Podcast Episode 10: WrestleManiacs

I don’t know about you, but I have never understood the love of pro wrestling. As luck would have it, a TON of my friends are long-time fans, and two of them graciously agreed to come on the show and win me over.

Meet Erik Truby and Dave Ranallo. Pro wrestling has never been so dorky.


Click here if you prefer to listen on iTunes.

Intro 00:00
– This episode is brought to you by our new sponsor, Arcade Comedy Theater! As my listeners, you can STILL use the early bird special price on their Improv One class! Leave me a comment if you’re interested!
– Also, please check out I Love Lard, where I’m now included on a list of women podcasters!
– My guests are Dave Ranallo and Erik Truby, wrestling fans extraordinaire! One of whom showed up late for this session because he completely failed to adhere to Daylight Savings Time.

Pod Pourri 08:17
– New jingle! I dunno. It’s alright. NOW LET’S GET ON WITH IT.
– These two wrestling fans don’t like wrestling fans. Can someone work up a Venn Diagram of that for me? Kthx.
– Women as eye candy, hypermasculinity, gay characters, celebrity appearances, steroids scandals… wrestling is complex, y’all.
– Just when you thought it couldn’t get any dorkier, Dave shares that his undergrad thesis was about pro wrestling.
– You guys. What is this feeling? I think I want to watch this year’s Wrestlemania.

Games People Play 54:33
– You’ve gotten involved in pro wrestling. What’s your name, costume, and schtick?

Outro 59:40
– Dave represents @spinstercomedy and can regularly be found in the tech booth at Arcade Comedy Theater.
– Truby selflessly plugged the doctor who cured baby AIDS.

Thanks for joining us, everyone! If you’re a fan of this sport, leave me a comment and tell me AAAAALLLLLLLLL about it!

18 thoughts on “Podcast Episode 10: WrestleManiacs

  1. And here are some more wrestling matches that you may enjoy:

    WWE Championship
    Kurt Angle (c) versus Chris Benoit

    WWF Intercontinental Championship:
    Bret Hart (c) versus The British Bulldog
    Summerslam 1992

    “Macho Man” Randy Savage verus Jake “The Snake” Roberts
    This Tuesday In Texas

  2. Oh man, where to even start? Obviously I could go on at disgusting length about everything that Dave and Erik discussed.

    First, we’re probably generally in agreement about the appeal of wrestling, particularly to the three of us. Dave, Erik, and I are interested in the art of storytelling and there’s something fascinating about the kind of narrative you see in a properly done wrestling match. And this ties into our mutual frustration with the current televised wrestling product. The problem is that the BEST aspect of pro-wrestling storytelling is the non-verbal element. When you talk about the art of wrestling, most of the time what you’re talking about is the ability of two wrestlers to tell the story of their conflict IN THE RING. I don’t discount vignettes or promos at all. Jake the Snake is one of the, if not THE, greatest promo cutter of all time. But promos and vignettes are meaningless if they aren’t backed up by ring psychology. Jake always backed up what he said in a promo with how he acted in the ring. If he was screwing with the Undertaker’s mind in a promo, in the match he would toy with the Undertaker. He would wrestle a “trickier” style than he might normally. Ring psychology is also why certain veterans like Lance Storm dislike what’s called “spotfest” wrestling, or the high-impact wrestling you tend to see in the independent scene. If the match is only about “hey look at the crazy/awesome shit I can do with my body”, then it really isn’t telling a story.

    Now to be fair, I’m personally a fan of spotfest wrestling. I wouldn’t want an entire show of just spotfest wrestling, but it can really be exciting to watch a couple of guys do crazy flips or moves that look like they could kill each other. For me, I enjoy those matches because I appreciate the amount of skill it takes for them to perform the moves. Especially if the wrestlers involved have a reputation for safety and match quality. Jerry Lynn is known for having crazy brutal matches but almost everyone in the business loves working with him because he makes it look brutal but he’s very, very safe. I love watching Rob Van Dam matches because at least once a match he’ll take a DDT (essentially you put a guy’s head under your armpit and then pull him backwards, planting his head in the mat) and he’ll literally *bounce* off his head. When you get to know how the move is done, you see that most of the time he’s really just doing a handspring, but it LOOKS like his opponent just bounced his skull off the mat.

