There is no question that both Hulk Hogan and the wrestling business itself are in a state of decline. Long gone are the glory days of Hulkamania, when I, along with countless other devoted children of the 80s, would have done just about anything Hulk Hogan asked me to. Sadly these days, when most people think of Hogan, they think of the tabloid stories that seem to constantly surround him and his family.
Add to that the fact that I despise most reality shows and you can see why I was hesitant to give Hulk Hogan’s Celebrity Championship Wrestling a try. However, my 80s nostalgia and my desire to see someone physically harm Screech convinced me to give this show One Shot …
Hulk Hogan’s Celebrity Championship Wrestling –
“Down to the Basics”
(CMT – Saturdays at 8 p.m.)
Since this is the first episode of the show, the opening segment is devoted to introducing everyone involved and going over the rules. The 10 celebrity contestants will be broken up into two teams and each week they will be taught three moves. Then each team puts together a wrestling match. The team that puts together the worst match gets one of their celebrities eliminated. Eventually, one celebrity will win the entire competition and will receive a CCW championship belt.
Here are the contestants:
- Danny Bonaduce – the crazy guy who used to be on The Partridge Family
- Todd Bridges – Willis Jackson from Different Strokes
- Butterbean – super-heavyweight boxer with 93 wins and 63 knockouts
- Trishelle Cannatella – useless reality show attention whore
- Dustin Diamond – Screech
- Erin Murphy – Tabitha from Bewitched
- Dennis Rodman – formerly relevant NBA player
- Frank Stallone – Sylvester Stallone’s brother
- Tiffany – 80s pop star
- Nikki Ziering – Playboy playmate formerly married to Steve Sanders
Hulk Hogan is one of three judges for the competition. The other two are “The Silver Fox” Eric Bischoff and “The Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart. The two trainers for the show are “Nasty Boy” Brian Knobbs and Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake. I don’t want to insult the two trainers, but let’s just say there was a reason these two never earned nicknames like “the excellence of execution” or “the man of 1,000 holds.” But considering that the main judge of this competition is a wrestler who has seen amazing success using only three moves (and no, “hulking up” does not count as a move), I guess I shouldn’t expect to see these celebrities breaking out any suicide planchas or 450 splashes anyway.
The immortal Hulk Hogan
Hogan talks to all of the contestants inside the ring. He tells them: “Before we get started, I want to make one thing perfectly clear – wrestling, when performed at it’s best, is an art form. It requires strength, skill, agility and intellect, but it also requires personality.”
Shortly after that, Hogan calls Trishelle out and wonders if she really wants to be there. She responds by saying, “Of course I want to be here. I’ll prove it to you.” I can’t be entirely certain, but I’m pretty sure she was offering to blow Hogan.
Danny Bonaduce then tells everyone that he is disappointed that the mat is red because he wants to be able to see the blood. Clearly, he is wasting no time breaking out the crazy. I know Brian picked Butterbean to win this competition when he previewed this show a few weeks ago, but my money is on Bonaduce. For whatever reason, he really wants to win this competition and he’s crazy enough to make it happen. I think either he wins it all or the show ends with him chasing around the winner like Jack Nicholson at the end of The Shinning.
I also feel it is worth mentioning that Screech is sporting Triple H’s facial hair (a.k.a. The Lemmy). I think a better choice would have been the classic Hogan mustache, but still, I respect the effort.
The celebrities are broken up into two teams. Bonaduce, Butterbean, Tiffany, Todd Bridges and Trishelle are Team Beefcake. Tabitha from Bewitched, Dennis Rodman, Frank Stallone, Screech and the former Mrs. Steve Sanders are Team Nasty (because of course Nikki Ziering and Dennis Rodman would be on Team Nasty).
The three moves the celebrities must learn this week are the kick to the midsection, forearm smash and clothesline. Technically, Dennis Rodman should have an advantage going into this competition since he actually did wrestle with WCW in the 90s, but I remember how terrible his matches were back then. Butterbean was also involved in a wrestling show – he knocked out Bart Gunn in a legitimate boxing match at Wrestlemania, which doesn’t really give him an edge in this competition, but it does give me an excuse to link to the video.
The trainers teach the moves to their teams. Knobbs accuses Screech of hitting someone “like a woman,” which earns an eye roll from Erin Murphy. Todd Bridges accidentally kicks a guy in the nuts while attempting a kick to the midsection. Murphy also says that Nikki Ziering is like an animal or small child who gets distracted by shiny objects. From what little they show of the actual training session, Beefcake seems to be the better trainer.
We then fast forward to the teams’ matches, which are being performed in front of a live audience. Our first match is:
Tiffany and Danny Bonaduce (with manager Todd Bridges) vs. Trishelle and Butterbean
For this match, Trishelle and Butterbean are the good guys (faces) and Tiffany and Bonaduce are the bad guys (heels). Butterbean and Bonaduce start the match (and Bonaduce already has the crazy eyes). Butterbean shoves him down to the canvas. Bonaduce responds with a cheapshot kick to the midsection. Then he hits the forearm smash and attempts a clothesline, but Butterbean doesn’t sell it. Butterbean clotheslines Bonaduce, walks over top of him and then tags out to Trishelle.
