Feature 33 – Death Racers (2008)

or “The Faygo 500”

Featuring: Violent “Big Money Hustlas” J , Shaggy “Big Money Rustlas” 2 Dope , Scott “Sleeper” Levy

Director: Roy “Demons at the Door” Knyrim

Writers: Andrew “A Halloween Puppy” Helm , Patrick “Demons at the Door” Tantalo , Roy “Matthew Blackheart: Monster Smasher” Knyrim

Origin: USA


Part of

“That’s the problem with Cali, man: can’t nobody drive.”

When Ragnarok proposed the idea of a Rip-Offs Roundtable, the only word that filled my brain was “ASYLUM”. It was printed in the biggest fucking typeface you could imagine, to the point that it was just a massive wall of Vantablack letters absorbing any and all mental light around it, thus snuffing out all other possibilities. I didn’t want to review another Asylum defecation. For one, it just feels too “easy” to use for the theme of purloined property, since EVERYTHING they stamp their name on is a rip-off. For another, I’ve already reviewed THREE Asylum movies this year and it’s only July, for the love of Antoine Q. Fuck! They’re like farmed tuna: the FDA suggests not having too many servings in too short a period of time for risk of Mercury poisoning. They’re like car exhaust: you’re better without it, a little of it won’t kill you, but too much and you turn into China – eating cigarette butts for sustenance and giving birth to six-eyed Lovecraftian lung horrors. Speaking of which, that makes me think of digging out The Abomination for a viewing. And that is the true definition of how shit awful Asylum productions are: just considering the possibility of watching one sets off a mental safety default in your brain telling you to watch The Abomination! Hell, here it is if you’d rather spare yourself the rest of the review!

So here we are. Death Racers. I came across this speed bump in the autobahn of my self-preservation some months past while researching the list of “bordering on plagiarism so as to confuse ignorant DVD consumers” titles/hate crimes the Asylum’s amassed since its inception. By simply adding “rs”, they somehow managed to Gymkata dodge any legal action by Universal and the creators of Death Race, which itself was just a “re-imagining” of Roger Corman’s Death Race 2000. In other words, today’s roundtable trial by fire (the flames of which are just lit meth farts from a ring of drunken Juggalos) isn’t just a rip-off: it’s a rip-off of a remake of a Roger Corman movie starring the Insane Clown Posse and a professional wrestler who once went by the moniker of Johnny Polo.

To quote a character from the movie, “When, in a million fucking rim job years, was that thought to be a good idea?!”.

Now, the involvement of ICP isn’t an automatic garbage indicator for me. They don’t overload my Detectron (MST3K: The Incredible Melting Man” joke). I’d rather fill my ear holes with flesh eating Star Trek parasites (“KAHHHHHHHN!”) than listen to any of their music. I’d like to slap them in the face with a grade school science textbook for not knowing how fucking magnets work. But when it comes to their own cinematic side projects, I find them entertaining. Starting with their StrangleMania wrestling tapes in the ’90s and up through their stupid joke movies Big Money Hustlas/Rustlas, if they’d just drop their “nails on chalkboard” horror-rap, or whatever the fuck you wanna call it, I’d have little problem with them! But those are their own productions. For the next 90 minutes, they’re in an Asylum movie. My penis is in love with ’80s Barbara Crampton, but if she was submerged for an hour and a half in a pool full of piss culled from the men’s room troth in the No Holds Barred redneck bar, Lil’ Anubis would turn into Quentin Tarantino’s dick in Planet Terror. Her touch would be like getting a blowjob from the Arc of the Covenant. And I don’t even like ICP, let alone have Crampton love for ’em.

I had to swallow a hand towel before typing that piss pool scenario just to roadblock the column of vomit that I knew would be born from imagining it. Review…saved? Fuck biscuits. I just used my last wish on the monkey’s paw for immortality and get a life sentence in an Arizona prison.

From the opening narration, things literally dosn’t add up. The movie tells us that “3 years from now” (which would’ve been 2011 based on the 2008 release year), a big ol’ war breaks out. Not the usual global conflict between nations, but a war in the US between social and/or fiscal classes. The president declares martial law to bring an end to the chaos and designates a chunk of the western US to serve as a mass penal (huh huh) colony known as The Red Zone (Cuba?), which becomes active in 2033. I can deal with the ambiguity of the “3 years from now” opening. As far back as Mad Max (at least from my own decaying memories), dystopic cinema has made use of the “some imprecise point years from the time you’re watching this” pretense to keep the movie from being badly dated. Many sci-fi movies from the black & white days of low low budgets made bold claims of daily commuter rocket ships to the moon and personal jet packs by the year 1999 that just left most people laughing and others crushingly disappointed on their death beds because b-movies from the ’50s gave them impossible dreams. What cuts massive holes in your “unclear future setting” safety net is when you date a specific event in the same opening narrative as taking place in 2033! Even worse is when you later have a character drop, during a moment of dialogue, the year 2017 being the beginning of said massive conflict! Hey Sisyphus, let’s try rolling this mathelogical boulder up that hill with the 80 degree incline!

