Scooby-Doo! WrestleMania Mystery

Scooby-Doo! WrestleMania Mystery (2014)

Doo not miss this Scooby/WWE mashup

Scooby-Doo! WrestleMania Mystery

Vince McMahon and the employees of his World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) enterprise have faced a great many challenges over the years. There have been steroid trials, a high death toll amongst performers and competition from other sports entertainment companies. One thing Mr. McMahon has not had to deal with was a blood thirsty ghost bear. Thanks to the newly released direct-to-home video flick Scooby- Doo! WrestleMania Mystery however, McMahon can now say that he has faced and overcome all possible challenges.

Scooby and his owner/best pal Shaggy are enjoying a night of hijinx, playing the latest video game offering from the WWE. After vanquishing a foe, they move onto the bonus level, where the game format inexplicably changes from wrestling, to a Dance Dance Revolution-style rhythm challenge. When Scooby achieves a perfect score, he is greeted with a video message from WWE head honcho Mr. McMahon, informing him that he has won a trip to WrestleMania, which is taking place in WWE City.

WWE City? Yes, in the world of Scooby Doo, WWE is not a traveling show, but its own city, complete with not only an arena, but training facilities, and all you can eat buffet restaurants. If Vatican City can exist, then why not a WWE City. The residents of both cities have their own J.C. which is central to their existence. The WWE’s version is their top star, and one of the heroes of this story, John Cena.

Scooby and Shaggy are eager to travel to WWE City, but their friends need a little arm-twisting, and not the kind that the WWE superstars like to do. Fred agrees so he can snap some photos with his fancy new camera. Velma decides to go so she can compare the WWE to ancient gladiatorial society. Daphne is adamant that she will not go, but changes her tune after taking a gander at the aforementioned John Cena.

So Scooby and pals go to WWE City, enjoy WrestleMania, and everything goes off without a hitch, right? Wrong! You see, WWE City is being terrorized by a ghost bear. Long ago, it was not uncommon for wrestlers to have matches with bears. No, this is not a wacky idea dreamed up for the purposes of this animated film. This actually used to happen. The site that would eventually become WWE City was once host to a match between a masked Mexican wrestler name Sin Cara Grande, who overcame the odds, and defeated the bear. Now after all these years, the bear is back – this time in ghost form, to seek vengeance.

Mr. McMahon is very worried about the bear. Not because he is concerned about the welfare of his fellow WWE City residents, but because he is afraid that something will happen to the extremely valuable WWE championship belt. So, after hearing of the legendary exploits of Scooby and pals, he hires them to be protectors of the belt. But Scooby and Shaggy find themselves in deep Doo Doo when the belt goes missing, and all signs point to Scooby being the culprit.

Justice is not dealt out in a courtroom in WWE City, but rather in the wrestling ring. Scooby and Shaggy must earn their freedom by competing against the WWE’s scariest performer, the nearly seven-foot-tall Kane. In the immortal words of Scooby, “Ruh-roh!”

Along with the voice work of Scooby regulars such as the Matthew Lillard, Mindy Cohn and the legendary Frank Welker, a host of WWE superstars are along for the ride, including John Cena, Kane, Triple H, AJ Lee, Sin Cara and The Miz.

Scooby Doo has had some incredible encounters over the years with stars such as Sonny & Cher, Don Knotts and KISS. Nothing has come close however to the magic created when Scooby first set his four feet onto WWE soil. Scooby-Doo! WrestleMania Mystery is a delight from start to finish. I Scooby-Dooby-Doo recommend that you download your digital copy from Amazon or iTunes, and then also purchase a physical DVD as well. It is important to have a backup, as watching Scooby over the years has taught me that people are always stealing things, and there might not be some meddling kids to prevent them from nabbing your copy of this excellent film.

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Body Slam

Body Slam (1987)

Wham, bam, thank you, Body Slam

The Tonga Kid and Roddy Piper

It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I most certainly do not feel fine.

Every four years, the world gathers to witness the majesty of the summer Olympic Games. But the world’s biggest stage will never be the same after it was announced that starting in 2020, in all likelihood, wrestling will no longer be an Olympic event.

That’s right, wrestling, one of the oldest sports known to man will not be a part of future Olympic games. However, they will still award equestrian medals – presumably to horses, since they are doing all the work. No fretting, Popeye, as sailing will still be included. As will synchronized swimming. Not to mention the other 30 or so variations of swimming which are included in the event. Who cares how you are getting from one end to the other, as long as you do it? How much hardware does Michael Phelps need?

