Depending on your perspective, being a wrestling fan these days can simultaneously be excellent and awful. Excellent because there is no shortage of content, between the WWE Network, YouTube, and the abundance of great merchandise and podcasts. Awful because arguably wrestling’s finest days are in the past, there is only one major company, and kayfabe doesn’t exist. But undoubtedly those advantages outweigh those disadvantages as it is not taboo like it once was to be a wrestling fan.
But anytime I begin to worry about the creative direction of the WWE, I think about something that is often better than the wrestling itself: podcasts. Five years or so ago, there were only a handful of prominent podcasts related to wrestling. Nowadays, there are dozens of prominent wrestling-podcasts, many of which starring key people in the history of wrestling’s popularity. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Ric Flair, Chris Jericho, Eric Bischoff, Sean Waltman, Bruce Prichard, Konnan, Taz, Kevin Sullivan, MVP, Vince Russo, Lance Storm…
If you subscribe to all of those programs through iTunes or an app, it can be overwhelming to actually listen to most of the great wrestling-related podcasts out there. Unless you have a long commute, can work with earbuds in, or do a lot of cardio. Every week you know to expect almost three hours of Bruce Prichard explaining “what happened when” to make a WWE storyline happen, two episodes of Chris Jericho interviewing someone, more than an hour of Eric Bischoff talking wrestling with co-host Nick Hausman, an hour and change of Colt Cabana conversing with someone in a locker room, etc. That adds up to dozens of hours of audio each week, on top of the three hours of Raw, the two hours of Smackdown Live, the hour of NXT, and the television offerings of TNA, New Japan Pro Wrestling, Lucha Underground, and Ring Of Honor. It also does not factor in the time commitment of going to live events or pay-per-views.
But while having too much interesting content is a wonderful first-world problem to have as a wrestling fan, the truth is that a lot of the podcasts are more often interesting on a weekly basis than what WWE has to offer. On Konnan’s podcast, for example, the show is mix of recurring segments. Konnan leads a round-table that often includes JCW’s Kevin Gill and former WCW champion Disco Inferno, frequently also including appearances from “Hurricane” Shane Helms and Vince Russo. Juventud Guerrera also pops up often. MMA fighters, wrestlers and rappers are regularly interviewed in other segments. Ultimately, Konnan’s show gives you depth about current events within wrestling — not just WWE — while also talking other entertainment and politics. All at once, Keepin It 100 comes across as being informative, thought-provoking and entertaining.
Conrad Thompson is currently the co-host of two MLW podcasts, The Ric Flair Show and Something To Wrestle With Bruce Prichard. On the Ric Flair Show, after talking wrestling news stories, Conrad and Ric take listener questions and/or interview someone with whom Ric has history. On Something To Wrestle, Conrad and Bruce explore the history behind key storylines and behind-the-scenes happenings that he was around within his WWE and TNA tenures. Programming like this provides both education and entertainment, since there is plenty of learn from the namesakes of the shows.
There are multiple reasons why a person may be a fan of professional wrestling. Some fans watch for the in-ring action. Some fans prefer the storytelling and the promos. Other people simply seek wrestling as a form of escapism. But many people who take a strong interest in wrestling want to know what is truly happening when cameras are not around, much as how a major music fan may aim to learn who wrote, produced and played on. Podcasts like the ones mentioned above are not going to be for everyone, but the idea that talent is making the attempt to create new content for direct-to-fan distribution every week is both admirable and exciting. So whenever an episode of Raw or Smackdown Live has you scratching your head, keep in mind that there are plenty of places to get your fix of captivating wrestling-related content each week.