Wednesday, July 1, 2015

I Listen So You Don't Have To: International Object Ep. 118

Talkin' bout money on this week's IO
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: International Object
Episode: 118 (June 13, 2015)
Run Time: 1:25:57
Guest: Chris Harrington

Summary: Sawyer Paul’s guest is Chris Harrington, who hosts the Wrestlenomics podcast. They discuss the nature of statistics in wrestling, look at the evolution of how the WWF was covered in media trade publications into the current age of stock prices and conference calls. That leads to talk about pro wrestling’s current appeal to pop culture websites and the peculiarities of encountering wrestling fans in the real world. They share experiences about wrestling in academia, examine the effect of wrestling landing between sport and entertainment, consider what data WWE tracks about its shows and how that is used to evaluate star power. The back half of the show is the guys trading off memories of their favorite monologues.

Quote of the week: “I have to kind of remind people sometime I do have opinions, I do have interests in things. I try to be cold and calculating just to give information, but I do care. I do mark out when I go to shows. I go to WrestleMania, I went this year. I go to lots of things because I love wrestling, too, beyond just numbers and facts.”

Why you should listen: I don’t listen to Wrestlenomics, so it was really good to get a deeper sense of Harrington’s background and fandom far beyond what I encounter on Twitter. (The best part for me, the Royal Rumble stat nerd, was the discussion about how difficult it can be to compile data for a sport with such a long history of subverting its own rules.) Longtime International Object fans will instantly recognize this as the type of discourse the show was made to spotlight, and the way the look at favorite monologues leads the guys through various eras and territories is pitch perfect.

Why you should skip it: To some, numbers as a talking point are inescapably boring, full stop. To others, wrestling podcasts that only discuss the endeavor in broad strokes lack relevance. International Object, for close to a hundred episodes now, is always going to be two or more regular fans talking. That makes it pretty inconsistent with most of the shows I regularly write about here, so I guess this is fair warning.

Final thoughts: I wanted to listen to and write up this episode much closer to when it aired, but a lot of other shows got it the way. The beautiful thing about International Object, though, is it’s generally timeless. Harrington is a tailor-made guest for Paul’s approach to understanding wrestling, and that’s proven by the way the episode remains entertaining even after the 180-degree flip halfway through. I’d be interested to know what anyone new to International Object thinks, but I most certainly enjoyed this chat.