Monday, April 4, 2016

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Art Of Wrestling Ep. 295

The King of Fuck Money is on the Art of Wrestling
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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: 295 (March 31, 2016)
Run Time: 1:07:21
Guest: Virgil (9:46)

Summary: Colt Cabana sits down with fellow hustler Virgil. The conversation begins with Virgil recalling a recent stint on Sam Roberts’ podcast, then transitions into him working against Hulk Hogan at Madison Square Garden. Cabana asks about Virgil’s early 90s singles run, which brings up stories of Meng, Barbarian, Nailz and memories of being in a Memphis tag team with Rocky Johnson. Virgil explains why he tried to live a clean life, revisits his six years paired with Ted DiBiase and then Cabana takes him back to his Pittsburgh childhood and high school days. After talking about the WWF road life, Virgil revisits his University of Virginia days and details how a chance meeting with Afa led to him training with the men who would become Yokozuna and Rikishi. The last major portion goes back to Memphis and how Virgil left there for the WWF, then there’s quick memories of riding high in WCW, their mutual friend Pizza Joe and staying on the hustle.

Quote of the week: “I figured, man, when you’re that big and that agile, you gotta be good, you gotta be good in something, you know what I mean, Colt? I mean, these guys were big. They were 380 pounds or 400 pounds. They had my respect ’cause they’re agile as shit. I mean, I seen Afa and Sika leapfrog, dropkick, I mean like, do like backflips and stuff, you know what I mean? Evidently you gotta be some type of athlete to do what these guys were doing.”

Why you should listen: Virgil comes across a lot better than you might expect — hell, a lot better than you’d think directly after listening to Cabana’s introduction. He’s frank about wrestling (and his days making a living off his wresting name) being a job for him and not a lifelong passion, but it comes off as simple honesty, not crass greed. The stories of his childhood are interesting and he clearly has fondness for his days in the limelight that doesn’t, as it does for so many, bleed into blinding nostalgia.

Why you should skip it: Well, it is just Virgil. Even presenting better than one would hope still isn’t clearing the world’s highest bar. He’s not the best talker on the planet, and it’s not clear he’s fully let down his guard as do so many of Cabana’s guests. Cabana ends up cramming in a great deal of Virgil’s life into an hourlong chat, and as such very little gets its full due. It’s one of the rare cases where I think Steve Austin might get a much better interview out of the guest if only because he’d probably be inclined to dig deep on something obscure like the Memphis days or even play up the obvious, like Andre the Giant stories.

Final thoughts: I definitely recommend giving it a listen, if only to force you into considering Virgil beyond what he’s become via social media treatment over the last few years. It’s not going to drastically alter anyone’s opinion, but it’s a good reminder that wrestling stars are still just people with lives to live and stories to tell. And again, a solid break from the overwhelming crush of WrestleMania chatter is hardly a bad thing.