If you thought Abe Simpson was the only wrestling grandpa, guess again. Before Glamorous Godfrey took to the squared circle on our TV sets, Pretzel-Maker Pickles was contorting wrestlers into… human pretzels. At least, it’s assumed he did because of the name. Either that or being employed by Wetzel’s Pretzels was part of the gimmick.
If you grew up on NickToons in the 90’s, then you know all about Rugrats, one of the more popular cartoons on Nickelodeon. It’s about a bunch of babies, ranging from the Early Head Start ages of 0 – 3. Tommy Pickles is the main character and his parents always somehow end up having to watch everybody else’s baby at their home. These babies include Tommy’s best friend, Chuckie, and twins, Phil and Lil. And then there’s Tommy’s little brother, Dil, who was born way after I stopped watching.
The toddlers are introduced to wrestling the way most people are, through an older family member. The episode opens with Grandpa Lou reacting the same way most old people react to watching wrestling on their TV, by yelling. We see a few typical wrestling characters, including the mandatory bumble bee wrestler. I still don’t know how this became a popular archetype of fictional TV wrestlers. While playing with their superhero action figures, and seeing Grandpa Lou mark out for Captain Biff, the kids make the obvious connection between the heroes and the wrestlers. You know, the one WWE has forever ignored, but Lucha Underground has fully embraced.
Grandpa then explains to the kids how he used to be the wrestling “champeen” back in the day, around the time Tommy’s dad, Stu, was born. And he just happens to have a match scheduled for that same night on the same show he’s currently watching on TV. Must be one of those terrible three hour wrestling programs. Grandpa adds that he’s wrestling his archrival, Conan “The Crusher” McNulty, for the Senior’s Division Title, which very well could be the WCW World Title given the year this episode aired (1999). Zing!
Tommy’s mom and the twins’ mom decide to saddle Grandpa with the kids, because they have plans and he’s old and nobody cares about what he has going on. Grandpa does what any old sane person would do and takes all five babies with him. He then pawns off the children on two old ring rats who may or may not be stunt grannies. There’s a bunch of younger wrestlers still going at it inside the ring, but backstage there’s even more old-timers waiting to go on and close the show. This really is like WCW circa 1999.
Grandpa corners McNulty in the locker room and cuts a promo on him while transforming into Pretzel-Maker Pickles. The kids think he’s a superhero, even though McNulty is the one clearly dressed as an 8-year-old pretending to be one. Once the match starts, for whatever reason, Pretzel-Maker prances around like Tiger Davis. They then lock up, then release each other, they lock up again, then let go once more, this goes on a few more times as Dil keeps ringing the bell with his rattle, confusing the poor old men even more than they probably already are. By now, the two old ladies are so transfixed by the match that they’ve completely forgotten about the kids.
Pretzel-Maker has a hard time holding onto McNulty, who keeps slipping away. While this goes on, the kids make their way to ringside looking for ways to help out old Grandpa Lou. McNulty busts a taunt that the announcer dubs as the Reverse Rooster Strut and it looks exactly like what the announcer called it.McNulty follows that up with a tickle attack on Pretzel-Maker and takes the match in another direction. He doesn’t just tickle with his fingers either, he utilizes foreign objects, like a feather. The man clearly knows what he’s doing. People start littering the ring with their trash and rightfully so. Once again, WCW circa 1999.
The kids think the food will help Pretzel-Maker regain his strength, but when they realize all it’s doing is making a mockery of something he once held dearly to, they decide to take to the ring and help him out. As they climb inside the ring, the announcer, having never seen babies before, proclaims them to be tiny wrestlers. Tommy and Lil put a bucket of popcorn over McNulty’s head, and they start attacking him, like a pack of demon spawn. Apparently, this is a no-disqualification match because the referee is allowing all this to happen. Terry Funk has nothing on these hardcore geriatric wrestlers. Pretzel-Maker, fearing for the well-being of the children (not sure why), decides to call it quits and put an end to the elderly abuse.
The referee then awards the match to McNulty, something he should’ve done as soon as it turned into a 5-on-1 handicap match. McNulty’s celebration is cut short when a giant-ass can of motor oil falls from his shorts. No idea where that thing was tucked away because those shorts were not that baggy. The referee reverses his decision and declares Pretzel-Maker Pickles the winner of the match and the new Senior’s Division Champion. The babies celebrate and swear to keep Grandpa Lou’s alter wrestling ego a secret, despite not being able to actually talk to adults. Dumb babies.