As the Attitude Era continued growing in popularity and wrestlers were fast becoming household names once again, it wasn’t strange to see WWE or WCW guys make cameos on other TV shows. One of the better ones involved a few WWE wrestlers showing up on That 70’s Show as old school wrestlers. Most importantly, it had The Rock in his first-ever acting role. He was portraying his dad, Rocky Johnson, a former wrestler, so really there wasn’t a whole lot of acting involved. Still, it’s one of the better wrestling-themed TV episodes out there. Plus, it had Ken Shamrock and The Hardy Boyz in awful wigs.
This episode also happens to be comedian Sean O’Connor’s favorite wrestling-themed TV episode! Sean O’Connor took over the Comedy Central feed last night to live tweet WWE’s Battleground show and has done Comedy Central’s Half Hour. Check it out!
So, Eric Forman and his rag tag group of stoner friends decide to check out a wrestling show because they’re all fans of Rocky Johnson. By the way, there’s a lot of foretelling in this episode. Like, Jackie and Kelso do it for the first time and now, in real life, Ahston Kutcher and Mila Kunis are expecting a baby together. Midge hints at being unhappy in her marriage to Bob which ends with her leaving him down the road. Laurie is on a downward spiral that unfortunately also plays into her real life. Fez becomes a douche. The Rock ends up being a successful actor. And Donna shows signs of being a lesbian and become a drug pusher. Oh wait, that last one is just part of a storyline from the multiple-Emmy nominated, Orange is the New Black.
The wrestling show itself takes place inside a small auditorium, or gym, which is a far cry from the sold-out Madison Square Garden shows that the WWE was putting on back then. Old-school WWF signs abound, none of which actually existed in the 1970’s. Most of the signs are from the early 80’s to the 90’s New Generation logos. At least they weren’t the scrawled out Attitude Era logo.
When we finally see Rocky Johnson, he’s half Samoan, sporting a Brahma bull tattoo, and is wearing a singlet like he never used to wear. Luckily, this was before The Rock went full-bro and went tribal with the tats. And Dion Beary has the audacity to discredit The Rock as a black WWE Champion? This wasn’t exactly a biopic of Rocky Johnson’s life, but they could’ve at least gotten the ring gear right, or a better looking wig. Even at it’s most puffiest Johnson’s hair was never that big. The Rock did do a good job of mimicking his father’s boxing footwork when he shuffled into the ring. From there on we saw him struggle to fend off a bunch of wrestling
midgets little people.
Easily, the match of the night was between Matt Hardy and Jeff Hardy. Of course this was the only match in which we got to see some actual wrestling going on. It was a damn wrestling clinic. Staying true to the old school ring attire, the Hardys were not sporting their Anchor Blue baggy pants. We also didn’t see anything high-flying as we had grown accustomed to with The Hardy Boyz seeing as this was supposed to be a match from the 1970’s. Still, it was a lot more exciting than an actual match from the 70’s even if the moves consisted of basic stuff, like hip tosses, Irish whips, suplexes, dropkicks, and faces smashed into turnbuckles. It was more of a match from the 80’s. If they had really gone for authenticity, Matt Hardy would’ve had Jeff Hardy in a headlock for the entire 22 minutes of That 70’s Show. Surprisingly, Matt Hardy goes over clean on Jeff hardy.
One of the best cameos was Ken Shamrock as another wrestling nobody, in a weird singlet (the shorts kind that Kurt Angle wears) tights combo. But that wasn’t even the most ridiculous part of his getup, that dubious honor goes to his wig. Seriously, that was some fucked up haircut. I’d make a reference as to what it was most similar to, but I couldn’t even find anything remotely close to resembling that thing. And this is considering that the internet exists. Yet, nothing. Eric and Red goad Shamrock into getting his lazy ass back into the ring, but instead Shamrock eases them back into their seats with a menacing scowl.
This episode would’ve been a whole lot better if Shamrock and the Hardys were also portraying famous wrestlers from the 1970’s. I would’ve totally bought into Shamrock as Bruno Sammartino, or Jeff Hardy as Jimmy Valiant.
After the matches, Red and Eric sneak into the wrestlers’ locker room for a Rocky Johnson autograph. This being the 70’s and all you’d think they would stick to kayfabe, and at first it seems like it because Jeff Hardy is back there, and no Matt Hardy, but then you see a couple of the wrestling
midgets little people that Rocky had just trounced minutes earlier. Yet this doesn’t blow Eric and Red’s minds, they’re too starstruck to even care. This was just reckless staging/writing on behalf of the That 70’s Show crew.
Ernie Ladd happens to be there, not playing himself, but the manager of Rocky Johnson that never existed. His sole purpose is to deny the Formans an autograph from Johnson and set up Red for a Vietnam reference. Rocky tells Ladd to relax and signs away while Eric gets screwed over by his dad as he tells Rocky to make the autograph out to Red Forman. Dick move. Rocky then mentions that he has a son and hopes that one day he’ll become the most electrifying man in sports entertainment. WINK. WINK.
After that clever nod to the whole father/son theme going on, Eric and Red acknowledge that they had a good time together and end up rasslin’ in the living room because that’s the only way fathers and sons can express their love. Or so I’ve been told.