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Smarten Up - An Education in Professional Wrestling

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Smarten Up - An Education in Professional Wrestling
Smarten Up - An Education in Professional Wrestling

Smarten Up - An Education in Professional Wrestling

Stoutbot Industries

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About Us

Smarten Up is a critical discussion of the world of professional wrestling, exploring the workings of the genre, its impact on media and culture, its history and critical figures, and the characteristics that have made it an indispensable part of life in the twenty-first century. Whether you're a smark, a casual fan, or completely new to the form, Smarten Up is the podcast for you.

Latest Episodes

3.2 The Last of The Old Guard

Vince McMahon's consolidation of power in the wrestling world was not a clean process, nor did it happen in the blink of an eye. All across the country, promotions held on until the bitter end as proud promoters clung to their dreams in the face of history's inexorable march. But the rise of the WWF and its ultimate victory in the North American wrestling world did not mark the end for other promotions, but merely a point of demarcation. Those that emerged in the aftermath of consolidation have markedly different objectives and offer a substantially different product than those that held on in the 1980s and '90s. To understand those that have built the new world - and to assess the opportunity available to the upstart AEW in 2019 - it is valuable to start by looking at the old world. In this episode, we explore three of the old guard - the AWA, WCCW, and ECW - each of which changed the wrestling world, and each of which offers lessons for how to survive in a world that proved too mu...

87 MINFEB 20
Comments
3.2 The Last of The Old Guard

3.1. The Smarten Up Super Show

As we kick off our third season, we are going to dive deeper into specific topics that affect the wrestling world at a more structural level. In this episode, we discuss the decline of the house show and the corresponding rise of the super show, the affect of that shift on both the wrestling product and business, and how we see that trend evolving going forward.

68 MIN2018 DEC 2
Comments
3.1. The Smarten Up Super Show

2.12. The Contrarian Reaction

Wrestling is unique as a medium in that the reaction of the live audience can dramatically impact not just the performers involved but the trajectory of the story being told. Matches are booked and narratives written with a desired reaction in mind, but if the live crowd doesn't feel like going along with the script, the consequences can be unpredictable and occasionally disastrous. But why do some crowds boo the babyface and cheer the heels? Why are matches between talented wrestlers sometimes rejected altogether? And how does the wrestling promotion adapt its product to reflect or control the reaction of its loudest fans? In this episode, we dive deep into the contrarian aspect of the wrestling audience and its effect on the product itself.

-1 s2018 MAY 3
Comments
2.12. The Contrarian Reaction

2.11. The Meaning of Independence

WWE is the biggest American wrestling promotion, but it isn't the only one. In a post-WCW world, the independent wrestling scene has flourished, reaching audiences via digital distribution and differentiating themselves from the big dog. But what does it mean to be an independent promotion - or wrestler - in 2018, and is the industry's history of consolidation doomed to repeat itself?

73 MIN2018 APR 6
Comments
2.11. The Meaning of Independence

2.10. Promo Day

There comes a moment in any wrestling story where the performers will take the time to stop and speak directly to the audience. This fourth-wall breaking tradition has its roots in traditional sports interviews, but over the last half century has evolved into a staple of the medium. In this episode, we explore the past, present, and future of the promo, analyze what separates a good talker from a bad talker, and discuss some of our personal favorites on the mic.

101 MIN2018 MAR 22
Comments
2.10. Promo Day

2.9. Smarten Up At The Movie: "The Wrestler" (2008) with Special Guest Dr. Derek Long

It's one of the most important representations of wrestling in mainstream culture of the last twenty years, but is 2008's Darren Aranofsky filmThe Wrestlerreally a "wrestling picture"? It's a question too big for Stefan and Drew to answer even in our tag-team configuration, so in this special Trios Edition podcast, we invite Dr. Derek Long,Assistant Professor of Media and Cinema Studies at theUniversity of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign and secret uncredited creator ofSmarten Up,to join us in breaking down Mickey Rourke's big comeback.

