Wednesday, April 6, 2016

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Cheap Heat April 5

The Cheap Heat crew for the last time as situated discusses Mania
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: Cheap Heat
Episode: “Past, Present and Future Endeavors” (April 5, 2016)
Run Time: 1:37:39
Guest: Amber Rose (43:24)

Summary: It’s just David Shoemaker and Peter Rosenberg this week — Stat Guy Greg is still traveling back from Dallas, and of course the subject is WrestleMania weekend. They open by revisiting the wildly successful podcast meetup and talk a bit about RAW before breaking down their NXT Takeover experience. After about 30 minutes they talk about the Showcase of the Immortals itself. That goes well enough until Rosenberg answers a phone call from Amber Rose. It’s brief, though, and they get back to WrestleMania. That, eventually, leads into RAW discussion and whether it undid the narrative progress from Sunday night, as well as what becomes of NXT going forward. And finally, they break the news that we’ve been listening to the last episode of the show as we know it.

Quote of the week: Shoemaker: “To make it really clear, this is my last episode of Cheap Heat. And you guys are the best people ever, but I’m not — I’m not disappearing. As crazy as it is to be making this announcement after that awesome get-together we had at WrestleMania, and after just seeing fans left and right — there were three Cheap Heat marks on my plane flight home, like it was, three that talked to me, I’m sure there were many more that didn’t — but in some ways it’s the perfect way to go out, because we’ve had a great week, we’ve had a great run. But just to be able to see everybody and really feel the appreciation was a really, really cool thing.”

Why you should listen: This is exactly the kind of episode that Cheap Heat should have worked to be — a full look at a busy weekend with a blend of Shoemaker’s first-rate critical eye and Rosenberg’s ability to speak for a large segment of fans while also contextualizing pop culture and crossover appeal. The guys focused on so much beyond the main event, including an almost full review of the NXT show, that it put to rest the notion I floated last week that the hosts being in the live audience often hurts their podcast output. Stories about Enzo Amore engaged in an intense, 45-minute conversation with Steve Austin are as welcome as Shoemaker explaining how Becky Lynch was the glue in a spectacular triple threat match. Bookended with Friday’s radio row show, the guys went out with a bang.

Why you should skip it: The last dozen minutes are a bit of overkill. Shoemaker can’t say what’s next for him — though even Ray Charles could read between the lines — and while it’d be wrong to deny the fact the show had a huge audience, it also is fair to point out it’s not like we’re mourning the end of 60 Minutes or Meet the Press over here. I can’t bag on the episode itself too much, although there are moments where it feels a bit like RAW — much longer than it needs to be yet somehow still failing to give adequate attention to certain aspects that could raise the bar significantly.

Final thoughts: It’s quite rare for me to say a Cheap Heat episode better conveys Shoemaker’s astute insight than one of his written pieces, but that’s absolutely the case here. Whatever the reason, his pre- and post-WrestleMania pieces for ESPN failed to reach his own high standards. As for the future, I’ll definitely follow Shoemaker wherever he lands. It sounds like folks who subscribe to Cheap Heat will continue to get at least Rosenberg and Greg, and I’m sure I’ll keep listening for at least a few weeks to see if it’s worth keeping in the rotation without the primary reason it worked in the first place. Cheap Heat at its best was indeed the height of current events wrestling podcasts, befitting an effort with the Grantland/ESPN imprimatur. That it couldn’t reach that level with any shred of consistency didn’t seem to hurt its broader appeal, but audience size is not to be construed as an indicator of overall quality.