Tooncrap #17 - All-Star Rock and Wrestling Saturday Spectacular

The ultimate Show-Shilling Experience
CBS: 1985

Written by: Raymond Gallant

You know what I miss? Besides my own childhood innocence and The Disney Afternoon, I miss when Saturday Mornings mattered. The time when every kid would wake up and enjoy 5 hours of cartoons. Yeah, nowadays we have supposed "cartoon networks", and the proliferation of the internet has made watching what you want when you want far easier than in 1985, but dammit, the feeling that these precious hours mattered is a long gone piece of growing up.

And nothing made this more prevalent than when a new Fall season of cartoons was coming up. And of course, that meant one thing: Cheesy as hell Saturday Morning Specials. So instead of a new induction focused on animation this month, we're going to pay tribute to that lost art of Saturday promotion by looking at perhaps one of the more insanely cheesy, but ultimately awesome Saturday morning preview specials ever.

1985 was the year that Wrestling transcended into mainstream popularity with the success of the very first Wrestlemania. Thanks to the Rock 'N Wrestling Connection, and the popularity of MTV, soon names like Hulk Hogan and Roddy Piper were household names. The WWF had conquered television, but were far from done trying to innovate. And in 1985, CBS and the WWF would give us "Hulk Hogan's Rock 'N' Wrestling". A cartoon that, while awesome for its time, aged about as well as Moolah's haunted cave.

So with the cartoon being one of the several shows debuting in the Fall of '85, CBS would go all out for their fall preview special, and it may just be one of the greatest hunks of cheese of all time. It's a fine example of something being crap, but just a treat to watch. Let's see just how true these words are as we review this thing.

You know shit's going down when this pops up

We open the special outside of a studio to a crowd chanting for Hervé Villechaize, or, for those who know him as Tattoo... Tattoo. It seems that this Fall special was originally going to be hosted by Hervé, but it has been hijacked by, you guessed it...

Frank Stallone.

No, it was the nefarious Rowdy Roddy Piper, who was originally a guest for the special alongside other 80's time capsule acts like New Edition, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Pee Wee Herman, and of course, Hulk Hogan. And because apparently CBS studios has the worst security in the world, no one stopped Piper from kicking Hervé out, and taking over the special. Also, apparently Roddy Piper was mistaken for Ted Turner before bringing in his own set and just running roughshod.

Hervé arrives, and is more beloved than the Pope of Chili Town. He is of course not too happy that Roddy crashed his party. In fact, Hervé even attacks the reporter in a rage. Hervé is not going to take this lying down, and swears to get his show back.

So, in essence, I'm watching a special where Tattoo from Fantasy Island is out to kill Roddy Piper? You know, after all the crap I've watched, be it Madballs, or Dunce Bucket, or Bubsy, I need some fun schlock, and this looks like it's going to be pure smelly heaven.

And we finally begin with the special, complete with GARY FREAKIN' OWENS as Roddy's Ed McMahon. Gary tells us the lineup for the special, as Roddy is there to keep him from mentioning Hervé. Also featured will be the Roddy Piper dancers, as well as previews for Berenstain Bears, Wuzzles, Muppet Babies and Monsters, and of course the main course being Hulk Hogan's Rock 'N Wrestling.

And we finally get our host Mr. Piper, looking as dapper as a man in a kilt can get. You know, this almost feels like they were trying to sow the seeds of a legit Piper talk show. Hell, he even starts with a monologue that is mostly name dropping his guests. As good a talker as Piper is, it feels more like he's rambling than either doing a monologue or a heelish promo. He also makes mention that he's in the Goonies, and asks to roll a clip...

but gets the "Ren and Stimpy: Season Premiere" response.

However, we do get the clip for the "Goonies R Good Enough" music video, that honestly is still fun to watch, if only for all the cameos from WWF stars of the mid 80's.

It's time for the guests to finally roll in, with the first being Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Not much to this interview other than "gosh you're tall Kareem" and Kareem having no clue who Roddy Piper is besides being "that guy who cheats all the time". This feels extremely awkward an interview, and it's all to show a clip to the Berenstain Bears cartoon of the mid 80's.

I remember this cartoon only vaguely, but I did read the books as a kid, so I am familiar with the Berenstain Bears. If I recall it wasn't a bad cartoon, but nothing truly amazing either. So, more than likely it won't be fodder for Tooncrap. After the clip is over, I guess that's it for Kareem, who is done with his interview. Piper bashes Kareem...

To which Kareem answers back by beaning Piper with a basketball. That's real cute Jabbar, but just be thankful Piper wasn't holding a coconut.

Back to Hervé, who is still quite pissed about having his show stolen. He bangs on several doors trying to find anyone who can help him out. I think it's wise for people to avoid him. Tattoo is out for blood.

It's time for the best part of the show... What's that say? "Talk to the audience"? Oh god, this is always death. And that case is well in point here as we learn that Roddy Piper actually does have some fans. A whole two of them, and they hit the ultra combo of not just being over-the-top Jewish stereotypes, but also appear to be as flaming as Chicago in 1871.

It's time for our next guest... kinda. I guess Hogan had better things to do than spend time on a Saturday Morning Special featuring a show with his name on the title, but we do get some great semi-coked up Hogan shillery for "Hulk Hogan's Rock 'N Wrestling", much to the chagrin of Piper.