Ironically enough, watching this movie in 2014 would make the whole 2017 class war chronology line up perfectly. What botches my brain functions is that this class war supposedly went on for SIXTEEN YEARS before the president declared martial law. Given that martial law wasn’t declared until much later, that would mean that FOUR presidential elections would have taken place amidst the anarchy, since a president can’t stay in office past their term limit unless a state of martial law is indeed in effect. Weird how any president would allow a civil war to take place in the US for such a long period of time without enacting military intervention, or how the opposing factions wouldn’t just overthrow the government altogether in that period of time. Even if we ignore all of that timeline retardation, I’ve got another one for you that we’ll cover a little later. This tangent’s already gone on long enough and I don’t wanna risk losing everybody’s interest before I get to complain about the other few hundred jellyfish stingers, broken glass bottles, and discarded hypodermic needles awaiting us during this walk on the beach.

Let’s take a tour of the vacation hot spot of 2033 vagrant population: the Red Zone. It’s home to a million or so convicted criminals, bloodthirsty maniacs, and the kind of people who would listen fondly to the ICP soundtrack the rest of us are saddled with for the next hour and a half. Being the “stars” of this feature, did you really expect your ears not to be insulted/assaulted by the duo for the extent of your “viewing pleasure”? Your naivete is cute, but it won’t spare you the barbs of reality. Amidst the booming (often literally) population of ne’er-do-wells, the most nefarious is Dinsdale Piranha. At least he was, until Spiny Norman came through looking for him. Dinsdale hasn’t been heard from since. In his place, a super terrorist known only as “The Reaper” (Scott Levy, a.k.a. Raven, a.k.a. Johnny Polo) has ascended the Iron Throne of this evil kingdom. Feared by all in the RZ (though entirely unknown by some residents, as we’ll learn later), Reaps has learned that whoever mapped out the prison completely ignored that there’s a water treatment plant inside that had access to a water shelf through which he can poison the entire country’s H2O supply! Good thing he doesn’t have mass quantities of poisonous chemicals with which to do such a thing…oh, he has a vast and inexplicable supply of Sarin with which to achieve his goal? Well, shit. The government probably should’ve made sure there weren’t barrels and barrels of lethal Sarin in the area too, especially not within such close range to A FUCKING WATER TREATMENT PLANT. Oh government! What are you gonna do, huh? Am I right?! *Blart*

When California governor Reagan Black learns of Reaper’s evil scheme, the best option he can come up with is to hold a Savage Run! No, wait, Savage Runs carry the negative social stigmas of being brutal and barbaric. Instead, he announces the carnival of carnage as “Death Race”! Actually, I’m sorry. In keeping with the movie’s theme, every instance of the term “death race” for the remainder of this episode (with the exception of referring to the title itself) will have to be stated in all caps and accompanied by no less than three exclamation points, like so – DEATH RACE!!! That’s better. The rules of this DEATH RACE!!! are as follows: four groups of two (driver and navigator) are tasked with going to the water treatment plant and dealing with Reaper. If they “deal” with him in the permanent sense, the team will be rewarded 200 points. If he’s “dealt with” in the “bring him back alive” sense, they’ll score a whopping 400 points! But, between the starting line and their target stand hundreds of Reaper’s ravenous Red Zone reprobates. For each of them that these duos deadifies, they’ll rack up 10 points. The team with the most points at the end of the DEATH RACE!!! wins…can you guess? That’s right, their freedom. I see you’ve watched at least one of the 700 other similarly themed “fight for your freedom” movies made in the 80+ years since The Most Dangerous Game. Good for you. You’ll find an extra cookie in your Oreo pie tonight.

To prevent the competitors from killing each other before Reaper can be reaped, there are no points for offing the other teams. But, at the same time, there’s no penalty for doing so, so why not just kill each other anyway? Oh yeah, the explosive planted in each of their necks might be a good motivation to play nice. Indeed, just like contestants in EVERY murder game movie, they’ve been Plisskened. Or rather, Plissken’d. Well played, Governor Black…though there’s never an explanation as to HOW these explosives end up in our racers’ neck meat, of course! Then again, the devil’s in the details and this is obviously a wholesome Christian made movie full of family values and praise for (y)our Lord, and thus there is no room for such infernal information. I CAST THEE OUT, SPECIFICS! Speaking of casts, let’s meet ours:

