Friday, February 20, 2015

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Cheap Heat Feb. 18

Actor Clark Duke is on the show this week
Photo Credit: Chris Pizzello/AP
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: Cheap Heat
Episode: Feb. 18, 2015
Run Time: 1:10:13
Guest: Clark Duke (44:14)

Summary: David Shoemaker and a refreshingly alert Peter Rosenberg are in studio this week, opening with a discussion about Samoa Joe’s departure from TNA. They transition to a Raw discussion, which doubles as a preview for Fastlane as well as a look ahead to WrestleMania. There’s a bit of chatter about WWE’s ringside announcers and the way WWE constrains even veteran performers. Out of nowhere, Shoemaker unveils his concept for Little League Pro Wrestling. Eventually actor Clark Duke calls in to promote Hot Tub Time Machine 2, preview Fast Lane and kick around WrestleMania options. After 12 minutes of that, they move on to listener emails, the last of which leads to a conversation about Rob Gronkowski and Mojo Rawley.

Quote of the week: Shoemaker: “You know what this country needs? Little League Pro Wrestling. What would be better for kids to have such a well-rounded experience? You get the athletic side, you get the acting side. The people who are going to watch it are people like us, the people who like freak out at random Chikara matches with like skinny guys doing random tornado DDTs to each other. It would be so awesome.”

Why you should listen: The Samoa Joe discussion is worthwhile and a hair more broad than might be expected. There can’t be enough criticism of WWE for being too strict with microphone work, and bring it up in the context of Dusty Rhodes is especially welcome.

Why you should skip it: The main problem is an episode positioned as a preview for Sunday’s Fast Lane is fairly light on discussion of the actual card for that show. Beyond that, only one of the hosts has seen the NXT Supershow from last week, so any discussion in that direction is limp at best. Duke adds nothing to the conversation (“He’s in movies! He watches RAW sometimes!”), and things like the Rowley-Gronk discussion just reveal how little attention the guys (especially Rosenberg) pay to the yellow ropes corner of the WWE Network.

Final thoughts: Perhaps the inability to focus too heavily on Fast Lane is simply indicative of that show’s function in regards to the larger WWE calendar. If WWE weren’t adding matches to a Sunday show on Tuesday afternoon, the hosts would not be caught off guard. But ultimately this episode is indicative of what happens when there’s no show planning before the red light goes on. An interview about Duke’s background as a fan would have been interesting, or a match-by-match Fast Lane preview, or a total breakdown of Rival, or a full-blown WrestleMania predictions chat and so on. But like most weeks, it tries to be a little bit of all those things and ends up being none. At least Shoemaker’s Grantland mailbag this week was delightful.