92 MIN2018 FEB 19
Comments
2.9. Smarten Up At The Movie: "The Wrestler" (2008) with Special Guest Dr. Derek Long

Office Hours: NXT Takeover Philadelphia

In this brief special episode, we discuss our thoughts on tonight's NXT Takeover event and whether the time is right for Johnny Wrestling to become Johnny Champion, among other topics.

9 MIN2018 JAN 28
Comments
Office Hours: NXT Takeover Philadelphia

2.8. The Royal Rumble

The Royal Rumble is WWE's crowning achievement in the world of gimmick matches. Brilliant in its simplicity yet endlessly flexible, it is a unique stage upon which to tell stories. The Rumble is in many ways the perfect introduction to what WWE is at any given moment in time. This time around, we explore what makes the Rumble unique, the kinds of stories that it can tell, its significance in the WWE calendar, and what separates a great Rumble from a bad one. With the 2018 edition airing on Sunday, January 28, consider this your introduction to one of wrestling's greatest treats.

91 MIN2018 JAN 25
Comments
2.8. The Royal Rumble

2.7. The Fashion Files

One of the primary objectives of any wrestling performer is to distinguish himself or herself from the crowd. In a primarily visual medium, costuming and ring attire are effective tools for standing out from the cavalcade of similar looking athletic performers. Costuming communicates critical information about a performer's character and may play an important role in helping a wrestler get over with an audience. In this episode, we dive into the clothes that make the men, and explore what the choice of attire says about the performer.

90 MIN2018 JAN 11
Comments
2.7. The Fashion Files

2.6. Best for Business

World Wrestling Entertainment, Incorporated is a publicly-traded corporation worth approximately $2.5 billion. It is one of the largest companies in a global industry, boasting a surprisingly diverse set of revenue streams and one of the most innovative and important media technology services of the last decade. It cannot be overstated: wrestling is a business first and foremost, and the first objective of its leading promoters is and always has been to make money. This week, we dive deep on howthat money is made - by promotions in general, and specifically by WWE. We also touch on a number of related issues, including talent compensation, labor market dynamics, and how business practices best suited to the carny circuit have been folded into a modern media empire.

80 MIN2017 DEC 14
Comments
2.6. Best for Business

Latest Episodes

3.2 The Last of The Old Guard

Vince McMahon's consolidation of power in the wrestling world was not a clean process, nor did it happen in the blink of an eye. All across the country, promotions held on until the bitter end as proud promoters clung to their dreams in the face of history's inexorable march. But the rise of the WWF and its ultimate victory in the North American wrestling world did not mark the end for other promotions, but merely a point of demarcation. Those that emerged in the aftermath of consolidation have markedly different objectives and offer a substantially different product than those that held on in the 1980s and '90s. To understand those that have built the new world - and to assess the opportunity available to the upstart AEW in 2019 - it is valuable to start by looking at the old world. In this episode, we explore three of the old guard - the AWA, WCCW, and ECW - each of which changed the wrestling world, and each of which offers lessons for how to survive in a world that proved too mu...

87 MINFEB 20
Comments
3.2 The Last of The Old Guard

3.1. The Smarten Up Super Show

As we kick off our third season, we are going to dive deeper into specific topics that affect the wrestling world at a more structural level. In this episode, we discuss the decline of the house show and the corresponding rise of the super show, the affect of that shift on both the wrestling product and business, and how we see that trend evolving going forward.

68 MIN2018 DEC 2
Comments
3.1. The Smarten Up Super Show

2.12. The Contrarian Reaction

Wrestling is unique as a medium in that the reaction of the live audience can dramatically impact not just the performers involved but the trajectory of the story being told. Matches are booked and narratives written with a desired reaction in mind, but if the live crowd doesn't feel like going along with the script, the consequences can be unpredictable and occasionally disastrous. But why do some crowds boo the babyface and cheer the heels? Why are matches between talented wrestlers sometimes rejected altogether? And how does the wrestling promotion adapt its product to reflect or control the reaction of its loudest fans? In this episode, we dive deep into the contrarian aspect of the wrestling audience and its effect on the product itself.