  • Danny Satanico (Koco Limbevski) and Fred the Hammer (Jason Ellefson) – members of the infamous Mexican cartel SHG (Severed Head Gang… cuz they drive around with a fake severed head impaled on the front of their car… cuz they’re scary.). Stereotypical southern Cali latino street thugs played by goofy white guys. Danny ends up domeless when he’s used as Black’s example for what happens when you don’t play by the rules. Fred spends the movie trying to hook up with a lesbian, killing guys with a big scythe that he keeps in his trunk, drinking a fat guy’s piss and then getting beaten to death by the lesbian’s girlfriend.
  • Colonel Bob Casonetti (Paolo Carascon) and Rudy Jackson (Rick Benedetto) – team Homeland Security. They get “blown up” with an IED (not to be confused by an IUD) planted by Reaper’s goons shortly into the DEATH RACE!!!, but come back later to reveal that they’ve been working for Black all along. Which really only serves as a poorly managed story twist, considering ALL of the teams are technically working for Black, thus making the whole “faked death” bullshit more useless than a human appendix. Both are blown up in the finale showdown (along with everybody else for 50 miles around them), but for reals this time.
  • Queen B (Therese Corcoran) and Double Dee Destruction (Jennifer Keith) – team Vaginamyte!… the exclamation point being part of the team’s name and not meant to denote any actual excitement from yours truly. The name is meant as either an allusion to their explosive lady parts or a callback to Jimmie Walker’s “Dyno-mite!” catchphrase from “Good Times” (or maybe both), but all it makes me think of is a food paste from the makers of Vegemite aimed at horny cannibals. Being the only women in the DEATH RACE!!!, they’re exactly what you’d expect from these writers – lesbian man-eaters who shake their t&a to distract horny men before castrating them with a machete. I call this a “Eunuch’s Surprise” or the “Lagash Handshake”. Depends on the region, really. B gets shot in the back by Fred (before he dies from the merciless beating she lays on him), while Dee gets a hatchet in her neck, only to pop up right before the end credits, sole survivor of the massive explosion.
  • Violent J (himself) and Shaggy 2 Dope (himself) – the Insane Clown Posse as…the Insane Clown Posse. Playing themselves, for once, rather than just playing with themselves. Which brings up that other baffle-math problem I eluded to prior. Being 2033, ICP would have to be in their 60s at this point…riiiiiiight. The biggest problem with playing YOURSELVES in a movie set in the FAR FUTURE. Oy. Anyway, 2 and J are billed as “the Charles Mansons of their time” and have been sent to the RZ for their shitty music and for being the cult-like leaders of the global bastion of debauchery known as the Juggalos. Especially poignant today, since the duo just recently told a Court of Law that their Juggers aren’t a gang despite the FBI labeling them as such. No, they’re a family…like the Mansons. I would like to see the FBI classify Parrotheads and Beliebers as gangs now too though. It’s only fair, and being a fan of Jimmy Buffet or Justin Bieber should be considered a crime. Punishable by death, if I had any say. Anyway, despite being the protagonists of the shebang, both boys end up bleedin’ demised by the end credits roll, heads popped like pimples pumped full of Red Bull by those neck bombs THAT ARE NEVER EXPLAINED.
  • I ruined everything during the team intros to save time, as I’ll be rapping the entirety of the movie’s remainder in the following two paragraphs. Before you ponder, yes, there is a LOT of pink slime filler in this ground beef, boys and girls. And probably more than the Health Department’s acceptable levels of carcinogens and rat/insect feces. We’re going to be diving headfirst into the Shatlantic Ocean (or the Poocific depending on which coastest you’re closest) from the moment the race starts, so just bite the pillow and accept it and it’ll be over before you know it.

    All scenes of “racing” consist of slowly driven cars in sped up footage killing seemingly dozens of extras who run directly in the path of/throw themselves again said crawling automobiles, despite driving barely within range of said extras. These nameless goons wear bandanas bandit style so as to hide their faces in the hopes that you won’t realize they’re re-killed again and again throughout later scenes. An Asylum method that would be unironically recycled years later for the waves of nameless thug fodder murderized in Android Cop. Computer generated rockets and cheap muzzle fire animations lead to Karo Syrup gore splatter. You basically get more realistic scenes of automotive brutality in a round of Mario Kart than you’ll take away from this smorgasbord of so-damn-bad that we’re served here. When they’re not puttering along behind the wheel at 6mph, our combatants leave their cars to engage in extensive scenes of hand-to-(severed)hand and gun-to-head combat with more of the same masked goons. You’d think they wouldn’t want to leave their cars considering it’s a race and they need to get to Reaper by sundown (forgot to mention that part), but as I warned, we’re talking a LOT of time killing in this movie. Someone call the fuzz, cuz’s it’s a full-on chronocide up in here. Wee-woo. Wee-woo.

    And, here’s how the last hour of the movie goes – extras get run over; everybody drives; everybody stops to kill the extras again; everybody fixes their cars; everybody drives; love triangle; more killing of extras; the mystery of Governor Black having “insides guys” is introduced; still more driving; “Hey! Let’s go check out that giant circus tent full of (three) whores that wanna castrate us!”; fight Reaper’s killer rape cyborg (we’ll call him RoboCock); back to driving; finally catch up to Reaper and…does it really matter? Spoiler: nope. I pretty much told you everything before. Everybody dies, the west coast is engulfed in flames, the motherfuckin’ END.

    It somehow took THREE people to write that…and they already ripped off the entire premise from another movie!

    And now, on to the gripes. There’s a lot of ’em people, so you might want to go grab a cup of coffee and a slice of pie before we get started. Hit the bathroom too. I don’t want anybody getting up in the middle of this thing and interrupting me. Ready? Good.

