Lee Maughan: This is the sixth and final tape from the 1999 re-release of the 80’s cartoon series, with this again featuring three rather than the usual two episodes.
S1, E11: Rock-n-Zombies
Bobby Heenan gives free complimentary tickets to Hulk’s club and Piper’s goons for the opening of his new amusement park, Rock ‘N’ Wrestleland. Each wrestler has his or her own themed ride, and whichever wrestler’s ride gets the best attendance will also have the park named after them. Far be it from me to complain about the logical flaws in a children’s cartoon, but wouldn’t they all be wanting a cut of the profits, given the obviously unlicensed use of their name and likenesses?
Saboteurs extraordinaire Nikolai Volkoff and the Iron Sheik pull up a piece of the track on Captain Lou Albano’s Runaway Dining Cart ride, and the train (complete with screaming children) heads wildly off course, smashing through Sheik’s own theme ride (that basically looks to be a bunch of people driving cars around a dirt track). Far be it from me to complain about the logical flaws in a children’s cartoon, again, but shouldn’t they be arrested for attempted murder?
Roddy Piper and Big John Studd meanwhile pull the pin on Junkyard Dog’s Junky Ride, but JYD’s plane comes loose and flies through Piper’s hot air balloon. Over at Fabulous Moolah’s House of Horrors, a little child flees after hearing a monster, and he accuses Heenan of being a liar. Heenan throws the kid out of the park so Wendi gives chase as a group of zombies spill out into the park.
Catching up with the young lad, Wendi finds out that Heenan actually bought a cemetery from the boy’s mother, who could no longer afford the upkeep, and built the park on it without permission. Back at the park, the zombies kidnap Wendi and take her on Hulk’s Eye of the Tiger jungle boat ride, with the wrestlers giving chase on hippos. Hippos?! You know, I’ve gotta give it to Heenan; zombie infestation or not, he clearly spent a lot of cash on this theme park. Even so, the zombies agree with Wendi that Heenan lied to Mrs. Fulbright about leaving the site as a memorial park, so Heenan scarpers in a miniature version of Piper’s Hot Rod from the auto race, with Hulk and the zombies in hot pursuit. That leads to trip around Tito Santana’s Mexican Sombrero big wheel, which of course comes loose.
Catching up with the runaway wheel, Hogan demands Heenan turn the pack back into a cemetery, and the zombies all die happily ever after. Piper’s still isn’t happy however, as they christen the rebuilt burial ground ‘Roddy Piper’s Rock ‘N’ Rest-in-Peace Memorial Park’. “Why couldn’t you have made it ‘Hulk Hogan’s Hulkamania Heaven’” demands Piper, “or ‘Bobby Heenan’s Hereafter Hotel’?”
S2, E10: My Fair Wrestler
Hulk and the crew in London for a tour of Buckingham Palace where Captain Lou cuts in line ahead of a 1920s Cockney chimney sweep and wins a prize for being the ten millionth visitor. Lou’s prize is to give a speech at the House of Lords before parliament, so the gang give him a bath and paint his wacky multicoloured suit black. The chimney sweep calls Lou a Yankee and tells him to go back home, so I figure he must be a member of UKIP or the BNP. Back at the royal palace, a guard calls the chimney sweep a “dirty little street urchin” so Lou admits to stealing his prize and lays on some heavy life lessons about talking instead of fighting. Lou then reverts to form and accidentally calls the Queen a “bimbo”, so he and Mickey the chimney sweep do a runner.
S1, E1: The Junkyard 500
And we end, perhaps rather appropriately given the slapdash ordering of the episodes on these tapes, with the first half of episode one from season one. Famous movie director Woody Brooks is looking for a vehicle to star in his latest monster movie, so JYD and Tito drive the Junkwagon over to the production studio. As Brooks is about to hand over $10,000 for the rights to the car, Roddy Piper and Big John Studd arrive in the Hot Rod, and a tug ‘o’ war breaks out with Brooks as the rope. His suggestion? A race, and the winner gets to be in the movie. Brooks sounds like a bit of a crook if you ask me.
A Rock ‘n’ Wrestling tribute to Wacky Races soon breaks out, with Piper jumping the gun on the start, Nikolai Volkoff and the Iron Sheik chaining the Junkmobile to the bleachers to slow it down, and Piper filling JYD’s truck with smoke, blown from the oversized novelty bagpipes on the back of the Hot Rod. Further along the course, Nikolai paints over a road sign that leads JYD down a broken bridge, the Junkwagon dropping into a ravine below. Yes, attempted murder on this Saturday morning kids cartoon. The Junkmobile of course is also designed for water, and the speed of the current makes the diversion something of a shortcut for Junkyard.
Approaching the finishing line back at the studio, JYD slows down to avoid hitting a dog, giving Piper the chance to fire up his Rowdy Rocket Boosters and fly the Hot Rod to victory, giving Roddy the ten grand. A heel victory in the very first episode? Of course not, as a somehow previously hidden gigantic mechanical dinosaur crashes through a building and crushes the Hot Rod to pieces, as Piper angrily barks “I hate rock and roll!” Well then.
Summary: One thing that puzzles me about the release of these tapes is why they weren’t themed. Obviously they decided to forgo production order when they could have released an entire season over the course of the six tapes, so why did episodes get thrown together seemingly at random? One would think the Rock ‘N’ Zombies episode here would have matched up well with Junkenstein and Ghost Wrestlers, or that The Four Legged Pickpocket could have tag-teamed with Gorilla My Dreams and The Foster Wrestler for an animal-themed release, but no. And where was Rowdy Roddy Reforms, the penultimate episode in which Piper finally turns babyface to match his real-life counterpart?
The episodes here are largely fine, no better or worse than you’d otherwise expect from this show, but they’re incredibly generic and predictable. But hey, what else would you expect from an 80s cartoon aimed at the Saturday morning cereal munching pre-teen crowd? I’ll call Rock ‘N’ Zombies the winner this time out, despite some obvious flaws, largely because of the mystery plotline, the zombies turning babyface, and the rare appearance of Bobby Heenan.