Monday, June 1, 2015

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Art of Wrestling Ep. 252

Hawkins is a return guest to the AOW
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: Art Of Wrestling
Episode: 252 (May 27, 2015)
Run Time: 1:12:52
Guest: Brian Myers/Curt Hawkins (11:36)

Summary: Colt Cabana wants to be clear he’s interviewing Brian Myers, but realizes most fans will know him from his extended WWE career as Curt Hawkins. In their second AOW chat, the guys talk quite a bit about the ways in which independent wrestlers earn a living, breaking down the nature of merchandise sales and the importance of connections with fans. Hawkins explains how he tries to enjoy the journey of his career instead of having laser focus on a single destination. There is talk of how he stayed fresh while being used sparingly for WWE shows, his time training with the Rock leading into Survivor Series 2012 and helping foster the Rock-Kevin Steen relationship. He opens up about the nature of his WWE termination, relives some of his favorite WWE moments (and a few failed pitches) and expertly explains why he doesn’t want sympathy from fans he encounters during his travels.

Quote of the week: “Every time I get booked, I go, I wrestle, I’m nice to everyone, I bust my ass, I try to have the match of the night or the best possible match I can with whoever I’m facing, whatever the situation entails, that’s it. I want the repeat business. That’s where my money is because I’m not getting paid a giant lump sum to be there in the first place, I didn’t have that kind of a run.”

Why you should listen: After 250 shows, it’s hard to say any of Cabana’s guests are unique — especially for a repeat appearance. But Hawkins somehow delivers. He’s plenty honest about his WWE time while making it obvious he’s open to a return. He enjoys being a wrestler because he’s a huge wrestling fan and appreciates WWE is only a part of the overall scene. And this, more than the vast majority of Cabana’s shows, is at times a real look into the business aspect of managing your own wrestling career, instead of just another story of breaking in and riding the road.

Why you should skip it: It’s been about five years since Hawkins’ initial AOW appearance, but surely that show yields more actual information about Hawkins’ life and career. Some folks might read Hawkins’ self-awareness as self-importance. Also there’s a dog barking and a few coughing fits that threaten to derail the proceedings in the first half.

Final thoughts: This is a somewhat atypical AOW. Hawkins clearly deserves a second interview because he’s in such a different place from a career standpoint. He’s not an especially interesting person, but he’s incredibly adept at making his emotions accessible to listeners as a matter of course, not at all pandering. Yet not much of what’s said is essential. On balance, I was well entertained. As my fatigue grows with some of the other shows in my regular rotation, I remain impressed Cabana can generally find ways to continue to regularly meet his own high standards.