-1 s2018 MAY 3
Comments
2.12. The Contrarian Reaction

2.11. The Meaning of Independence

WWE is the biggest American wrestling promotion, but it isn't the only one. In a post-WCW world, the independent wrestling scene has flourished, reaching audiences via digital distribution and differentiating themselves from the big dog. But what does it mean to be an independent promotion - or wrestler - in 2018, and is the industry's history of consolidation doomed to repeat itself?

73 MIN2018 APR 6
Comments
2.11. The Meaning of Independence

2.10. Promo Day

There comes a moment in any wrestling story where the performers will take the time to stop and speak directly to the audience. This fourth-wall breaking tradition has its roots in traditional sports interviews, but over the last half century has evolved into a staple of the medium. In this episode, we explore the past, present, and future of the promo, analyze what separates a good talker from a bad talker, and discuss some of our personal favorites on the mic.

101 MIN2018 MAR 22
Comments
2.10. Promo Day

2.9. Smarten Up At The Movie: "The Wrestler" (2008) with Special Guest Dr. Derek Long

It's one of the most important representations of wrestling in mainstream culture of the last twenty years, but is 2008's Darren Aranofsky filmThe Wrestlerreally a "wrestling picture"? It's a question too big for Stefan and Drew to answer even in our tag-team configuration, so in this special Trios Edition podcast, we invite Dr. Derek Long,Assistant Professor of Media and Cinema Studies at theUniversity of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign and secret uncredited creator ofSmarten Up,to join us in breaking down Mickey Rourke's big comeback.

92 MIN2018 FEB 19
Comments
2.9. Smarten Up At The Movie: "The Wrestler" (2008) with Special Guest Dr. Derek Long

Office Hours: NXT Takeover Philadelphia

In this brief special episode, we discuss our thoughts on tonight's NXT Takeover event and whether the time is right for Johnny Wrestling to become Johnny Champion, among other topics.

9 MIN2018 JAN 28
Comments
Office Hours: NXT Takeover Philadelphia

2.8. The Royal Rumble

The Royal Rumble is WWE's crowning achievement in the world of gimmick matches. Brilliant in its simplicity yet endlessly flexible, it is a unique stage upon which to tell stories. The Rumble is in many ways the perfect introduction to what WWE is at any given moment in time. This time around, we explore what makes the Rumble unique, the kinds of stories that it can tell, its significance in the WWE calendar, and what separates a great Rumble from a bad one. With the 2018 edition airing on Sunday, January 28, consider this your introduction to one of wrestling's greatest treats.

91 MIN2018 JAN 25
Comments
2.8. The Royal Rumble

2.7. The Fashion Files

One of the primary objectives of any wrestling performer is to distinguish himself or herself from the crowd. In a primarily visual medium, costuming and ring attire are effective tools for standing out from the cavalcade of similar looking athletic performers. Costuming communicates critical information about a performer's character and may play an important role in helping a wrestler get over with an audience. In this episode, we dive into the clothes that make the men, and explore what the choice of attire says about the performer.

90 MIN2018 JAN 11
Comments
2.7. The Fashion Files

2.6. Best for Business

World Wrestling Entertainment, Incorporated is a publicly-traded corporation worth approximately $2.5 billion. It is one of the largest companies in a global industry, boasting a surprisingly diverse set of revenue streams and one of the most innovative and important media technology services of the last decade. It cannot be overstated: wrestling is a business first and foremost, and the first objective of its leading promoters is and always has been to make money. This week, we dive deep on howthat money is made - by promotions in general, and specifically by WWE. We also touch on a number of related issues, including talent compensation, labor market dynamics, and how business practices best suited to the carny circuit have been folded into a modern media empire.

80 MIN2017 DEC 14
Comments
2.6. Best for Business