Friday, November 18, 2016

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Art Of Wrestling ep. 326/327

Edge is on the second of two Art of Wrestling episodes recapped this week
Photo Credit:
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: 326 (Nov. 10, 2016)
Run Time: 52:50
Guest: Grado, Kikutaro (4:00)

Summary: Colt Cabana is driving back to Chicago from St. Louis with his Wrestling Road Diaries 3 costars Grado and Kikutaro. After some small talk, the two guests discuss how they became fast friends in a matter of 72 hours despite a significant language barrier. Cabana then revisits the weekend itinerary, briefly interrupted by exploring the question of comedy versus charisma. There’s a story about Tracey Smothers and a consideration of how well the experience of attending an independent show in person translates to DVD. Cabana checks in with Jack the video editor, then the guys wonder if the present is a golden age for comedy in wrestling. After some more small talk, Cabana plugs The Razor Ramones and their song “Funny Equals Money” before everyone signs off.

Quote of the week: Grado: “I hate when you ask me these serious questions, man. … Being real and having fun. Like us three otherwise sound like an act, but I feel as if we’re real people. And then when you let your realness, when you let your natural self come across in the ring, come across when you’re talking to fans, I think what — that’s really what comedy wresting is, you’re being real to yourself and just letting yourself have a good old jolly time.”

Why you should listen: If you’re committed to watching Wrestling Road Diaries 3, you can probably consider this some sort of bonus track for the film, or maybe some kind of preview? Either way, it’s unequivocally inextricable from the movie.

Why you should skip it: If you don’t care at all about the movie, you’re unlikely to find the podcast useful. It’s a decent concept, but Cabana executes it poorly, and the language barrier between the two guests goes from cute to problematic (in terms of this being interesting) in very short order.

Final thoughts: Remember in college when a handful of your buddies went to Mexico for spring break while you went home to have a dental procedure and get your lousy car’s transmission rebuilt? And then you get back on campus and they’re all tan and wearing Señor Frog’s T-shirts and telling outlandish stories about that one girl from the beach and you wonder if maybe you haven’t made the biggest mistake of your life? It’s not quite like that — unless you’ve just been dying to tour the One Hour Tees production facility — but I couldn’t help feeling this entire conversation was essentially your buddies remembering an experience you missed and doing so like they were hosting The Chris Farley Show. Which is to say you really, really had to be there, and Cabana turning on the voice recorder for 50 minutes of a six-hour drive doesn’t quite lift the curtain quite all the way.

• • •

Show: Art Of Wrestling
Episode: 327 (Nov. 17, 2016)
Run Time: 1:11:21
Guest: Edge (11:04)

Summary: Colt Cabana scores a full interview with former live show panel guest Edge. After examining the idea of Canadian quirkiness, Edge talks about how he, Christian and others were part of a WWF crew in the late 1990s who didn’t go out and party. After reflecting on moments he was a jerk to fans, he retells his own childhood experiences with Mr. Perfect and Bret Hart, then explains how he won an essay contest for wrestling training. That leads to talk about the contrast between growing up poor and then making big WWF money and living in the Bahamas. Going back to the beginning, Edge has some stories about Sweet Daddy Siki and various ring names he and Christian considered. He tells the lengthy story of how he got his first WWF match at a 1996 Canadian house show, then contrasts that with being on top in WWE. That brings up the time he couldn’t ignore the need to get away from the pressure, his relationship with Vince McMahon and some thoughts about his post-wrestling career.

Quote of the week: “I always thought that getting there was the hard part, and then I realized that once you’re there, like, surviving there, and then trying to make it to the top there is by far the hardest part — and then juggling life, and juggling all the changes that come with life. You know? First world problems, yeah, but a lot of stuff changes. The speed of life changes, the responsibilities of life changes. Now you have more people depending on you, now you have, you know, the company starts putting a dependence on you, and now you start thinking about, ‘OK, that camera guy’s family at home, I gotta keep chugging along because I want to make sure everybody’s good, and if the house isn’t good—’ And so all of that starts to filter it’s way in at some point.”

Why you should listen: I’ve not always been the biggest fan of Edge’s actual wrestling career (but I will fight you over the awesomeness of his theme song and entrance), and I’m not sure his comedy is aimed directly at my sensibilities, yet I seem to always enjoy hearing him talk about his life and career. It might be an ability to identify with someone who grew up a WWF fan at the same time I did, or the fact he seems utterly unaffected by his astonishing success, but his candor is appreciated. Cabana does a great job letting Edge tell his own stories and yet also makes sure the interview goes far beyond what everyone knows from the “Rated R Superstar” era.

Why you should skip it: One of the downsides of Edge’s ability to give a good interview is he gives a lot of good interviews. At this point an Edge podcast is about as likely to yield fresh information as a Mick Foley appearance. The guys are highly visible, live their lives as a fairly open book (or in Foley’s case, several books) and aside from natural charisma and star power don’t necessarily do anything special for Art Of Wrestling apart from any other outlet.

Final thoughts: Between this and Kevin Owens appearing with David Shoemaker, it’s a good podcast week for Canadians who grew up as WWF fans and went on to win the company’s top titles. Those two shows and Becky Lynch on Steve Austin’s Thursday episode (write-up coming next week) are significantly better uses of audio bandwidth than old white guys talking about how the kids these days need to slow down. If you have any affinity for Cabana or Edge you’re likely to really enjoy this one, just don’t expect it to blow you over reeking of total awesomeness, because Edge doesn’t have that much more to give we haven’t all already experienced.