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How Podswoggle Saved Wrestling for Me

20 Feb

“Welcome to Podswoggle! A Wrestling Podcast with Entertainment!” –Mullet at the start of every Podswoggle

whiddenbryanThe Swoggle Squad. Five guys whose love and knowledge for wrestling knows no bounds and probably never will. However, when Podswoggle officially began in March 2010, there were two distinct differences. First, Podswoggle was “A Wrestling Podcast with Irony” instead of “with Entertainment.” Second, there were only FOUR members of the Swoggle Squad. And I wasn’t one of the four! (If you’ve listened to our beginning podcasts, you would have already known this. But nonetheless.)

I didn’t officially join Podswoggle until October 2010. However, the story of how I met my wrestling brothers and became part of this crazy thing has never been really been explained or discussed. Until now.

It all began when I entered college. While professional wrestling was a big part of my life growing up, when I reached Gainesville, it started to slowly wither away. This was due to a number of reasons. The first reason was because I had a job during my time at college. My parents aren’t rich and I certainly had a budget to maintain. Second, there weren’t any people that I met before the Swoggle Squad that shared the love of wrestling that I did. And believe me, professional wrestling is not exactly something special to share with other people in their twenties in a college setting. And lastly, I was in COLLEGE! I took classes that had titles such as “Organic Biochemistry” and “Molecular Genetics.” If my face wasn’t in a stack of notes or a textbook, it was probably in a pillow or on my desk trying to get any sleep possible.

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Anyways, all of that started to change when I joined Theatre Strike Force, the University of Florida’s sketch and improvisational comedy group in the fall of 2009. This is the same comedy group that all the rest of the Swoggle Squad had joined and performed in during their college career. When you perform improv comedy, you tend to fall back on what you know when it comes to performing a scene or throwing a cheap joke in here or there. And one thing I certainly knew was wrestling. While performing an improv comedy show in February 2010 (shirtless, I might add), I made a “double entendre” joke saying that I liked my women liked I liked my 2x4’s: mishandled by WWE wrestlers (of course, referencing “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan). After the show, a guy about the same age as me came up and told me how much he loved and understood the joke since he was a wrestling fan, too. And then, we both participated in a classic Hacksaw “HOOOOO!” together. That guy was Rich.

Fast forward to the fall of 2010. At this time, I had learned to juggle multiple tasks. I was a full-time student going for my Master’s degree, working part-time at least 25 hours a week, and performing improv comedy. So why not add one more fun thing? I decided to join a local sketch comedy group known as Generation Sketch Comedy. Around since 2005, it was also another comedy group that all members of the Swoggle Squad had participated in, as well. This is how I met Augie. He was the director of my first semester in Generation. During the semester, we both learned of each other’s love for professional wrestling and couldn’t stop talking about it. When Night of Champions in September 2010 came around, Augie asked me if I wanted to watch it with him and a couple of friends. I, of course, accepted the invitation and then went over to Augie’s place where I met Mullet. I can’t remember what basketball jersey he was wearing, but it was a basketball jersey, nonetheless. I was also introduced to the pay-per-view pick ems that have now become accustomed to me every month. Very quickly, I picked my pick ems for the pay per view, and I ended up coming in second. I think this proved to Mullet that my love for wrestling was real and not something I watched for kicks or tried to be cool. At least I hoped it did.

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My first podcast was next month in October. After a number of hours of playing “SmackDown VS Raw 2011” with a number of friends, Mullet, Rich, and Augie decided to pull out the microphones and decided to record Podswoggle XV: Better Late than Never. I had no idea that they did these podcasts let alone what a podcast really was. But there I was with a microphone in my face talking about my love for wrestling. Every time I would mention one little aspect about wrestling that would make most people question my maturity, the other three would understand and laugh out loud. I left Augie’s place that night in October thinking that what I just experienced was fun and sad that it was just a one-time thing. However, I found myself in the same situation again the night of Survivor Series in November. After the pay per view, Mullet and Augie pulled out the microphones again. At that moment, I finally felt like I was a part of the group. At that moment, I became a part of Podswoggle.