Olympic wrestling had provided some incredible moments, like the time in 1976 when France’s Andre The Giant tossed Japan’s Mr. Fuji completely off the wrestling mats and into the third row of spectators en route to capturing the gold medal, while his mother Stella The Giant looked on in tears. I’ll never forget the 1984 Olympics when U.S.A. representative Hulk Hogan (accompanied by Ronald Reagan and Sylvester Stallone) single-handedly ended the Cold War with his victory over the Russian Bear. No, that was not a nickname. Russia’s wrestling team that year was captained by a grizzly bear.

Sadly, many have forgotten these moments. If you do a quick Google search, you’ll be hard pressed to find any recollections of these events – hell, you might even find contradictory information.

Thankfully, wrestling will always live on through film. Legendary films such as Nacho Libre and No Holds Barred should be viewed by the International Olympic Committee before any rash decisions are made. As should the film I’ll be taking a look at this week – Body Slam.

Dirk Benedict (The A-Team, Battlestar Galactica) portrays M. Harry Smilac, a music promoter who has seen better days. He has one floundering act, and is up to his ears in debt. However, in a case of art imitating life, the worlds of rock ’n’ roll and wrestling unite to raise Smilac’s career out of the doldrums.

In a case of mistaken identity, Smilac signs Quick Rick Roberts (“Rowdy” Roddy Piper) and Tonga Tom (Sam Fatu, a.k.a. The Tonga Kid), thinking they are musicians. The only beautiful music these two are making is inside the wrestling ring, where they are top contenders to the prestigious tag team championship.

Once he realizes his mistake, Smilac decides to stick to his guns, because music simply wasn’t paying the bills. But Smilac is not exactly welcomed into the wrestling business with open arms. Legendary professional wrestling manager Captain Lou Albano takes on the challenging role of legendary professional wrestling manager Captain Lou Murano. Captain Lou is a despicable character whose Cannibals team puts Smilac and his tandem on the shelf.

Now injured and basically blackballed from the major leagues by Murano, Smilac decides to take his wrestling duo on the road with his only musical act. The Rock ’n’ Wrestling connection is a huge success, leading to a winners-take-all battle between the forces of good and evil.

Body Slam is a beautifully acted and tremendously written look at what the stars of sports entertainment really go through. It is everything the 2008 film The Wrestler should have been. Wrestling icons Bruno Sammartino and Ric Flair make cameos. As does renowned comedian Charles Nelson Reilly, and Billy Barty, the greatest under 4-foot tall actor who ever lived (sorry, Tom Cruise). For the second time in his career, Dirk Benedict was a member of an A-Team as part of this stellar cast. Body Slam will have you pinned down on your sofa for its entire 89 minute duration.

Recoil

Recoil (2011)

Stone Cold battles Machete in dream matchup

Recoil

Has there ever been two actors who you really wanted to see make a film together, like Robert De Niro and Al Pacino, Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp, or Ron Jeremy and Jenna Jameson? I bet when they finally did work together, it just resulted in a mess… quite literally, in the case of Jeremy and Jameson.

Well, two performers that I have wanted to see work together, Steve Austin and Danny Trejo, team up in the recently released on home video film Recoil. I am happy to say they did not disappoint.

Ryan Varrett (Austin) is a former police officer who becomes a vigilante after his family is gunned down at his son’s birthday party. If you thought that year when your parents hired a clown for your birthday bash was bad, consider yourself lucky. Varett’s mission brings him to a little town called Hope, which, despite the pleasant sounding name, is not a nice place to inhabit. Police officers are assaulted, arson runs rampant, and there is little to no regard for personal property.

Varrett takes up residence in a hotel operated by Darcy (Serinda Swan), a woman whose husband was murdered by a local gang of bikers who run the town. Darcy and the rest of the town folk have been living in fear of the gang and specifically their leader Drayke (Trejo), and have avoided rocking the boat. Varrett, however, has a mission: take out the members of the gang responsible for his family’s demise, and anyone who stands in his way. This results in plenty of action, particularly in the final showdown between Varrett and Drayke, who toss the guns aside and exchange good old fashioned fisticuffs.

Steve Austin is, of course, best known for his exploits in the WWE, but he is carving out quite a career for himself. While he was featured in the big budget 2010 film The Expendables, he has mostly been starring in modest budget action films such as Damage, Hunt To Kill and The Stranger. Austin has stated time and time again that he is starting out from square one in his new profession, and he is eager to learn and improve – and that he has, each time out. Recoil is his finest work to date. If he keeps working at it, he could soon be beating up the likes of George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Christopher Plummer.

While Austin was known as the toughest S.O.B. during his wrestling career, Danny Trejo could likely contest that claim. He is a former boxing champion… a prison boxing champion. Trejo spent 11 years in the can before changing his ways and going on to star in approximately 820,000 films and TV shows over the past three decades. Seriously, think of a film or show, and he was in it: Baywatch, Modern Family, Young and the Restless, Spy Kids, Heat, From Dusk Till Dawn, I could go on and on. I think he even played a brontosaurus in Jurassic Park. If I attempted to print off his list of credits on IMDB, I’d be responsible for killing a dozen trees.

