Friday, February 17, 2017

I Listen So You Don't Have To: Art Of Wrestling Ep. 338

Havok sits down with Cabana this week
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: 338 (Feb. 15, 2017)
Run Time: 1:12:33
Guest: Jessicka Havok (12:16)

Summary: Colt Cabana’s guest this week is a fire-spitting Jessicka Havok. Things start slowly with some allusions to her childhood and insisting on pursuing her goals of being a wrestler, but get rolling when she starts recounting some difficult situations in the ring, including one specific story about a problematic opponent, then talks about the challenges of finding decent training and adjusting to her first time working with locker rooms full of women. Havok then goes deep on the car accident that made her near mortal enemies with Hailey Hatred and tells the story of how her WWE tryout coincided with a social media explosion and how she dealt with that fallout. Wrapping up she shares some fun stories about working with her wrestling heroes and gives her current professional status.

Quote of the week: “This could’ve changed my life. Like, this is everything I fought for. And so, like, I literally, like, cried for almost a month, every day. Like, I just laid in bed, I was so upset. I didn’t know how I was going to come back from it. … I deleted all my social media apps off my phone because I was getting death threats, people were, like, calling me a bunch of names, you know, telling me I’m — just, like, all the worst things you could possibly, like, think of. It was just crazy. … I felt like in that moment I couldn’t really defend myself ’cause it would make me look more guilty, if that makes any sense.”

Why you should listen: CM Punk internet-breaking episodes aside, I probably give Cabana too much grief for shying away from controversy when a conversation is naturally headed that direction. Havok, however, would not be denied and plunged head-on into her biggest personal and professional tribulations. We’re clearly getting one side of the story throughout, but it’s the first time she’s done a podcast since her WWE tryout and even if you don’t fully endorse her account of everything, this does serve as a reminder of our shared basic humanity. Which isn’t nothing.

Why you should skip it: For a wrestling podcast, there’s not a ton of talk about wrestling. The best stuff on that front comes early, when talking about trying to read a crowd or the oddity of overcoming being the only woman training to then being uncomfortable on a show full of women, but such useful insights are overshadowed by what, for some listeners, ultimately boils down to the same type of shot firing as the notorious Punk chats, albeit with less mainstream interest, and probably not any lawsuit fodder.

Final thoughts: I’ll be straight, Havok was barely on my wrestling radar before this episode, although that says more about me than her. Still, I’m not going to forget her name anytime soon, and if that’s even part of Cabana’s goal here this is an unmitigated success. On the other hand, it’s entirely possible some folks would find almost zero to enjoy about this interview because the ax-grinding drowns out everything else. I wish I could tell you which way to lean, but you might just have to listen to find out for yourself.