites former guests Gallows and Anderson onto the show together primarily to discuss their roles as Bullet Club members and to promote Wrestle Kingdom 9. The chat is pretty disorganized at the outset as the guys talk about their “Talk’n Shop” podcast. That bleeds into a look at how American fans connect with the guys who are major stars in Japan, the Bullet Club itself, interactions with Japanese wrestlers, a quick look at the Young Bucks and life in Atlanta and their feelings about the success of Fergal “Finn Balor” Devitt. Gallows and Anderson then talk about becoming a team, the challenges of microphone work in Japan, promote WK9 and end by discussing their current life on the American independent scene.

Quote of the week: Anderson: “As over as anybody can ever get in New Japan, even Ferg wasn’t on all the posters. Like he was as over as you could possibly get… as a foreigner in New Japan. … Especially right before he left is when he really got over because he was a junior weight getting pushed to a heavyweight status, and so the people really fuckin’ looked at him like he was a superstar. He was never on the posters. Cause you know what? At the end of the day we’re still just foreigners. We’re replacements.”

Gallows: “Well that’s our job, is to make them…”

Anderson: “Come in and make them look good. But they’re pushing us to the moon right now, so I don’t understand why they can’t … give us a little poster love.”

Why you should listen: It’s clear how much fun these guys are having together, and for many listeners there’s a degree of excitement over being allowed to join the party. At the moments when they do get semi-serious, there is good insight about the dual nature of roaring overseas success and if and how it parlays into a Stateside career, which might be a first for Cabana’s show, at least in regards to performers currently riding the wave in Japan.

Why you should skip it: This is not the show to gain any deep insight into Gallows or Anderson — for that you have to head into the back catalog for their initial appearances. Neither is this some sort of primer for WK9. They do pump the show, but it’s by no means a full rundown of what to look for on a four-hour card. And the near incessant laughter will bother some listeners, as will the likelihood some will struggle to differentiate between which guest is speaking at a given time, if they’re not talking over each other.

Final thoughts: For what it was, I enjoyed this episode. Certainly if you’re only aware of Anderson because of his appearance earlier in the week on Jim Ross’ show, this spot will do much more to prove he’s a charismatic entertainer. If you’re a regular Talk’n Shop listener (I am not), it might be nice to hear the chemistry spill into Cabana’s show, or it might be overkill for a tandem with which you’re already quite familiar. Ultimately it’s becoming increasingly clear that to be a professional wrestling fan in 2015 you need to at least have a working knowledge of NJPW, and any chance to connect to the promotion through its American-based stars is probably a worthwhile time investment.