Monday, August 8, 2016

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Masked Man Show Ep. 4

Shoemaker discusses Chris Hero and PWG on this week's show
Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein
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: Four (Aug. 4, 2016)
Run Time: 1:06:55
Guest: Joel Solomon (cohost)

Summary: David Shoemaker is joined again by Ringer colleague Joel Solomon, and they open with a look at Rhyno’s election win and pondering the return of Shelton Benjamin. Solomon fills in Shoemaker on what Peter Rosenberg said about his former co-host on Cheap Heat, then Shoemaker talks about his first live PWG experience. After pondering some of NXT’s top talent, they look back at the week in WWE, lingering on feuds like Roman Reigns-Rusev and Randy Orton-Brock Lesnar. That leads to talk about distinctions between the shows and the looming introductions of new titles. Getting back to RAW the guys question if some of the newer top stars are in danger of being overexposed. The last five or so minutes contains more or less aimless small talk.

Quote of the week: Shoemaker: “I went to PWG for the first time this weekend. … It was everything I hoped it would be. I saw some really great, I mean, top to bottom great matches. And they do, I think the most important thing they do is — well, serve beer by the pitcher — but also just, like, matches are just straight back to back. … Chris Hero cut a promo which involved him actually getting into it with a crowd member, like, physical, like in a wonderful, wonderful exchange, but, like, you know, it was pretty much just like a match would be over and, like, two minutes later the next match will have started. There’s none of this, like, you know, just interminable wait between stuff or long promos or whatever.”

Why you should listen: The first half is the strongest (except for the Rosenberg stuff) because it’s not about RAW and Smackdown. Not that we need a treatise on wrestlers and politics, but I want my podcasts to do more than simply tell me what we all saw on TV. The PWG (and then general independent scene) conversation was compelling for just this reason, as were the big picture thoughts about how long it took Finn Bálor to move on from NXT, how things are working for Samoa Joe and so forth. Solomon is a decent counterpart for Shoemaker — he certainly doesn’t detract from the proceedings.

Why you should skip it: After praise for Solomon, I would like to virtually slap him across the forehead and ask why in God’s name he needs to bring up Rosenberg mentioning on Cheap Heat that Shoemaker hasn’t returned a phone call. I listened to both shows and not only was there nothing remotely antagonistic about that segment, one of the reasons I prefer the Masked Man Show is because it doesn’t involved Peter Rosenberg. Aside from that, this episode seemed to really fall off once Shoemaker got to the “reading RAW and Smackdown results off a website” phase.

Final thoughts: Shoemaker either needs to settle on a permanent co-host or a more rigid show structure, because each week he seems to have a guest cover the same tired topics as the guy who joined him the prior episode. It robs Shoemaker of his ability to offer fresh insight, yet he wears the blame for his inability (or unwillingness) to drive the conversation into fresh territory. That’s not to say this is a bad episode or anything, but I find myself frustrated we’re so close to a can’t-miss wrestling podcast and yet it won’t ever get all the way over that last hurdle.