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The "Lost" Circa:
Hulk Hogan's Rock 'n' Wrestling
August 25, 2004, 2004

by Denny Burkholder
Courtesy of WrestleLine.com


Full disclosure: I wrote this edition of Circa almost three years ago. However, it was brought to my attention by a longtime reader that I neglected to archive it when I relaunched WrestleLine.com in May.
This could be considered the "Lost Circa," as it was written after the first incarnation of WrestleLine.com ceased production, but before Rick Scaia opened his own OnlineOnslaught.com (which, for a couple of years, was the exclusive home of this column until the craftily-negotiated return of WrestleLine to cyberspace in 2004).

The only web site to ever feature this column was Scott Keith's TheSmarks.com, which was swallowed whole by 411 a few short months later (this column never appeared on 411) and shitcanned for good a few months after that.  

Now (to complete the set!) - I bring you THE LOST CIRCA.

Originally Published on TheSmarks.com on October 26, 2001
Hulk Hogan’s Rock N’ Wrestling!: Ghost Wrestlers (1985)

Halloween is upon us, bringing with it many traditions. Trick-or-treating. Bobbing for apples. Pumpkin carving. Costume parties. And - perhaps the most unappreciated of all Halloween traditions – the holiday-themed episodes of your favorite TV programs, spoofing more successful and worthwhile Halloween classics involving the likes of Bela Lugosi and Alfred Hitchcock.

Saturday morning cartoons have been perhaps the worst offenders. In 1985, the WWF scored a Saturday morning cartoon of its own, based on a concept by rock chick Cyndi Lauper and her manager, Dave Wolff. Hulk Hogan’s Rock N’ Wrestling! Ran for two years, and featured animated versions of the biggest WWF stars of the mid-1980s.

The cartoon featured Hulk Hogan and his “good guys” – Andre the Giant, Wendi Richter, Junkyard Dog, “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka, Hillbilly Jim (with pet duck), Tito Santana and “Captain” Lou Albano – solving crimes and fighting the proverbial good fight. Hulk and crew also kept themselves busy thwarting the zany plans of the “bad guys” – led by “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, with a supporting cast of Big John Studd, The Fabulous Moolah, Mr. Fuji, The Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff.

And in 1985, Rock N’ Wrestling! dove into the Halloween rip-off waters, belly-flopping with the Ghostbusters-inspired episode “Ghost Wrestlers.” None of the bad guys made an appearance in the episode. Instead, writer Jeffrey Scott allowed a cast of elderly people and creepy-crawlies to garner all the heel heat, while series regulars like Piper and Studd sat out. WHO’S BOOKING THIS CRAP? Heh heh.

Maybe the heels “worked a dark episode” that night or something. Nikolai Volkoff’s Jakked N’ Wrestling! I’ll stop now.

The show begins with the familiar opening credits and Rocky-esque “Hulk Hogan’s Theme.” You know the one... “Dum-da-dum... Dum-da-dum, da dum DUM, DUM, DUM, DUM... HULK! HULK!” They show Hogan speeding away in his HulkMobile (a white Caddy convertible with a gold hood ornament of the Hulkster doing a double-biceps pose), and the bad guys giving chase. Roddy Piper drives a red funny car that resembles a set of bagpipes. The Iron Sheik drives a monster truck with a turban and spiked tires. The guy riding shotgun with Sheik is his #1 homey, Nikolai. Everyone else is crammed into Piper’s funny car. Of course, we have the parting live-action shot of the REAL Hogan walking down the middle of the street, applauding (apparently for himself), while a crapload of little kids bum rush him without looking both ways first.

“Ghost Wrestlers” begins in Hulk’s Gym, where our heroes are working out. Hulk and Wendi are in the first shot... Hulk jumping rope, and Wendi doing dumbbell curls. Captain Lou is doing sit-ups under a table, and sipping a milk shake on every incline. Hillbilly Jim is doing curls also, with a barbell fashioned from a stick and two buckets (pet duck in one, contents of the other unknown). JYD is shoulder-blocking a heavy bag while Tito Santana spots. Suddenly, the roof starts to crack.

