“Who’s the Champ?, Miss Mon, Gopher’s Delusion”
Season 9, Episode 13
The Love Boat followed Captain Stubing and his crew aboard the MS Pacific Princess cruise ship and included a revolving cast of passengers played by different guest celebrities/actors. This particular episode featured
Chris Jericho Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘N’ Wrestling Rager at Sea.
What the World is Watching highlights a wrestling episode from a non-wrestling show and explores that particular episode’s use of the tropes most commonly associated with wrestling episodes. Does that make sense? You can watch this episode on Paramount Plus.
The Wrestling Episode
We open with Eddie Dumont interviewing Hulk Hogan for the All Wrestling Network. The Hulkster is recognized as the WWF Champion here, but is there to promote another territory’s wrestling match between “two skinny little wimps” he wouldn’t be caught dead in the ring with. Dude’s already burying the match two minutes in. The match in question? A grudge match filled with so much resentment it had to be held in international waters: Thomas “The Mangler” Sharkey vs. Lover Boy Bob. In the lead up to the match, Bob ends up hitting on Thomas’ sister, Linda, who happens to work on the ship. Bob has no idea who she is, but this doesn’t stop Linda from telling her brother. Thomas interrupts a dinner date between the two and warns Linda to stay away from Bob.
Despite the Lover Boy moniker, Bob feels like he’s being used by Linda to prove her independence to her brother. But true to the Lover Boy name, Bob ends up sleeping with her because we see them getting breakfast together the next morning and it’s enough to upset Thomas to the point that he wants to end Lover Boy’s career. The match eventually takes place in one of their ballrooms, instead of on deck, which negates the whole point of having a wrestling match on a cruise ship. The grudge match ends up being more of a technical exhibition which embarrasses the hell out of Hogan, who’s doing color commentary. Hogan decides to beat up both wrestlers and tosses them out of the ring. Instead of ruling this bout a draw or double DQ, the ref actually raises Hogan’s hand as if he’s won the match because Hogan must pose.
Does one of the show’s main characters have to wrestle?
No, in fact they’re this episode’s guest stars, Caitlyn Jenner (as Bruce Jenner) and former pro footballer/alternate universe Randy Orton, Tim Rossovich. The two of them barely resemble actual professional wrestlers. Especially, when you have actual giant Hulk Hogan guest starring in the same episode.
Are they filling in for another wrestler?
None of the actual recurring characters are involved in the wrestling, aside from Linda who’s Thomas’ sister. No idea what her regular role is on the cruise ship. Here, she’s kind of a shit-stirrer.
Did they enter a contest to wrestle for prize/money?
This is nothing more than a special attraction grudge match in which both wrestlers ended up getting manhandled by Hogan. I’m assuming they were paid seeing as they were “professional” wrestlers. As an added bonus, Lover Boy Bob did get to sleep with his opponent’s sister.
Is the wrestler an actual professional wrestler making a cameo appearance?
Yes, one of the most recognized wrestlers of all time and all around piece of shit, Hulk Hogan. He makes the type of cameo that only Hulk Hogan can make, one in which he’s doing very little actual wrestling and still coming out the winner. Not only literally, despite never being a part of the match, but also figuratively as he spends most of the episode running down The Mangler and Lover Boy, talking about how demeaning it is to be associated with the match. He comes off as a real bastard who’s more concerned about putting himself over at the expense of others. So I guess it wasn’t much of a stretch for him.
Is there a masked wrestler present?
No. You’d think a wrestler called The Mangler would have one too, but instead we get a dude in cheetah print. Lover Boy Bob (who should’ve been the one in cheetah print, given the name) does mention that he used to wear a mask but dropped it because he passed out while wearing it. Maybe this is why WWE’s original Sin Cara (CMLL’s original Mistico) kept botching. it was the lack of oxygen.
Is the wrestling predetermined or legitimate?
It’s as legitimate as it can get, especially when one guy is upset that his opponent is dating his sister. But as legitimate as it is with its headlocks and step over toe holds, Hogan is dismayed with the lack of preening or hulking up and decides to end the match himself because his integrity is at stake. Something he apparently still had back then.
Was an airplane spin performed?
No, but one very long double bear hug is applied. This is where the Hulkster probably came up with the finish for Halloween Havoc ’95. The “Hogie” sandwich, if you will.
- This is definitely where Chris Jericho got the idea for his Rock ‘N’ Wrestling Rager at Sea.
- The fictional All Wrestling Network cable channel is definitely where Vince McMahon got the idea to create his own WWE network.
- Hogan defends the use of illegal moves during this episode. Further proving that Hogan was always a heel and Jesse Ventura/Bobby Heenan were right about him all along.
- Lead announcer Eddie Dumont’s name is most likely a reference to the Dumont Television Network, which aired Wrestling from Marigold from September 17, 1949, until March 1955. Which made it the last network TV broadcast of wrestling in the U.S. until Saturday Night’s Main Event on NBC in 1985.
- The Patron Saint of Shark Jumping, Ted McGinley, is here to ensure the show’s imminent doom.