    Okay, let’s start with the eyeball burning visual “music video effects” bullshit. Holy creeping terror does this shit get old after the first time we have to watch the movie “rewind” then play the same moment sped up! This is the fucking garbage that a fifteen year-old puts on YouTube when they downloads a pirated copy of Movie Maker for the first time! Crap like this is why MTV doesn’t show music videos anymore! In the sage-like words of the bard Kim Pines, if these shit tier visual “tricks” had a face, I would punch it. Not just punch it, I would punch THROUGH it, with the fist of an angry god. I would punch it so hard that every fragment of solid matter above their neck would simply become a red mist raining upon their shoulders like a crimson version of those dandruff snowstorms you see in the Head & Shoulders commercials. And the Red Zone? For a wasteland of remorseless psychos with no regard for property, much of the place seems to be rather well kept and even peaceful! Honestly, it looks not unlike a small, quiet neighborhood that would be very cheap to film a movie in… The rest of the RZ is just horribly put together images of digitally matte painted industrial shitholes with poorly crafted pixel flames randomly placed to “heighten” the illusion. BLART AGAIN!

    Speaking of poorly crafted, Reaper makes for a not great villain. He’s pretty damn one-dimensional, mainly because he’s not really given anything to do but bully and threaten his hench-nerd with varying degrees of bodily harm and death, while simultaneously diminishing the guy’s timetable on getting the whole “poison the water basin” scheme complete. I’d like to blame the writers for Reaper’s faults, but at least half of the problem comes from Levy, who just reinforces the old Tinseltown stereotype of “wrestlers can’t act and actors can’t cut wrestling promos”. Roddy Piper, Jesse Ventura and The Rock notwithstanding. Also, the DVD cover heralds Scott Levy as “WWE’s Raven”, even though Levy had had NOTHING TO DO WITH WWE SINCE 2003! Actually no, that’s not true. At the time Death Racers was made, he was involved with World Wrestling Entertainment…IN A LAWSUIT! Yep, Levy and several other ex-WWE performers were suing their former employer for medical bills and other shit they figured they deserved. In case you were wondering (and I doubt you were), the case was dropped due to some statute of limitations issue. Plus, one of the other wrestlers killed himself. Wrestle In Peace, Kris Canyon. Anway, the Asylum’s entire business model is movies that rip-off the titles of big budget movies in the hopes of getting sales based on name confusion alone, so I think I would’ve been more shocked if they hadn’t name dropped the world’s biggest wrestling company right across the top of their box art. Knobs.

    Before we move on from the characters, everybody else is just kinda “kill and get killed” throwaway casting, so they’re no big deal. I DO have a Faygo Jazzin’ Blues Berry 3 Liter sized problem with ICP as characters though. They’re supposed to be fighting for their freedom, but they know NOTHING about the Red Zone! They don’t know that people don’t get to see movies there, they don’t know anything about where they’re going, and despite being a terrifying tyrant who’s supposed to rule the entire Zone and all of its captives, ICP have NO idea who Reaper is! And I’m supposed to believe these two are trying to escape a place that they’ve seemingly never spent any time in?! If I weren’t down to my last keyboard, I’d be smashing my head into mine right now. FUUUUUUUCK!

    The movie’s a tribulation of aggravations to be sure. And, as one of the announcers says, it goes “from zero to suck-my-dick in 4.1 seconds”. However, Death Racers is a few curly short hairs shy of being suffocation by a mouthful of pubes. It’s saved from the eternal damnation of Ammut’s digestive tract by the following –

  • Racers embraces the original Death Race 2000 structure of a rally style “Point A to Point B” competition with the “kill random civilians for points” format included. Thus, in actuality, this is a more faithful remake of the original movie than Universal’s Jason Statham vehicle (pun intended). Makes sense that I’ve seen it listed under the title Death Race 3000 in some foreign promotional materials.
  • Watching a white guy (Jason Ellefson) pretending to be a Mexican stereotype is strangely hilarious, especially when he says something so blindly stupid as “Are there any taco trucks around here?”. I generally hate dumb shit like that, but Hel, even a dollar store hotdog looks edible when it’s the only other option at a buffet that otherwise serves only week old haggis.
  • Everything, no matter what it may be, is always better when followed up with a guy shouting “DEATH RACE!”. After the Pledge of Allegiance? “DEATH RACE!”. Post-coitus declaration? “DEATH RACE!”. Swearing in at your best friend’s murder trial? “DEATH RACE!”. Make it so, mofos.
  • And that’s pretty much it. These three small things don’t excuse the movie from still being terrible in every calculable way, but I didn’t get food poisoning symptoms while watching (not fun, I don’t recommend ’em), so it could’ve been worse. Any accident you can walk away from, right? I mean, sure, it’s the kind of accident where all of the flesh on my arms was torn off…and my face was rearranged… and all of my ribs were broken…and I punctured a kidney…and my genitals are completely unrecognizable…but…at least I’m walking away, right?

