Tuesday, March 3, 2015

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Art Of Wrestling Ep. 239

Vader talked about everything except for Boy Meets World, apparently
Photo Credit: WWE.com
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: 239 (Feb. 25, 2015)
Run Time: 1:03:32
Guest: Vader (14:50)

Summary: Colt Cabana’s guest this week is Vader. They open by talking about the complications of international travel for such a large man, which leads into discussion of his memorable Japanese debut, the reasons Sid and the Ultimate Warrior didn’t earn the right to play Vader and how he connected with Mr. Saito yet ended up in Germany. Vader explains the difference in contracts and politics in Europe and Japan from the struggles he encountered in the major American promotions. He explains how he came to organically hone his stiff working style, explains what didn’t work about his time in WCW and WWF and shares some insight about his football career. Cabana regrets not asking Vader about his work on Boy Meets World.

Quote of the week: Vader, on why he fit better in Japan: “I think I’m misunderstood in a lot of ways. I think it was more suited for my character and my personality to be in that type of environment, you know, it’s like, ‘Hey, what you do in the ring matters here, not what you do in the bar after work.’ ”

Why you should listen: Vader is far more introspective than many would give him credit for, and it’s an intriguing juxtaposition to hear such thoughtful career and personal reflection about often incredibly violent acts and players. The interview helps illustrate the difference between working overseas and plying the trade in the Big Two stateside, and Cabana’s own background in working throughout Japan positions him well to lead that course of discussion.

Why you should skip it: Anyone who listened to Vader on the Steve Austin and Jim Ross podcasts won’t get much in the way of new information here. There’s a different vibe and spin, sure, but if your primary goal is accessing biographical data, this hour won’t deliver much. And, well, it’s likely there are some folks who assumed Cabana would spend 15 minutes on Boy Meets World. That’s a reasonable expectation, but you’ll have to wait until next time.

Final thoughts: To me the most fascinating thing was listening to how Cabana covered much of the same ground Vader broached with Austin and Ross. They’re not contemporaries or equals, but that removes the element of the host interjecting his own recollections. And Austin and Ross don’t have nearly the same background working in Japan and Europe, so on that level Cabana actually is far more suited to draw out interesting tidbits. I find Vader a compelling subject no matter who has the other microphone, and while his other podcast appearances might have been more informative, they’re also more like reviewing a career on Wikipedia — heavy on facts, light on context. And the context is what enriches the understanding of the performer and his experiences in the business.