Due to Tope being in New York and having the do most of the podcasts through Skype, I didn’t get a chance to actually met him until…I actually don’t remember (and upon asking Tope when we actually met, he didn’t remember either). Sorry Tope. I had certainly heard of Tope, his comedic writing, and his overall great personality. And when I finally did meet him, it was all confirmed that he was the great guy everyone said he was. Even though Tope is the member of the Swoggle Squad that I have certainly spent the least amount of time with, he is part of one of my favorite moments during my run with this unbelievable group of guys. After Sheamus won the 2011 Royal Rumble, I remember running to him near the back of the living room in Mullet’s place, hugging him, and jumping up and down with him. I also remembered him becoming friends with Mullet’s toilet later on that night thanks to him eating spicy pickles during the Royal Rumble. We even made our way to the bathroom at the same time during one point when he gave me a look which I clearly understood as his way of saying, “Listen, I know you have to go, but I’m about to shoot flames out of my ass so I get first dibs."

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So that is how I met all the members of the Swoggle Squad and essentially became part of Podswoggle. And what a long, strange trip it has certainly been. Our 100th podcast was a big success, we have celebrated the one year anniversary of our website, and we continue to produce creative and funny shirts that people enjoy wearing. And through the help of social interaction like Twitter and Facebook, we continue to garner new fans every day. I certainly did not expect of all this to happen, and I am completely ecstatic that it has. And even though I am thankful that Podswoggle have given me lifelong friends and unforgettable experiences, the thing I am most thankful for is that it has saved wrestling for me.

As I have mentioned before, wrestling was a main part of my life growing up. I remember watching wrestling with my dad and my brother. I remember how much I loved my “Macho Man” Randy Savage Wrestling Buddy while my brother had a Hulk Hogan Wrestling Buddy. I remember how excited I was to watch WWF’s Saturday morning recap show “LiveWire” even though I already watched Raw that week and knew what happened! I was excited to watch everything again! And I still consider the WCW show I saw at Universal Studios with family and friends when I was young one of the best moments of my childhood. And while I was thinking back to all of these moments, that’s when it hit me. The reason why I loved wrestling in the first place was because I experienced the great moments that I remembered with great people.

During these past couple of years, not only have I have garnered lifelong friends in the members of the Swoggle Squad, but I have also garnered many more lifelong friends through wrestling. They are people that I can truly say I could not live without. And they know who they are. I mean, hell, I also got a great girlfriend out of the deal! She just happened to be Rich’s roommate during the past school year, and she completely supports my love for professional wrestling. I think she’s a keeper. But nevertheless, I have been lucky to experience multiple great wrestling moments with these people. From the excitement of watching the Royal Rumble every year to the hilarity of each Royal Rumble drinking game. From meeting great wrestling fans that share the love for it like I do to meeting the great wrestlers we love like Daniel Bryan, Colt Cabana, and CM Punk. From experiencing a FCW show live to experiencing WrestleMania live. I can honestly say that thanks to this crazy website and the Swoggle Squad, my love for wrestling burns brighter than ever and will never be extinguished anymore. And that no matter what great experience you have in life, it is the people around you that make it great and not the experience itself.

To prove that, I present to you the following example: In the past couple of months, there have been two FCW shows that have made their way to my hometown. Both of them even featured special guests. The first featured Kofi Kingston and R-Truth while the second featured Booker T. I could have easily gone to both shows, met the special guests as well as FCW/NXT’s top wrestlers and got their autographs, and enjoyed some great wrestling done by the future stars of the WWE. But I didn’t go. To either show. Because I had no buddy to go with. Not even anyone from the Swoggle Squad (Augie, Rich, and Mullet would have had to drive for hours to get to me and Tope would have had to fly. So I don’t blame them). So I didn’t go. It probably would have been somewhat fun if I did go by myself, but it wouldn’t have been truly fun and memorable. And that’s my point. The most memorable moments that you have are not memorable because of the moments themselves but because of the people around you that make it memorable. But be careful. Just as good people around you can make good memories, bad people around you can make bad memories. Just ask Sunny’s ex-boyfriend. 

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Michael Whidden

Michael Whidden

Been Watching Since: 1994

Favorite Wrestler, currently: Dolph Ziggler

Favorite Wrestler of All Time: Stone Cold Steve Austin

Least Favorite Wrestler, currently: Brock Lesnar

                                     Least Favorite Wrestler of All Time: Gangrel

                                     Guilty Pleasure: 3 Minute Warning

                                     Catchphrase: "Everytime I pick Triple H, I lose"

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