Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Torch Talk - Bulldog from `93

The Good 
It is a funny to think how much things have changed since this interview from nearly two decades ago. Obviously, the face of pro-wrestling has changed and Davey Boy Smith has sadly passed away, but what struck me was how the nature of communication about pro-wrestling and the popularity of "dirt sheets" has changed. Wade Kellar is still around, but now these phone interview recorded on his answering machine that were transcribed for the Torch are now easy downloads and listens through new technology. In spite of all that, this was a stellar interview in a time before audio shoot interviews. Kellar knows his stuff and is pretty good about sneaking in some heavy questions as I've seen time and again.

The Bad
A loud beep every 15 seconds is a bit annoying and perhaps too maddening a distraction for some. Wade Kellar is much more smooth a talker than Dave Meltzer, but his wealth of knowledge is not as great. I suspect Dave would have done a vastly different interview, but perhaps not hammered some of the points such a steroids, drug abuse and all that quite as hard, if at all. Personally, I think Dave's obituary from the WON of Davey Boy Smith was better than this, yet this had the charm of Davey himself talking. At forty-five minutes the depth of this is respectable, but not as great as, say, an RF Video shoot generally-speaking. What I really missed and I imagine many others would have as well was the discussion of 1980s British wrestling, Stampede and Japan. Kellar hit on each of them, but perhaps in an effort to cater to his fans, kept those questions brief. One could probably complain because talk of his time in Wigan was so brief. Not to knit-pick because this predates the shoot interview era and was not originally intended for radio consumption, but it certainly had its flaws.

The Rating: ****

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Straight Shootin with Jushin "Thunder" Liger

The Good
There have not been a large number of shoot interviews done with Japanese and Mexican stars because, by in large, their English is limited, they don't break kayfabe and it just would not work out logistically. Shocker (who is actually from the US), Keiji Muto and a couple others have done interviews for English-speaking media in some capacity, but the results have been mixed. Here, Gabe Sapolsky sits down with Jushin Liger and translator Simon Inoki to look at the career of one of New Japan's most recognizable stars, a junior heavyweight icon and simply one of the greatest workers ever. It is interesting to hear about his brief training in Mexico as well as his extensive training in the New Japan Dojo. He gets into a lot of interesting details about the numerous legends of New Japan and puroresu. Who knew El Samurai was a chain smoker? Or that Keiji Muto was as bizarre as his Great Muta character? Or that tough guy Yoshiaki Fujiwara was real laid-back when he was not beating the hell out of young boys? Jushin Liger gets into some neat details that you'd never hear otherwise, so this interview is worth checking out if you are a puroresu fan.

The Bad
Shoot interviews full of kayfabe can be intolerably bad and Liger gives many responses swimming in it. If this was not such a unique interview, I would certainly say that kills the quality of this. A major downside of this is the time spent translating back-and-fourth. I think, although it would have made this shorter (more like one hour as opposed to two), that dubbing this with subtitles would have been better all around. The documentary, Blood-Stained Memories, did this with Keiji Muto and it preserved a lot of the personality in his responses. It seems like not much ground was actually covered and the questions are pretty generic and dull.

The Rating: ***1/2