I've talked previously about Hulk Hogan's Rock 'N' Wrestling, and my opinion still stands. The animation is dull, and the stereotypes, even for wrestling, feels way over the top. Again, what made the show worth watching was the live action segments featuring Gene Okerlund and the many WWF superstars of the mid-eighties. So those are still fun to watch.

Naked Lou Albano and All.

Piper is none too pleased by the Hulkster's insults to both him and his fan club, and wrecks the footage in a kilted rage.

But never mind that shit, it's time for a New Edition performance. I could make some really witty Bobby Brown joke here, but I'll hold my tongue since all the good ones have been excavated already. Meanwhile, Hervé is still ready to snap some necks.

Turns out Hot Rod isn't the most gracious host, as not only does New Edition not have enough chairs for the 5 of them, but he feels that rather than giving them fine accommodations, or even really talk about their music other than, of course, why there's no bagpipes in their band, he'll just drink and eat in front of them instead, and pulls a Johnny Cage example of friendship by giving them all pictures of himself, which they rip up. Some show of gratitude. So, what was this whole thing for? To show a clip of the Wuzzles.

You know, that one 80's Disney cartoon everyone seems to forget? The one where all the animals have mixed up DNA, presumably from all the sex? It's kind of like Spliced...

Except I don't want to kill something after watching it.

And if things couldn't get any more bat shit, we suddenly have Roddy Piper and a thankfully clothed Captain Lou Albano performing a scene from King Lear. Because you know, that Shakespeare was every 80's kid's biggest hero. It's actually pretty funny for overly awkward comedy. But if you think Piper and Albano doing Shakespeare was absurd enough, make way bitches...

Here comes Pee Wee!

While the play comes to a close, Hervé may have the solution as to who can help him regain his show. And before you think we're gonna see Hulk Hogan and Hervé Villechaize rough shit up, I'll let you down easily, for it is not the Hulkster.

It's time to interview Pee Wee Herman, which is less interviews, and more getting under Piper's skins with Pee Wee's infamous insults. This eventually culminates in Pee Wee and Piper doing a sock puppet interview. Though, Piper should be concerned where Pee Wee's feet have been to put on them socks. At least this puppetry shtick actually ties in with the cartoon clip for Muppets, Babies, and Monsters.

Yeah, I'm guessing most recall the Muppet Babies, since it was a beloved 80's cartoon. However, in the 2nd season of the show, Jim Henson gave us Little Muppet Monsters, which was a live action show. They put both shows in an hour block known as Jim Henson's Muppets, Babies, and Monsters. However, it turned out that nobody really cared much for the monsters portion of the show, and it was cancelled after only three episodes. So, if you thought that everything Henson touched was gold, then you are sadly mistaken.

Next up, Roddy brings out Captain Lou to finally clear the air of all their heat with one another. And if you think this is all a set up...

You'd be right. I'd normally give you a prize, but seeing Captain Lou flail on the ground is prize enough for anyone. This is also time used to shill Dungeons and Dragons, Land of the Lost, and the Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show, which were three shows that returned in the fall of 1985.

Next up is a performance by Patti LaBelle. It's for the most part a pretty decent little performance, but the selling point comes in big time...

When Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Pee Wee Herman, and Roddy Piper join in to dance. I have seen many a thing with these old eyes, but I think this tops em all. While this is going down, Herve is at a payphone, but thankfully not signing Maroon 5. He's got someone coming to help him even the odds against Piper.

Patti is being interviewed by Piper, and it's mostly the same as the New Edition interview with more chairs, and no food. Though the whole "use more bagpipes" inquiry is brought up once more. Patti's shillery is for CBS Storybreak. You know, I have very little recollection of Storybreak, so I can't really comment on it if it was good or bad.

It's time for the main event of the show, as Piper's issues with Cyndi Lauper are still ongoing. He claims to have invited her to the show, but she declined. So Piper found Faye Flamboyant, the winner of the Cyndi Lauper Lookalike contest, who is here to give Roddy his much needed butt kissing.

But before Piper can rant and rave at the audience some more, Cyndi Lauper and Hervé arrive to take the show back. Cyndi apologizes the the crowd and the guests for being a part of this debacle, and there's a new special being taped in the other studio. I'm sure it would be fun to see, but of course the home audience is not invited. The audience that their cue, and leave with Cyndi and Hervé.

With the exception of Roddy's fan club of course, as the special comes to an end.

And that's the All-Star Rock 'N' Wrestling Saturday Spectacular. It's for the most part a pretty dumb special. The guests had no real connections to the cartoons being promoted, it felt really awkward in places, both intentional and not, and while Roddy was entertaining, it's clear why he didn't quit his day job in the ring.

But for how crap it is on paper, it is still a fun watch. The entire arc with Hervé Villechaize was entertaining, the awkwardness warrants plenty of laughs, and while Piper makes Pat Sajak come off as a better talk show host, he's still as entertaining as always. In the end, this is worth a watch, especially if you are a fan of 80's cheese. It's the kind of crap that doesn't anger you, but you know isn't some masterpiece of television. It's just a shame not all crap can be this great.