Monday, July 25, 2016

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Art Of Wrestling Ep. 310

Irish standout Ward is on the show this week
Photo via Catch-Arena
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: 310 (July 21, 2016)
Run Time: 1:04:34
Guest: Luther Ward (10:02)

Summary: Colt Cabana sits down with Irishman Luther Ward, of Over The Top Wrestling. The talk opens with an historical overview of the Irish wrestling scene, which goes back about 13 years, and Ward’s personal training history and why he prefers promoting. Ward recounts his efforts to get a WWE contract, remembers a few benign encounters with Scott Steiner, then goes deep on the process of leaving for, enduring, and ultimately departing WWE developmental. Cabana asks Ward about his unique (to wrestling) promo style, and they end by discussing how social media is changing the way wrestlers attract fans and attention.

Quote of the week: “I was so content on just being prepared, making sure I was in the best shape, making sure my wrestling skills were there, my promos, that I didn’t think, have time to think about how difficult it would be for someone from Ireland moving all the way across the world. I had to rehome my dog, that killed me … I had to get rid of all my belongings, because you can’t bring everything you own. I compacted my life into three suitcases. I had to say goodbye to my family. … They say, like, moving house is one of the most stressful things that you can do. But you put on top of that, like, getting rid of all your belongings, moving across the world, starting a new job. …”

Why you should listen: Ward is a different breed. It’s not just his Irish heritage. He’s got interesting thoughts on the appeal of promoting versus wrestling, as well as the idea it’s possible to be successful in wrestling without being a WWE star. Cabana famously doesn’t want his show to be seen as negative, and Ward does a great job describing the difficulty of being in the developmental system without making it an anti-WWE tirade. Rather, he eloquently examines his personal journey and the way his attitude affected his performance and relationships with people who wanted him to succeed.

Why you should skip it: Too much of the episode is somewhat aimless small talk that doesn’t do much to paint a picture of Ward and his personality. Some of the name-dropping is amusing and the stories certainly fit contextually with the Art Of Wrestling universe, but once the talk really got going and revealed Ward’s ability to perceive his life and those around him, it made the first half of the interview seem almost wasted time by comparison.

Final thoughts: This is one of those instances where I’d rather be listening to a podcast series featuring the guest than the regular host who drew me into the show in the first place. Cabana’s not bad in this one, but I found Ward deeply intriguing. Cabana’s show of late has been fairly consistent, which is something we can’t say for most other wrestling podcasts. Still an enjoyable hour.