Wednesday, February 15, 2017

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Art Of Wrestling Ep. 337

Juice Robinson is Cabana's guest 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: 337 (Feb. 8, 2017)
Run Time: 1:05:23
Guest: Juice Robinson (11:03)

Summary: Colt Cabana decided the time was right to sit down with the erstwhile CJ Parker, now known as Juice Robinson. They open by considering the idea of scouting future opponents and the misconceptions American wrestlers have about Japanese opponents. Robinson talks about trying to shake his NXT identity and starting over on the independent scene. They go back to the beginning of their relationship and Robinson talks about being a goofball in school, discovering independent wrestling and getting into training. He recounts some of his early struggles before he figured out how to really commit to wrestling. Robinson then tells the story of his WWE tryout and bits from his time in developmental, as well as how he decided to leave on his terms and ended up latching on with New Japan and acclimating to living there more than stateside.

Quote of the week: “I ended up being there for eight months. And it was good, I’m glad I did that cause you know, then you earn their respect. I didn’t want them to think that I thought that I was something that I wasn’t. I wasn’t anything! Cause you’re not anything, and at that point I was nothing. Anybody who leaves there and thinks, like, ‘Oh, I’m gonna cash in on all these indy pay days and, like, with my Pro Wrestling Tees and everything,’ no way. You’re starting over. You’re nothing. You’re behind the machine and, yeah, don’t drink the Kool-Aid. It was nothing then. And yeah, I went to the dojo and started from scratch. And I knew then I’d get a couple more tours, right, so if I shit the bed the first tour I knew I’d have a couple more.”

Why you should listen: Hands down the most entertaining anecdote was Robinson recounting how he learned of the world outside of WWE by seeing Billy Gunn advertised on a poster in a Morris, Ill., Taco Bell. While that stands on its own, he and Cabana moved from there directly through the rest of Robinson’s career in a way that touches on the parts NXT fans will easily recall while also artfully showing the evolution of a wrestler who has no damn business in the ring to properly understanding when his talents aren’t being fully utilized. I didn’t expect this interview to find new ground after recent talks with Adam Rose, Cody Rhodes and Bull James, but it stands on its own and should lead to broader interest in Robinson’s career.

Why you should skip it: Feels like a broken record here, but don’t come looking for an ex-developmental guy shooting hot fire at Triple H or whatever. That should be expected by now. It also should be noted the talk is largely absent of fond memories of NXT as well — no heartwarming Dusty Rhodes tales or new insights on what it’s really like to train in that environment. Some might say Cabana spends a bit too much time interjecting some of his own stories into the conversation, but given when and where their paths crossed in small-town Illinois, I don’t share that criticism.

Final thoughts: It’s a good chat. Nothing mind-blowing, but I really enjoyed the chance to learn more about a person whom I knew I wasn’t fully experiencing via NXT. At this rate Cabana is kind of like a baseball player compiling the counting stats year after year. His weekly show, provided we’re talking one-on-one interviews, is remarkably consistent. Rarely spectacular but always better than average and generally worth the time.