Monday, May 2, 2016

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Art Of Wrestling Ep. 299

Vega is on this week's AOW
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: Art Of Wrestling
Episode: 299 (April 28, 2016)
Run Time: 1:06:03
Guest: Savio Vega (11:12)

Summary: Colt Cabana sits down with Savio Vega, which opens with Vega in the midst of explaining how he follows modern wrestling. He gives Cabana a bit of a history lesson on wrestling in Puerto Rico dating to the 1930s, then talks about his childhood fandom, training in martial arts and how he got into wrestling. Vega traces his career from his first TV matches as enhancement talent, tells stories about his earliest trips stateside and then explains how he became TNT and relives his days on top in Puerto Rico. They end with Vega reflecting on his current role in wrestling.

Quote of the week: “There’s a lot of talent in Puerto Rico. They need the polish. They need to tell them, ‘Don’t do that, because to move this way and do this, you gonna protect yourself and you gonna protect the other guy.’ You know? They need that, and I know they need that. So I’m there because my proposal here is to help the new generation in wrestling to continue in Puerto Rico. But good work. I think it’s my … I need to do that. I need to pass the baton to somebody to learn, to continue — like I said, it’s a good talent, good guys, good kids, so I’m there willing to help.”

Why you should listen: Vega has an infectious personality and seems like the kind of guy who would tell stories for as long as he had an audience without repeating anything or perhaps even stopping to inhale. The Puerto Rican history stuff is pretty interesting, and Vega’s stories of working in Memphis and places like the Superdome before he had a functional grasp of English are pretty amusing, especially since most of them are a bit later in chronology than the stories from the same places you’re likely to hear on a Steve Austin or Jim Ross interview.

Why you should skip it: Vega’s English pronunciation is just fine, but he’s still not a syntax expert, which can make his stories tough to follow at times. This dynamic exposes Cabana’s weaknesses as an interviewer, as you really have to listen closely to follow Vega jumping around. Also, there is almost zero mention of Vega’s work on WWF television in the mid-to-late-1990s, so if you came here for tales of Los Boricuas or Vega-Austin Caribbean strap matches, you’re definitely leaving disappointed.

Final thoughts: I award Cabana major points for focusing on the more interesting (read: non-New York) parts of Vega’s career. I deduct points for his ability to guide the conversation in any discernible fashion. On balance this is definitely worth a listen, it’s just impossible to ignore the flaws. Vega definitely deserves a platform, I’m just not sure this was the perfect one to maximize his history and charisma. But, you know, it was still fun and, if nothing else, you can certainly say Cabana knows himself and his show after roughly six years of podcasting. That’s not insignificant.