Trejo is best known for his work as the title character in Machete, one of the most enjoyable films of the past decade. Trejo is just as badass in Recoil as he was in Machete, though this time you’ll find yourself rooting against him… at least I hope you will, since he’s a murderous drug dealer.

There are no complicated plot twists in Recoil – it is simply about a man, and really a whole town, who have had their world turned upside down, so they decide to get revenge on those responsible. In this case, revenge is a dish best served Stone Cold.

Bounty Hunters

Bounty Hunters (2011)

This bounty hunter is no Dog

Bounty Hunters

Former WWE diva Trish Stratus makes her feature film debut in Bounty Hunters, a film that gives the Toronto beauty another opportunity to kick some booty.

Following in the glorious lineage of bounty hunters such as Dog and Boba Fett comes the trio of Jules (Stratus), Ridley (Frank J. Zupancic) and Chase (Boomer Phillips of Video On Trial). The bail enforcers are having a typical day… well, as typical as your day can be when your job is to track down criminals who have jumped bail and are none too eager to turn themselves in.

The bail enforcers are thrown for a loop when they are offered $1 million to turn over their latest pickup, a mob informant, back to the mob. That’s 10 times what they will receive if they turn him over to the cops. They must decide if they can live with themselves if they go the easy route for the big money, basically turning a man over to meet his demise.

Stratus does a great job in her first starring role. The looks, athleticism and personality that Stratus exhibited in the squared circle are on full display. There have been many wrestlers who have tried to transition to film – for every Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson who has succeeded, there are dozens who have failed. If Stratus decides that she wants to focus on a career in the film industry, her work in Bounty Hunters leads me to believe she could do quite well for herself.

My biggest complaint with the film would be the fact that Stratus disappears from the film entirely for at least a 20-minute chunk in the middle. Much in the vein of Stratus’ former profession pro wrestling, an injury angle is used to take her out of the story for this period. The fact is most people will be watching this film to see Stratus. She is the one gracing the cover, she is the most well-known star; put simply, she is the draw. For her to be missing for almost a third of the film’s 75-minute running time was a bit perplexing.

That being said, Bounty Hunters is an enjoyable action film that fans of Stratus will get a kick out of. The combat scenes are very well done, and it’s clear Stratus had a hand in the choreography, even executing her old Stratusfaction finishing manoeuvre. Bounty Hunters is now available on home video. The DVD also features an interview with Stratus, plus a cool behind-the-scenes look at Stratus’ big fight scene with Andrea James Lui, where Stratus is wearing a schoolgirl costume. It’s like Bruce Lee versus Chuck Norris in Way of the Dragon, only more arousing.

See No Evil

See No Evil (2006)

Kane in See No Evil

In the Spring of 2006, the first WWE Films production was released, this one starring the nearly 7-foot tall Kane.

In See No Evil, a group of teenage delinquents are forced to renovate a dilapidated hotel in order to have their juvenile detention centre sentence decreased. The place is full of mold, roaches, mice and, worst of all, a gigantic man wielding a chain with a hook at the end of it. Jacob Goodnight (Kane) is not just looking to murder them, he also wants to remove their eyes. The film was originally going to be titled Eye Scream Man, but unfortunately that idea was scrapped. As far as I can tell, the fact that they did not go with that title is the film’s only flaw.

With all due respect to great horror protagonists of the past – Dracula, Freddy Krueger, Jason Vorhees, Chucky – there has never been an intimidating presence quite like Jacob Goodnight. Without uttering a single word, Kane delivers the performance of a lifetime. So good, in fact, that six years later he still hasn’t had a follow up role. I guess he’s quitting while he’s on top.

The Marine

The Marine (2006)

John Cena, explosions star in The Marine
John Cena, and plenty of explosions, star in this tale of a recently discharged marine who must get right back into the thick of things after his wife Kate (Kelly Carlson of Nip/Tuck) is kidnapped by diamond thieves.

The heroic John Triton (John Cena) survives one death-defying situation after another in his efforts to snag his wife back from the bad guys, led by Robert Patrick (best known as the T-1000 in Terminator 2: Judgment Day).

Patrick’s role was originally intended for Al Pacino, while Cena’s role was originally intended for “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. I’m sure Austin would have been fine, but the producers really dodged a bullet when Pacino declined the role. Cena, a beloved and skilled professional wrestler, proves to be just as capable of a leading man, and would have acted circles around Pacino, making old Michael Corleone look foolish.

The Marine crosses many genres. It is a war film. It is a romance. It is also a straight-up action film. One can certainly make the argument that it is the finest film to be released in any of those genres. And I am that one.