“HEY!” Hulk yells. “Who’s wrecking my gym?” It’s Andre the Giant, who is doing pull-downs so forcefully that the equipment is smashing against the ceiling. JYD goes outside to his Junk Wagon (a pickup truck with a shack built on the cab) and attaches ropes to it, so Andre can tug on the vehicle through the window for exercise. Andre pulls it through the wall, proving he’s just too damn strong to be working out with these chumps.

“Yoo-Hoo!” a voice calls from the door. It’s a tiny old man named Manny the Mangler, whom the wrestlers recognize and the “world wrestling champion of 1947.” After announcing that Hulk borrowed his “Manny-mania” slogan and using Andre as a jungle gym in a failed attempt to put him in the “Mangle Hold,” Manny says the reason he is back in town after retiring 20 years ago is simple: GHOSTS. Seems reasonable to me...

Manny breaks it down like this: the boarding house he lives in with other elderly people is haunted. Like any good citizen would, he figured his best chance at defeating evil spirits would be Hulk Hogan and Tito Santana. Tito tells JYD that they need to help, “Amigo.” Hulk concurs. “Tito’s right, dude,” Hulk says in a loving tone, while music that can best be described as “The Love Theme from Hulk Hogan’s Rock N’ Wrestling!” plays in the background. “We gotta look after our fellow wrestlers.” So, off they go to Heavenly Acres to hunt for ghosts.

They meet the caretaker, Mr. Lamley, at the door. Lamley looks quite mean and doesn’t seem to appreciate the company. Something is obviously not right about Lamley’s attitude. Which of course means he’s not guilty of anything, because they played up his suspiciousness to the point of overkill. Isn’t it fun to pick apart children’s cartoons for plot holes? I do believe they reserve a special place in prick purgatory for people like me. Meanwhile, the wrestlers have moved further into the gloomy haunted house, and are now meeting the other residents. There’s Artie Wong, the obviously Chinese gent who is exceptionally good at ping-pong (“He’ll blow your socks off!” says Manny). Then there’s an old black woman who walks directly over to Junkyard Dog and initiates the damndest introduction I’ve ever seen.

“My name is Cat. What’s yours, honey?”

“Junkyard Dog.” (And they slap each other “five”) “But you can call me ‘Dog,’ Cat!” They strike a bizarre pose where they grab each other’s hand, then wave the other arm in the air.

“Glad to meet you,” says Cat. Then, as if they’ve know each other for years, they simultaneously lift their elbows into the air (but hands down, as if they were doing the robot and got stuck), and wiggle their knees in and out. JYD is extremely impressed, as is Cat. “RIGHT ON!” says Dog, and they slap each other “five” one more time, and I’ve GOT TO TRY THIS the next time I’m out at the bars. “Get DOWN, MOMMA!” JYD orders.

Like a divine gift, the lights go out. Thunder claps, and now is where it gets scary. So scary, in fact, that Andre the Giant feels compelled to climb onto the ping pong table and plug his ears. Showing the good, old-fashioned country smarts that got him so far in the ring, Hillbilly Jim hides BENEATH the Ping-Pong table Andre is sitting on. An old woman walks in from the storm, silhouetted in ominous fashion. “This is Ethel,” Manny says, heart aflutter. “She lets me practice my wrestling holds on her.” Ethel swats Manny. Another howl from outside and the wrestlers grab each other in fear. Tito Santana’s first instinct is to hug JYD, Captain Lou leaps into Andre’s arms, and Andre returns the favor by grabbing Lou’s ass in his giant hand. Curiously, nobody thought to grab Wendi Richter. Neither Hulk nor Superfly. Hmmm....

After that awkward - yet revealing - moment, Hulk and Wendi go down the hall to try and catch the ghoul behind door number... whatever door that is. Hulk opens it, screams like a pansy, and a bunch of junk falls out. And Mean Gene Okerlund, too. “I don’t know about you Hulk, but this ghost business is pretty scary stuff!” Gene says, before catching a bucket over the head.

