“Pinned to the Mat”
Season 1, Episode 9
Ever wondered what a Latino Hulk Hogan in cheetah print would look like? Well, wonder no more.
Saved by the Bell was the Saturday morning version of what high school was like in the late 80’s and early 90’s. It consisted of an unrealistic group of teenage friends who were so close, most of them convinced their parents to transfer them as a group from Indiana to a school in California. There was Zack Morris, the cool rich kid who had the ability to stop time and break the fourth wall; AC Slater, Zack’s frenemy and ethnically vague jock; Samuel “Screech” Powers, the resident nerd, dweeb, and geek; Kelly Kapowski, the All-American cheerleader with the heart of gold; Lisa Turtle, the materialistic and spoiled unrequited love interest of Screech; and Jessie Spano, the feminist/activist, overachieving, straight-A student.
In this episode, Zack, Kelly, Lisa, and Jessie, are all trying to figure out their future careers despite still being freshmen in high school. But Slater is too busy worrying about his big wrestling match against Marvin Nedick, one of those jock bastards from Valley. Valley kids were the absolute worst. Uncharacteristically of him (at least during the beginning of the series), Zack is rooting for Slater to beat Nedick. We later find out that, much like anything that involves Zack Morris caring about something, the outcome of the wrestling match will impact Zack in some way. This time, in the form of a brand new dirt bike. If Slater wins.
All this talk about the future slowly starts getting to Slater, and he eventually seeks out their principal, Mr. Belding’s advice. Because apparently the school couldn’t afford school counselors, or Mr. Belding had way too much time on his hands, or he was weirdly obsessed with that particular group of high school kids. How many times did you meet your high school principal? Or even talk to him? I met mine once, senior year. That was it.
During their talk, Mr. Belding tells Slater that before he settled on making a mockery out of school administration, he wanted to be a basketball player. He then jokes about imagining himself now, or even older, going around dribbling a basketball. Now, I’m not a big basketball fan, or a fan of any sport, but I’m pretty sure athletes don’t usually hang around playing sports until they’re in their 50’s. They usually retire or transition into other roles before they even get that old.
Given Mr. Belding’s love for sports entertainment, I’m surprised they didn’t make his story a wrestling one. The part about hanging around way past your prime would’ve made a lot more sense. Either way, this prompts Slater to have one of those Saved by the Bell fantasy sequences, complete with fading pink border around the screen.
It’s the distant future and some some kind of Bayside alumni reunion is taking place at The Max. Because Saved by the Bell only had two settings, the school or The Max. Max (the owner of The Max) hypes up the reunion and says there was never a class like theirs, because everyone was obsessed with this group of six kids, and no other students existed in their eyes except Zack, Slater, Screech, Kelly, Jessie, and Lisa. And it’s true. Nobody watched Saved by the Bell: The New Class. And that show went on for seven seasons. Two longer than the original.
Anyway, older Mr. Belding, now sporting a mustache and dressed like Orville Redenbacher, comes out and decides to introduce us to Bayside’s favorite class while handing them honorary diplomas for sticking with the actual career they decided on when they were 14 years old. Out first is Jessie who is a successful lawyer. Then, we get Lisa, a fashion designer whose name is on emblazoned on the ass of every pair of jeans she sells. Screech finally shows up in this episode and does so via Star Trek transporter as he is not a regular astronaut, but a space explorer who has been to Mars. Zack is then introduced as a game show host who’s now married to Kelly Kapowski, former model and now stay-at-home mom.
Nobody bothers to introduce Slater. He just bursts through the doors unannounced. He’s also the only one who has aged since graduating from high school. No longer sporting his curly mullet, he’s now some weird glam metal version of Hulk Hogan, with all cheetah everything attire, and a beer belly. And, even worse, he doesn’t even have a wrestling name. Although, to be fair, AC Slater already sounds like a pretty cool 80’s wrestling name.
The gang can’t believe it’s him. Lisa mentions that he’s lost 30 matches in a row and is over the hill. Like losses mean anything in wrestling. Look at Jinder Mahal. Dude became WWE Champion after being on a losing streak that rivaled Curt Hawkins’. The title with the actual WWE lineage still intact. Then again, this episode aired in 1989, when losses still mattered in pro wrestling. But it’s also supposed to be set in the future. But based on everyone else’s appearance that could be 10 years later, or judging by Slater’s appearance, 30 years later.
For whatever reason, not only has pro wrestling aged Slater, but he’s also the most of shape one out of all his friends. Granted, there’s always been room for your big overweight wrestlers in professional wrestling, that’s nothing new, but for a guy who was a jock in high school and most likely started his career in shape, wouldn’t you think he’d still be in good shape? Especially, since steroids were still a thing? Even for being in his 50’s (which I’m assuming he’s supposed to be), he’d probably still be in shape.
Just look at Bill Goldberg, the guy was the defending WWE Universal Champion at WrestleMania this year and did it at exactly 50 years old, and was in crazy shape. But I guess losing 30 matches in a row will take a toll on you until you slowly start looking like another jobber.
Slater decides to quit wrestling and focus on baking quiches instead. But it all works out in the end when he decides to show up to his wrestling match anyway, save Screech (his replacement) from an ass whooping, and easily defeat Nedick. Slater came to realize the obvious. That he’s just a kid and doesn’t need to worry about a career, yet. And, in the end, it worked out for him. Well, in real life it did, seeing as he’s the most successful of the bunch, and that’s considering he’s a host for Extra.