Lee Maughan: This is the fourth two-episode tape from the 1999 re-release of the 80’s cartoon series.
S2, E9: Superfly Express
The gang board an overnight train to California but Superfly is awoken by Andre’s snoring. Taking a late night stroll, he meets a beautiful blonde girl called Lenora. Moments later, Lenora is abducted by a couple of heavies who lead her to a mysterious cloaked woman in another cabin. The woman demands Lenora’s ring but she’s already left it behind in a bowl of fruit, which Captain Lou discovers and helps himself to. Screw morals, it’s finders keepers here. Hulk, Lou and Wendi head down to the freezer to look for Lenora but the heavies show up and they get into a snowball fight. Because when someone’s physically abducted someone, the best method of settling the score is throwing fluffy particles of frozen water at one another.
Hulk wastes an inordinate amount of time pushing a sliding block of ice against its natural incline (as opposed to, you know, just sidestepping out of the way) and Lou does a runner as the heavies give chase. Hulk, Lou and Wendi fall off the train onto a passing garbage boat but Hillbilly’s skunk Naomi picks up the ring. Attempting to catch Naomi, Hillbilly and Andre fall out of the train and onto a farm where they meet Betty Jean who think they’re “cute”. As Michael Jackson almost once wailed – Betty Jean is now your lover. Cue duelling banjos.
Locked up in a River City jail, the garbage ship captain accuses Hulk, Lou and Wendi of being garbage pirates, but the sheriff recognises them as world famous wrestlers (someone eventually had to, right?) and lets them go without even asking any questions. Don’t you ever again try to tell me that famous people can’t use their celebrity status to bend the law in a way us normal folk can’t! Betty Jean offers to fly Hillbilly and Andre back to the train on an aeroplane that looks like the Wright brothers built it, but they’re too heavy to take off so Andre starts flapping his arms and they get enough purchase to fly, a bit like that infamous promo the real life ‘Hulkster’ gave prior to his match with Randy Savage at the October ‘89 Docklands Arena show. Do yourself a favour and look it up, it is insane. The police are also in hot pursuit with Hulk, Lou and Wendi in tow, to the point of actually jumping over a raising bridge. Never mind that Hogan promo, this show is insane.
Back on the train, JYD, Tito and Superfly track down Lenora but the mystery woman shows up and unlinks the axle of their carriage, sending them to almost certain doom. Luckily, Betty Jean swoops down with her rickety old plane and Superfly is able to jump on, lifting Lenora with him. Meanwhile, the cop car speeds up enough for Hulk to lean out of the window and tell the driver to stop the train. See? Insane. Reunited, the entire gang prevent the hooded lady from leaving the train and pull her hood, gasping in amazement at the reveal of… Deanna. Who?! Lenora reveals that Deanna is actually her cousin. How the hell would anybody recognise someone’s cousin?! They couldn’t at least have made it her evil twin?! Lenora tells Superfly that she is actually a princess of a “small country” and that if Deanna could get the ring, she’d be able to overthrow Lenora and take over the nation. What?! How on earth does that work!? That’s like one of those stupid wrestling tropes where a title brings whoever holds it some unspecified “power”, from refusing title defences to booking their own matches! Lenora invites Superfly to visit her country to which he agrees, though the episode’s conclusion never makes it clear if she ends up mothering Tamina Snuka, or indeed, winds up being found dead in Superfly’s hotel room…
S2, E11: Ghost Wrestlers
Training at Hulk’s gym is interrupted by a surprise guest – Manny the Mangler, world wrestling champion of 1947 whose unannounced appearance is due to ghost sightings at his boarding home. The crew decide to check it out but are met by Ethel, an old lady who lets Manny practice his wrestling holds on her. He attempts to give a demonstration for the guys but Ethel stabs him with a knitting needle. Whoa, very kid-friendly. Everybody takes a room for the night, but a series of ghostly goings on results one-by-one in each of the guys asking if they can sleep with Hulk. What a stud. No wonder he eventually wound up making a sex tape with Bubba the Love Sponge’s wife; clearly old Terrance is just completely irresistible!
The only one who doesn’t show up is Wendi, but a chilling scream leads the gang to her room where, from behind a bookcase appears a Slimer-like ghostly apparition. He’s an ugly little spud, isn’t he? The ghost slobbers off revealing Wendi, as Andre notices all of the elderly residents gathering outside in the graveyard. Because if you’re going to build a retirement home, build it next to a graveyard so every single day you can remind the old folks they’ll all be dead soon too. Curiously at this point, the intro to Ghostbusters by Ray Parker, Jr. plays, which must have cost a pretty penny to get the rights to, even for just those few seconds. Hell, if Parker’s lawsuit over the song was anything to go by, the Rock ‘N’ Wrestling producers may have ended up having to pay Huey Lewis and the News instead, since Parker allegedly ripped his song off from Lewis’ ‘I Want a New Drug’.
The crusties attempt to fight off the ghost outside but another scream leads everyone back indoors to discover the home has been completely ransacked. Down at JYD’s junkyard, the gang build themselves some proton packs and head out on a ghost hunt. When there’s something strange in your neighbourhood, who ya gonna call? Hulk Hogan! That leads to a series of “hilarious” mishaps in which everybody gloops everybody else, bar the ghost, and Ethel vanishes behind the bookcase. Wendi finds a secret stairway and zaps a shadowy figure behind a gravestone, revealing Lemley, the owner of the boarding house. Lemley reveals that all he was doing was following a trail of footsteps to an abandoned outhouse filled with ghoulish contraptions and Hulk decides the best course of action is get the oldies out of there.
Returning to the spookhouse under costumes, Hulk and his pals begin chasing a shrouded figure from room to room before finally glooping her. It was Ethel all along! What a swerve. Ethel says she found a letter from a Mr. Wheeler who used to live at the house who hid $100,000 under his bed with instructions that it be donated to the boarding house, but since Ethel didn’t know which room he stayed in, she had to scare everyone away so she could search for it. And she would have gotten away with it too, if it wasn’t for you meddlesome wrestlers! She gives a sob story about running out of money and worrying that she’d get kicked out of the house, but despite all her transgressions Lemley declares that they’re still all friends. Really? After the stunt she just pulled?! Terrifying all those poor elderly folk while trying to embezzle money that didn’t rightfully belong to her? Perhaps they let her off because she’s got Alzheimer’s or something. Manny says that Mr. Wheeler used to stay in his room so the gang check it out with Manny karate kicking his way through the floorboards to the pile of cash. He came, he saw, he kicked that floor board’s ass. And just think about it – this show was made in 1986, so all those old people are probably dead by now. Spooky!
Summary: Two rather ridiculous plots this time, with endings almost as outrageous as the one found in 1984’s, ahem, “classic” slash-em-up Fatal Games. Superfly Express is almost like a Vince Russo-penned episode where they’ve come up with an intriguing premise and just gone with it, only figuring out the ending once they got there. As Marge Simpson would say, “It’s an ending, that’s enough.”
The amusingly referential Ghost Wrestlers is the winner this time out, although there are some curious continuity problems with the animation at one point. During the scene where all the wrestlers are helping the residents pack their belongings up to take them some place safe for the evening, Big John Studd can clearly be seen loading up the Hulkmobile despite not featuring in the episode, nor being part of Hogan’s crew. A ghostly apparition perhaps? Dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria!