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Walker, Texas Ranger

Walker-Logo“Crusader”
Season 6, Episode 16
1/31/1998

I can’t believe it’s already been a year since Roddy Piper passed away. He was as big a personality in the world of entertainment as he was in wrestling. But for every They Live or It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia memorable part that Piper had a hand in, there were other lesser-known roles that he was just as entertaining in. Such is the case in this episode of Walker, Texas Ranger. RIP Hot Rod.

Roddy Piper is, for all intents and purposes, the Randy “The Ram” character from The Wrestler. By now, it’s the go-to storyline for most TV shows featuring a professional wrestler, but back in 1998 that wasn’t the case. There are a lot of parallels between this episode of Walker, Texas Ranger and the critically acclaimed Darren Aronofsky film. Piper plays Cody Conway, a wrestler who’s just been told by his doctor that he has an aneurysm that’s on the brink of rupturing if he wrestles again. Cody decides to keep this to himself, and keeps his family and close friend, Chuck Norris A.K.A. Walker, in the dark about it.

Seeing as I tracked down this episode through clips on YouTube, I was able to piece together that Cody’s ex-wife, Barbara, is involved in some shady shit and decides to drop off their son, Jake, at Cody’s house until things die down, I guess. Cody is like, “Yeah, sure, I’ll take him.” Then, he’s all, “Wait, no. This is a bad time.” Basically, they’re both terrible parents too involved in their own shit to care for their son. At least Cody admits it when Jake asks Cody why he deserted them, by telling Jake that he was selfish. Sadly, an all-too real realization that most divorced wrestlers with estranged kids come to.

Walker-1There’s one scene where Cody is just hanging out playing the bagpipes. This impresses Jake a bit too much. I get you and your dad are estranged, and you’re looking for some kind of way to connect, but It’s like, relax kid, he’s not shredding on some Fender Stratocaster. But it was a cool little nod to Roddy Piper’s real-life wrestling gimmick.

And speaking of wrestling, the mandatory douchebag promoter, who looks like he could be Guy Fieri’s grandpa, offers Cody big money for a pay-per-view rematch between him and The Warlock. How much exactly? Half a million dollars. Which is a hell of a lot more than what Randy “The Ram” got for his rematch against The Ayatollah on that ROH show. Seriously, that’s like Hulk Hogan circa 1998 WCW money. Cody doesn’t want to do it, but, like all wrestlers over 50, he’s broke so he agrees to it, as long as the check is written in Jake’s name.
I’m not sure if it’s the aneurysm, or some side effect from it, but Cody starts to act strangely while babysitting Jake. In one weird moment, Cody’s outside arguing with God, who shows up as sunlight seeping through the branches of a tree. Cody, as if for the first time, realizes that if he wrestles he’ll die. “What are you doing to me, man? It’ll rip his heart out!” He actually yells this at God. As if God forced Cody’s hand in agreeing to the match. He then reasons with God that it’ll be better if he distances himself, again, from Jake so that way when he dies it won’t affect Jake as much. Sound reasoning.
Walker-2Later, Jake comes in to talk to him and Cody goes off on him. Not even five minutes later, Cody does another 180 and feels bad about the whole thing. Problem is, when he goes to make up with Jake, Jake’s no longer in his room. Cody gets the cops involved, and of course Walker, who shows up with Barbara in tow. Perfect timing. She goes off on him about losing Jake, then, sure enough, they get a phone call regarding Jake. He’s already been kidnapped. Somehow they get Jake back. Whoever uploaded these clips apparently felt that wasn’t instrumental to the story.
Which works for me because I’ve already typed up way too much stuff and haven’t even gotten to the wrestling part, yet. Before the big match, Jake shows up in the dressing room so they can get their heart-to-heart out of the way. Cody tells him he loves him, and more or less gives him a farewell speech. Cody is also wearing one of the worst entrance jackets ever. He then heads out to the ring for the big rematch between The Warlock and Cody the Crusader, the most religious fictitious wrestling character this side of The Masked Saint. Maybe this was the episode that convinced the producers of The Masked Saint to cast Piper.
Walker-4The arena the match is being held in doesn’t even look like it could pull in $15,000 at the gate, at full capacity, unless each ticket was $100. I’m also pretty sure the pay-per-view buys barely got them to $100,000, let alone enough to guarantee half a million to The Crusader. It’d be a miracle if Cody walked away with a cool five grand.
This is your standard late-90’s wrestling match, featuring wrestlers that are a few years past their prime. But in all fairness, the match starts out with Cody doing a bit of chain wrestling, working a headlock, go behind, take down, into a head scissors. The way Roddy Piper never wrestled. So that was interesting to see. But then we get the Piper we’re used to seeing in the ring. We get a couple of punches and chops, followed by a back body drop. Sadly, no eye poke though. I guess it’s not the type of thing The Crusader would do.

Walker-5A sudden back elbow from The Warlock catches Cody right in the noggin. Suddenly, everything slows down. The rockin’ wrestling background music from before slows to something much more ominous, and we get close-up shots of Barbara, Jake, and Walker making concerned faces, as Cody repeatedly gets his face smashed into the turnbuckle. It’s like The Warlock knew of his aneurysm, or he was setting up Cody for his finisher, the piledriver, which is a pretty safe bet to assume was his actual finisher given the time frame, and that it’s the most devastating move usually performed on TV shows featuring pro wrestling. Cody’s dazed, but manages to duck a clothesline and bounce off the ropes with a cross body block onto Warlock for the win. Talk about #OuttaNowhere

Walker-6Both Cody and The Warlock continue selling well after the three count. You got to give props to Warlock for selling the hell out of a cross body block. You would’ve thought Cody had given him a piledriver on a table. It’s also kind of funny that Cody knocked himself out from a move that mostly affected his chest and knees, then again, he did take like, 50 turnbuckles to the head.

The next scene is of Cody laid up in a hospital bed, unconscious. While Barbara and Walker hold each other in attempts to console one another the only way two consenting adults experiencing grief know how, Jake’s “I love you’s” suddenly stir Cody back to life. Giving us a much happier ending than The Wrestler.
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