Wednesday, March 25, 2015

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Art Of Wrestling Ep. 242

Hero is one of Cabana's many guests for the latest episode
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: 242 (March 18, 2015)
Run Time: 1:16:02
Guest: Justin Credible (8:17); Mike Mondo (22:08); Oscar (34:02); Biff Busick (45:38); Chris Hero (54:19)

Summary: Colt Cabana is live in Boston for this week’s episode with a becy of guests. Credible discusses the times Paul Heyman’s ideas flopped and the concept of being a wrestling “genius,” his role in Savio Vega’s WWF debut in Syracuse, N.Y., and what it meant to have car trouble in the mid-90s. He also announces his retirement plans, talks about the reality of wrestler pay and remembers the influence of Tony Garea. Mondo talks about his run as a WWE tag team champion, wrestling in alternative attire, the time he lost his pants in a match against Viscera and overseas tours. Next is Oscar, the O in Men On a Mission, who discusses rapping, his chance meeting with Vince McMahon, the MOM ring gear and the Lex Express. Busick appears briefly to talk about bad first impressions and one particularly unfortunate meeting with Chris Jericho. Hero closes the show with stories about Peru, Cesaro, the IWA Mid South locker room, the time he unwittingly assaulted a ring announcer and his Facebook relationship with Ahmed Johnson.

Quote of the week: Credible: “You just have to be a genius for one or two things. … That’s really true in all of life. I’ve struck out more times than I’ve hit home runs, but if you hit a couple of ’em, you know, you’re always remembered for that.”

Why you should listen: There are none of the audio problems that often plague Cabana’s live shows, and there’s hardly anything that feels like an inside joke for only the people in the room at the time of the recording. Cabana has an easy chemistry with each guest, and the wide-ranging backgrounds of the panel members mean the episode covers a lot of different territory. My favorite parts were Busick’s Jericho story and Hero and Cabana explaining Cesaro’s sense of humor as it relates to English wordplay.

Why you should skip it: Credible and Hero are repeat guests, but the middle three performers have never been on Cabana’s show and each deserves their own full episode for different reasons. Cabana did pledge to have Busick back on for a full show, but certainly Oscar has a lot more to say about the ups and downs of his WWF experience, and Mondo and Cabana could dig much deeper into their shared experience in the developmental world. None of the interviews herein are bad or anything, it’s just kind of frustrating to get only a few tastes.

Final thoughts: In a period where every podcast is heavy with WrestleMania talk, this episode is a breath of fresh air, largely free of any discussion regarding the current WWE product. Cabana has really improved in making the live podcasts viable for the home audience, and you can tell going in that with five guests over 75 minutes there’s not going to be time for any of them to truly shine. The guest order works well, too, with Credible and Hero serving as sturdy bookends. This is by no mean’s Cabana’s best work, but it’s a much more enjoyable listen than most of the shows I write about were last week or this one thus far.