When I got back into wrestling last summer, one of the first things I did was hunt down some podcasts to listen to on my two hour commute to work and back. While I gravitated towards the shows put on by my favorite stars (Stone Cold, Jericho, Jim Ross, Taz), I also wanted to get a third-party view of the industry that wasn’t jaded, biased or stuck up it’s ass.
The AV Club led me to Cheap Heat starring Peter Rosenberg and his then co-host David Shoemaker. The show was far from polished and half the time Rosenberg seemed miles away from the conversation, but the conversation still skewed towards the familiar — they sounded like me and my friends talking about wrestling. Over time, Rosenberg stepped up his game, Shoemaker started firing on all cylinders and they added Stat Guy Greg, a voice of reason amidst a podcast that could teeter off the rails at any moment.
Just after this year’s Wrestlemania, Rosenberg and Shoemaker announced that the latter would be leaving to join Bill Simmon’s new Ringer network in LA, while Peter would continue Cheap Heat with Greg for ESPN. The shows since have been hit or miss, but you can really tell that Rosenberg is trying his damnedest to keep the spirit alive and Greg has been working hard to fill Shoemaker’s shoes. That brings us just about up to speed.
Last month, Rosenberg announced that he would be doing a Cheap Heat live show at New York’s Highline Ballroom. The end goal of the event was to christen new co-host Brian Campbell by having him kiss Rosenberg’s ass in front of a packed house of 400 or so rabid New York wrestling fanboys. While I enjoy Campbell’s more positive approach to wrestling commentary, it’s clear that this Aryan bro-dude is nothing but a shill for ESPN. Which is why the crowd lit up when, the moment Campbell was about to do the dirty deed, the lights went out, Undertaker’s music hit and Campbell was face to face with the great Shoemaker. The wrestling hipster leviathan was in the building and Rosenberg was knocked out cold (more than likely by Campbell who would not pucker up for the chosen one). The crowd went nuts. Chants ranged from “Holy Shit” to “Welcome Back” as Shoemaker attempted to address the crowd. Sadly, he passed the torch to Campbell, who proceeded to spend the rest of the show cringing every time someone dropped an f-bomb, knowing that his fellow suits at ESPN would have to edit out the profanity.
The rest of the show was a blur of comedic delight. Instead of continuing to babble, especially since most of the show will air on this week’s episode of Cheap Heat, I’m going to rattle off the top six best moments from Cheap Heat Live.
- Mark Henry dropped a bombshell promo out of nowhere, explaining to the captivated crowd why the top two wrestlers of all time are Hulk Hogan and Undertaker. He then walked out stage right to screams of “Hall of Pain.”
- Stat Guy Greg did an abridged version of his “Girl is Mine” dance, kicking off the show to the delight of everyone. Stat Guy Greg owned the show by just being Greg. The only bad part was he didn’t drop a single stat.
- Foo Foo Shma Shma teaser video. Halfway through the show, an insane promo aired for the greatest free agent of all time — Foo Foo Shma Shma. Too bad he didn’t have the balls to show up to the show.
- Re Pug Sign. The winner if the greatest repug sign went to a person (or persons) who literally made a sign from the letters R and E and a giant pug head. I couldn’t stop laughing for the rest of the night.
- David Shoemaker returns. For one night only, Cheap Heat was great again. Tomorrow we return to sadness.
- Peter Rosenberg did a hell of a job keeping the show moving and switched things up enough to keep a two-hour show entertaining and exciting. The opening comedy skit with a former WWE writer was solid, albeit the punch line wasn’t the best and the Sports Illustrated top 10 list got monotonous after a few minutes, but the funny was funny and Rosenberg showed why he is one of the best live broadcasters in the business.
Kudos to the Cheap Heat team for putting on a stellar live event even with a ton of other stuff going up against it. It kicked off Summerslam weekend with a solid evening of entertainment and I’m stoked to see what they do next year.