Monday, October 31, 2016

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Art Of Wrestling Ep. 324

Jeff Jarrett is one of the panelists on this live AOW
Photo Credit: Lee South/
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: 324 (Oct. 27, 2016)
Run Time: 1:16:25
Guests: Curt Hawkins (10:14); Pat Buck (21:01); Chris Dickinson (32:23); Sonjay Dutt (41:23); Karen Jarrett (52:32); Jeff Jarrett (1:00:33)

Summary: Colt Cabana recorded this live episode about two months ago in Scranton, PA. The first guest is a pre-WWE return Curt Hawkins, who tells a quick story about getting ribbed at WrestleMania XXIV, then explains why he took Billy Gunn’s Performance Center class and talks about wrestling him recently. He also explains his viral fame via Grims Toy Show on YouTube. Buck is Hawkins’ partner in the Create-A-Pro wrestling school, so his segment focuses on how his own floundering wrestling career led to becoming a teacher and promoter. There also are stories about various obscure pros and the time he called Sid in the middle of the ring during a main event. Dickinson explains how he became the “Dirty Daddy” and reflects on the excitement he felt during a recent tour of England. Dutt also talks about professional globetrotting, though he’s had a much broader travel schedule — he spends a lot of time focusing on a trip to Sudan. Karen Jarrett leads the final segment by talking about Global Force Wrestling and whether or not she’s an intimidating figure to other wrestlers. She also explains the importance of treating workers with respect. Jeff Jarrett follows, opening with stories about how wrestler contracts have evolved over time. Then they veer off into the origin of the word “slapnuts” and revisit the end days of WCW.

Quote of the week: Karen Jarrett: “I started out as a fan, I used to watch wrestling with my grandfather because my dad wouldn’t let me watch it. I mean, I love the business. But I’ve seen all different sides of the business. And I’ve seen how talent’s treated on one side, and I think that’s the biggest thing for me is when Jeff wanted to start another company, I want the talent, men and women, to be treated as they should be treated. You have to have a passion to be in this business, and a love for it, but I don’t think there’s a lot of respect for you guys on the other side of the business, and I hope that we can create that, or have created that, and continue to move forward with it.”

Why you should listen: As live episodes go, this is one of the strongest in terms of production: the audio is crystal clear throughout, the transitions between guests are minimal and there’s practically nothing that makes the at-home listener feel left out. In terms of content, perhaps my favorite moment was Hawkins’ opening story, but looking at things as a whole Cabana has a nice mix of guests from various corners of the business and while the conversations often complement one another — even having Hawkins talk at some length about the previous episode’s guest, which most liley was simple serendipity — nothing is stale or repetitive. As an added bonus, Cabana almost entirely avoids the lowbrow toilet humor that unfortunately mars many of his panel shows.

Why you should skip it: The biggest knock on any live show is when Cabana has to cut short what might otherwise be a compelling interview in the interests of getting another speaker on the dais. That’s definitely true with respect to Karen Jarrett, and not just because going to Jeff is such a major dropoff. We probably could say the same for Dickinson, who seems to get lost in the shuffle amidst bigger names or folks more comfortable sharing a microphone and stage with such a big personality.

Final thoughts: The next live Art Of Wrestling to constitute a “must listen” episode will be the first, but definitely give this one a chance if you’re typically inclined to avoid the panel shows, or if you just want a little wrestling chatter without being forced to think about the overwhelming amount of contemporary WWE programming. It’s a nice diversion, and the variety of guests and time each is allotted really keep things moving. (Though you’re wholly forgiven if you shut it off once Karen Jarrett ends her turn, slapnuts.)