31 episodes

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.

Smarten Up - An Education in Professional Wrestling Stoutbot Industries

    • Sports
    • 4.6, 5 Ratings

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.

    3.2 The Last of The Old Guard

    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 much for them.

    • 1 hr 27 min
    3.1. The Smarten Up Super Show

    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.

    • 1 hr 8 min
    2.12. The Contrarian Reaction

    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 hr 20 min
    2.11. The Meaning of Independence

    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?

    • 1 hr 13 min
    2.10. Promo Day

    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.

    • 1 hr 41 min
    2.9. Smarten Up At The Movie: "The Wrestler" (2008) with Special Guest Dr. Derek Long

    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 film The Wrestler really 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 the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign and secret uncredited creator of Smarten Up, to join us in breaking down Mickey Rourke's big comeback.

    • 1 hr 32 min

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4.6 out of 5
5 Ratings

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