Friday, June 3, 2016

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Ringer Wrestling Podcast, Ep. 3

Goldberg is one of Shoemaker's guests this week
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: Ringer Wrestling Podcast
Episode: 3 (May 31, 2016)
Run Time: 1:18:49
Guest: Bill Goldberg (1:15); LaToya Ferguson (19:13)

Summary: David Shoemaker opens the show by interviewing Goldberg to discuss the news he’ll be featured in WWE’s newest video game. There’s also chatter about his career highlights, being an early adopter of the mixed-martial arts style and his brief thoughts on the Rams returning to Los Angeles. Then he’s in studio with Ferguson, of The AV Club. They dive right in to the Ricochet/Ospreay match and Cody Rhodes’ future, touch briefly on the recent New York Times essay about wrestling’s influence in mass culture and then get to RAW. The main focus is the John Cena return with a few sidelights on Dolph Ziggler and Titus O’Neil. The main thrust is considering the brand split news and filtering it through the original draft from the March 25, 2002, RAW.

Quote of the week: “Does my inclusion in WWE 2K17 mean that the next step is to get back in the ring? That’s not my intention by any stretch of the imagination. I initially just wanted to put a smile on my son’s face and just show him what his daddy used to do, you know, rippin’ guys’ heads off. If it leads to something like that, then, you know, I — I don’t know, man. You never say never. You really don’t. And at the end of the day it’s water under the bridge. You know, things have happened in the past. Would I love to be a wonderful father and provide more entertainment for my son? Hey, why not? But that’s not why I did this. If it happens, it happens. It would be a huge honor of mine. But my involvement in this game, my intention, I have no more intention beyond my involvement in this game by any stretch of the imagination.”

Why you should listen: I generally try to give the quote of the week to the guest, and as good a counterpart as Ferguson proves, Goldberg is the name attraction on this episode. But going back to his Cheap Heat days, I almost always (perhaps consciously) gave those honors to Shoemaker because he’s without a doubt a crucial voice in the wrestling media. My actual quote of the week from this week’s show was his:

“The toughest spot to be — I think Cody and Wade (Barrett) are probably like the top two people I would have put in this category — almost seems like the toughest spot to be in in WWE is to be a viable champion for some point in like an indeterminate future, right? Like, if something happened and, like, half of the WWE roster got arrested and thrown in jail, you could have made Wade Barrett a legit champion, like heel contender for the champion, in about five minutes. … Both of those guys could have been booked to the championship, and I think the problem was that WWE knew it. So why pull the trigger on that when we just have that in our back pocket for a time when we really need it in the future? With a brand split, those guys, people like that, will have a chance to really shine, hopefully, on the second show.”

Again, Ferguson is a great guest who adds her own useful insight. I loved the idea of revisiting the 2002 draft in a degree of depth, and for advancing new ideas such as that it’s OK to have a feud that doesn’t make a pay-per-view card.

Why you should skip it: The Ringer probably should have released the Goldberg interview as its own file, as the bulk of this show easily stands on its own, and his comments are pretty much by the numbers, such that you can just about answer for him. For all the praise I lavished on Shoemaker as a commentator in general, he is of course a writer first, and that work continues to outshine his podcast contributions. But still, this week’s episode is a clear reminder of why he needs no less than a weekly platform. And releasing the show about 24 hours before “Cheap Heat” only helps relegate his former home back to where it belongs.

Final thoughts: The deal with this show, much like Cheap Heat, is you’re going to get a heavy, heavy dose of current events. That means if you care about the news of the day, you probably care about this podcast. If you don’t, there’s very little reason to tune in. As Shoemaker finds his footing, it’s a pretty safe bet this will become the essential weekly show Cheap Heat never quite became. Of course, I hope you keep reading this feature to see if the week’s guest has anything good to say (or if they happen to tank a particular episode) and ideally we’ll get back to a place where Shoemaker is regularly writing and talking — and hopefully those outlets become complementary instead of repetitive.