Thursday, October 29, 2015

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Art Of Wrestling Ep. 274

Cabana refuses to hinder Jinder on the latest 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: 274 (Oct. 29, 2015)
Run Time: 1:05:04
Guests: Chris Hero (2:01); Jinder Mahal (15:30)

Summary: Colt Cabana is back in Japan, which means resumption of recording the weekly open alongside tag partner Chris Hero. This week they chat mostly about losing teeth in the ring. Mahal, the main guest, talks about independent bookings, his childhood fandom and wrestler uncle, growing up in Calgary, the notion of fame as relates to his nationality, working in Japan, training with Bad News Allen and some of the quirks of wrestling in different American regions. He recalls a road trip that very nearly went horribly wrong and then revisits how he landed on the WWE’s radar and ended up on television.

Quote of the week: “I had no indication. Like, I was just doing regular matches. I would always have matches on FCW, like the Thursday shows and TV tapings. But on the house shows, like maybe about half the time. You know, I wasn’t like getting pushed or nothing, whereas you would see the guys who are getting groomed for TV right away. You knew. I just got a call one day, they’re like, ‘Hey, we need to update your bio.’ They just asked me a couple questions. … Next day they called me, they’re like, ‘Hey, you’re going to TV today.’ ”

Why you should listen: When Mahal talks about his culture and life outside the ring, it’s fairly interesting. The distinctions about people from different regions of India, the way immigrants connect to each other and their access to mainstream role models and the challenges of being from his part of Canada make for great thought fodder, and it’s always fun to hear tales of Bruce Hart, substitute teacher. And while his story of WWE success isn’t particularly compelling, it does provide useful as an illustration of the capricious nature of fledgling careers and inform how people in the developmental system understand their various opportunities.

Why you should skip it: The topics are interesting. The conversation… not so much. It might not have been the best idea for Cabana to hit the record button the second Mahal came through the curtain after his match, especially since this apparently was recorded at the Northeastern show where they wrestled in a parking lot. The Japanese penis obsession tales are somewhere between weird and gross. Surely some listeners will be let down that Mahal not only takes no shots at WWE but that the conversation does not even approach the latter stages of his prominent run.

Final thoughts: It’s probably not a strong positive to say that after listening to the whole thing I wished it was ten minutes of checking in with Mahal and 50 listening to Cabana and Hero trade stories about spitting teeth at their ringside friends. It’s not that Mahal is a bad guest or that Cabana botched the conversation, it’s just dull. Cabana regularly points out he’s not an interviewer, just a guy recording conversations with his friends. While it leads to entertainment more often than not, there are instances where his willingness to rely only on personal chemistry reveals a lack of preparation or forethought about the reason to hit the record button. We still end up with a far more satisfying experience than your average Ross Report, but it’s also fair to say Cabana has delivered much better results than this particular chat.