BANK STATEMENT #14 - Colt Cabana & The Art of Wrestling
Welcome to another edition of the Bank Statement on Hardway HQ! I’ve really had some serious thoughts after the last piece I wrote and MAYBE I was a little too rough on today’s wrestling scene. MAYBE my views were a little too nostalgic. MAYBE I was a little too tough on today’s wrestling fans.
The vibe in today’s wrestling game just feels so...different. Although, with social media, you can connect with wrestler’s today like never before, you don’t really get to INVEST in their story. Social media has SO MUCH NOISE that a lot of character-based posts gets drowned out by negativity and drama on the platform itself.
What I love is investing in performers through their journeys, especially through podcasts. Countless performers have had podcasts over the years, some lasting longer than others. Some have been incredibly entertaining, like Dave Lagana’s I Want Wrestling, the Conrad Thompson empire of AdFreeShows, and Vince Russo’s The Brand. Some have not. But the emotional investment that comes through podcasting is second to none.
There has been no other journey I’ve enjoyed further, personally, than Colt Cabana’s.
I’ve followed the wrestler Colt Cabana on the independent wrestling scene since 2004, when I watched him live at “At Our Best” for ROH on March 13, 2004. Although he was a part of a big schmozz with the Prophecy and the Second City Saints, his persona and charisma shone through with his facial expressions.
Over the next few years, his ROH character became a must watch, as he was able to shift through comedic matches and violent wars. His entire run with Homicide in late 2005-early 2006 might be the most underrated feud in independent wrestling history. I became consumed with “Classic” through his run.
When he left ROH in 2007 to start a developmental deal in WWE, I was psyched. I felt that he was a perfect fit for the #1 wrestling organization, as he was such a bombastic entertainer and entertainment was figuratively written all over him.
And then...nothing really happened. Although Colt, renamed Scotty Goldman, had his “What’s Cracking” webshow on WWE.com in 2009, a cult classic to the hardcore wrestling fan, he was ultimately released in early March on ‘09.
I became deeply involved within local independent wrestling in New Jersey around 2009, so I didn’t pay as much attention to the career of Mr. Cabana. But I kept up online through different wrestling forums and ROH results of his different activities.
One night in 2010, randomly browsing online, I saw ROHWrestling.com had a special audio clip from Colt discussing a feud between Kevin Steen and El Generico called “The Art of Wrestling”. I felt it was very different and more along the lines of an audio monologue than a stereotypical wrestling promo. I loved it so much I scrolled down to the bottom of the article and saw that Colt had started his own podcast called, just like the ROH article, “The Art of Wrestling”.
The first question I asked myself, as many of that time did, was simple:
“What is a podcast?”
After researching what a podcast was, and how to access them, I searched Colt Cabana and up came his episodic audio entryway into the minds, the souls, the hearts, and lives of those involved with the world of professional wrestling.
The first episode I listened to was AOW #18 with Domino from the cult WWE tag team Deuce ‘N’ Domino. Over the next 60 minutes, I laughed for a long time, listening to the stories and jokes of Cliff Compton over his wrestling career. Add in the fact it was recorded in CM Punk’s “freezing” house and the “Best in the World’s” repeated interjections into the episode made for a legendary interview.
I was hooked.
Every Thursday morning, I had my morning routine. Before work, I would plug in my iPod, open iTunes, refresh the RSS feed, and download the latest Art of Wrestling episode. I would put my headphones on and just cruise to the sweet melodic voice of the Chicago born Cabana.
Each Art of Wrestling podcast began the same:
“Hey guys, this week’s podcast is brought to by…”, followed up by the show’s sponsor. Then, approximately 45 seconds later, the “BOOM BOOM!” pumps you up, followed by Colt Cabana’s theme song. He leads you into the Art of Wrestling, a fan and listener supported podcast. It’s brought to you free of charge. And then, Colt chimes in with “Live in the studio...APARTMENT in Chicago, Illinois” and begins his monologue.
After several minutes, Colt leads everyone into the “Song of the Week”, which is always somehow linked to the world of wrestling. Finally, after a quick “It’s Colt Ca-Ba-Na!” transition, Colt goes into his interview with his guest. 50 minutes to an hour later, that quick transition plays again, and Colt gives his closing remarks and his plugs, while ending the episode with a “THANKSSSS”.
That hour for me just flew by.
The Art of Wrestling truly helped establish Colt Cabana’s career in the world of wrestling other than being an in-ring performer. Fans really began to see Colt as a world class interviewer.
His conversations with some of wrestling’s more popular names allowed the listener to gain insight on the interviewee’s back story. For example, his interview with Cesaro showcased “the Swiss Superman’s” journey to America from Switzerland, leaving his family and life behind just so he could chase his dream. Talking to William Regal to hear the vile Englishman’s journey in the circus and camps around the United Kingdom en route to a long, successful career in the US. Mike Quackenbush was able to detail the long-awaited return of CHIKARA in 2014 and the reasons behind it.
A plethora of performers, young and old, have been able to detail their saga in the sport of kings, thanks to Cabana’s non-rigid, free-flowing conversing. Unlike other interview shows, where there would be a line of questions prepared, Colt’s unique personality allowed the performers to be themselves and topics would evolve naturally as the conversation continued.
Also, thanks to Colt’s monologue, you got to learn a lot about the host himself. You got to hear his immediate feelings after being mentioned during CM Punk’s “Pipebomb” in 2011. You listened to his joy and utter frustration during the “Seven Levels of Hate” with Adam Pearce over the NWA World’s Heavyweight Championship. You understood his excitement when he discussed his weekly travels and journeys all over the world.
Furthermore, Colt had recorded, and uploaded, several live AOW shows to the channel. It felt like more of a comedy show, with Cabana as host and a various cast of characters. From Europe and Australia to NYC, Florida, and Chicago in the states. It gave an added element to the show, giving the added element of a packed house listening, cheering, and enjoying the content provided.
Sadly, I always felt that the show took a step back after the infamous CM Punk podcast in 2014. It wasn’t because of what happened in the aftermath of the episode (multiple lawsuits, frayed friendships, etc). It was because Colt seemed, to me, burned out on podcasting. His demeanor now had a subtle sense of sadness to it. It didn’t seem to have the same passion from Colt as it did during the early days of the show. It made me sad to hear my favorite podcaster was no longer his normal jovial self.
However, over the past year, Cabana seemingly found his groove again. Thanks to his Patreon account, the entire archive of the Art of Wrestling has found its way there. Also, his side projects, including Pro Wrestling Fringe and his current project, Wrestling Anonymous, can also be found there as well.
Thanks to his SoundCloud, once a month, new episodes of AOW have been released to the internet. I feel that due to his contract with All Elite Wrestling, Cabana has been reborn, and his confidence has come back to form. I’m happy to be listening.
There is a personal note that I’d like to share here.
In 2012, Cabana, thanks to his downtime in his hotel room in Japan, began working on an audio documentary called 2012 Gathering of the Juggalos. When it was released, I made a purchase of it. I listened to it frequently. In fact, on a loop repeatedly, I never heard anything like it: an audio documentary that, to my knowledge, really hasn’t been tried since, especially in the world of pro wrestling.
During 2012-2013, I struggled immensely with depression. Listening to that audio repetitively allowed me to escape for an hour at a time and laugh. Cabana’s creativity helped through a tough time.
Colt, thanks for being the Godfather of Wrestling Podcasts. Thanks for that documentary. And thanks for getting me into podcasts. I am forever indebted.
BANK ON IT.