Friday, July 1, 2016

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Cheap Heat June 28

Punk stops by to be brusque and promote a UFC fight that may never happen
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: Cheap Heat
Episode: “New Bray Rocks” (June 28, 2016)
Run Time: 1:12:00
Guest: Brian Campbell, CM Punk (1:04:52)

Summary: Peter Rosenberg is at ESPN headquarters in Bristol, CT, without Stat Guy Greg but with ESPN colleague Brian Campbell. Their talk is RAW heavy, specifically the Shield members and women’s and tag team divisions. There also are sidetracks into Rosenberg’s inexplicable back pain and a comparison of which man is luckier, The Miz or Frank the Clown. A look a head to the brand split focuses on the current failings of WWE’s commentary pairings and strategy. At the very end is included Rosenberg’s brief radio interview with CM Punk discussing his upcoming UFC bout, his beloved Cubs and Blackhawks as well as a few quickly dismissed wrestling questions, though Punk does have kind words for Daniel Bryan.

Quote of the week: Rosenberg: “The number one reason for it, screw everything else. If you have a second title to the WWE Titles, you have just diminished whoever show that title is on by nature. It is now inherently the B show. Whereas if the WWE Title is the only title, and it is defended on both shows, you’re saying both shows are maj, both shows have a champion who’s there. If Roman Reigns or Dean Ambrose, whoever has the title has the title when that brand split happens, he should be appearing on both shows every week or as often as they decide to have him appear.”

Why you should listen: Working without the safety net that is Stat Guy Greg, Rosenberg acquits himself fairly well here, guiding about as good a discussion as we might expect based on a lackluster news week. For as stale as the rest of the topics might be, the brand split discussion is well considered. And as much as Rosenberg’s thoughts on WWE commentary are fueled by his innate belief he’s much better suited to the task than anyone else who currently has the assignment, his experience on the topic is unassailable, and he deserves credit for making sure his comments are geared toward the listener and audience at large instead of just an “I could do it better!” diatribe. And hey, CM Punk is here, if that’s the sort of thing you like. (And I’ll admit, I do enjoy hearing him talk about his Chicago teams, if only because he’s one of the few celebrity fans who actually knows what’s happening.)

Why you should skip it: I expected more from Campbell, who for some reason seems overjoyed to be a “Cheap Heat” guest and lowers himself to embracing the show’s hackneyed vernacular, as if he needs to verify his bona fides as a listener to endear himself to both guest and audience. Greg’s absence is indeed felt, in part because Rosenberg has almost no incentive not to revisit matters he’s covered thoroughly in previous episodes. Also, points are docked from any podcast that invokes that damn clown for any purpose other than utter condemnation, even if it can be passed off as a callback to a previous installment. And that Punk interview, which takes forever to finally begin, feels over about as soon as it started.

Final thoughts: This is not a bad Cheap Heat, although that’s faint praise. Much like with this week’s Ringer show, there’s a lethal combination of not much new to discuss and a new host-guest pairing, which leads quickly back what listeners consider old topics because the two people in the conversation haven’t yet exchanged thoughts. If anything, I’m bummed there wasn’t more sanctimonious Punk playing against self-indulgent Rosenberg, because sometimes it’s fun to hear two guys who can be wholly detestable on their own launch verbal haymakers at one another in a battle of who can be the biggest jerk. Long story short, find a blog post that summarizes Punk’s six minutes and skip the rest, you won’t regret spending your time elsewise.