Friday, August 5, 2016

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Cheap Heat Aug. 4

Cheap Heat focuses a lot of Brock Lesnar and Randy Orton
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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: Mixed Bag Match (Aug. 4, 2016)
Run Time: 1:06:30
Guest: None

Summary: Peter Rosenberg and Stat Guy Greg are alone this week (except for a dog that barks in the background). After plugging their upcoming live show, Rosenberg rants on the mixed tag team angle that opened Monday’s RAW, then has Greg fawn over his Bella Twins socks. There’s some more ranting about all the new titles WWE’s brand split is facilitating, which segues into Smackdown discussion that largely focuses on Brock Lesnar. They go back to RAW to consider Mark Henry’s appearance, then return to Smackdown to weigh in on Dolph Ziggler and Dean Ambrose.

Quote of the week: “It didn’t even build to the end of the show — it was bad enough it was a mixed tag match. Guys, give me an example of when a men’s title — a meaningful men’s title, meaning the World Heavyweight Championship — after a title change, the follow-up the next week would be a mixed tag match. It was stupid! It makes it even more meaningless! It’s bad enough that you’ve taken the meaning out of the SummerSlam match, because I don’t think anyone believes Charlotte’s gonna winthe title back right away at SummerSlam.

Why you should listen: Feel free to disbelieve me, but there was actual evidence of show prep this week and it led to a tighter episode. With Greg’s guidance, the guys focused primarily on high points and gave each topic its due instead of a scattershot approach at making sure they mentioned each segment that aired. Listeners can quibble over which bits from WWE’s many hours of product deserved attention, but Cheap Heat is infinitely more enjoyable when the guys take time to really unpack a given topic, and Rosenberg is perfectly justified if the handling of Charlotte and Sasha Banks over the last two weeks deserves more scrutiny and less hollow fawning.

Why you should skip it: The show can’t help be up its own butt, which you probably figured out after yet another extended open pimping the SummerSlam weekend show. I might be alone, but I am so over the declaration of one show or title as “maj” and another as “repug,” and I certainly didn’t need an extended sidetrack from discussing the Kevin Owens-Chris Jericho segment to discuss the show’s own fake wrestler “Fu-Fu Shma-Shma.” Perhaps these things are supposed to be funny, and perhaps I’m just dead inside after listening to all these hours of wrestling podcasts. But I think it sucks and writing how much it sucks makes me feel better about having listened to those useless diversions.

Final thoughts: Even at its best, Cheap Heat will always be flawed and potentially divisive because the main host is Peter Rosenberg, who is flawed and divisive. But, as he notes in this episode, it’s the official pro wrestling podcast of ESPN and that makes it something of a big deal. When it’s halfway decent it’s a useful listen, and when it’s bad it’s complete garbage. This is easily one of the better ones — but I still won’t begrudge anyone who has let this ship sail in favor or more fulfilling audio entertainment.