Friday, May 1, 2015

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Cheap Heat, April 30

Lots of Orton talk this week
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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: April 30, 2015
Run Time: 56:57
Guest: None

Summary: Last week’s technical issues have been put to rest, so David Shoemaker and Peter Rosenberg are back to sounding normal. They briefly discuss Jeff Hardy’s new injury and wax nostalgic about the late Verne Gagne. A look at Shoemaker’s Wednesday Grantland piece bleeds into a quick look back at Extreme Rules and a flash ahead glance at Payback. Subsequent conversation subjects include Randy Orton, Daniel Bryan, the New Day, WWE Network, Adrian Neville and Rusev.

Quote of the week: Shoemaker, regarding a strong week of WWE Network programming: “I love the NXT specials and NXT every week, and that’s enough reason for a mark like me to buy the Network, but you can’t lean on that to drive viewership. That is like the cherry on the sundae for somebody who’s just like, ‘Oh, I like wrestling,’ and then suddenly they’re like, ‘Holy crap, there’s a better show than RAW on here.’ … The NXT shows are my favorite thing in the world, that’s not what Rosenberg is saying they’ve figured out.”

Why you should listen: The guys do a great job discussing Gagne, whose death earlier in the week escaped the notice of Jim Ross and Steve Austin (at least Tuesday’s episode), who recorded their shows Monday afternoon. The context Shoemaker gives regarding his Grantland ranking of WWE stars actually adds to the understanding of the essay instead of just being a diluted recap, as is usually the case on the podcast. Rosenberg accurately captures Neville’s rising star, but mostly it’s nice to move on from Extreme Rules after watching the show Sunday, reading about it Monday and having it analyzed to the nth degree on Tuesday and Wednesday podcasts.

Why you should skip it: Conversely, if you did want to know what the guys thought of Extreme Rules, you’re more or less out of luck. Further, the Bryan discussion is depressing, the Orton segment won’t land well with anyone who has a severe case of RKO fatigue and, while there are some good comments on the current state of the Network, we might be at a point where fantasy programming WWEN is as much a navel gazing exercise as sketching out your own ideal SummerSlam card.

Final thoughts: I actually just wanted the guys to keep talking about Verne Gagne and save the WWE stuff for another week. Understandably that would be a significant departure from the conventional approach and might have limited appeal. Still, Shoemaker did a great job quickly contextualizing the role Gagne and AWA played in establishing the modern wrestling landscape. Beyond that, speeding away from Extreme Rules was a good choice. With RAW down and Smackdown spoilers available, and Payback so quickly approaching, it was much more relevant to take stock of some big name players and accelerate forward. Not their strongest show, but a very solid effort after last week’s technological tire fire.