    As for disliking wrestling fans, I have to agree with Dave and Erik. There is definitely a streak of homophobia about a lot of wrestling fans because of the machismo thing. Time constraints and memory are always going to be an issue for a podcast, but Erik and Dave were wrong about gay face (or good guy) wrestlers. Chuck Palumbo and Billy Gunn were a tag team made up from the remainders of two prior tag teams. Nobody seemed really sure what to do with them as far as a gimmick went. This was right around the time that the Ambiguously Gay Duo was really popular on SNL, so Chuck and Billy became this ambiguously gay tag team. (Because Vince loves but utterly fails to understand pop culture) At first they seemed to be a callback to the “sissy heel” wrestlers of yore, but they got very popular very quickly and were made faces for a while. And then they were going to get married IN RING at a Pay Per View! But that didn’t happen and the team broke up. I don’t remember what storyline reason they had for killing that gay gimmick, but I remember thinking at the time that it was incredibly stupid because that gimmick was over with a lot of the crowd AND it was *potentially* great PR. Buuuut yeah, for the most part wrestling fans hate teh gayz. And I want to expand on something Erik said in response to disliking some wrestling fans. He expressed, and I agree 100%, that when a wrestling fan over the age of… say 12… still acts like wrestling is real, it just makes you uncomfortable. Mostly because to believe in wrestling in this day and age, when there’s *so much* access to information and the industry has been *so* exposed, is very naive. Possibly borderline mentally ill. It’s also frustrating sometimes to listen to wrestling fans who *know* it’s fake talk about it because 9 times out of 10 they’re talking about the horribly written TV storyline garbage. So it’s like you have to deal with immature weirdos on one side and dopes who don’t get narrative on the other.

    Also I wanted to mention that I have been playing wrestling video games for a very long time, just like Erik and Dave. And while I have created characters based on myself and my friends and family (including Gravity Kills/Gladiator Newton Gray, whose characterization in the podcast makes me cringe), the VAST majority of my created wrestlers are women. I *love* women’s wrestling. I love it so much it’s one of the primary reasons I stopped watching the WWE product. For a while in the 90s there were some super talented women’s wrestlers in the WWE. Trish Stratus, Ivory, Lita, Ms. Jacquelyn, Gail Kim, Victoria, MOLLY FREAKING HOLLY! (my personal favorite)… I’m sure I’m forgetting a couple (not including China as she wasn’t really in the women’s scene or Sable as she was strictly eye candy, as were Sunny and Tori Wilson and Stacey “Ms. George Clooney” Keibler). Anyway, I was probably at my highest point of wrestling fandom in the mid to late 90s and that’s when we had all these great women wrestlers. Then slowly the whole synergy thing with Playboy chipped away at the women’s division until it was basically titty show filler. Which is what it remains today, despite the best efforts of trainers and the women themselves. There’s a lot of potential in today’s WWE women, or “Divas” (a post-Playboy term that makes me so mad you could fry an egg on my head), but it’s squandered because they aren’t given enough time to have a proper match. It’s a complaint a LOT of wrestlers in WWE have, particularly the guys who aren’t well-known, but it’s particularly grating for fans of women’s wrestling. If you’re not going to treat the women’s division with proper respect, why have it at all? So yeah. And like I said, I’ve been playing wrestling video games for a long time and I always have a HUGE roster of women wrestlers. In my copy of WWE ’13, there are 50 slots available for created wrestlers and I have filled all 50 with women. I’m sure there are psych reasons you could get into for why I do this, which would probably be similar to the reasons I love women’s MMA and shows like Buffy and Xena and other similar “attractive female beats the shit out of people” material, but there’s no need to get into it here. Right? ….. Right?

    • I don’t count Billy and Chuck as “gay babyfaces’ because they weren’t gay babyfaces. They were, as you say, “ambiguous” and the whole thing was played for a laugh. Plus, even when they were popular they were heels (especially with Rico as their manager). Ultimately, the publicity stunt of their joining ceremony undercut the “gay” nature of their characters and that’s why I don’t count them.

      I also don’t count Lenny & Lodi, nor do I count Too Much.

      • Well then I don’t think you can count any of the “sissy” heels as gay, either. They weren’t expressly gay. If you’re going to talk about Gorgeous George as a gay character, you *have* to accept Billy & Chuck as gay characters. And I get that they were billed as heels, but they played far more face than heel. Did GLAAD ever consult with Gorgeous George? No, but they *did* consult with WWE on Billy & Chuck.

  3. i didn’t listen to this episode yet, but i have every intention of doing so. but for now i’m putting in my two cents to suggest that if they have not yet done so, Dave/Truby/Newt should check out the WTF? podcast with Colt Cabana (sp?), and the Nerdist Podcast episodes with CM Punk (who is actually straight-edge, which floored me) and Mick Foley aka Mankind.

