An animated send-up of all things pro wrestling. Mongo Wrestling Alliance enhances the stereotypes made famous by professional wrestling and inserts the tropes we’ve all come to know and love into the everyday personal lives of their characters. It’s wrestling nerds’ wet dream. Not so much for fans of comedy. Although far from a nightmare, it’s definitely along the lines of one of those abrupt jerking movements that startle you awake just as you’re knocking out.
The show follows the Kleberkuh wrestling clan. Baron Kleberkuh, the old wrestling curmudgeon and patriarch; his wife, Acid Alice Kleberkuh, the just-as-old Japanese wrestling stereotype; golden boy babyface, with Miz-levels of douchebaggery, Rusty Kleberkuh; his overweight sad-sack brother, and Playboy Buddy Rose look-a-like, Fat Balthazar Kleberkuh; Black Stack Johnson, a combination of Samuel L. Jackson and every blaxploitation film character ever; and Booter Lee Bogg, the giant hillbilly powerhouse who’s dumber than shit. Of course, a babyface is only as strong as his heel opponent, and on the flip side we have the owner of the Mongo Wrestling Alliance, Johnny Dubose: a washed-up, twisted version of Vince McMahon. If McMahon looked like Barry Darsow AKA Smash from Demolition, and if he had kept his hair and sworn off the face paint. And there’s Damien Mercury, DuBose’s #1 wrestling henchman who happens to have the best gimmick on the show, 1980’s glam rocker.
On paper, Mongo Wrestling Alliance is an awesome concept. Take the ridiculous theatrical antics of professional wrestling outside the ring and insert it into everyday life. It works even better when you see that these wrestlers live their gimmicks 24/7. Which, when you think about it, is the case for most wrestlers who stuck around way too long after their prime and permanently blurred the lines of reality. I’m looking at you Ric Flair. You can’t be a stylin’, profilin’, limousine riding, jet flying, kiss-stealing, wheelin’ n’ dealin’ son of a gun when your bank account is in the red!
Anyway, the nods and winks to the lore of professional wrestling, both the backstage and in-ring stuff is spot on and great. There’s the inclusion of different wrestling territories. The Kleberkuhs live on Quadruple Cross Ranch (Terry Funk reference!). Rusty’s not a good enough wrestler to wrestle in Japan. In true Vince McMahon fashion, DuBose is willing to put aside personal differences to make some money off of his rivalry with Baron once he sees how well their DVDs are selling. There’s Mexican mini wrestlers who pay homage to La Parka and the Day of the Dead. And using wrestling 101 in outside situations, like when Balthazar, in a last resort attempt to clear Rusty of any wrongdoing in a court of law, starts stomping his foot and chanting “U-S-A, U-S-A!” Until finally, the jury, along with the rest of the courtroom, join in and like that, the trial is over. And let’s not forget the best part of the show: how the characters cut wrestling style promos no matter where they are, no matter the situation.
While not the most subtle of nods, it is these details that make you appreciate the show as a wrestling fan and take heart that creator Tommy Blacha was careful in integrating these wrestling tropes into the show. These are my favorite moments. When you can geek out and be like, “I know what they’re referencing because I was the rasslin’ on the TV!” Little things like that makes me wish this show would’ve kept going. But overall, the quality of the show isn’t the greatest when you consider some of the hilarious animated shows that have been put out on Adult Swim. Considering Tommy Blacha’s Metalocalypse is a pretty damn good show, I was surprised by how much Mongo Wrestling Alliance kinda sucked at times. Or, a lot of times. Maybe if I was 15-year-old me, still living in the Attitude Era, this might’ve appealed to me. But now, it’s like you’re satirizing the many quirks and absurdities of professional wrestling and doing an awesome job of it, but using humor that is on some lowest common denominator shit, which you were lampooning professional wrestling for employing in the first place! I can appreciate a good dick and balls joke like any other red-blooded American, but c’mon, this is Adult Swim. Experiment a little! I’m not saying this show needed to provide some Boondocks’ level of comedic social commentary, but even The Simpsons and South Park put in much more of an effort, and they’ve been on the air for, like, 20 plus years. Plus, the in-ring action kind of sucked. I get it’s a cartoon, but did all the matches have to end in some gross-out Happy Tree Friends-style mutilation?
The voice over cast was excellent though. The fact that legit wrestling fan/comedian Will Sasso was involved was also a cool nod to hardcore wrestling nerds who made that connection. He did a great job voicing Booter Lee Bogg. But a fucking awesome job with Damien Mercury! Some indie wrestler needs to bring this gimmick to life! Or the WWE needs to saddle some NXT guy with this gimmick right now! Have him feud or team with Adam Rose. But enough of that. Bobby Hill herself, Pamela Adlon, was also a great choice. And Billy freaking West voicing Johnny DuBose. Not to mention motherfucking Bull Horn from Black Dynamite, Byron Minns, voicing Black Stack Johnson. And all-around cool guy, Harry Dean Stanton, voiced Baron Kleberkuh. Harry Dean Stanton always looks like he could give two flying fucks about anything and everything. And having heard an episode of the Doug Loves Movies podcast with him on it, I would have figured he hated comedy. But he’s on the cans calling guys jabronies!
Despite some of my own hangups with Mongo Wrestling Alliance, every wrestling fan should check out at least an episode or two. At most, you might actually find it to be hilarious. And, if you don’t, at least it doesn’t insult your intelligence as a wrestling fan, which is more than we can say for a lot of what we see on WWE programming. So, there’s that.