    If your taste for purloined features has not been sated, belly up to the bar and down a few more helpings of things that aren’t good for you! Check our fellow contributors for this roundtable of regrets:

    3B Theater: Micro-Brew ReviewsCyberjack
    Checkpoint TelstarBattle Beyond the Stars
    Cinematic ApocalypseInseminoid
    The Terrible Claw ReviewsCarnosaur 2

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, my teleprompter has gone dead…“DEATH RACE!” *blip*

    Moral of the Story: Sometimes life licks across your anus with a sandpaper tongue. Good news for all you weirdos out there who have ever put peanut butter on your butthole and had your cat lick it off, I suppose.


    Most kids walk in on their parents having sex and run away in horror. Then there are kids like this, who run to grab the camcorder. I think I just became impotent thinking about that one.

    This is why I don’t trust machines with my health. If I have a heart attack, keep your damn defibrillators away from me!

    They say that he who smelt it dealt it, but he who grins like an idiot had broccoli and black coffee for breakfast.

    I see somebody’s trying to bring back “Two Girls, One Cup” reaction videos.

    I see there was at least one Hot Topic inside the Red Zone when the walls were put up.

    He thinks his tats mean something prolific and deep, but they actually say “Eat at the Wanton Won Ton – Daily Lunch Specials! Mention this tattoo and get 10% off your next eat-in order!”.

    “Damn it! I can’t get ‘Hip to Be Square’ out of my head!”

    “Ahhhhhh! That’s better!”

    That’s where the part of my brain that burned with white hot rage every time I saw Jay Leno used to be before I had it removed. Sure, I lost 20% of my memories. Sure, Jay Leno’s finally off of TV (for now). I still stand by my decision, though.

    I don’t know. He looks pretty white to me.

    “I’ve got that urine sample you asked for, doc. Tell me the truth – how much blood in my urine is too much blood?”

    [insert penis innuendo here]

    “You ever wonder about how things work, sometimes? Like fucking magnets. How do they…”

    “We live in total squalor and you’re still wasting my money to dye your god damn hair?!”

    *whisper* “Keep buying this eye shadow though. I really like it. It smells like apples.” *whisper*

    Hipster farmer insists on reaping his own wheat for his whole grain organic artisanal ‘o’ shaped breakfast cereal.

    How every boy sees their mother after their circumcision.

    She just happens to have a Pagliacci fetish and in Detroit, he’s the best she can do.

    Before the creation of batteries, vibrating strap-ons had to be gas powered monsters like that. Given the user fatality rates, they were rarely worth the effort.

    “Before you ask, I don’t know how all of those Japanese fart fetish sites ended up in my browser history. Would just please get rid of all the viruses and pop-up windows? I’m watching an eBay auction for a Cheeto that looks like Larry Hagman that ends at 9!”

    Most people have the “devil & angel” personifications of morality that materialize on their shoulders. She just has two militants in white pants who tell her to shoot everyone.


    Anubis will return next time in
    “Viva Spook Vegas”

    Enjoy the review? Hate the review? Have a movie you’d like to see judged in The Tomb? Fill out the feedback form! Never has it been easier to make contact with a deitic being!

    All materials found within this review are the intellectual properties and opinions of the original writer. The Tomb of Anubis claims no responsibility for the views expressed in this review, but we do lay a copyright claim on it beeyotch, so don’t steal from this shit or we’ll have to go all Farmer Vincent on your silly asses. © October 1st 2013 and beyond, not to be reproduced in any way without the express written consent of the reviewer and The Tomb of Anubis, or pain of a physical and legal nature will follow. Touch not lest ye be touched.

    Feature 00 – Tag Team (1991)

    or “The Tomb of Anubis Pilot Review”

    Starring: Roddy “They Live” Piper , Jesse “Predator” Ventura ,
    & Shannon “Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death” Tweed
    Director: Paul “Crazy Like a Fox: the Movie” Krasny
    Writer: none credited (go figure)

    Origin: USA

    [NOTE: This is a review from my previous website. I updated it (slightly), but the majority of the review is intact. I’m posting it as a “pilot” episode of sorts, and I figured what better review to post as a pilot than a review for an actual pilot!]

    Ah professional wrestling. Not quite a sport and not quite a soap opera. The spandex clad gladiators of the squared circle have been trying to break the barrier into Hollywood recognition for as far back as I can remember, always with mixed results. 20 years ago, professional wrestling was a pop culture oddity that everyone from the most tornado-ridden trailer park to the most cocaine saturated penthouse would flock to, the biggest annual gala of which was Wrestlemania. Over the years though, pro wrestling has more or less become society’s big heart tattoo with an ex-lover’s name on it. Long time fans either display it proudly and risk being mocked by those around them or try covering it up with a lifetime of big sweaters for the same reason, while the former fans who were only into it while it was popular pretend like it never happened, brushing it off as “something stupid I did when I was a kid” when someone gets a little too close and sees it peeking out from the neckline of their shirt.

