Wednesday, October 19, 2016

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Art Of Wrestling Ep. 322

Adam Rose is the guest on this week's AOW
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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: Art Of Wrestling
Episode: 322 (Oct. 13, 2016)
Run Time: 1:04:15
Guest: Adam Rose (10:46)

Summary: Colt Cabana’s guest this week is Adam Rose, and the conversation starts right where it needs to, with Rose examining what it takes to adjust from being a widely known WWE character to trying to meet and exceed fan expectations during one-off independent appearances. He also looks at why the Rose character struggled and the notion of being Sesame Street. Then the talk dials back to Rose’s time growing up in South Africa, how the country changed with the ascendance of Nelson Mandela and what it took to break in to the wrestling business. Rose also revisits his troubled childhood and time without a home, then explains how he eventually got a WWE deal. After discussing the E:60 special, he gives Cabana details about his son’s birth defect and progress, reflects on the end of his WWE contract and how he approaches the task of providing for his family.

Quote of the week: “There was tradeoffs, there’s always tradeoffs. Like, I was never at home. I never saw Matt. Never saw him. Matt missed out on me for, like, two years. Straight. I wasn’t there. … Now when I look back, I missed out on so much with Matt. Yet I’ve always been driven by my job is to provide. That’s my first key job is provision. If I’m not providing, I’m failing. That’s my thoughts anyway. So my first job is provision, but also my job is to be around, you know? Otherwise I’m just the dude out there in magic land that you never see that brings money in. So it was weird. Because now, when I finally did get to go home, Levi, who’s my second son, who’s perfectly healthy, who’s in the 80th percentile and a tank of a human being, he gets — got all of me. You know what I’m saying? So it was unfair, on Matt, for those two years, he just didn’t get dad.”

Why you should listen: This interview definitely humanizes Adam Rose as both a wrestler and a person. Whether you’re interested in hearing the raw truth about being given a character with a midcard ceiling and how even that can slip away before you notice, or you’re taken by the tale of someone who came from the streets, crossed the ocean in pursuit of a dream and, to an extent, made that dream a reality, the episode delivers.

Why you should skip it: If you think the entire hour should be Rose apologizing for his March arrest or unpacking his WWE Wellness Policy violation, you’re going to be disappointed. He addresses both issues near the end of the episode, and while Cabana doesn’t intentionally try to paint Rose as a sympathetic character, neither does he press for details. This isn’t surprising given the nature of Art Of Wrestling, but it must be said that for some listeners the way the issues are addressed is going to be wholly unsatisfying.

Final thoughts: I’m not inclined to support anyone guilty of domestic violence, but I did take to heart Rose’s comments about how TMZ is really only interested in the salaciousness of arrests and not the actual legal proceedings or a family working to move forward together. I’d suggest folks inclined to discard this episode based on Rose’s name alone actually give it the time to hear how he presents himself. That’s not said in the hopes you’ll change your mind and like the guy — I’m sure some will come away from this with even stronger opinions — but because we as humans owe it to each other to keep listening and trying to understand what makes us all tick and how one person’s experience might be useful in helping another. Aside from all that stuff, the actual wrestling conversation is quite good. Rose has excellent insight about being in developmental, having one last chance to find a character that connects, being told he’d never eclipse a certain point and had a predetermined shelf life and not fully understanding the way he was losing control of his own creation. That, paired with how he takes all that experience and still tries to deliver for the independent promotions that bring him in, is tremendously useful for fans open to considering the challenges of making a living in wrestling in and outside the monolith. Ultimately, if you see Adam Rose’s name in the episode description and say, “Nah, eff that guy,” you’re missing out on the chance to learn and think. You can still write him off after giving him this much of your time, but there’s really no harm in considering his experience and what it has to offer.