Monday, December 21, 2015

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Art Of Wrestling Ep. 281

Abyss makes the rounds on the Art of Wrestling
Photo Credit: Lee South/
If you’re new, here’s the rundown. We 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 many wrestling podcasts out there, of course, but this feature largely hews to the regular rotation we feel best fit the category of hit or miss. If we can save other folks some time, we’re happy to do so.

Show: Art Of Wrestling
Episode: 281 (Dec. 17, 2015)
Run Time: 1:02:41
Guest: Abyss (11:56)

Summary: After small talk, Colt Cabana asks Abyss about the rapid, widespread reaction to his appearance on The Ross Report, which leads to talk about podcasts in general. Abyss gives details about the career of his trainer, former WWF referee Roger Ruffin, then explains how his size has been an asset and a detriment throughout his life. Abyss revisits his football career, time at Ohio University and sports management jobs before talking about his early days in wrestling, the importance of getting work in Puerto Rico under the influence of Dutch Mantell. He explains how his career turned a corner when he increased his in-ring physicality, weighs in on his extensive hardcore phase and ends by considering all the turnover he’s seen in TNA and his admiration of AJ Styles.

Quote of the week: “That was the last job I ever had before wrestling. And what ended that was I already had two strikes, and I already had one left to not show. And Bob Ryder called me and said, “We’d like you for the first TNA pay-per-view in Huntsville, Alabama, on July 19, 2002, for the Gauntlet For the Gold.” And I’d never talked to Bob or nothing, but I was just, I mean, I was — I punched a hole in the wall I was so happy. I was like, ‘God, they’re bringing me in! I can’t believe it! The first pay-per-view!’ They said if you miss, you’re done and I was done with that.”

Why you should listen: For someone who listens to as many wrestling podcasts as me, the opening segment in which the guys considered how quickly a story Abyss told Ross (because of something Tommy Dreamer said on Steve Austin’s show) was fascinating, and not just because it helps reinforce the reality of the people behind the wrestling “news” that flies around cyberspace. Also, Abyss consciously tried to avoid topics he covered with Ross, aware most Art Of Wrestling listeners will have heard the earlier interview. The Ruffin bits also were compelling, and I hope Cabana tracks him down for his own episode.

Why you should skip it: The good stuff was too brief, the small talk wasted time and Abyss was so happy to finally get around to being a guest he seemed at points too self aware. I was left wanting to hear much more about Abyss’ stint in Puerto Rico, his years portraying Prince Justice and especially his thoughts about being a hardcore wrestler with that period primarily in his rear-view mirror.

Final thoughts: This wasn’t a can’t-miss chat, though it’s fair to point out my reasons to skip are mostly complaints I didn’t get more of what I liked, not a dismissal of what I got. Cabana’s weakness as an interviewer presents itself differently with each guest — this episode being an instance of his friendliness with the guest convincing him he can just open his mouth and say things. (That said, I did quite appreciate him noting at the end how the session was much more than a recitation of Wikipedia data.) Maybe some day we’ll get that part two Abyss wants.