Monday, June 27, 2016

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Art Of Wrestling, HOWL Special

Cabana lets forth a sampling from his pay series
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: HOWL Presents ‘Pro Wrestling Fringe’ — Laugh ’Til It Hurts (June 23, 2016)
Run Time: 21:09
Guest: John Lister (14:40)

Summary: Colt Cabana gives another preview of his storytelling series usually found behind the HOWL paywall. The subject this time is British legend Les Kellett, the Yorkshire born tough guy who was a comedic genius in the ring and a vicious brute outside — except to those he truly trusted. Cabana traces the evolution of Kellett’s humorous style and its contrast to his true personal. After the narrative, Cabana brings on wrestling journalist John Lister for a brief attempt at providing context.

Quote of the week: Cabana: “He had an uncanny sense of timing and balance that meant he could genuinely move out of the way at the last possible second. Being organic and real made it that much funnier. And he had handfuls of these comedic tricks. From pretending not to hear the bell, followed by a hilarious antic, to pointing at the ceiling and then slapping his opponent for looking, even inventing a movement used by modern wrestlers of the day where he’d get so hard he’d appear to be falling out of the ring between the ropes, only to catch the ropes with his feet, spring himself back into the ring and then headbutt his opponent in the chest, all while acting like had had no clue how any of it just happened.”

Why you should listen: Cabana discussed Kellett in his first episode of 2016 with guest Dave Taylor, and it’s no shock the host gravitates toward the story of this particular icon of British wrestling history. It’s certainly fun to have a quick, free chance to hear Cabana move beyond his comfort zone, and this is certainly a style of podcast I’d like to see more folks attempt to emulate.

Why you should skip it: Cabana opens by mentioning Kellett’s March 23, 1974, match with Leon Arras, such that it seems the bout will be the focal point of the episode. But he never gets back to that point, so unless you go hunt it down on YouTube, it seems like a red herring. Lister’s contributions aren’t incredibly significant, and ultimately although this is really only a 20-minute show, it doesn’t seem like Cabana actually had a point to make he didn’t address in the first 10.

Final thoughts: Given a choice of the three Pro Wrestling Fringe episodes released June 22, I’d have much preferred Red Means Green, which has the following description: “Bleeding in a wrestling match was a staple of this world for many years. Nobody took advantage of it more than King Curtis Iaukea. Colt and David Bixenspan discuss the origins of blood in wrestling and how Iaukea used it for more than just wrestling.” It’s unclear why Cabana didn’t tease the other episodes available behind the wall. Unfortunately, the one he released for free doesn’t give me much incentive to pay. As a bonus, however, it’s suitable.