Then, they all head to separate guestrooms to turn in for the night. Seven male wrestlers. One hottie female in spandex. All separate rooms. Place your bets now on who sneaks into whose room tonight... and then read on.

  • Andre freaks out, busts into Hogan’s room, and jumps under the covers. This is getting disturbing, and Andre’s using his French accent to woo The Hulkster. “Hulk, uh... would it be okay if I stayed with you tonight? It’s, uh... cold in my room.” “Well, I...” Andre grins lovingly. “Thanks, Hulk. I knew YOU’D understand.” Was this stuff supposed to make parents feel better about their sons watching sweaty men beat each other up?

  • We’re in Superfly’s room now, where he has used the bed sheet to string up a hammock between the bedpost and a candleholder on the wall. Heh heh... silly primitive Superfly. A purple monster hand reaches out from behind the candleholder and pinches Snuka’s nose. He freaks, gets wound up in the sheet so that he looks like a ghost, and runs into Hulk’s room, where Andre and Hulk promptly beat the piss out of him. Once they realize it’s Superfly, they go to his room to investigate. Snuka asks, “Would you mind if I slept with you guys? It’s, uh... cold in my room.” Well, maybe if you used the sheet for WARMTH... Hulk and Andre oblige, and Hulk’s room is now a one-bed triple.

  • There is a suit of armor in JYD’s room. Possessed with an evil spirit, the suit walks over to JYD’s bed menacingly. “Go back to sleep, Tito,” JYD says from his slumber. The ghost smashes a chair next to JYD’s bed. “That’s reeeal cute, Tito. You wake me up once more, and you’ll be needing that suit of armor.” The suit is still acting up. JYD, thinking it’s Tito Santana, picks up the suit of armor and throws it onto his bed, and removes the helmet. No head under the helmet. And yet, the helmet is laughing at JYD while he holds it. That’s enough to send JYD into Hulk’s room to cuddle with Andre and Superfly. If you’re keeping score, there’s now three guys sleeping with Hogan and nobody has even attempted hanky panky with Wendi Richter yet.

  • Soon thereafter, Lou Albano, Tito Santana and Hillbilly Jim (with his duck) all join The Hulkster for a little pillow talk. Everyone’s in the bed except Tito, who is hiding under it. Except I don’t see Superfly anymore. Perhaps he’s buried under Lou and Andre... or under the bed with Tito? Gosh, This IS scary!

JYD finally notices that Wendi is absent. As soon as he mentions it, Wendi screams and they all run to her room. Hulk pushes a button on the wall next to a bookcase, thinking Wendi is back there. A green ghost (think Slimer from Ghostbusters, only with vampire fangs) flies out and goes all willy-nilly on Andre and Superfly. Hogan and Hillbilly corner the ghost. Using his creative influence, Hogan demands, “Get him, Hillbilly!” even though he’s standing just as close to Fake Slimer as Hillbilly Jim is. Hillbilly slips and lands ass-up. His duck proceeds to peck him in an unflattering place.

After a few more embarrassing tries at nabbing Fake Slimer, the wrestlers think they have him cornered in the secret bookcase hiding spot. “Get ready to give it the old RAZZAMATAZZ!” Hulk says, rallying the troops. They all dive at something and get to grabbin’. When the dust settles, we have a major pile-up. All seven guys stand up one by one, and lying at the bottom of the pile is Wendi Richter, rightfully confused. Hulk asks Wendi what happened.

“I don’t know,” she says with a shaky voice. “I went to check out a noise, and suddenly something GRABBED me! Next thing I knew, I was behind this bookcase.” With seven men on top of her, no less. (Dear Penthouse Forum...)