Trishelle slaps Bonaduce. He pulls back to punch her in the face, but then he reconsiders. She kicks him in the midsection and then rams his head into the turnbuckle. Bonaduce rallies back with a kick to the midsection and a forearm smash. Then he tags Tiffany.
Trishelle and Tiffany are alone now in the ring – there doesn’t seem to be anyone around. The beating of their hearts is the only sound. Tiffany chokes Trishelle, then gives her a stiff forearm smash. Trishelle attempts to ram Tiffany’s head into the turnbuckle, but they blow the spot. The two eventually hit a double clothesline and both of them end up on the mat.
Both women tag out and Butterbean rushes in and clotheslines Bonaduce three times in a row. He then sets Bonaduce up in the corner and charges at him, but Danny moves out of the way at the last minute. Bonaduce antagonizes the crowd, which allows Butterbean to recover and hit him with a bodyslam for the three count.
After the match: Butterbean and Trishelle celebrate with a Ric Flair strut. The heels rush the ring (including Bridges, who was a non-factor the entire match) and attack them. A brawl ensues and a “CCW” chant breaks out (I refuse to believe that the crowd actually started this chant – my guess is that they piped it in like they used to do with their “Gold-berg” chant in the glory days of WCW).
Both Butterbean and Bonaduce were really solid in their performances. I definitely think they will be the two to beat this season.
Erin Murphy and Rodman vs. Screech and Frank Stallone (with manager Nikki Ziering)
Murphy and Rodman are the faces for this match, Screech and Stallone are the heels. Screech and The Worm start things out. The two pose for a few seconds, then Screech charges Rodman, but ends up hitting the turnbuckle. Rodman kicks him in the midsection, which sends Screech to the mat. Then Rodman gives him a very stiff forearm to the back, which knocks Screech down again. Rodman follows it up with one of the worst clotheslines I’ve ever seen in my life.
Rodman tags in Murphy. Screech charges at her, but she drops to the mat and he runs over her and into Rodman’s forearm. Murphy hits Screech with a solid clothesline. He rams her head into the turnbuckle, then tags out to Stallone.
While the ref is distracted, Nikki Ziering attacks Murphy. Stallone puts her into an absolutely terrible looking headlock, then tags out to Screech. Screech attempts to charge Murphy in the corner, but she moves out of the way and he hits the turnbuckle. Murphy tags out to Rodman, who hits a series of clotheslines on Screech and Stallone. Then Rodman goes up to the second rope and hits Screech with a flying clothesline. The ref counts three and the match is over.
After the match: Rodman ripped off his shirt to reveal a nWo t-shirt underneath it. Hogan and Bischoff, also sporting nWo shirts, come down from the judges table with a can of black spray paint. They spray paint the nWo logo on Screech’s back while the fans boo and throw garbage into the ring. At the last minute, Sting is lowered from the rafters with his trademark basbeball bat and he makes the save for Screech.
… okay, I’m kidding. Absolutely nothing happened after the match, except more fake CCW chants.
Danny’s not here, Mrs. Torrance
The judges give their thoughts on the two matches. They all agree that Team Nasty had the better match this week (I’m unconvinced, but neither match was amazing, so really it was a coin toss). Then, they toy with the members of Team Beefcake a little while before eliminating one of them. Bischoff tells Trishelle that she looks good, but that doesn’t necessarily mean she deserves to be in this business (Vince McMahon would disagree), but then he tells her that she is safe this week.
Jimmy Hart babbles incoherently about Danny Bonaduce for a while before telling him that he’s safe this week. Clearly, Hart is trying to solidify his roles as the Paula Adbul of this group of judges.
Hogan tells Butterbean that the crowd loves him, but he needs to be more agile in the ring, since times have changed and you can no longer be like Hogan (a.k.a. you need to learn how to wrestle instead of making it on pure charisma). Butterbean is safe this week. Hogan tells Tiffany she needs to step up the physical aspect of her performance and he tells Todd Bridges that he needed to have more of a presence during the match, since he was easily forgettable. Ultimately, Hogan sends Tiffany home, after calling her a jabroni for some reason. Hogan then says, “What’cha gonna do when Celebrity Championship Wrestling runs wild on you?” and I die a little inside.
To close things out, Tiffany gives an exit interview where she pretends to care that she was eliminated from the show.
Final Thoughts: This is by no stretch of the imagination a great show, but being a lifelong wrestling fan, I was entertained enough to want to come back next week. The chances that someone cracks Screech’s head open with a steel chair or that Danny Bonaduce snaps and kills someone are far too great for me to not tune in.
Joel Murphy is the creator of HoboTrashcan, which is probably why he has his own column. He loves pugs, hates Jimmy Fallon and has an irrational fear of robots. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.