I know not all British sitcoms are going to be Fawlty Towers, The Young Ones, Peep Show, The Office, or even The IT Crowd, but who knew England could give the U.S. a run for its money when it comes to producing dumbed-down tripe. Rumble is not only offensive to British sitcoms, but sitcoms in general and, more specifically, to professional wrestling.
Ma and Johnny Pecs are siblings. Johnny used to be one half of the tag team champions along with his brother-in-law, Jango Jay, who died during a match after taking a spill from the top turnbuckle to the ringside area. Johnny was once the owner of the Global Wrestling Federation, but is now the Howard Finkel of the GWF and a drunk. Despite the name, Ma Pecs is less Beverly Hillbilly and more of a Peggy Bundy with a dash of Mona from Who’s the Boss. Only more money-hungry. She used to go with Jango, but after he died she got stuck raising his daughter from a previous relationship, Georgy. Georgy now helps Ma unsuccessfully run their gym, the Pump House. And those are the three protagonists, if you can call them that.
Their one rival is the ultimate wrestling heel. Alan Enstone A.K.A. Lord Byron. He’s rich, arrogant, and British. He even has his own Virgil in the form of Wart, his bumbling man servant/manager. At least the creators of Rumble were sensible enough to not cast Wart as a black man. Enstone is also the owner of the GWF, a wrestling organization that draws less people than your average TNA show, yet it still somehow affords Enstone a lavish lifestyle. Maybe his parents fund his projects as well.
And this rounds out the main characters. Throughout its six-episode run, the Pecs are always trying to figure out a way to make their newly formed wrestling group, Real American Wrestling, successful while Enstone tries to foil them at every turn, or the Pecs mess it up themselves. And if you were wondering whether or not you read that right, yes, the British wrestling league started by the Pecs is called Real American Wrestling. WWE’s Monday Night Raw was only in its second year in the U.S. (1995) and still a few years removed from the Attitude Era, but apparently was popular enough in England for someone to rip off and try to make a buck off of it. This includes Enstone, because as much as he tries to keep them from succeeding he always ends up giving the Pecs a hand when they need it most. The reason behind this? Georgy. You see, Enstone is an addict and his drug is Georgy. His paraphrased words, not mine.
Actually, when you break it down, Enstone is probably the real babyface protagonist of the show. His character Lord Byron is that of a pompous aristocrat, yet he gets cheered and booed. He’s also the only character with any kind of depth. He plays out more like Don Draper than he does a typical pro wrestling heel character. One moment, Enstone will try to shutdown RAW from producing their first show, then he’ll help fund them and provide them with his own wrestlers to use on their card. Georgy will be pissed at him for being kidnapped by Wart, then think Enstone’s the sweetest man when she learns that he secretly sponsors a local orphanage. Clearly, the creators of Rumble did not want to insult the audience’s intelligence with the same old simplistic theory of “good guys vs. bad guys.” But they were okay with insulting the audience in other ways.
Not a lot of wrestling happens in Rumble. The first episode was the only one dedicated to an entire line-up of wrestling matches. I get it, it can’t all be about wrestling, but some episodes don’t even have a match. The most disappointing thing about the wrestling is that it doesn’t even pay homage to the British style of wrestling. That World of Sport, Johnny Saint-type of wrestling. Instead, the Real American Wrestling league lives up to its name by giving us the best representation of pro wrestling from the U.S., during the mid 90’s, which, with the exception of Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels, was terrible wrestling.
While other wrestling-themed TV shows, like Nikki and Learning the Ropes, focused on the behind-the-scenes lives of pro wrestlers, Rumble offers viewers an exclusive look at all the sitcom shenanigans that goes into actually running a wrestling promotion. In the second episode, the RAW roster goes Full Monty in order to cover costs and taxes. At one point in the third episode, the RAW group decides to perform their own version of the AWA’s “WrestleRock Rumble” rap. It’s so damn terrible they actually tie someone to a chair and force him to listen to it. Unlike WrestleMania: The Album, this song was sadly not executive produced by Simon Cowell. Do yourself a favor and skip to the 27 minute and 45 second mark so you can listen to the entire thing. I guarantee you’ll have a newfound appreciation for the “WrestleRock Rumble”.
In another episode, two of RAW’s main attractions, The Beefy Boys, are offered a spot in a fast food commercial. Judging by their name, I’m sure you don’t have to wonder why. They were also probably the real-life inspiration for this British fast food joint. Johnny Pecs also gets busted by the cops when he tries to break into Enstone’s house to steal back his coveted tag team championship belt, that Enstone bought fair and square from Ma Pecs.
