Monday, March 28, 2016

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Art Of Wrestling Ep. 294

The former TNA star is on the AOW this week
Photo Credit: Bob Kapur via Slam Canada
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: 294 (March 23, 2016)
Run Time: 1:06:24
Guest: Johnny Devine (10:49)

Summary: Colt Cabana’s conversation with Johnny Devine starts with ruminations on podcast professionalism and being comfortable on camera. Devine then explains how he came to be involved in wrestling, and after a little talk about current projects goes in deep on his Hart Dungeon training background and the years spent working in Calgary around the turn of the century. After brief mention of a serious vehicle accident and how he ultimately landed in TNA, Devine recalls the street fight that resulted in several serious stab wounds and ends with a quick glance at his strategy for the rest of his career.

Quote of the week: “So they had to take out my gallbladder, a foot of my lower intestine, sew up my bladder and my stomach, which were all perforated; I had multiple cuts up on my pec and then, uh, um, layers of, like, stapling and stitching. So I had some like 90 stiches and 70 staples all in told. And then there’s a point where I died on the table, my heart stopped for two minutes, they had to — they kept oxygenating me and whatever and then resuscitated me with the paddles. … They were like, ‘Yeah, there was a point where we weren’t sure.’ And I was like, ‘Woah. OK, well, that was slightly more intensive than I was expecting. Good to know.’ So that kind of derailed things.”

Why you should listen: Devine does a great job conveying his appreciation and understanding of wrestling’s complexities, comparing and contrasting to performers in other genres and in general defining the literal art of wrestling far better than Cabana ever has or will. There are some pretty solid Calgary/Hart family stories to eat up a big chunk of the middle, and the drama of the stabbing and recovery has to be heard to be fully understood.

Why you should skip it: This one’s a little scattered. It feels like there’s three distinct high points — the art form, Calgary and the fight — and each could have warranted its own episode. There’s very little connective tissue, and that might leave some folks with a disjointed feeling, or simply a wish that one of the segments would have be been drawn out to be fully dominant. That’s probably nitpicking, but it does keep the episode as a whole from being iconic.

Final thoughts: I didn’t know a single thing about Johnny Devine’s wrestling career before pressing play, and after an hour the best I have is “Canadian,” “Hart trainee” and “did some time in TNA.” And yet, I really enjoyed listening to his back and forth with Cabana. He’s just an interesting dude with thoughts about wrestling that stray enough from the conventional to be compelling yet are rooted in enough reason to be logical. I’ve said this before, but in the heat of WrestleMania season when you can produce something that lets wrestling fans stay deep in that world without thinking about WWE, it’s likely to be a winner. That’s exactly what Cabana and Devine deliver, and while you won’t come away with an abundance of knowledge on the man’s wrestling career, that’s not required in order to be entertained.