Friday, March 6, 2015

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Art Of Wrestling Ep. 240

Stamp HAS been booked for the Art of Wrestling
Screen Grab via
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: 240 (March 5, 2015)
Run Time: 1:15:44
Guest: Dennis Stamp (14:22)

Summary: Colt Cabana’s guest this week is Dennis Stamp, a veteran wrestler whose biggest brush with fame is from his appearance in the cult classic documentary Beyond the Mat. The conversation opens with Stamp’s recollections of working for the Funk brothers in Amarillo, Texas, and some stories about AWA TV tapings in Las Vegas. They talk about his memories of the movie, and after Stamp raves about his granddaughter, he and Cabana begin to loosely trace Stamp’s career trajectory, along the way discussion vivid memories of Verne Gagne, Billy Robinson, the Iron Sheik, Bill Watts, and Harley Race, among others. At the very end Stamp mentions his writing projects, and the post-plug Easter egg is Stamp reciting his poem, “I’m Not Booked.”

Quote of the week: “I have seen [Beyond the Mat], but I can’t stand to watch it, no. When I was wrestling all the time, any opportunity I had to watch any of my matches, I’d watch ’em. Every single time, I’d watch over and over because I was critically critiquing every little move, every position, how I held my leg, whatever … but now, I don’t like to watch any of ’em. I will, but I don’t like to, and I don’t like to watch that movie either.”

Why you should listen: Stamp is just great. His joy at somehow being still relevant in the wrestling scene in 2015 carries the entire episode. It’s serendipitous to have this drop the day after Terry Funk was on The Ross Report because Funk is clearly such a pivotal figure in Stamp’s life and career. Further, Stamp has a career arc similar of many of Cabana’s contemporary guests in its peaks, valleys, detours, joys and frustrations, but all those moments played out at least two or three decades earlier.

Why you should skip it: I’m actually struggling to come up with a reason here. I’ve actually not seen all of Beyond the Mat (I know, I know) so I don’t know how much of this is redundant. And as great as Stamp’s stories about the Road Warriors and Robinson, Watts, etc., might be, they’re for the most part his potentially clouded version, so you can’t book it all as gospel truth. Also, I didn’t care for the poem.

Final thoughts: I’m struggling to think of the fan demographic to whom this episode would not appeal. The best I can come up with is someone who has gotten into WWE only fandom in just the last five years or so — and to that person I suggest this interview is a fantastic history lesson that can only open several different doors, behind each of which lies another interesting chapter of the past. It’s not Cabana’s most powerful work or anything, but it’s a great guest, they have solid chemistry and the stories are just plan fun to hear. What else do you need from a podcast?