Monday, June 29, 2015

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Art Of Wrestling Ep. 256

End got the spotlight on Art of Wrestling
Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein
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: 256 (June 24, 2015)
Run Time: 1:00:54
Guest: Tommy End (8:27)

Summary: Colt Cabana catches up with Dutch wrestler Tommy End. They open talking about road life and End’s many tattoos. Then End goes into some serious detail regarding the cult his father left at age 15 and how those attitudes affected his family and upbringing. End explains being an NJPW and Jushin Liger fan as a child and talks at length about his experiences in competitive martial arts, including as a trainer. Then they discuss growing as a wrestler, in particular End’s journey from WXW to success in Japan and the world over.

Quote of the week: “Again it comes down to analyzing. Less is more, all right, but what is less is more? You know, answer that question. But to me it was still doing the same thing. … I didn’t think the epiphanies of professional wrestling came by what someone else said, it was more like analyzing myself. It was like taking in mind what people were saying and then remembering that while I was wrestling a match, trying it out and analyzing what the reaction was. You just used a good word, psychology, but it’s also your own psychology, you own human psyche you employ or implement in professional wrestling to get better.”

Why you should listen: First off, End speaks English as well or better than some of Cabana’s American guests, so don’t worry about a language barrier. The meat of this session is the first half, where End gets frank about his father and really starts to unpack the forces that shaped his personality. The last few minutes, as the guys share about evolving goals as careers progress, is starting to become routine for Cabana, but End brings a fresh spin that’s much appreciated.

Why you should skip it: You’ll have to fight through Evan Bourne’s interjections for the first few minutes. And the martial arts stuff, outside of the ability to contextualize End’s school days, is a bit of a low spot dragging down the middle of an otherwise solid episode. Some folks might be bothered by Cabana’s lack of awareness about his guest and his culture, although credit to Cabana for not trying to fake his way through.

Final thoughts: I had no idea who Tommy End was when I saw his name pop up in the episode name. I learned a lot about the guy and I wish him well in his career. That quick evolution in my mind to be one of the things Art Of Wrestling does quite well, even after nearly five years. Unfortunately, it’s also easy for people who have no knowledge of the guest to skip a week until a bigger name appears. That’s generally not a good strategy, though, as Cabana does some of his best work shining light on the otherwise overlooked.