Tuesday, June 14, 2016

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Art Of Wrestling Ep. 305

Kong is Cabana's guest this week
Photo/Graphics via GlobalForceWrestling.com
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: 305 (June 9, 2016)
Run Time: 1:02:03
Guest: Kongo Kong (11:37)

Summary: Colt Cabana’s guest this week is Kongo Kong — but they conversation opens by Kong’s portrayer, Steve Wilson, explaining how costumes and paint help draw lines between himself and his characters, including Osyris. They get into Wilson’s family background and growing up in a rough part of Michigan, discuss their shared backgrounds in football and training for wrestling then talk about working shows in strange situations and Kong’s litany of managers. Wrapping up, Wilson takes the high road on being a character trendsetter and then quickly explains how he got into sewing his own gear.

Quote of the week: “Wrestling has been an outlet for 17 years. Wrestling has kept me out of jail. You know, it’s funny because people talk about how, uh, how staged wrestling is, or how — I hate to use the f word — but fake, or whatever, but for that 15 minutes I can get in there and I can be another person and I can still take out my aggression and not hurt anybody. Fake whoopin’ somebody’s ass, to me, is just as good as actually whoopin’ somebody’s ass.”

Why you should listen: Wilson is a really engaging personality who has a fantastic yet pragmatic perspective on his life and career. The insight into the origination, development and perpetuation of the Kong character reveals the kind of deep appreciation for the profession that we almost certainly weren’t getting when similar characters were overexposed on national television, and Cabana scores points for being able to interview a longtime associate without having it be too rife with inside jokes and backstory to be broadly appealing.

Why you should skip it: The conversation ended up being a lot more about Wilson than Kong. That’s not to say it was a bad choice to go that direction, but anyone who hits the play button hoping to hear stories about different promotions, matches or in-ring moments is likely to be let down. Beyond that, it seemed there were a few moments where Wilson would have been open to digging a bit deeper on some interesting personal subjects than Cabana intended at the moment, and it would have been interesting to see how that played out with a different host.

Final thoughts: I will openly admit to never hearing the name Kongo Kong before seeing it pop up in the episode description, but after this interview I most definitely am interested in seeking out more information on his career. That strikes me as perhaps one of the main goals of Cabana’s show from week to week, which has to mark this offering as a success. I have a hard time considering what sort of person might listen to this without being at least a bit entertained, but obviously some folks only come by for the WWE Hall of Famers or Teddy Hart’s crazy sex stories. If that’s you, I do believe you’re missing out.