    Back in the good old days, everybody new the names: Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Macho Man Randy Savage, Jesse “the Body” Ventura. Everyone knew who they were and everybody still remembers them today. Of the current crop of wrestlers today though, it’s apparent that Hollywood’s not really interested in hiring glorified stuntmen for their movies anymore. If you walk up to the average Joe and Jane Nobody on the sidewalk and say, “Who’d win in a fight, Samoa Joe or Daniel Bryan? Sheamus or Abyss? Randy Orton or Sting? CM Punk or AJ Styles?”, chances are they’re either ignore you and walk around or pity/fear you, give you a dollar, and tell you they’re going to pray to God for your well-being tonight before they go to bed on their mattress stuffed with hundred dollar bills. If you went up to the same woman who watched the Undertaker and Hulk Hogan match at Survivor Series ’91 or the Shawn Michaels and Steve Austin match at Wrestlemania XIV and you asked her if she prefers WWE or TNA, chances are she’ll think you’re asking her about whether she prefers the Nintendo Wii or tits and asses. It’s true. You can’t even count Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson amidst the dying breed of wrestlers in popular culture anymore, as he’s officially sworn off wrestling in favor of bigger paychecks for less work, with the occasional exception where he comes back for a few big paycheck appearances and to promote his newest digital waste of 2 hours. Can’t blame the guy really, but with his departure there’s really nobody left to pull in the “outside” crowd anymore… well, there’s John Cena, but even as the biggest name in the business today, his crossover appeal is both minimal and very limited.

    Anyway, the point of all this is that wrestling was so popular 20+ years ago that ABC was ready to make a weekly buddy cop show with none other than Roddy Piper and Jesse Ventura in the lead roles… no, seriously. The story stars Piper and Ventura as Tricky Rick McDonald and Bobby “the Body” Youngblood respectively. The duo is a tag team who are on their way to the top of the marquee, and a shot at the Tag Team Championships. Before that, they’ll need to get past the ruthless Samurai Brothers to get there. Prior to the big match with their “sounds like the title of an obscure NES game” opponents in question, their boss’s wife pulls them aside and tells them to throw the match, otherwise she’ll tell her hubby that the two of them have been making passes at her and he’ll blackball the duo from the wrestling world forever. Though this sounds stupid now, what with competing wrestling organizations always trying to buy each other’s top talents, back then the WWF was the only game in town, so for wrestling fans it’s not unbelievable to think that one promoter could successfully end the careers of two guys like McDonald and Youngblood. Also, even though it’s been widely acknowledged by wrestlers today that everything is scripted in regards to who wins the matches, this was still at a time when the WWF was adamant on the idea that the outcome of matches were not pre-planned, so you can forgive the lack of logic here. Of course these guys aren’t the type to back down to blackmail, especially not from some skirt, so they go through with the match and chalk up a victory against the Samurais, subsequently getting their asses fired as a result. Cue the basis for a tv series!

    I’m going to stall the review for a moment (as I’m oft to do) by addressing the incredibly bad writing of this show, starting here with the entirely uninspired characters. Wow, Tricky Rick and Bobby “the Body”, what a long way from Rowdy Roddy and Jesse “the Body”… you’re telling me these writers couldn’t even stray far enough from their WWF characters to give Ventura a nickname other than his actual nickname?! At least they changed Piper from Rowdy to Tricky, but Ventura’s nothing more than “the Body”?! How hard is it to turn that into something like “the Stud” or “the Hunk”? The slacker approach to character naming doesn’t end here though. Check this out: the Samurai Brothers’ manager is played by real life wrestling manager Harry Fujiwara, a.k.a. Mr. Fuji. How far from the norm do our mysterious unaccredited writers deviate from the true life path here? Mr. Fuji becomes Mr. Sake… they couldn’t even drop the “Mr.”?! I guess writing TV pilots is easier than writing 5th grade science fiction considering my English teacher gave me an A+ and these guys lost their jobs. However, if this was all instead a marketing scheme by Vince McMahon that the characters in the show are contractually obligated to resemble their WWF counterparts as a way to better advertise his product on national television, I apologize to the writers… for now. Back to work.

    So, no longer allowed near a wrestling ring and having no prior work experience other than lifting weights and pretending to beat people up, it’s a recipe for wackiness when Rick and Bob try to integrate themselves into the blue collar working world. Whether it’s moving pianos or playing padded assault victims to a women’s self-defense class, things don’t look favorable for the guys’ wallets. On top of that, it looks like they may soon be evicted from their apartment (yes, they even live together…)  if they don’t come up with a way to make money fast. Inspiration comes in the strangest of forms though, when the boys break up a robbery at their local grocery store and get the perfect idea: they’ll join the police academy! Hey, it worked for Bubba Smith, right?

    Yes, before Trish Stratus was doing “Armed and Famous”</a>, two other wrestlers thought it’d be a good idea to become legitimate peace keepers. Though they struggle a bit, the boys make it through basic training and earn their shields. They look too damn goofy in police uniforms though, so it’s written into the script that Ricky and Bob-O will be working undercover… okay, time for interlude numero dos!

