Monday, February 9, 2015

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Art of Wrestling Ep. 236

Hacksaw is one of three guests on the AOW this week
Photo Credit:
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: 236 (Feb. 4, 2015)
Run Time: 1:13:57
Guest: “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan (2:55); Shane Douglas (22:10), Greg “The Hammer” Valentine (49:49)

Summary: Colt Cabana recorded this live episode a few weeks ago at Magic City Comic Con. His chat with Duggan opens with calling an audience member’s mother before they chat about the iconic 2x4, Duggan’s run in Mid-South, how he got the flag-carrying gimmick and a few stories about Andre the Giant and Jake Roberts. The next guest is a return appearance from Douglas, who explains the meager profits wrestlers earn from merchandise sales and talks about the physical sacrifices it took to be a wrestler in the 1990s. He also opens up about his time with the Dynamic Dudes and the negotiation process for his second WWF run in 1996. The final guest, Valentine, explains how he got into the business and why he’s still working independent shows, shares stories of working with Jimmy Hart and asserts he’s much more settled down from his earlier, wilder days.

Quote of the week: Douglas, on a memorable night in a heel town: “So Johnny (Laurinaitis) and I go into the ring that night, and we’re working with Midnight Express. He’s supposed to start with Bobby Eaton, who’s phenomenal. And they’re circling around and I see Stan’s (Lane) over there on the apron, putting his arm up over his face, trying to cover up. (Jim Cornette’s) got his tennis racquet up in front of his face, Bobby Eaton’s trying to cover his face up, and Johnny, steam’s coming out of his ears. … He goes ‘tag in!’ so I put my hand up and he smacks the hell out of my hand … I get through the ropes and I lock up and Bobby, who always has a very funny talking style, he’s really hard to understand, he says, ‘Shane boy, when I push you off, why don’t you take a look in the stands to your right.’ So he pushes me off and I take three steps away form him to create the distance and I look over, and in the very top tier of the Philadelphia Spectrum, I see a great big sign, wall-sized, like 10 feet by eight feet, it’s huge. Bright, fluorescent pink letters. And it says ‘Johnny sucks Shane’s cock.’”

Why you should listen: Many of Cabana’s live shows, especially those form Scotland in August, suffer for podcast listeners by including guests quite unfamiliar to the home audience. That’s not the case here by any stretch. Duggan and Valentine are more lucid than might be expected, and Douglas’ spot is entirely different from his mid-October appearance. Fans of the Old School Wrestling Podcast will enjoy hearing Duggan pronounce his last name as “Doogan” and tell his gorilla suit story, Douglas’ retelling of negotiating with Vince McMahon and developing the Dean Douglas character are wonderful and Valentine really hits home talking about his love of being in the ring, inherited directly from his famous father.

Why you should skip it: The worst part of the show is the audio issues during the Valentine segment, which Cabana acknowledges. It was frustrating he didn’t have time to dig deeper with any of the guests, especially Duggan, who appeared on the cusp of either telling some really great stories or actually unpacking some of the more challenging times of his career. Valentine was equally unexplored, and I was left curious how the discussion might have gone if it were he and Cabana sitting in a locker room after an indie show, like his long-age chat with Hillbilly Jim. Also, Douglas spends a few minutes in a dark place, talking about wrestlers’ deaths and struggles. It’s clearly not the mood Cabana wants for his live audience, and that conflict is frustrating no matter which man’s focus you’d prefer win out.

Final thoughts: As Cabana’s live shows go, this probably was my favorite. There were no comedy bits to fall flat, just three quick interviews with three huge names. The format certainly left some things unexplored (given a choice between hearing about Valentine’s days with his hair dyed black or Duggan’s infamous drug arrest with the Iron Sheik, I’d trade the one we got for the one we didn’t), but it was enjoyable nonetheless. As long as you realize what you’re not getting, this one should be enjoyable.