Monday, February 1, 2016

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Art Of Wrestling Ep. 287

Kevin Matthews is on the AOW this week
Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein
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: 287 (Jan. 27, 2016)
Run Time: 1:06:47
Guest: Kevin Matthews (9:06)

Summary: Concerned about awareness, Colt Cabana opens the show getting Matthews to give a brief introduction. Matthews recalls discipline problems he encountered in school, explained his multiethnic background, reviewed a few failed romantic relationships and talked about being handy. There’s a lot of conversation about wrestling training, including how Johnny Rodz rarely worked with his students, horror stories regarding Bill DeMott and Hardcore Holly and adjusting to life after being released from WWE developmental. After doubling back to the beginning of Matthews’ training, there’s a quick story about learning from Dory Funk before the guys talk about the early days of online self-promotion and Matthews explains his new promotion and school.

Quote of the week: “It was never a point where I was sitting there slitting my wrists, you know, downing a bunch of somas or nothing like that, but I just remember, I would always like, turn on the TV to watch South Park or something like that, something funny and stupid to fall asleep to, otherwise I would just sit there in, like, the pitch black, picturing my ex-girlfriend just like banging a different dude, everyone’s like making money and I’m broke, and having a real shoot job, I’m like ‘What the hell is going on?’ Not that I missed being there, because when I was there it was fucking horrible.”

Why you should listen: It’s been a while since Cabana has focused so narrowly on a guest, which is not a complaint — the show is not supposed to be a Wikipedia-style biography rehash (that’s what Jim Ross is for), so it was good to get the deep dive on Matthews’ conflict with DeMott and Holly, notably his injury stories. Although Matthews has plenty of hard feelings about his sour developmental experience, the interview comes off more as introspection than axe grinding.

Why you should skip it: I didn’t know much about Matthews’ wrestling career beforehand, and an hour later I’m not sure I know anything else. One of Cabana’s weak points as a host is the tendency to shoot for a laugh when he’s either got weak ammunition or lacks the interest/awareness in letting a serious moment hang. It doesn’t happen every time, but it seems Matthews was somewhat off balance in trying to determine of Cabana wanted to play the hour for comedy or actually dig deep. Either would have been just fine, but the scattershot approach to both didn’t do either man any favors.

Final thoughts: Hopefully this hasn’t come across as too critical. It’s not a horrible effort from Cabana, and he’d probably argue the interview lived up to the premise of the show as opposed to being held to my personal subjective standard. All of which is to say it’s by no means a bad way to spend an hour, I just don’t think anyone should go in expecting anything beyond light entertainment.