    I gave the show’s writers a temporary pass for the name change thing, citing that it’s very possible Vince McMahon was being a dick about the whole thing and insisted that only the slightest changes be made so audiences would better recognize his performers and, thus, his product. However, I can’t blame McMahon for the unbelievably stupid rationale behind making two former professional wrestlers into undercover police officers! You want to make them cops, that’s fine, I can live with that. It’s made more acceptable when it’s revealed that Youngblood (mirror Jesse Ventura’s real life history) is a former Navy Seal. But, doesn’t it kinda defeat the point of being “undercover” when you’re also one of the biggest former names in professional wrestling and everybody knows who you are!? Gah, brain fire! Brain fire! Put it out! PUT IT OUT!

    Like I was saying, while in the academy, Ricky and Bobby meet seen-to-be officer Ray Tyler. Ray becomes their bumbling comedy sidekick and the show’s general big talker, meaning he’s always the one who acts like he’s in charge until a genuine authority figure comes around and turns him into a brown-nosing weasel. A necessary evil in the TV dichotomy. He pops up from time to time to either try and butt in on some of our heroes’ glory or to get pushed around and have his status in the force threatened by Youngblood and McDonald’s antics. Speaking of which, the dynamic duo’s first assignment is witness protection. It seems that a dog walking veterinarian named Leona (Shannon Tweed!) witnessed a mob hit in a parking garage while our boys were running through basic training. The rest of the pilot revolves around Ricky and Bobby protecting Leona, beating up mob goons with their old wrestling tactics (I guess they forgot they have guns… as do most of the mob goons who seem to have had some in-ring experience of their own), getting suspended from the force for screwing up their job, running around looking for Leona, beating up more mob goons and saving the day so Leona can testify and put a crime boss away. It all ends with the two adopting a formerly injured dog and Roddy Piper on the floor in the last of what would be many questionably homoerotic situations, naked with the exception of a towel around his waist while laughing and playing with his new best friend while Ventura and Tweed look on. Kinda creepy in its own way really… Then again, being married to Gene Simmons, I’m sure Tweed’s seen 100 times weirder shit in her days.

    If you had to sum up Tag Team with a single word, you’d be hard fought to figure out something more suitable than “campy”. There’s so much cheddar being thrown around here that it’s hard to figure out how much of it was intentional and how much was just really shitty “Hey, that’d be a cool thing to have!” moments between the writing staff. The show definitely nods to the absurdity of the pseudo sport on which it’s based though, the most obliging of which being the introductory scene in which a young fan visits Youngblood and MacDonald in their locker room (okay, so just anyone can waltz around back stage at a wrestling event and wander in and out of dressing rooms as they please?!), apparently unhappy with their current professional monikers and questioning why they would want to give up their former show aliases as “the Lizard Brothers”, to which MacDonald replies that “the green scales and the ears just weren’t us”. You think that two wrestlers dressed like lizard men is a bit much to swallow? You obviously haven’t seen the darker side of wrestling my friend…

    Beyond the little touches like that, the rest of the wrestling stuff sucked. I don’t mean “sucked dick like a crack whore” sucked, I mean “sucked a conga line of hobo dicks like a drugged out trailer park whore with a Hoover for a mouth” sucked! It’s painful to watch as the cheese is ramped up to heart attack levels at such moments as Piper and Ventura jumping off of structures to land on people or coming up with their own catch phrase, “Body slam!” or, the coronary that finally killed the moose: Ventura is pinned to a tree by a thug with a rake, desperate for some help from his partner. Seeing the emergency state of his pal, Piper sees Vantura’s hand outstretched and, in a slow motion moment that makes “Baywatch” look like Hamlet, Piper leaps through the air and tags his buddy’s hand WWF style before saving the day… HE FUCKING TAGGED THE GUYS HAND!!!!! ARGH!

    As far as the rest of the show goes, Ventura and Piper are actually pretty good actors, even when being Full Nelsoned with a bad script. They’re fun to watch. The only problem I have with the two is the frequent shirtlessness going on here. You half expect them to go knocking on their neighbor’s door and asking for a cup of shirt because they’re fresh out. You could make a drinking game out of the number of scenes they show up shirtless in or wearing a towel, all in a mere 45 minutes! In fact, if anybody wants to buy a copy of this off of me, I’ll include the rules for the “Tag Team: Get Tagged!” drinking game with it!

    The pilot actually tested well enough that a regular series was given the green light by ABC execs. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) the idea was scratched a mere 24 hours before shooting of the first episode and “Tag Team: the Series” was not to be. Both stars went on to somewhat better things though. Piper, beyond wrestling, enjoyed a career as a b-movie star in flicks like Hell Comes to Frogtown and They Live (where he fought Keith David in the greatest fight scene ever), while Ventura would become a bad movie tough guy himself before ending up the Governor of Minnesota of all things. As far as Tag Team goes though, let me put it this way: Cheese is good. I like cheese. Cheese goes great between two slices of bread or melted on top of a taco (except for the pink kind). Cheese is great when eaten by the cube or in peelable cylinder form. Cheese can even be good for you in moderation. In that regard, there’s too much cheese in Tag Team. It clogs my arteries of tolerance and it gives me a cinemasochism heart attack. Ingest your movie dairy products in moderation my friends, so you can avoid that groaning agony in your chest. It’s fun up until the point where it just gets to be too much, and at those times it becomes flaming daggers in your chest.

