Saturday, April 25, 2015

FRIENDS NEWS EPISODE 16: WRESTLING WITH TRUCKDRIVERS

Don't blame us for brightening your week! We're just doing our jobs, and if we entertain you along the way it's not our fault!

The Friends make a mole hill out of a mountain of news before diving into their most extreme edition of the Friends Cup yet for WWE Extreme Rules 2015! How hardcore do they get with the rules? You'll have to tune in to find out!



Talking Points: Bryan Hurts his Yes! Bone, The Curb Stomp is Stomped Out, The Miz "Brand", Cesaro & Kidd - Kid Friendly?, The Sad Truth for R-Truth, Is TNA For You?, Global Force Baseball League, International Ring of Honor

Join Blake, Andrew & Erik, just a couple of friends chatting about wrestling. Won't you be our friend?



or Direct Download: Friends News Episode 16: Wrestling With Truckdrivers



0:00 - 4:47: Intros

5:16 - 44:17: Current Promotional News

45:28 - 1:21:00: Friends Cup: Extreme Rules 2015

Final Song - Jim Nesbitt, "I Ain't Never Been Passed"


Remember! We want you, our wrestling friends, to send us feedback on any of the segments we cover. E-mail us at wrestlingwithfriends@gmail.com or find us on Facebook and Twitter (@wrestle_friends)

Also, subscribe to us on iTunes or find us on Stitcher Smart Radio. While you're there, we'd sure think it sweet of you to leave us a little review. Thanks, friends!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

EPISODE 54: THE RICK STEINER SPECIAL

We hope you know how to crank the volume to 11 on this episode of Wrestling With Friends, because Erik's pulling out his Wild Card in the Bank and he's not afraid to use it!

That's right, we're getting it on in the Wild Card this time, replacing the scheduled Heenan's Hall with Erik's return to the Top 30 Theme Songs list. You've heard some doozies and dance numbers so far, but in closing off the first half of the list the Friends start getting into some serious territory with a few legendary hits that would sound good in an arena, or driving down the highway with your lovely date.



There's no losing steam after the raucous Wild Card as the Friends hit up their long-neglected List with some #57 picks. Who's next to make it to Legend status with a nod from the Friends? Tune in to find out!

Join Blake, Andy, Mr. Wrestling II & Erik, just a couple of friends chatting about wrestling. Won't you be our friend?



or Direct Download: Episode 54 - The Rick Steiner Special



0:00 - 5:36: Intros

6:57 - 1:06:28: Top 30 Themes: 20-16

1:07:13 - 1:33:33: The List: #57

Final Song - The University of Michigan, "The Victors"


Remember! We want you, our wrestling friends, to send us feedback on any of the segments we cover. E-mail us at wrestlingwithfriends@gmail.com or find us on Facebook and Twitter (@wrestle_friends)

Also, subscribe to us on iTunes or find us on Stitcher Smart Radio. While you're there, we'd sure think it sweet of you to leave us a little review. Thanks, friends!

Friday, April 17, 2015

FRIENDS NEWS EPISODE 15: A WHITE HBK AFTER LABOR DAY

Take a load off your day and let the Wrestling Friends carry you away! There's been a lot of news boiling over in the wrestling world, and your Friends are there to turn down the burners and test the bite.

The show is rounded off with a festive discussion about something near and dear to our hearts, wrestling outfits. Often overlooked, wrestling apparel is a huge part of the presentation, and we're here to make a few changes and help these fellas out!



Talking Points: Blake the Pirate, Orton the Tag Team Killer, Naomi's Butt Bomb from Hell, Kiss Me Arse!, Taz Tornado Spins out of TNA, Pouting over Paychecks, Mia Yim's Blood Runs Cold & Briscoes Bounced

Join Blake, Andrew & Erik, just a couple of friends chatting about wrestling. Won't you be our friend?



or Direct Download: Friends News Episode 15: A White HBK After Labor Day



0:00 - 4:44: Intros

5:45 - 37:50: Current Promotional News

39:24 - 1:16:19: Re-Outfitting Wrestlers

Final Song - Mountain Goats, "Werewolf Gimmick"


