Wrestling Podcast Primer

I’ve been listening to wrestling podcasts now for over three years, and there are so many good ones out there. Everyone knows about the big names: Austin, Jericho, Jim Ross, and Flair and while they have their strengths (Flair’s is my favorite of those four now) I’d prefer to look at other podcasts that focus on the history of wrestling, with hosts who don’t have 20 years+ in the business.

One podcast I enjoy greatly is the Lapsed Fan Wrestling Podcast, which was born on the Wrestlezone.com site and is now independent. The show is hosted by Jack Encarnacao and J.P. Sarro, who both graduated from Emerson College in the mid-2000s. The show has become famous for a lot of reasons, not least of which is the impersonations of people like Vince McMahon, Hulk Hogan, and Jim Barnett in imagining past events. They are also famous for the epic length of the weekly show, with the most recent podcast on Starrcade 1994 checking in at just over six hours. Given that I have an hour commute to and from work, it is a great listen and it is very interactive with the audience. (Aside: I have written emails that were read on the show several times.)

In the nearly two years that the show has been active, they have embarked on two theme journeys: the first covered all 31 Wrestlemanias and the current journey dubbed the “Starrcade Memorial Tour” takes a deep dive into all 18 Starrcades from 1983 to 2000 in order. The show really speaks to me not only because Jack and J.P. are around the same age as I am, but also because they are from New England. It’s mildly surreal to be listening and hear them refer to places that I know pretty well. The banter between them is very cozy, like how I would talk with my friends about wrestling back in the day.

The year 2015 was big for wrestling podcasting and no one emerged as a greater must-listen than Kris Zellner, host of two podcasts: Exile on Badstreet (the greatest name for any pod out there, bar none) and Between The Sheets. These podcasts are both incredible to learn about the history of wrestling. Between The Sheets examines the current week in wrestling from a year in the past through the lens of the newsletters of the time. Zeller and co-host David Bixenspan look at the world of wrestling from the given week; for example last week’s show covered March 1-7, 1986. It is not just a show for major North American promotions as everything is covered: territories such as Continental, Portland and World Class, along with promotions the world over in Japan and Mexico. No stone is left unturned. I learn something new every week.

Exile on Badstreet examines various moments of interest in the history of wrestling. The debut show took an extended look at the life of the Fabulous Freebirds from their times in World Class to Georgia to Mid-South and into WCW. Zellner has a knack for picking great guests for the topic at hand, with Bixenspan and Dylan Hales of the Wrestling Culture podcast bringing encyclopedic knowledge to topics like the death of Jim Crockett Promotions in 1988.

A classic example of why I enjoy this podcast is the 9th episode, which was a tribute to the recently deceased Buddy Landel. As a wrestling fan from the northeast, Landel was never highly regarded in my mind. I saw him as an imitator of Ric Flair whose general flakiness kept him from stardom. While those accusations might be true, the podcast covered his entire career and made the very convincing case that Landel was a great wrestler and should not be overlooked. They took a subject I may not have been interested in and made it interesting and now I look at Landel’s career very differently as a result.

Those two podcasts can be found on the PWO-PTBN feed, which is on iTunes.

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