Monday, April 6, 2015

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Art Of Wrestling Ep. 244

Thrasher is Cabana's guest this week
Photo via @GRThrasher
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: 244 (April 2, 2015)
Run Time: 1:16:31
Guest: Headbanger Thrasher (12:23)

Summary: Colt Cabana gets around to interviewing the senior member of the Headbangers, beginning the chat with talk about Thrasher’s father and other relatives, how he got his start in wrestling and his first match, which was against Abdullah the Butcher in Japan. They revisit Thrasher’s time in high school and college and getting the courage to contact the Monster Factory. That led to work at WWF television tapings, which itself led to working for Jim Cornette in Smoky Mountain Wrestling, where the Headbangers originated. Thrasher explains how the Attitude Era WWF locker room had a real family atmosphere, tells some Flying Nuns stories and talks about his knee injury. They end with Thrasher talking about his 10 years away from the ring and what it took to get him back to wrestling.

Quote of the week: On summoning the courage to contact Larry Sharpe: “I always had this postcard. I always, I kept it. And I don’t know why I always kept it, but it was always sitting on my dresser, tucked in my mirror and stuff like that. And then just one day I picked up the phone and I dialed the phone number and Larry, he would pick up the phone, and he would be going ‘Monster Factory get monsterized!’ And he would scream that in the phone. I hung up three times, three times I just hung up the phone. And then finally on the fourth one I went, ‘All right, I want to come down for a tryout.’”

Why you should listen: Thrasher is a pretty good storyteller. His time as a WWF jobber will speak to fans who remember the days of Tatanka and Papa Shango, and yet he has an even better tale about working with Abdullah and a recent instance of trouble with an airport cabbie. Every time it’s his turn to talk he effortlessly paints a fairly vivid picture, and more importantly he comes across as a guy who is both rightfully proud of the success he attained in professional wresting while also being humble abut his career in comparison to the truly legendary figures of his time.

Why you should skip it: There is some repetition here with Cabana’s earlier interview with Headbanger Mosh, though those moments more elicit a sense of déjà vu than simply feel like one of Steve Austin’s verbatim retelling of a tired anecdote. There’s actually not too much to dislike about this episode, unless you were really hoping for a lot of stories about the peak of the Headbangers’ success. There’s really not much discussion about life on the road with the late-90s WWF.

Final thoughts: Cabana said a few times he thought this was a great episode. I don’t know if it’s one of his best, but I found it a really fun chat that seemed to fly by. Though Thrasher was plenty serious when talking about some of the more challenging years of his life, the tone never dropped into some of the super-serious, dark introspective moments from earlier episodes — and it’s not because Cabana made awkward jokes to try to lighten the mood, it’s because Thrasher is in a great place right now and is comfortably honest about an interesting life. It’s hard to ask for too much more.