Friday, July 29, 2016

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Masked Man Show Ep. 3

Ziggler's big win and implications are discussed here
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: Masked Man Show
Episode: 3 (July 27, 2016)
Run Time: 1:01:00
Guest: Dan St. Germain

Summary: David Shoemaker’s co-host again is comedian Dan St. Germain. The bulk of the episode is a comprehensive look at Battleground, RAW and Smackdown, analyzing WWE’s new approach and the subtle distinctions between shows. The only real look at anything else is a brief discussion about Brock Lesnar not facing any WWE disciplinary action and a stab at figuring out which WWE figure would be the best analog to drunken Ben Affleck on Any Given Wednesday.

Quote of the week: Shoemaker: “We smart fans, smark fans, whatever, sit around fantasy booking all the time and second-guessing WWE, and a lot of times we do that to a fault. But the idea that the wrestlers that we like don’t overlap with the wrestlers that, like, casual fans like is crazy, right? I mean, you can push Dolph Ziggler, you can push Finn Bálor, you can push whoever, and WWE can make that work and find a way to sort of make everybody happy. This week, I would hope, is a great example of it.”

Why you should listen: This is a solid, deep dive on a busy, memorable week in WWE history. Both guys watched all the wrestling and came ready to discuss as much of it as possible. Shoemaker was wise to not spend too much time dissecting the draft (his last episode was recorded before that Smackdown aired) and, ultimately, I left this feeling like I’d gotten a deeper appreciation for a crazy series of events.

Why you should skip it: It’s arguably impossible to dissect every segment of eight-plus hours of WWE programming in a 60-minute podcast, but a few things were overlooked, such as the false start of the Smackdown women’s division. I also wonder why no one questioned the fact Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose essentially got the night off on each show after Battleground while Roman Reigns pulled double duty on RAW. But primarily, the main reason to bail is if you aren’t in on modern WWE. Of course, that’s true every week with this show.

Final thoughts: About halfway through the show loses focus when St. Germain decides to praise Ben Affleck’s appearance on Any Given Wednesday. Shoemaker rolls with it and the aside gets spun into wrestling chatter, and then it’s over before the segment can sabotage the entire show. That’s a great approach to a podcast — it doesn’t need to be super regimented and overproduced (like, say, an episode of Sportscenter), but neither should it be allowed to completely devolve to the point where the listeners wonder if the hosts have any interest in the show they’re recording. Shoemaker always, always does his homework, and when the wrestling gives him enough to go on, he’s as good as anyone at offering context and analysis. I’m still curious to see if the new WWE approach will rejuvenate his podcasting chops, because praising this week’s show is really praise for how much I still wanted to think about Battleground and RAW. The road to SummerSlam, for WWE and podcasters, will be a real proving ground.