Friday, October 7, 2016

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Art Of Wrestling Ep. 321

Cabana interviews D'Amore this week
Photo Credit: Mike Mastrandrea/SLAM Canoe
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: 321 (Oct. 6, 2016)
Run Time: 1:09:55
Guest: Scott D’Amore (10:54)

Summary: Colt Cabana’s conversation with veteran Scott D’Amore opens with considering foul language in ring and backstage. That leads to a story of making a good first impression on The Sheik, which segues into D’Amore’s working backstage for World Championship Wrestling and getting a raise from Hulk Hogan. He also mentions his time with Al Snow and why he didn’t mind being a jobber earlier in his career. That leads to an Arn Anderson story, then thoughts about his early gear and old tanning practices. D’Amore has a good story about his first match, then the topic shifts to his history with TNA as booker and Knockouts producer, a sidetrack into accidentally discovering the joys being a heel in T-ball, then fast-forwarding to being picked to head TNA’s Team Canada. After a lengthy, amusing anecdote about trying to run a promotion in Canada while committing bank fraud and somehow booking The Rock, D’Amore ends with an update on his current projects.

Quote of the week: “The only reason why I could make my living in wrestling, the only reason why I could wrestle in Hammond, IN, and get screwed and only get $20 and hockey tickets and be OK, is ’cause WCW taped shows on Monday-Tuesday-Wednesdays, and I could go down there when I started, I made a buck and a half, right? By the time I was done I made 300, right? Four hundred, I think, at the very end. You know, and then I kinda got good with the trans sheets so I got paid extra. ’Cause I was in charge of ’em. So, I mean, you look at what everybody else was stealing from WCW I don’t think me putting an extra few hundred bucks in my pocket on trans was the biggest crime. And I loved it. I hung out and got drunk with, like, Arn and Flair!”

Why you should listen: Though Cabana stresses he tries to focus his podcast on independent wrestling, he was wise to let D’Amore work in his backstage WCW and TNA stories because they speak to the life of the guy just trying to catch a break during those periods. D’Amore’s personality as revealed in this interview enhances his stories of interactions with legitimate pro wrestling legends, and his self-deprecation balances any potential sense of misplaced ego from a guy who defines the notion of journeyman. And if you have any shred of respect remaining for The Rock, the story involving him near the end is absolutely delightful.

Why you should skip it: It may not be fair to criticize Cabana for keeping things light, but D’Amore has an overpowering personality such that he clearly dominated the conversation and more or less presented his version of his career without being forced to actually account for much of anything. Not that he was lying or working, but rather Cabana allowed D’Amore to generalize and move on from what could have been far more interesting topics than what the audience actually receives. Perhaps Cabana wouldn’t do so even with the recorder off, but if you ever need ammunition for your “Cabana is a weak interviewer” argument (which, to be fair, the man himself would support), keep this episode in the arsenal.

Final thoughts: As a non-TNA follower, I barely recall vague mentions of Team Canada and have never head of Scott D’Amore, so I had no idea what to expect. I came out far more entertained than I had imagined, and actually appreciate this interview for being closer to what I consider more the original ethos of the show as we really get a look — if only a few times — at the way the host and guest approach the challenge of working in pro wrestling, both the micro aspects of an individual match and the macro concerns of a multi-year career. This probably doesn’t ascend to must listen status, but it certainly was enjoyable, perhaps more than it had a right to be all things considered.