Friday, May 8, 2015

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Cheap Heat May 5

Zayn's debut on RAW is discussed on the show
Photo Credit:
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: May 5, 2015
Run Time: 1:04:54
Guest: None

Summary: David Shoemaker is in studio this week with Peter Rosenberg, who introduces the new guy, Greg, ostensibly a fact checker who chimes in a few times during the episode. The guys open with a quick hit on a great RAW, including the debut of Sami Zayn and a returning Tamina, before taking listener questions on Roman Reigns, the New Day, Eric Bischoff and advertising the WWE Network. There’s a lengthy sidetrack about the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight and Michelle Beadle’s reaction. Getting back to wrestling, discussion turns to the Payback main event, ascendance of NXT stars, the distinction between the terms peckerhead and humanoid and if either man can envision giving up on WWE completely. Rosenberg wonders how current race relation issues might or should be projected to ongoing WWE stories. Shoemaker plays a clip of Bret Hart’s unbearable early 1990s song from WrestleMania: The Album and the show ends with halfhearted attempts to determine sporting equivalents to iconic WWE matches and a few corrections from Greg.

Quote of the week: Shoemaker: “I don’t think any of us engage on a daily basis with the demons of our favorite sports stars. Professional wrestlers are a huge part of this number. But also, when it’s in front of you — as we were getting closer to the fight, I kind of felt this urge, even though I didn’t, it wasn’t what I wanted to do, I kind of felt like it was necessary to be reading these articles. I knew this stuff, but to confront it again and again.”

Why you should listen: Greg seems like a good dude. RAW was great and the guys are appropriately excited. While they don’t give it enough attention, Shoemaker and Rosenberg do at least approach the issue of Mayweather’s history of unrepentant domestic violence and very much make it relevant to WWE fandom, and sweet Jesus, if you’ve never heard that Bret Hart song you need to at least consume the snippet included in is episode. So bad it has to be heard to be appreciated — though it will never be understood.

Why you should skip it: Because you will be driven mad at the amount of time spent discussing trivial nonsense instead of Zayn-Cena. They proclaim this week’s RAW the best since the one following WrestleMania XXX, then provide hardly any supporting evidence. The Mayweather conversation is important, but it’s clear neither host was prepared to unpack the complexities of the issue, and the segment came off more as a “well, I guess we have to address this elephant in the room” than an intentional look at a hot topic.

Final thoughts: My longstanding theory is the quality of Cheap Heat is directly tied to the quality of WWE programming. And while there are some decent moments of humor and insight this week, the episode as a whole was disappointing coming off the high of a truly great RAW episode. At its weakest moments, Cheap Heat either is or seems like a show hosted by two guys who like each other and love wrestling but don’t do much planning aside from agreeing on a time to meet in the studio. I will continue to hold it to a higher standard because both guys make it clear how good they can be when they’re fully invested, and this show should be essential listening for current WWE fans. But when episodes like this arrive as a question mark instead of an exclamation point, it quickly dampens my enthusiastic optimism.