What the World is Watching

Baywatch

Baywatch-Logo“Bash at the Beach”
Season 6, Episode 15
2/19/1996

Some people stand in the darkness. Afraid to step into the light. Some people need to help somebody, when the edge of surrender’s in sight. When it comes crashing down and it hurts inside, you gotta take a stand it don’t help to hide. I am a real American. Forever and always, I’m always here.

Just as I was able to seamlessly mash up “Real American” and “I’m Always Here”, so were the producers of Baywatch who brought together two of the most popular, half naked, blondes of the 90’s.

The episode starts off with The Hulkster and his forever frenemy, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, jet skiing through the waters of California. This is something Hogan probably did on the regular in real life, but with Brutus Beefcake in place of the Macho Man. Hogan takes a nasty spill while getting pervy on a female fellow jet skier, and somehow gets his jet ski to land on top of him. the Baywatch beauties bring him back to life and in no time he’s back to hitting on the females again. Hogan hitting on women has always been cringe inducing for me. And this is before the sex tape came out. Even 8-year-old me got uncomfortable watching Hogan hitting on Joan Severance in No Holds Barred. Hogan the sex symbol was clearly not one of the defining traits of that Hulkamania character.

Baywatch-HoganMachoLifeguardsAfter somehow blaming his accident on the Macho Man, Hogan and Savage decide to stick around the beach. The next day while working out at Venice’s Muscle Beach, Hogan finds out that the owner is about to lose the gym/boys club/community center to some wealthy developers. I’m pretty sure it was in Hogan’s contract that any TV show cameo appearance had to involve him saving some kind of recreation center. This could’ve totally been its own TV show spin-off. In every episode just have Hulk Hogan wrestling away property deeds for orphanages and senior rec centers from wealthy heartless developers. I only wish WWE had continued the trend of placing their top babyface on random TV shows where they would have to wrestle to save some local community center. You blew it, Parks and Recreation. You had John Cena cameo on an episode of the Johnny Karate Show when he could’ve easily defeated Gryzzl for the land to develop a national park.

 Anyway, the best part of all this is the reveal that the wealthy land developer is Ric Flair. Which is the role he was meant to play. Real life financial failures aside, Ric Flair is the only wrestler who could pull off this character to perfection. Well, with the exception of “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase. Oh, and probably Mr. McMahon. Other than those two, Flair was born to play that role. It gets even better when his business partners happen to be Big Van Vader and Kevin Sullivan. The fucking Dungeon of Doom-leading Taskmaster is in a damn suit. Complete with his painted-on evil eyebrows.
Baywatch-FlairSullivanVaderOf course, there’s also a scene in which Hulk Hogan saves a child from drowning. Not only is he saving the gym, but he’s also doing the lifeguards’ job. Hogan puts the chemically-enhanced 24-inch pythons to use by lifting a gigantic rock that the kid is trapped under. Then lets Pamela Anderson’s C.J. Parker do the rest. Where was the Macho Man in all of this, you might ask? Exactly. There was only so much screen time to go around, brother. Savage is lucky his match even made it onto the show. The Macho Man does make it onto the training montage, but only the working out part. He mysteriously isn’t around when The Hulkster is running with his little Hulkmaniacs on the beach.
Hogan-SavesKidLuckily for Hogan and Savage, the big event to save the boys club coincides with WCW’s Bash at the Beach pay-per-view. Even though no mention of the boys club was made on WCW programming at the time. Instead, the fate of the rec center was overshadowed by the WCW World Title being on the line. Also, the match between Savage and Flair is booked as a lumberjack “lifeguard” match. Yet, instead of Mitch or Logan surrounding the ring, we got Max Muscle and Dave Sullivan. I mean, the pay-per-view took place on the actual Baywatch beach. How is Mitch fucking Buchannon not going to be involved in the outcome of any of the matches?

Baywatch-MachoInterviewThe overdubbing of the entire audio of the pay-per-view was great. Hogan’s trash talking in the ring is the most 90’s, cheesy-ass, Hulk Hogan thing ever. My only gripe is that Hogan didn’t call Vader, “Big stinky Vader.” Randy Savage was even able to work in his catchphrases during his match against Flair. I don’t remember how these matches ended on the actual pay-per-view, but the pinfalls were never shown on this episode. They just cut to Hogan and Macho raising their hands. Hulk Hogan and Macho Man definitely won, according to Wikipedia, but I guess the way they won probably didn’t tie in with the Baywatch narrative. It was weird seeing the match finish when Hogan hit a big boot on Vader after having performed the leg drop four moves earlier. Either way, the youth center/boys club/gym was saved!

Baywatch-HoganWinsDeedLeave it to Baywatch to have the wrestling storyline be the A-story of this episode, while Stephanie Holden was being diagnosed with skin cancer in the B-story. It has to be the weirdest juxtaposition of storylines I’ve ever encountered on a TV show. And I watch a lot of TV. The show shifts back and forth from ridiculous-ass 1995 era WCW wrestling feuds to one of the main characters dealing with being diagnosed with cancer. I’m glad I didn’t watch this episode when it originally aired. I don’t think 13 year old me would’ve been able to process all of this.

Overall, it was still a pretty cool episode. Too bad WCW didn’t stick around long enough to do a Sons of Anarchy/Hog Wild crossover episode.

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