Remember! We want you, our wrestling friends, to send us feedback on any of the segments we cover. E-mail us at wrestlingwithfriends@gmail.com or find us on Facebook and Twitter (@wrestle_friends)

Also, subscribe to us on iTunes or find us on Stitcher Smart Radio. While you're there, we'd sure think it sweet of you to leave us a little review. Thanks, friends!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

BEAT THE CHAMP: AN ALBUM REVIEW

By Erik Bergstrom



The music world has been abuzz since The Mountain Goats released their latest album, Beat the Champ (last week on streaming platforms, this week for vinyl and compact disc geeks). Though nearly every review has been positive, they all seem to run on a spectrum of either calling lead singer John Darnielle's fandom cute to harmlessly labeling the album as kitsch. No, not even decades of writing well-regarded music or even being an award-winning novelist can shake the stink pro wrestling gives off to the uninitiated.

Now by no means am I a seasoned music reviewer (I believe I wrote one review, that on a Weird Al CD I bought in 6th grade), but I feel this album at least deserves a once-over by someone who respects pro wrestling in the same ways Darnielle supposes to: as a nuanced, populist chameleon of an art form with characters that screenwriters and TV producers alike would sacrifice their children for.

Having listened to the album numerous times now, it's clear that Darnielle is going for a concept album—but about what? The fantasy? The folklore? His own childhood fandom and how it's morphed with his life experiences? To be honest, it's kind of a melting pot of all this, and then some. The album begins with the oddly-timed piano notes of the retrospective Southwestern Territory. When Darnielle's high, vulnerable tenor comes in and he starts rattling on about the story of a haggard wrestler finally discovering his loneliness, we understand that this is an old hero's goodbye—a movie beginning at the end.

After this quasi-prologue, Darnielle and his bandmates begin our journey proper with The Legend of Chavo Guerrero. It's told from a fan's perspective, allowing us to associate our own personal heroes with the legendary Chavo and what they meant to us as children. Sometimes they'd even take the place of our own father figures, as Darnielle has alluded to in past songs. "You call him names to try and get beneath my skin/Now your ashes are scattered on the wind", he sings almost nonchalantly, before continuing on about how, unlike his abusive father, the Legend of Chavo lives on.

Foreign Object is an uplifting, brassy affair of an old-fashioned promo come to life. As fans of wrestling, the only thing we love more than the drama and the stories is the spectacle of the show itself, up to and including one man stabbing the other with something sharp. Only real wrestling fans will understand when Darnielle sings "March through the red mist, never get my vision clear/Learn to love this kind of atmosphere".

When we get to Animal Mask, we start to see a method developing where the band alternates between the frantic and the finessed. This particular track takes us on a more sentimental journey of a wrestler reminiscing on starting out and perhaps seeing himself, or maybe even his former teammate he came up with, getting passed by. It's the nature of the business for partners and friends to split, though you have to wonder if Shawn ever called Marty on the phone and sang "Some things stay sweet forever" in the folk-ish, sing-song way Darnielle goes about it. Shortly after this one ends, Choked Out comes in, and in just 1 minute and 43 seconds the song paints a beautiful pastiche of those old, toothless juggernauts of our parents' & grandparents' generations. "If they all wanna die dead broke that's fine, that's fine/Everybody's got their limits, nobody's found mine!" Darnielle shouts, channeling these behemoths and their cheerful stubbornness regarding pain.

At about the halfway point, Heel Turn 2 comes in and is the true highlight of this entire presentation. Perhaps the most emotional aspect in wrestling, the 'Heel Turn' can be linked to the more emotional parts of true life. Maybe you find that someone close to you isn't all they appear to be. Maybe you even trick yourself into thinking you're someone else until your "breaking point" is uncovered. "Let all the trash rain down from way up in the rafters/I'm walking out of here in one piece, don't care what comes after" is Darnielle's grand proclamation towards the end of the song, defiantly stating that you've only got yourself to take care of and look after in the end.


