Monday, February 8, 2016

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Art Of Wrestling Ep. 288

Jack Evans is on the AOW
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: 288 (Feb. 4, 2016)
Run Time: 1:01:50
Guest: Jack Evans (11:29)

Summary: Colt Cabana finally pins down high-flying Jack Evans as a guest. They talk about Evans’ grasp of Spanish and his work in Mexico, a running theme of the episode. Evans recalls breaking his face, talks about trying to find weed in Japan and contrasting that with the hard drugs common in Mexican locker rooms up until the death of Abismo Negro. That flips abruptly to Evans being a husband and father before recalling his childhood in Tacoma, Wash., and what led him to wrestling. There are wild stories about his quick friendship with Teddy Hart, praise for the influence of Chico Alvarez, explanations of his “floppy body” and memories of the training ring his dad built and the origins of the 630. Doubling back to Mexico leads to talk about production values in wrestling and notably Lucha Underground. At the very end Evans explains his unorthodox approach to sleeping on airplanes.

Quote of the week: “We took off the top, and we stuffed weed down all these hockey sticks, they’re hollow hockey sticks … But this is the thing that pisses me off, is A, I’ve only known Ted like two weeks at this time now, and I’m already smuggling drugs over the Canadian border, but Ted flew himself and his girlfriend back and made me and this guy drive back by ourselves, so I’m sitting there just, like, freaking out, like ‘What have I gotten myself into?’ ”

Why you should listen: Cabana and Evans have great chemistry, and while Evans’ background is some sort of Vampiro-Matt Sydal hybrid — in that there’s a lot of talk about drugs, Mexico and aerial maneuvers — he’s most assuredly a unique character with his own interesting approach to life and wrestling. In this case the wide-ranging nature of the conversation is advantageous in introducing the audience to someone somewhat outside the mainstream without coming off as five or six timid little advances into what could have been deep water.

Why you should skip it: There’s barely a whiff of Evans’ Lucha Underground experience and somehow even less discussion of Ring of Honor, Dragon Gate, TNA, CZW, PWG and so on. Not that it weakens the overall interview, but fans familiar with Evans from his work in a specific location might be bummed to come away without any stories or context from those promotions. Further, while it’s not a reason to skip altogether, I’d advise anyone unfamiliar with Evans’ ring work to spend a little time with him on YouTube before pressing play, as the discussion of his extraordinary leaping and flopping ability is difficult to fully appreciate without some sort of visual frame of reference.

Final thoughts: Despite having no real previous exposure to Evans, I really enjoyed this episode. A lot of the credit for that goes directly to Evans, who obviously was excited about being an Art Of Wrestling guest and also was completely able to grasp the nature of the show. When Cabana has easy chemistry with his guest, the whole “just recording a regular conversation” vibe works much, much better than when he has to attempt to be an actual host. This episode certainly won’t pass as essential and is unlikely to stand out among the next 45 installments Cabana will release this year, but it’s a light, fun chat that ought to make most folks more curious about Evans’ career, which is exactly what the show aims to yield. Mission accomplished.