What the World is Watching

Tales from the Darkside

“Basher Malone”
Season 4, Episode 20
7/24/1998

Here’s an episode originally featured on my TV Wrestling Episodes Perfect for Halloween 10 Count! So continue reading to find out about one of the most obvious and literal depictions of good vs. evil in wrestling that’s ever been made for television.

This episode starts with Hulk Hogan lite, Basher Malone, in the ring taking on another in a line of dreaded foes, Lockjaw. Basher’s mom, Ma Malone, the original momager, is at ringside, with a table of milk and cookies, with no explanation given. She’s just there, like it’s some bake sale, without the fundraising. Must be nice to have the kind of money where you can just give away milk and homemade cookies. Lockjaw gets Basher in some half-assed camel clutch, where he’s pretty much just sitting on his back and pulling up on his head. Basher’s arms aren’t even locked in. As typical convention dictates, whenever wrestling is on a scripted TV series, or movie, the announcer’s bound to call the wrong holds. Here, the announcer expertly refers to the half-assed camel clutch as a “reverse chin lock.” At least here it kind of makes more sense than calling it a camel clutch.

Because the cheers of his Basher-Maniacs aren’t enough for him to Hulk Up (Basher Up?), Ma Malone hands Basher a chocolate chip cookie, which he eats and magically hulks up out of the reverse chin lock. She then calls out to him to give Lockjaw a “hip lock”, which is a term that’s never been used to describe any hold in professional wrestling, and Basher responds by giving Lockjaw a hip toss. Tippy Ryan, the Bobby Heenan to Basher’s Hulk Hogan, slips Lockjaw some brass knuckles, which he promptly puts to use on Basher. Instead of disqualifying Lockjaw, the ref tries to wrestle away the brass knux, but Lockjaw just sends him flying. All this cheating, for some reason, starts to rile up the crowd, causing heel fans to shove and push babyface fans.

Before an all-out wrestling audience brawl can break out, like in that one X-Files episode, Basher gains the upper hand once more and busts out his finisher, the Basher Gram. A finishing move that’s definitely of its time, as it’s nothing more than an atomic drop. Lockjaw falls to the mat and the ref instantly declares Basher the winner by raising his hand. No idea if this match was a “first to hit his finisher wins” match, or if the ref had already decided to disqualify Lockjaw for putting his hands on him and was just waiting for the right moment to declare Basher the winner. Nevertheless, Basher continuously jumps around in the ring, arms raised for what seems like an eternity, despite the lack of an announcer declaring his win.

A defeated Lockjaw is carried away by the rest of Tippy’s injured crew. Tippy then gets a phone call at ringside because that’s the kind of thing that happens in pro wrestling. It’s his boss from the Fire and Brimstone League. Where Kane apparently first cut his teeth as a pro wrestler. Tippy tells his boss he can’t beat Basher unless he gets one of the top guns from the FBL. As this conversation continues in the background, Basher is cutting his post-match promo, which includes his own three commandments:
– Brush your teeth after every meal.
– Do your homework.
– And listen to your mom when she — That bastard Tippy cuts him off right at very end of the final and most important commandment. Listen to your mom when she what, Basher? What?!?! Impressionable young children need to know, and I say this because the term “impressionable young children” is tossed around this episode, like every 5 minutes. They’re a very important demographic to 80’s professional wrestling.

Tippy challenges Basher to another match, later on at midnight, at Tippy’s gym. No refs, no audience, NO HOLDS BARRED! So, basically a try-out at the WWE Performance Center. Basher shows up to Tippy’s gym, with Ma Malone in tow, and Tippy is chilling at his desk basically explaining how before Basher showed up, he would have his bad guy wrestlers influence young kids, then let his client take over from there. You know, selling the kids’ souls to the devil and leading them to a life of crime. Being the morality play that is pro wrestling, this particular episode is one hell of an 80’s Public Service Announcement. “Basher Malone” would’ve been a great companion piece to the Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue anti-drug PSA. Tippy then introduces Basher’s opponent in one of the best uses of  product of placement I’ve ever seen. Tippy unlocks a nearby Pepsi vending machine that doubles as a portal to/from hell (Pepsi Hell Portal?). Ursula, an evil Miss Elizabeth, or more accurately a clone of Woman (RIP) circa her time managing Kevin Sullivan in the 80’s, appears, then Trog, the masked muscle man that Malone has to fight. Sadly, Trog looks less like Kane or The Undertaker, and more like a non-licensed video game’s version of a generic masked wrestler.

Ursula has this weird laser gun that helps keep Trog warm and, we later find out, increase his weight. Tippy brings them into the ring and decides to do introductions like they’re in front of an audience. It’s a 2/3 falls, in which Tippy will close up shop and send his fighters away if Basher wins, but if Trog wins, Basher must retire forever and Trog takes the title, and according to Tippy, automatically becomes the idol of millions of impressionable children. Which I’m assuming is the exact same way Vince McMahon’s mind works when he decides to push guys like Roman Reigns.

