Monday, February 23, 2015

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Art Of Wrestling Ep. 238

Buddy Landel 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: 238 (Feb. 18, 2015)
Run Time: 1:13:38
Guest: Buddy Landel (12:13)

Summary: Colt Cabana’s guest this week is the "Nature Boy" himself — no not that one — Buddy Landel, who starts the chat discussing tobacco use, which segues into stories of how he broke into wrestling, his training experience and how the choice to emancipate from his parents at age 16 was emblematic of the confidence that carried him through his career. Landel explained how his relationship with Baby Doll caused problems backstage and went into detail on the drug binge that led to him missing a TV appearance to film an important angle. He talked about his personal definition of rock bottom, shared his experience on the last day of Bruiser Brody’s life and ended by explaining his current family situation and the struggles he continues to overcome.

Quote of the week: “Who killed the NWA? We fuckin’ all killed it, man. Blame all of us. God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for less debauchery than we were living on a daily basis.”

Why you should listen: This is some hot fire right here. Landel is outside the realm of my personal fan expertise, but nearly every name he drops is an all-time great, and his blunt force honesty seemingly devoid of any personal agenda is eye-opening. Landel might be the only person I’ve heard on a podcast with less than unvarnished praise for Ric Flair, and the ability to play “what if” on the creation of the Four Horsemen is not the kind of thing you expect when clicking play on a Cabana show, yet his position as my contemporary instead of Landel’s allows for the guest’s story to shine on its own.

Why you should skip it: Landel is indeed full of himself. People who have never heard of him will be hard pressed to think he’s anything but a drugged-out never was. Conversely, those who are familiar with Landel might prefer this interview be handled by someone with some shared personal experiences, such as Jim Ross, who could offer counterbalance to a biased worldview. Further, those disinterested in or fatigued with the “saved” narrative aren’t going to enjoy Landel’s take on the importance of faith in his current life.

Final thoughts: Man, I loved this one. Cabana is by no means the world’s best interviewer, but his understanding of when to hang bang and let the guest go instead of trying to continually make himself part of the story, a la Ross, is rarely as appreciated as it is on this episode. Like any shoot interview situation with a guy from the territory days, you have to take everything Landel says with several grains of salt, but hearing even his side of these stories is such a refreshing change of pace from most of the other podcasts of late, as well as the pro wrestling scene in general, I can’t commend this episode highly enough — whether you listen now or six months down the road. It’s a keeper for sure.