The beginning of the Ghostbusters theme by Ray Parker, Jr. plays as the wrestlers look out the window, and see all the old people taking matters into their own hands. They all have household weapons, and they’re in the graveyard that is conveniently located right outside the haunted boarding house. The wrestlers go to help the old people, causing all sorts of madcap hijinx. Andre whacks a tree with a broomstick hoping to scare Slimer out. Instead, bats fly after him. Cat sneaks up behind a tombstone and plants a toilet plunger on JYD’s head. Artie Wong whacks a bunch of ping-pong balls at Hulk. Manny swings a tennis racket at Slimer and hits a tombstone, knocking a row of them over domino-style. And just when they think they’ve got it all under control, Ethel screams from inside the house.

Ethel is upset because one of the rooms has been ransacked for the second straight night. After Mr. Lamley makes a fuss about the meddling kids, they sleep on it, and wake up early in the morning to hit the library to learn more affective ways to fight ghosts (preferably ways not involving plungers and tennis rackets). From what they learn there, JYD uses some old junk and vacuum cleaners to build everyone a backpack just like the ones from the Ghostbusters movie, except that they shoot pink and white goo at the ghouls instead of light beams. JYD rounds everyone up and gives them their new weapons. “All right, bruthas and sistas,” JYD says. “It’s time for some get-down-with-the-Dog GHOST WRESTLIN’!”

The wrestlers and elderly folk run around sliming each other for a few minutes before Manny notices footprints going toward the wall. Of course, it’s a secret passage to the cemetery, where they goo Mr. Lamley and accuse him of all this mess. Lamley says he’s only in the cemetery following the same footprints Manny found, and they lead... to that shed! Sure enough, they find Fake Slimer in the shed. JYD slimes him. Now there’s no Fake Slimer, but a hole in the wall showing a secret room. There’s a person in a trench coat pulling levers, making all the ghostly images and noises. Ah-HAH!

The wrestlers corner the trench coat offender in the boarding house by scaring “it” at every turn. Hulk dressed like the traditional white-sheet ghost, JYD in a Japanese mask of some sort, Snuka as a headless piano player, Andre as Frankenstein. Hillbilly Jim’s mysterious floating hat, courtesy of the flying duck underneath. Captain Lou as a Wolfman with a rubber band stapled to his cheek. All of this madness was too much for the trench coat offender to take, and “it” eventually wound up getting slimed by Hogan.

And “it” turned out to be... ETHEL?

“Yes, kids, it was Ethel all along, trying to scare everyone away from the house. Turns out she had found a note from a Mr. Wheeler who had lived in the boarding house years before, stating that there was $100,000 hidden under his bed and that it must be donated to the boarding house. Ethel, fresh out of money, feared she’d be kicked out of the house soon, and wanted to find the money herself so she could keep living there. Lamley says Ethel is a friend, and they would never kick her out. Manny remembers that Mr. Wheeler used to stay in his room, and with a karate kick to the floorboard, he finds the cash.

And so ends the “Ghost Wrestlers” episode of Hulk Hogan’s Rock N’ Wrestling!, before anyone can put the moves on Wendi Richter, and before we find out just what the hell Mean Gene Okerlund was doing hiding in the damn closet with a live microphone.

Interestingly, none of the wrestlers featured on Rock N’ Wrestling! performed his or her own voice for the cartoon. Hulk Hogan was performed by Brad Garrett, who is famous today as Robert Barone on the CBS series Everybody Loves Raymond. The voice of the Junkyard Dog was performed by James Avery, who is best known as Philip Banks from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in the 1990s. And the voice of Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka was performed by a man whose son would go on to become WCW Champion 15 years later… Lewis Arquette.

Other voices were done largely by an assortment of the day’s best cartoon voiceover specialists. Most of the actors performing voices on Rock N’ Wrestling! also did voices for popular 1980s cartoons such as G. I. Joe, Transformers, The Smurfs, Jem and the Holograms, Rainbow Brite, Go-Bots, The Centurions, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Charles Adler, who voiced “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, went on to be the voice of Buster Bunny on Tiny Toon Adventures, among other credits.  


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