Ursula suckers Basher in with a handshake for good luck and Trog takes the early lead. At one point, Trog sends Basher into the ropes which produces that “boing” sound effect that’s more commonplace in cartoons, or some raunchy teen comedy, than in an actual wrestling match. Especially, one involving some demon wrestler. Basher mounts a comeback and slaps on a full nelson, while Tippy and Mama Basher both take turns uttering random phrases like, “My Basher is a good boy.” Tippy then hits the laser gun to move up Trog’s weight to 900 pound. Mind you, this doesn’t physically make Trog turn into Haystacks Calhoun, the digital numbers on Trog’s weight belt simply shoot up. The extra weight lets him power out of the full nelson, and he puts Basher in an Argentinean back breaker, then drops him like a rag doll. Ursula makes the three count ’cause there’s no ref, negating the fact that there should even be a count in these type of unsanctioned matches, but whatever, Trog takes the first round.

In between the next round, Basher complains that he can’t win without his Basher Gram, like it’s something he’s lost, but really he just doesn’t have the strength to lift a 900 pound man-demon for an atomic drop. I called Basher Hogan light for a reason. He’s not the roided-out monster that Hogan was in his prime. Someone should’ve told Basher that Ma’s chocolate chip cookies was not an ideal dietary supplement for making gains, or whatever the weightlifting community calls getting jacked nowadays. Ursula beams up Trog with some more rays right before the start of the second fall. Trog puts Basher in a bearhug, but Basher fights out of it, and tries to get his shine back, but Trog trounces him once more. Trog heads to the ropes, but for whatever reason he starts acting like he’s having a heart attack, but really he’s cooling down because he’s used to the warm temperature of hell, and it causes his weight to drop rapidly. You’d think someone who was in the middle of the second fall of their wrestling match would be working up a sweat, not cooling down. Ma Malone splashes some ice cold lemonade to help get Trog down to cruiserweight level, and smashes some brownies into Ursula’s ray gun, which apparently renders it useless. Basher throws the now-lighter Trog off the second rope and pins him to gain the second fall.

Ursula decides to bring Trog’s body temperature up by making out with him, because demons from hell still get horny, I guess. 80’s softcore porn music hits… and it keeps going as Basher and Trog start the third fall. And if you’re wondering if the music was “unintentionally” playing over what could be construed as a pretty homoerotic wrestling move, then wonder no more, as Basher attempted the bearest of hugs on Trog. Trog escapes and manages to get Basher trapped in the second and top rope, like he’s Andre the Giant. Ma Malone then heads into the ring with another pitcher, only this time it’s milk. She throws it right at Ursula and instantly melts her face off and electrocutes it too, until she’s nothing else but a pile of seductive clothing. I guess if any liquid can destroy evil, it’s going to be the one that does a body good. Trog reacts by making “argh” noises and goes back to work on Basher.

Trog sends Basher flying with a hip toss that almost puts away Basher for good, but Trog lifts Basher’s head up at the two-count. Typical wrestling heel mistake. He bodyslams him, then scales the ropes again. Meanwhile, Tippy’s had enough of Ma Malone and pulls her towards the Pepsi Hell Portal. Basher is literally crying out for his mom at this point, telling her he needs her, as if Ma Malone isn’t dealing with her own damn problems. Trog tries to take Basher down, but he starts to drop in weight again, which also forces him to start wailing in a high-pitched voice. Basher once again capitalizes on this and send him into the ropes, punches him in the gut, then gives Trog the Basher Gram atomic drop. Instead of making the pin, he does the honorable thing and goes to rescue his mom. Basher grabs Tippy by the collar, vowing to send him to hell. As this is happening, Trog scales the top rope, because he obviously hasn’t learned his lesson, and attempts to intervene via a flying nothing. Basher throws Tippy’s cigar on the ground, to which Ma Malone scolds him for littering. Jesus, lady, your son just saved your life. Cut him some slack. Just as Basher bends over to pick up the cigar, Trog comes flying off the rope and… lands on his feet, pauses, grabs a hold of Tippy, then for whatever reason, continues moving forward towards the Pepsi Hell Portal, despite having no momentum forcing him to. And just like that, Trog and Tippy find themselves floating back to hell, where Pepsi’s ad with Kendall Jenner no doubt found itself, years later.

Basher pops the door of the Pepsi vending machine and grabs a soda. He then invites Ma Malone out to dinner as they leave hand-in-hand. Too bad this didn’t lead to Tippy having one of his other demon wrestlers challenge Basher to a Ma Malone on a pole match. Fun-ish fact: the guy who played Basher Malone, Stephen Cepello, wrestled for a while as Steve Strong, winning the NWA Hawaii Tag Team Titles with Jesse Ventura. Want an even funner fact? He stopped wrestling to focus on his art career, which led to him painting former partner, and at the time, Governor of Minnesota, Jesse Ventura, in a portrait that’s actually displayed in the Minnesota State Capital building. Funny how life comes full circle, kind of.

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