    On a sidebar though, let’s go back to the pre-review rant. Where do I stand on the whole tattoo situation? Wrestling was introduced to me by my dad and my grandpa. I have good memories of watching the pay-per-views with my family as a brat and going into school the next day to regale my friends with results from every event. Everybody else wet themselves over Wrestlemanias, but for me the best times of year were always January and Thanksgiving. January was the Royal Rumble and on Thanksgiving, after we’d eaten our meal and given the Tryptophan a chance to burn through our brains, it was time for Survivor Series. Both were unique for their specialty matches (the R-Squared for it’s 30 man battle royal and Double S for it’s 4/5/6 man tag team elimination matches) and always appealed to a kid like myself who was just waiting to see mash-ups of guys who otherwise would never have wrestled against each other, either through company politics or because they just wouldn’t have garnered the fan reaction the office big wigs thought they would.

    Anyway, my grandpa died a few years ago from Leukemia. He’s not only the one who introduced me to wrestling and cultivated that love throughout my childhood, but he was the only person I knew besides my friend George who still watched wrestling. With him gone and George having graduated to being a full-time family man, I’ve got nobody. Despite that, and despite the brush off I get from everybody else around me when they hear that I still follow the stories, I stick with it. The easiest excuse would be to say that it’s to honor my grandpa, but even though that’s panty peeler for the sentimental gals out there just looking for an excuse to get laid beyond the socially unacceptable obvious reasons, it’s not really the point. I like to watch wrestling.

    Yes, I know it’s “fake”, in that the feuds are written by shlubs in the background, but so is every Hollywood blockbuster or TV ratings grabber. I know that they’re not really hitting each other “that hard” and that they’re just selling everything to make it look good. But you know what? These men and women are more athletic than 98% of the “real” athletes in the world today. They don’t get paid the kinds of bloated salaries that these ungrateful pricks in baseball or basketball do, but they’re out there jumping off of shit and putting their physical well-being on the line 365 days a year. They don’t get an “off season”, they more often than not work through every holiday, and they’re putting their bodies through torture that leaves most of them broken when it’s all said and done, addicted to pain killers, alienated from their families and the rest of society, waiting for Vince McMahon to ring their phone and give ‘em one last shot in the spotlight. If you’re one of those dick cheeses that still thinks wrestling is a joke and the people involved are nothing more than pretty boys who can’t act their way out of a wet nut sack, then go watch Beyond the Mat or read any autobiography by Mick Foley and see if you don’t respect them afterwards.

    Hmmm, once again it seems like a simple review has turned into a soap box session of defending a lifestyle choice on my part, so let’s try to end this on a joke. Here’s a good one:  An Irishman walked into a bar, hoisted his bad leg over the barstool, pulled himself up painfully and ordered a shot of whiskey. The Irishman looked down the bar and said, “Is that Jesus down there?” The bartender nodded and the Irishman told him to give Jesus a whiskey too. Next, an Italian with a hunchback came into the bar. He shuffled up to the barstool and asked for a glass of Chianti. He also looked down the bar and asked if that was Jesus sitting down there. The bartender nodded and the Italian said to give JC a glass of Chianti too. Last, a redneck swaggered in dragging his knuckles on the floor and hollered. “Barkeep, set me up a cold one. Hey, is that God’s Boy down there?” The barkeep nodded, and the redneck told him to give Jesus a cold one. As Jesus got up to leave, he walked over to the Irishman and touched him and said, “For your kindness, you are healed!” The Irishman felt the strength come back to his leg, and he got up and danced a stereotypical jig to the door. Jesus touched the Italian and said, “For your kindness you are healed!” The Italian felt his back straighten and he raised his hands above his head and did a cartwheel out the door. Jesus walked toward the redneck and the redneck jumped back shouting, “Don’t touch me, I’m drawing disability!”.

    Oh those wacky hillbillies.

    The Moral of the Story: Wrestlers can act. It’s part of their job. It’s the writers who are always faking the talent…


    “So it’s agreed: no “e-i,e-i-o” jokes and no Rod Liefeld jokes.”

    I don’t even know that kid and I already want
    to smash a bottle of Old English over his face.

    Little known fact: this moment is what
    inspired Vince McMahon to create the XFL.

    “‘Damn near killed ’em’! Don’t you get
    it!? Come on! ‘DAMN NEAR KILLED ‘EM!'”

    Homo-eroticism Level: Negligible

    Homo-eroticism Level: Sitcom Misunderstanding

    Homo-eroticism Level: Bukkake Party Grandpas!

    In a pilot featuring Shannon Tweed,
    there were way too many instances of the
    wrong cast members ending up shirtless…


    Click the Box Art for an Easter Egg ;)

    Anubis will return next time in “Jeffrey Combs Dies at the End!”

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