Friday, January 16, 2015

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Art Of Wrestling Ep. 233

Half of the Forever Hooligans was on AOW this week
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: 233 (Jan. 14, 2015)
Run Time: 1:07:46
Guest: Rocky Romero (8:19)

Summary: Colt Cabana’s guest this week is the third host of the Talk’n Shop podcast (he interviewed the other two in episode 231). Romero was a guest on a very early AOW, so there’s a lot of catching up to do, notably on Romero’s budding music and acting careers. Moving to wrestling, Cabana asks about Romero’s time in UPW and all the big-name talent he encountered there, including John Cena. Then they discussed the evolution of Romero’s goals, his time as Black Tiger and various experiences living and working Japan, including his relationship with Kowada, moving from NJPW to NOAH and NJPW’s recent resurgence. They talk about the current podcasting scene and end with Romero frankly discussing his different encounters with WWE in the last few months.

Quote of the week: Romero, on auditioning for an NBC sitcom pilot. “I don’t think I’ll get the lead because of the experience factor, but I mean I have been studying for the last two years seriously. Classes, improv, everything. … Not a lot of people know. I keep it on the low-low.”

Why you should listen: What you take from this episode depends largely on what you bring to it yourself. The first part speaks a great deal to anyone trying to make headway in a creative field, especially a performance art. The Black Tiger stuff is great for wrestling history buffs, and as NJPW starts gaining ground in America it’s going to be benefical for fans to have the kind of historical context Romero can explain from firsthand experience. Further, he spoke bluntly about his WWE auditions and communications, giving a voice to many in his position who might be wondering if there’s any chance of cashing in on the hard work they put in establishing a reputation over 10 or 15 years traveling the world to wrestle.

Why you should skip it: I generally overlook Cabana’s monologues, but to discuss how he’s moved away from watching RAW regularly and discussing his broader wrestling appetite without invoking the upcoming #RAWlternative movement just seemed weird. I don’t think it has anything to do with trying to create an evergreen show, as his monologues are regularly quite topical. He’s also a bit dismissive of Romero’s acting aspirations, though it could just be a little ball-busting among old friends.

Final thoughts: There’s no real standout portion of this hourlong chat. Not that it’s boring or anything, but I kept waiting for a moment where Romero really spoke to some powerful experience or detailed a personal goal. That moment never materialized, and it leaves the episode somewhat flat. It’s still a good lesson for anyone who follows Romero’s career, as well as good information for fans of the Japanese scene, but it won’t stand out as one of Cabana’s benchmark efforts. Not that it needs to; it’s what Cabana always said he wanted his show to be — a good way to pass an hour.