The second half of the album begins with a bit of a soft jazz, lounge music affair in Fire Editorial. It's got all the soft cymbal hits and playful piano one might hear upon returning from the lobby at intermission. However, the lyrics play out as anything but light-hearted, digging into some of the darker aspects of the sport like deaths in the ring and the fatal rioting of fans. It's almost fitting that it leads into our first wrestler retrospective since Chavo with Stabbed to Death Outside San Juan, an obvious portrayal of the murder conspiracy surrounding Bruiser Brody. As fans, it's these kinds of stories that make wrestling the unique and tragic experience it is to follow, but the band does a great job tackling the story with class. With Darnielle's forceful spoken word and a foreboding, underlying bass playing beneath lines like "Sometimes you get some heat/Sometimes it follows you around", it almost sounds like a radio play. If you thought the Brody story shook you before, allow this one to accompany the images you've already built in your mind for a true trip.

I'm going to allow my own subjectivity come into play with the next track, Werewolf Gimmick. Not only do I love werewolves, but the idea of a man truly believing he's a wolf when he dons the gimmick just strikes such a cord with me in all the right places, especially with goosebump-inducing lines like "Nameless bodies in unremembered rooms/Know how a man becomes a beast when the wolfbane blooms". Luna is the next track, another soft ballad to follow the hugeness of the previous song, and it has some haunting, soft chorals that ebb and wane throughout. Unmasked! could have been performed by Elliott Smith, and no one would have been the wiser. It's a gorgeously written ode to the importance and respect between the masked fray of wrestlers, and hides a little double-meaning when one wrestler says to the other, "And by way of honoring the things we once both held dear, I will reveal you", leading one to wonder if, by the end, our masked wonder is singing this to himself in a mirror.

The final two songs of the album appear to bring us full circle. With The Ballad of Bull Ramos, we have the yarn of a washed-up wrestler still clinging to his glory days. Even as his body gives out on him and he has to make more and more frequent doctor's visits, he's not afraid to answer the question "Aren't you that old wrestler with the bull whip?" with a bold "Yes sir, that's me. I'm him." And then we have the closer, Hair Match, which, just like the previous Unmasked! allows us to see how more than just some shocks of hair are stripped away when a competitor loses this particular match. There's a loss of dignity too, especially when the competitor is told "nobody will ever see this". By the end, Darnielle, now a bit aged and a little wiser, sings to that old wrestler he watched in his childhood: "I loved you before I even ever knew what love was like". Now what, for a wrestling fan, hits closer to home than that?



Friday, April 10, 2015

FRIENDS NEWS EPISODE 14: IT'S TOUGH ENOUGH BOOKING TO WRESTLEMANIA

Ease back into the swing of things on this jam-packed News edition of Wrestling With Friends, featuring all kinds of post-Mania talking points as well as a lengthy Tough Enough announcement!

Aside from all the ground-breaking news and spoilers, the Friends also take some time booking a trio of feuds to next year's Wrestlemania, since the WWE seems to have no idea what they're doing. Be sure to sound off on what you think!



Talking Points: Mysterious Bicycles, Spinning Belts, Tough Enough Teachers, Illuminating Global Force Wrestling, New Japan Takeover

Join Blake, Andrew & Erik, just a couple of friends chatting about wrestling. Won't you be our friend?



or Direct Download: Friends News Episode 14: It's Tough Enough Booking to Wrestlemania



0:00 - 5:41: Intros

6:10 - 48:39: Current Promotional News

50:00 - 1:35:08: Booking to Wrestlemania 32

Final Song - Jimmy Hart, "Blondes Have More Fun" (Brian Pillman)


Remember! We want you, our wrestling friends, to send us feedback on any of the segments we cover. E-mail us at wrestlingwithfriends@gmail.com or find us on Facebook and Twitter (@wrestle_friends)

Also, subscribe to us on iTunes or find us on Stitcher Smart Radio. While you're there, we'd sure think it sweet of you to leave us a little review. Thanks, friends!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

FANTASY FEUD PT. 3: PILLMAN VS. WYATT

By Guest Columnist, Kraig Khaos



THE FEUD HEATS UP


We are treated to absolutely nothing on Smackdown except Michael Cole will have a sitdown interview with Brian Pillman on Monday Night RAW and Brian Pillman will explain his actions from the previous RAW and why he attacked Cutis Axle after their match. And just to bring the point home, we are once again shown the footage of Pillman beating up Axle on RAW.

