Monday, April 25, 2016

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Art Of Wrestling Ep. 298

Spud joins the Art of Wrestling 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: 298 (April 21, 2016)
Run Time: 1:09:00
Guest: Rockstar Spud (10:50)

Summary: Colt Cabana starts his chat with Rockstar Spud by making small talk about drinking and then cars before moving on to Spud’s career arc, his impressions of Kurt Angle, staying a fan of wrestling and always being the small guy. Spud opens up a bit about his ADHD and lack of relationship with his brother, Tom, then talks about his early wrestling training, balancing his passion with a career in banking and how the Spud character evolved into Rockstar. He traces the path from British Bootcamp to Ohio Valley Wrestling to some of the weird things he’s had to do on the TNA main roster. He and Cabana bury the hatchet on some old heat between the two and then Spud talks up the current iteration of Impact Wrestling before getting the go-home cue.

Quote of the week: “I never see anyone as a failure in this business. Everybody that got into it, you’ve got all these people who go, ‘I went here and I failed,’ or, ‘I did this and I failed’ or, ‘I was a wrestler and I didn’t get to WWE and I failed, and this happened, that happened.’ You impacted someone else’s life on a show that came and paid to see you, and you, like, you made them care. All your friends that are telling you that, ‘Ah, you’re not very good’ or, ‘Why are you doing that? It’s silly,’ or ‘Why you doing this? It’s silly’ — you did what you wanted to do, and you accomplished it, and instead of pissing it down the drain every week at a 9 to 5, you’re actually traveling the country, traveling the world, you’re going to, you know, other, meet people — would you have met the people you’ve met if you hadn’t of just decided, ‘I’m going to wear Lycra pants for a living and be a professional wrestler’? ”

Why you should listen: Spud has a great handle on the internal struggle between a commonsense approach to life and the artists’ desire to perform, but he adds a layer by expressing a deep understanding of the character he portrays while being able to hold that as a separate identity from his own individuality — even as he longs for an identity as a wrestler. His observations of the otherworldly ability to perform witnessed in men like Angle are well stated, and the matter of fact what he explains his strained relationship with his brother is the kind of raw honesty that makes Art Of Wrestling the show other wrestling podcasts aim to replicate.

Why you should skip it: For each high point there seems to be a significant lull. Put another way: This episode might read better than it actually sounds. There’s little bad and nothing offensive, it just seems like Cabana and Spud aren’t firing as well in this context as we might expect based on what is known about their personalities.

Final thoughts: It might have been handy to discuss the long ago locker room encounter off tape before the interview began, rather than tack it on awkwardly near the end, or for Cabana to not mention that portion during his monologue, therefore casting it as a thin pall over the entire conversation. But he makes his own editorial decisions, and sometimes they’re not the strongest. Still, if you like Spud at all, chances are good this will be worth your time.