Friday, January 20, 2017

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Art Of Wrestling Ep. 334

Former ROH owner Silkin talks to Cabana
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: 334 (Jan. 19, 2017)
Run Time: 52:26
Guest: Cary Silkin (10:37)

Summary: Colt Cabana is recording in the Hammerstein Ballroom with former Ring Of Honor owner Cary Silkin. They talk a little about business, including Silkin’s insistence on investing in lighting and the issue of contracts for performers. Turning back the clock, Cabana asks Silkin how he got into wrestling, who explains how his background creating magazines for Puerto Rico eventually turned into his investment in Ring Of Honor. There are some vague allusions to corporate turmoil on the road to the sale to Sinclair, then a hard shift into Silkin’s childhood and attending a WWWF house shows in 1967 where he tried to cheer for “Classy” Freddie Blassie instead of Pedro Morales. Back to the more recent past, the guys reflect on some ROH highlights over the years and Silkin speaks a bit about his career in Broadway show ticket sales.

Quote of the week: “My game plan was I am not gonna threaten my other business financially through wrestling, which many a person has, had done. And I loved Ring of Honor, and I still do, and I was proud of it. And it was a combination of the pride, the ego, the success and, you know, the excitement of it and all those great matches that we had and all those great moments we had — many that you were part of — and, you know, getting to go to England, even just going to Chicago the first time was, like, a big deal. It was exciting, you know? And I didn’t want to give it up. I mean, I should’ve.”

Why you should listen: The inner workings of wrestling promotions tend to fascinate people, and that’s especially true on the independent scene. Silkin obviously is a fantastic source in this regard, and it was interesting to get some of his insight, even as someone who has paid scant attention to Ring Of Honor over the years (it’s not them, it’s me). It also was delightful to hear stories of childhood fandom from someone whose wrestling memories predate my own by two decades.

Why you should skip it: If you thought the Cody Rhodes and Bull James episodes were free of controversy, this episode will seem twice as tame by comparison. Silkin won’t even mention Rob Feinstein by name, says as little as he can about conflict with Gabe Sapolsky and generally avoids anything resembling a sordid detail about his personal or professional life. I don’t download Art Of Wrestling hoping for an expletive-laden shoot, but Silkin’s backstory is impossible to convey accurately without broaching some hot button issues, and Cabana isn’t the right person to conduct that sort of interview.

Final thoughts: This episode ends up being far more about what isn’t said than what you actually hear. Cabana keeps it shorter than usual, probably because he’s frustrated Silkin clearly won’t give him any dirt and knowing he’s unwilling to press his guest to go down such a road. And while I’m not one who actually cares about Silkin’s backstory or the muddy waters of the ROH front office over the years, it does seem fair to ask why Silkin would do the show, or why Cabana would want him as a guest, if the end result is simply alluding to controversy and then dancing around anything that might be construed as enlightening. It’s not just the ROH stuff, either — Silkin is vague about his background in ticket sales, vague about the magazine, vague abut dealing with failure and vague about pretty much anything aside from talking about what he thinks he’s done right over the years and telling Cabana he respects him as a straight shooter. Shorter version: If you think you know what this is, or at least what you want it to be, it’s almost certainly not that, so you might be better off moving along to something a little less frustrating.