The belt in question is the Lord Mount Evan’s Tag Team Championship Belt, which was held by Jango and Johnny and apparently retired along with them. Enstone calls it the grunt and groan game’s highest accolade. And I now have a new favorite name for professional wrestling: the grunt and groan game. Never mind that this precious tag team championship title consists of only one belt as opposed to a pair, like most tag team championships. It’s also one of the most horrendous on-screen wrestling titles ever shown. Children’s toy championship belts look more prestigious. However, the best part about Enstone getting his hands on the belt was this expertly crafted monologue, in which he gives one of the best arguments for professional wrestling.
“Wrestling, and the aesthetic of wrestling is to be enjoyed. Violence for real can be exciting, but is and always will be ugly and invariably corrupt. We wrestlers expiate real violence, Wart. Our function is to take the danger out of the violence our society demands. By confusing the real with the unreal, we wrestlers let the steam out of the pressure cooker that is our violent society. Ours is a noble profession, Wart. We wrestlers could be the saviors of our planet.”
Yes, wrestlers very well could be the saviors of our planet. If only more people would get on board with this idea, then maybe the world would start treating wrestling with a little more respect. The other interesting thing about this promo is that Enstone acknowledges that wrestling is a work, yet the entire fucking run of the show it’s treated like it’s real. And that’s considering there’s a wrestler who goes by the name of The Hypnotist that actually wins his matches by hypnotizing his opponents. Which is insane. Or is it? To be fair, The Hypnotist is also able to hypnotize people outside the ring, which I guess makes him legit.
Speaking of The Hypnotist, let’s get into the rest of the ragtag group of grapplers. There’s the VAT Man, who’s the British version of Irwin R. Schyster. Mad Hamish, who works some kind of Scottish/Highlander gimmick, and the only guy who looks like a wrestler. There’s Dumper, a chubby viking whose got a case of Festus. Then there’s the slow-witted Melvin and Neville, who collectively make up the aforementioned Beefy Boys. Anthropomorphic hamburgers. Originally hired to build RAW’s ring, The Beefy Boys end up becoming one of the more popular attractions for Johnny Pecs’ wrestling league. It makes perfect sense when you consider that former British wrestler, Big Daddy, is pretty much England’s Rikidozan.
The series concludes with Georgy’s real mom, Crystal Jay, showing up. She’s supposed to be American, particularly from the south, and calls people “sugah,” like she’s Rogue from the X-Men. She says she’s there to reconnect with Georgy, but instead is riding the coattails of former-wrestler-turned-evangelist, The Prophet. Another British actor pretending to be an American southerner. The Prophet bounces from town to town believing he has the power to cure little girls of their deafness, and is oblivious to the fact that the whole thing is a sham and just as rigged as wrestling, thanks to Crystal. Georgy immediately takes a liking to him. Alan Enstone finds out about The Prophet’s evangelical tour and proposes the match of all matches, Britain’s best against the top retired wrestler from America. With all the proceeds going towards The Prophet’s missionary endeavors.
The match goes about as well as you would think it would involving non-wrestlers, in a sitcom during the mid 90’s. The Prophet’s selling is the most cartoonish thing, he makes The Rock’s Stone Cold Stunner bumping look like Bret Hart taking a turnbuckle to the chest. The Prophet ends up beating Enstone’s Lord Byron via cheating. Technically, there were no rules, but even though the referee might be cool with you slamming your opponent’s face into their own championship belt, is the Big Man upstairs going to be just as accepting? Also, for whatever reason, the Lord Mount Evan’s Tag Team Championship Belt was on the line.
Crystal collects the winnings and hightails it to the airport. The Prophet follows along as does the entire damn cast. The Pecs expose Crystal for being a fraud and The Prophet is like, whatever, I got a plane to catch and boards his plane. Georgy breaks Enstone’s heart and buys herself a one-way ticket to the United States. We never find out if she did it for The Prophet because she simply takes her seat on the plane and doesn’t bother looking for him to let him know she’s there. Unless she plans on stalking him. As the plane takes off and The Pecs are left penniless and daughter-less, Ma Pecs says something about there being a round two. And then the show ends.
The babyfaces never even got a chance to make their comeback. Unless, I was right all along and the Pecs weren’t the real protagonists. Then that would mean Alan Enstone was and he pretty much got the shaft as well. He lost his belt, money, and the girl he loved. So, after six half-assed episodes of one of the worst TV shows in general, not just about wrestling, we get a shitty cliffhanger and no hope for a satisfying payoff. It almost felt like watching an actual episode of Monday Night Raw.