With the 66th Primetime Emmy Awards airing tonight, it’s only fitting that I take a look at the ten best wrestling-themed sitcom episodes in TV history. As in situational comedy. No one-hour dramas or animated shows. None of which feature Hulk Hogan surprisingly enough.
10. City Guys
The short-lived and urban Saved by the Bell definitely stayed true to its gritty street vibe it was trying to shoot for by opting for an ECW wrestler like Rob Van Dam to guest star. If they really wanted to keep it street, the show’s producers would’ve gotten New Jack. Pussies. One of the main characters, El-Train, decides to jump in during a practice match because he can and no one cares, and is offered a spot as RVD’s tag team partner. I’m guessing Sabu was away on a tour in Japan. Anyway, El-Train costs his team the match and fails to impress the inner city kids he abandoned in the first place. How RVD could let that slide without Van Terminating his ass I’ll never know.
9. The Munsters
Giant pacifist and living proof that there is no God, Herman Munster, decides to try his hand at wrestling to help secure his son, the illegitimate bastard child of a werewolf, Eddie Munster’s college future. Apparently, wrestling’s still considered real here and instead of steamrolling through his opponents like he’s Brock Lesnar, Herman falls for their sob stories and lets them pin him. He probably knows that deep down Eddie really isn’t his son and doesn’t care. But in the end he comes through when he realizes he’s being worked by a ringer and beats the crap out of him as the Gothic abomination man’s cruelty created him to be.
8. The League
We get an extra creepy and sadistic El Cuñado in this episode. Aside from drugging and kidnapping Kevin and Andre, Rafi plays up his “Mexican” heritage by offering to settle a fantasy football trade dispute inside the squared circle. Kevin and Andre even get to don their own custom made costumes to coincide with their lucha libre names that roughly translate to “Fire Crotch” and “The Hermaphrodite.” The best part is that the independent wrestling show looks more like some illegal underground fight club. Surprisingly, Kevin and Andre bust out some actual wrestling holds. But the best part is definitely the main event match between Rafi “El Cordero” and Ruxin, wherein Rafi goes into a diabetic seizure.
7. Married with Children
Much like with Al Bundy, one of the best things to see on Married with Children, aside from Christina Applegate’s outfits, was watching Bud Bundy get hurt. Once he hit puberty and became this basement dwelling troll of a virgin, Bud’s tendency to find himself in painfully uncompromising positions was nothing short of a hereditary trait he acquired from his father. Kind of like the Bundy Curse. Here, Bud is in full-on selling mode as he gets tossed around like a rag doll by King Kong “no relation” Bundy.
6. The Beverly Hillbillies
For a show that poked fun at people from The South the show didn’t insult its viewers’ intelligence by carrying on with the whole pro wrestling is real front. Although everybody plays the Clampetts for the gullible fools that they are, they end up getting the last laugh. All thanks go Granny. The little old lady not only no-sells better than Davey Richards, but she also possesses the strength of five John Cenas as she plows through the women’s wrestling division, which includes Jethro in drag for whatever reason. Wrestling great, Gene LeBell, makes a cameo as a referee. And if you ever wondered what a scumbag promoter voiced by Fred Flintstone would sound like, then check out this episode as Alan Reed makes an appearance.
5. Night Court
While no action takes place inside the ring, it’s the backstage antics that places this episode high on the list. You have bloodied wrestlers arguing over how close they came to actually hitting each other. And fat feature-length screenplays on hand that dictate the evening’s outcomes. And gaudy costumes as only that time period in pro wrestling can produce. Despite being portrayed as a big dumb buffoon, even Bull realizes how stupid he looks in his wrestling getup. And that’s considering the Big Boss Man pretty much wrestled as a cop who had just finished his shift.
4. Trailer Park Boys
Trailer parks and wrestling go hand-in-hand. So, it’s no surprise that when the Trailer Park Boys got around to finally making a wrestling-themed episode they introduced one of the best wrestling characters on a TV show: Green Bastard. He’s not the biggest or the toughest, but he sure as hell has a way with words. Plus, the makeshift backyard wrestling ring is a sight to behold.
3. That 70’s Show
Not only is this The Rock’s first mainstream television appearance as an actor, but this episode also had The Hardy Boyz and Ken Shamrock on as guests as well. Given the show’s title and time period, they obviously portray old school wrestlers the way they never looked with the cheesiest wigs and crappiest wrestling gear ever seen on TV. Still, it’s a decent episode and although the characters aren’t directly involved with the wrestling that’s going on, Eric and Red Forman do interact with Rocky Johnson (The Rock), who foreshadows his son’s wrestling greatness, but overlooks the part about him becoming a millionaire Hollywood movie star.
2. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Who knew the gang from Paddy’s Pub were major wrestling fans? At least where pageantry and nationalistic pride are concerned. Roddy Piper guest stars as Da Maniac, an even sadder version of Randy “The Ram” Robinson from The Wrestler. After Da Maniac is jailed for some unpaid parking tickets, it’s up to Dennis, Charlie, and Mac to go on with the show because deep down Da Maniac would’ve wanted, seeing as it’s all done in the name of the U.S. troops. And who better to fight off Cricket’s foreign menace antics as a Taliban than The Birds of War? And Danny DeVito’s transformation as his wrestling alter ego, The Trashman, is TV wrestling gold.
1. Boy Meets World
Hands down the best sitcom episode involving wrestling. While the picture is deceiving, the episode I’m referring to is when Vader was no longer in WCW, but now an actual WWF Superstar. Pretty sure Vader is the first wrestler to jump ship while occasionally doing cameo spots for a TV show. In this episode, Frankie Stechino is no longer a bully to Cory Matthews and is now seeking his help to get closer to his father, Vader. All because Vader never took the time to be a dad. This all takes place during a WWF house show in Philly, where Cory, wrestling genius that he is, advises Frankie to advise his father to keep from getting caught in Jake “The Snake” Roberts’ DDT. The fact that Frankie is so distant from his father that he doesn’t even know that pro wrestling is predetermined makes you hope even stronger that these two hopefully find some common ground between Vader’s wrestling and Frankie’s poetry.