Rowdy Roddy Piper.
What do all of these people have in common? They’re wrestlers with podcasts. All release them weekly, some as often as twice per week. Even the most ardent wrestling aficionados can’t realistically be asked to keep up with all of them. Flair’s podcast, Woo Nation, is the latest and means that no fewer than ten wrestlers are now trying to make their mark on the world of on-demand audio. Between the sheer glut of available podcasts and the same guests making the interview rounds, how much is too much?
Voices of Wrestling’s weekly podcast wrangler and heir to the Minnesota territory, Joe Gagne (@JoeGagne), doesn’t mince words on the number of wrestling podcasts.
“There are far too many for any sane person to get through in one day,” Gagne says. Ignoring the irony regarding that statement and Gagne’s own weekly column, he doesn’t believe we’ve hit the tipping point.
“What’s great about podcasts is they’re a complete meritocracy,” Gagne says. “You won’t be hurt by a bad time slot. If you consistently do a good show, and this goes from big names in the industry to two friends talking about Monday Night RAW, it will get out and people will listen.”
Gagne makes a good point. If you don’t want to listen to 16-time world champion Ric Flair talk about his divorces, don’t listen to that episode. So many of the weekly podcasts are evergreen interviews that you can wait for Gagne’s stellar round-up and listen to the cream of the crop. Randy Savage would’ve had a podcast rivaling the Steve Austin Show, by the way.
But what are you supposed to do if you’re a wrestling fan and Ric Flair is talking about divorce on Austin’s, Jericho’s and Taz’s podcast which, admittedly and thankfully, hasn’t happened yet?
“I heard MVP tell the armed robbery story on both Art of Wrestling and MLW radio,” Gagne says. “When MVP showed up on the Jim Ross show, I was tired of it. But if someone only listened to the Jim Ross show, they would have loved it.”
Another indirect plug for his own column. Nice work, Joe.
At the same time, however, there’s a reason NBC doesn’t allow guests on the Tonight Show to appear on The Late Show the next week. When “the boys” are making the rounds and telling the same stories every time they have something to plug, the whole genre loses something. I love Shawn Michaels, but his podcast book tour was truly grating. He was on Jericho’s show twice, Austin’s once and only god knows where else. And personally, hearing Shawn Michaels talk about switching from Blackberry to iPhone and not understanding all this newfangled Millennial technology doesn’t scream entertainment.
I don’t have access to listener trends or download numbers, so I can’t prove a tipping point, but I know I’ve unsubscribed from more wrestling podcasts than I’ve subscribed to in 2015.
All this has to deflate the brand, right?
Maybe, but wrestling podcasts have been a key part of the overall podcast boom. Alongside NPR listeners and sports fans fed up with morning zoo idiocy, wrestling podcasts completed the three-headed growth monster. Wrestlers are perfect podcast hosts, too. They arrive to studio with ready made listener bases, established talent on the microphone and a brotherhood from their time in “the business” that means there’s always someone to talk to. Many of the earliest wrestling podcasts, however, were by journalists and fans.
“The idea of a long form discussion of wrestling was so novel, I think fans gravitated towards that,” Gagne says. “Millions of people watch wrestling but we didn’t have a similar outlet. And for years, given the worked nature of the business, hearing casual discussion of its inner workings would have been unheard of. But now there’s a big audience for people who wanted to hear honest interviews or discussion of angles and shows, and podcasts have filled that need. It’s not hard to see why groups like Podcast One has signed so many wrestlers.”
So many wrestlers indeed.
Need to sound off yourself? Head to the forums and join the conversation. The Hot Tag is Voices of Wrestling editor @AlexWendland’s occasional column exploring ideas and trends on the storytelling side of professional wrestling.