Tuesday, September 20, 2016

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Art Of Wrestling Ep. 318

Cedric Alexander opened up about his early days in the biz to Cabana this week
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: Art Of Wrestling
Episode: 318 (Sept. 15, 2016)
Run Time: 1:04:55
Guest: Cedric Alexander (11:02)

Summary: Colt Cabana is recording this episode in his Wicker Park apartment with Cedric Alexander, who opens with thoughts on how his soft-spoken nature is an impediment to the on-microphone aspects of being a professional wrestler. The topic then shifts to his training with Jake Manning and the Highspots crew, including a classmate who died in her sleep. Alexander revisits his childhood as a nerd in Charlotte, how he became attracted to wrestling and his complex relationship with his estranged father. After briefly touching on a discipline issue that ended his collegiate experience, Alexander circles back to finding Highspots, taking a sideline into the fact his mother had her own dreams of being a wrestler. Alexander also talks about how becoming a father changed his perspective, shares a few Ricky Morton tales and explains how he developed a personal ring style before the talk ends with the usual plugs.

Quote of the week: “I just wanted to wrestle, that’s all I really cared about. And if, and if I had to assemble DVDs and drive 18 hours in a car to do that, yeah, well, I just want to get in a ring in front of people. I never thought, ‘Oh, I gotta sell this much merch and make this much money to survive,’ I was just, like, ‘I just want to wrestle< the money will come eventually, right?’ I was living at home, had no bills, mooched off my parents still. To me it was just like, ‘Eh, screw money, I just want to wrestle.’ ”

Why you should listen: Alexander recently made a huge name for himself in the WWE Cruiserweight Classic, leading to a Sept. 19 RAW debut. This is a perfect chance to get an unfiltered look at a star on the rise, and although Cabana declares it’s an episode that might be more fun to look at in retrospect a few years down the road, there’s no doubt the timing of its release allows the interview to have in impact at a pivotal moment in Alexander’s young career.

Why you should skip it: That said, there is zero mention of anything related to WWE in the interview, so it’s a stark difference from the earlier years of Art of Wrestlting, when Cabana would net a guy like Tyler Black or PAC on their last swings through the independent scene en route to Orlando. This doesn’t take away from the overall value of the interview, but listeners should know what they’re getting.

Final thoughts: I have a hard time pinning this one down. I did enjoy the interview, as I always welcome a chance to learn more about (and thus become further invested in) someone whose work I enjoy on Monday nights. But I know there are plenty who will either criticize Cabana for dropping this one between the CWC finale and Alexander’s RAW debut, or alleging he did so in a bait-and-switch style because this one’s all about Alexander’s life and early career days rather than the thing everyone watched throughout the summer. I don’t see any problem with the approach, as personally I’m much more interested in adding new chapters to a person’s story rather than a few layers to the things we already know, but surely I don’t speak for everyone. Ultimately, if you want to know more about Alexander beyond what WWE presents, I can’t suggest a better starting point.