Thursday, March 10, 2016

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Talk Is Jericho, Ep. 227

Malenko is Jericho's guest this week.
Photo Credit:
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: Talk Is Jericho
Episode: 227
Run Time: 1:33:47
Guest: Dean Malenko

Summary: Dean Malenko has already appeared on a past episode of Talk Is Jericho where they covered his time in ECW, WCW and WWE. This time, Jericho puts that entire time period aside and asks Malenko about his early life growing up around the wrestling business and his dad, the famous "Russian" heel Boris Malenko. While living in Tampa, his family had to avoid death threats and tire slashings from angry fans who didn't understand that wrestlers were characters. Malenko tells of being trained by the fearsome Karl Gotch, who taught him the value of a wrestling hold. The last section deals in Malenko's work in both New Japan and All Japan Pro Wrestling, where he spent a total of more than ten years before breaking into American wrestling as a "rookie."

Quote of the Week: Malenko, on having a traveling wrestler as his dad - "You go through those things as a kid, and you start looking back, regretting what your dad is doing, but as you get older, you realize he did that for one reason, and that was to give you everything you had and to support you. That was his way of making a living, but it took me a while to realize that. I was just seeing my dad pack his bag and leaving, thinking, 'Did he and my mom fight?'"

Why you should listen: Jericho is talking to one of his best friends in the business, so he has no reason to put on a persona and try to be cool. He really buckles down and asks a lot of relevant questions, and when he needs to sit back and let Malenko tell a long story, he does so without much interruption. Malenko possesses the right amount of veteran knowledge without wading into "It was much better in my day" territory. His job on this episode is to share his highly unique experience, and it rarely fails to be engrossing.

Why you should skip it: Malenko's icy demeanor and lack of personality was not part of his wrestling character. He really is a very dry guy, and though he has a semblance of a sense of humor, he has a hopelessly monotonous speaking tone. If you are already tired before listening to this, you won't be awake for long.

Final Thoughts: The last time I reviewed an episode of Talk Is Jericho, he opened the show with a boring story and he played a Fozzy song. This time, he had his little daughters on for ten minutes to promote their new YouTube channel where they talk about sleepovers and Minecraft, and somehow that was infinitely more entertaining. As for the Malenko interview, it really is worth a listen, but only if you've got some time to spare and you can pay good attention. Malenko's voice might bore you to tears, but getting past his tone will reveal a guy with incredible insight about pro wrestling who lived a wild life in the business before he even showed up at the ECW Arena. It turns out the Man of 1,000 Holds is also the Man of 1,000 Stories, and no, I'm not going to apologize for that joke, and you can't make me.