    • Literally three steps ahead of you: Done, done and done. You’ll be pleased to know we discuss Punk’s straightedge lifestyle on the ‘cast.

      • i did catch that. well done.
        i was also pleased to hear how much of a pop-culture nerd he was. seems like an okay guy. i mean, he owns a Flux Capacitor, so he can’t be all bad.

        • Yeah, I’m an avid WTFer. Not as much a fan of Nerdist just because Hardwick gets on my nerves with his continued insistence that he’s just as much a nerd as anyone else. No, sorry, you’ve gotten laid a whole shitload, you can’t claim ownership of the term anymore. If you’re popular and you’ve had a ton of sex, you aren’t a nerd. Anyway, although it’s not always fantastic I recommend giving Colt Cabana’s Art of Wrestling podcast a listen as well.

          • i don’t think getting laid precludes one from being a nerd. tons of nerds are married, otherwise coupled, or they may just hook up at comic cons and such. it’s the 21st century, holmes. all kinda people can get laid.

  4. i finally did listen, and i gotta tell ya, this was a great episode. no surprise ultimately, as people who are really into a thing and can talk about it at length are generally interesting to me. there ya go.
    i think there is a lot of overlap with people who have a nerdly appreciation for things being sort of drowned out by the louder/more common push of the “unwashed masses”. i’m a comic book reader who generally can’t stand comic fans, so i get where they’re coming from on that score.
    i view Rasslin’ the way i view baseball: i am intrigued by the aesthetic of it up to a point (in the case of pro-wrestling: probably 1980s and very, very early 1990s, like maybe 1991-92), but care very little for the actual sport/event. i would probably watch and old tape of Rasslin’, but i’m much more fascinated by the characters and their Bios (both real and “fake”), then the actual thing itself. my dalliance with wrestling is very small: i loved the Hulkamaniacs cartoon thing; WWF rock-n-wrestling maybe it was called? i distinctly remember an episode where Andre the Giant has to travel on an airplane, and he uses two seats, a seatbelt across each gargantuan leg. hilarious. i vaguely recall watching some stuff on saturday morning, probably after cartoons, and seeing a lot of that Mouth of The South guy. there was also Iron Sheik, a weird Russian guy whose name escapes me but he wore a hammer-and-sickle onesie, the oft-mentioned in this podcast Macho Man, and that weird Ultimate Warrior dude who always looked like his head would explode. i recall some “friends” (ppl i was vaguely friendly with in a study hall) looking through Rasslin’ magazines, and some weird shit with Jake The Snake having his eye fucked up? also wasn’t there some storyline where he cheated with Macho Man’s wife or something? i dunno. my interest in pro-wrestling has always been on the periphery at best. i think a lot of it had to do with moving to Western PA, and being bullied by hicks, who often taunted me with the “other F word”, and they were also giant wrestlemaniacs. i didn’t want to be associated with that. by the time i got to college in the 1990s, a lot of ppl were getting into it either out of nostalgia or “because it’s funny”, and that ship had sailed for me. i already had a giant stack of nerdy interests that held much more sway over my imagination.
    the current state of wrestling looks pretty generic to me: dudes come out in jeans shorts and vests. the vast overwhelming majority of them seem to have “real” names, even if it’s not their actual name. you guys mentioned Steve Austin and Sean (sp?) Michaels. that’s my point. those are just dudes who would work at an autobody shop or something.
    Dave, Truby, Newt, and Fedor are, sadly, the exception to the rule as far as Rasslin’ fans go: nerds who are into it for pure reasons and love the history and theatricality of it. i could very easily see getting into a conversation about it with them, mainly for the reasons i enjoyed the podcast.

    call me a hipster if you will (and some of you no doubt will), but i actually do enjoy Lucha Libre, the masked Mexican pro-wrestling. i guess i always like the weird foreign equivalent of a thing. *shrug*

    this post was kind of rambly, but that’s because i’m up super early and my thoughts aren’t as easily formed as they might be if i sat down and mapped them out.

    • I’m so glad you liked it! Not surprised, since like you said, it’s a couple of nerds geeking out about something. I love that you left so many comments!

      I think the story you told about “the other F word” pretty much sums it up as far as our pals being the exception to the rule about the fans. That’s what I recall from growing up, too.

    • One of the things I haven’t done in L.A. yet and really have to find time and transportation to do is Lucha Va Voom. It’s a variety show that features burlesque and lucha libre wrestling with commentary by Blaine Capatch, Tom Kenny, and Dana Gould.

      • many is the time i’ve heard Dana Gould et al talk about this, and i bet it’s super cool. i’d check it out if i was out there.

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