Monday, February 29, 2016

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Art Of Wrestling Ep. 290

Lethal makes his second AOW appearance 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: 290 (Feb. 24, 2016)
Run Time: 1:08:10
Guest: Jay Lethal (10:07)

Summary: The first time he was on Colt Cabana’s show, Jay Lethal had just lost his job with TNA. Now he’s Ring of Honor champion. After small talk about his tooth gap, Lethal revisits the end of his TNA run, talks a little real estate, social media and Powerball, then reflects on being the “nice guy” in wrestling circles and speculates that Vince Russo might had led to his separation from TNA. Then he dips back into his childhood as a fan an aspiring wrestler, explains his own philosophy as a trainer and contrasts that with his at times difficult training experience. The end involves reflections about his proud father, stories about the Iron Sheik and Jimmy Hart, his history of being an impressionist and bonding over the importance of flip-flops.

Quote of the week: “What I tell them is, ‘You know, you’ve paid me to teach you how to wrestle. You didn’t pay me to teach you how to work out. You can do that on your own time, you can do that if you Google how to work out. But I will tell you that it’s very important, and it’s up to you to do that on your own time if you want to go above and beyond and become a great professional wrestler. You can’t have it without that other stuff. But I’m not here to hold your hand and watch you do your 500 squats or your push-ups, whatever else, you know, I had to do when I started.’ So, I mean, they seem to like it, well, they love it! I would’ve loved that!”

Why you should listen: Lethal does indeed come across as a nice guy, genuinely respectful of the opportunities he had in TNA and the respect he’s getting in ROH, candid and practical about how his chosen profession affects real-life things like home ownership and simply willing to have a good conversation with an old friend and be himself more than anything else.

Why you should skip it: This is Lethal’s second AOW appearance, and you’ll have to go back to the first if you actually want to hear much about his wrestling career. Not being a devoted Lethal fan I can’t exactly say what we missed out on, but it’s been nearly five years since he left TNA, and since he’s spent most of that time with ROH and given Cabana’s history with that promotion, it might have been a natural launch point — or at least more interesting than hearing about waiting for a check in a restaurant and lottery jackpot speculation.

Final thoughts: This is a real mixed bag. While I don’t know Lethal well, I did enjoy listening to his conversation here from an amusement standpoint. He and Cabana have an easy charisma and sound like they’re genuinely having fun together, which makes an episode pass quickly. That said, it’s a pretty weak excuse for a wrestling podcast, which was kind of a bummer because I think I’d really enjoy Lethal go into detail about what it means to be ROH champion, both in 2016 and in context of his own lengthy career. All of which means this one boils down to how much you need to learn about Lethal versus how much you just want to spend time with him. If you trend toward the latter, dig right in and I doubt you’ll be disappointed.