About a half hour into RAW, we return from a commercial break for the WWE Network to see 2 steel chairs in the middle of the ring. In one chair is Michael Cole and in the other, Brian Pillman. Michael Cole starts off with obvious observations by telling Brian that Bray Wyatt seems to be getting under his skin. And that the WWE Universe was shocked by Pillman's actions on RAW.

Pillman starts off by apologizing to Curtis Axle for his unsportsmanlike conduct. He then confirms Michael Cole's uncanny suspicion that Bray Wyatt HAS indeed gotten under his skin. The more Pillman speaks about Bray Wyatt, the more agitated he gets and the louder his voice raises. In his raspy voice and looking wide eyed into the camera he says, "Bray Wyatt! You have no idea what kind of a can of worms you have opened! Everything I've kept deep inside, buried and dark, you don't want that to come out! Because once it's unleashed, there's no putting it back! If you-"

The lights go out in the arena. Bray Wyatt's music starts as cellphones throughout the crowd light up. Michael Cole has already left the ring and Pillman is alone,standing with his fists clenched, waiting for Wyatt to walk out from the back. The lights come back and Wyatt is standing behind Pillman with a steel chair in his hand. As Pillman turns around, Bray cracks him in the face with the chair. Pillman falls like a sack of potatoes. Wyatt then picks Pillman up and gives him the Sister Abigail. Wyatt then kneels, stretches his arms out and yells, "Follow...the buzzards!" We cut to a commercial break.

We return to see HHH talking to Stephanie about how great the network is doing now that there is no service contract and people can cancel their $9.99 monthly sub any time. Stephanie, not understanding things like simple math, looks puzzled. Flyin' Brian Pillman bursts into the room quite upset. "I demand a match with Bray Wyatt at the Pay-Per-View!" Pillman yells. "I want it in writing!"

HHH says "You don't come into my backstage makeshift office and just demand things! Who do you think you are?"

"I'm the high Flyin Brian Pillman! I've been beating wrestlers left and right. I desrve this match."

"Didn't you lose to Curtis Axle last week?" HHH asks. "And, you've been fighting chumps. Losers, jobbers, guys who probably won't even be here in 6 months."

We then cut to Heath Slater watching HHH and Pillman talk on a TV screen. He starts to cry loudly and runs off. We cut back to HHH and Brian. HHH continues.


"But if you want this match with Wyatt, you can earn it. Your one of those WCW guys. And since I can't get out of the way of my own ego, if you want Wyatt at the Pay-Per-View, you have to win your handicap match tonight on RAW."

"Fine," yells Pillman. "Who are my opponents?"

HHH cracks a smile. "You’ll see."

We fade out to another commercial break...

Stay tuned for the exciting next installment of this Fantasy Feud! For now, visit Kraig Khaos' podcast page HERE.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

EPISODE 53: THE 2015 FRIENDS DRAFT!

Happy Wrestling New Year everyone! Everywhere, everyone is getting a fresh start, and that includes your favorite Friends in this, the 2015 Friends Draft Special!

On this episode, your Friends take a look back at their achievements from last year's Draft, as well as make some bold picks and predictions for the coming year. Will Blake see the same kind of success he gained from his Cody Rhodes pick last year? Will Andrew get laughed out of the building with another Willow pick?



On this special episode there are no List picks to be made, but we're always looking for more of yours—as well as how your own Draft might shape out!

Join Blake, Andy, Mr. Wrestling II & Erik, just a couple of friends chatting about wrestling. Won't you be our friend?



or Direct Download: Episode 53 - The 2015 Friends Draft!



0:00 - 10:41: Intros

11:31 - 44:54: The 2015 Friends Draft: Picks 10-6

45:52 - 1:31:29: The 2015 Friends Draft: Picks 5-1

Final Song - Jim Johnston, Kim Sozzi & The Wiggles, "You Can Look (But You Can't Touch)"


Remember! We want you, our wrestling friends, to send us feedback on any of the segments we cover. E-mail us at wrestlingwithfriends@gmail.com or find us on Facebook and Twitter (@wrestle_friends)

Also, subscribe to us on iTunes or find us on Stitcher Smart Radio. While you're there, we'd sure think it sweet of you to leave us a little review. Thanks, friends!