The Wrestling Episode is our cleverly-named feature wherein we watch non-wrestling shows with wrestling episodes and try to figure out what the hell’s going on in them. You’d be surprised how many there are. You can watch the episode on Hulu here. If you have any suggestions on shows that need to be featured in The Wrestling Episode, let us know in our comments section below.
I’ve Never Heard Of Boy Meets World. What Is It?
In the 1980s, Fred Savage starred in the critically and commercially beloved The Wonder Years, a nostalgic but biting look back at the 1960s, and what it was like to grow up average in the most important time for culture and progress in American history. It was sharp, funny, occasionally deeply real, and won a Peabody award in 1989 for “pushing the boundaries of the sitcom format and using new modes of storytelling.”
In the 1990s, executives at ABC were like, “what if we did The Wonder Years but cast Fred Savage’s less talented little brother, set it in the 1990s, and TGIF’d all over it?” The result was Ben Savage’s Boy Meets World, a coming-of-age sitcom that continually evolved, slowly descended into complete madness, and proved that even the ’90s family television version of The Wonder Years is still pretty great.
And There’s A Wrestling Episode?
Four of them. Well, two, technically, but we’re going to cover them all. Up first is season two’s ‘The Thrilla’ in Phila,’ in which we learn Big Van Vader’s real name and watch him almost get into a fight with the talking car from Knight Rider.
Buckle up, folks.
Here’s who you need to know:
- Cory Matthews is a Philadelphia-area high school freshman who means well, but is still Meeting World and turns into either a vaudevillian or an old Jewish lady when he gets upset depending on the season
- Shawn Hunter is Cory’s best friend, a lost Home Improvement kid who handles most of the plots by joining cults, becoming a patsy for the mob, or by being homeless
- Topanga Lawrence is either a weird girl with great hair who has a crush on Cory, or Cory’s destined soulmate from birth, depending on the season. If you weren’t into the Power Rangers and didn’t watch Singled Out, she was probably the reason you went through puberty in the ’90s
- Eric Matthews is Cory’s older brother, who gets brain damage at some point in the show and becomes Daffy Duck as a ’90s teen heartthrob
- Mr. Feeney is everybody’s teacher every year, no matter what school they go to or how little sense it makes. He just follows them around teaching them lessons, like if Bagger Vance had the voice of talking car. Occasionally shows super strength, omnipotence, omnipresence and the ability to haunt Cory from the afterlife in revival series
‘The Thrilla’ in Phila’ begins with Cory loudly complaining about how only jocks with special jackets get the girls, then being put on the wrestling team via secondhand bullying because they need someone for their “108-pound Super Confettiweight Division.” Hey, don’t knock it, that’s how TJP got his WWE job. Cory, who moments ago was Uatu the Watcher for the class-based social tragedies of his high school, immediately lets it go to his head and starts pretending he’s a star wrestler with his own nickname: Cory ‘The Cory’ Matthews. It worked for Brian Kendrick!
He even gets a trophy girlfriend for wearing the jacket, played by Baywatch and more importantly future California Dreams star Kelly Packard. Cory doesn’t fit in with the team because he’s not a jock, about half the size of his “girlfriend,” and turns himself into a John Mulaney character when he fails to crush a can on his forehead. Here’s the good news, though: Cory won’t ever have to actually wrestle on the wrestling team, because there’s nobody in his division. I mean, there might be at other schools or whatever, but we’re working in 22-minute windows here.
That is, of course, until … actually wait, let’s take a step back and talk about Adam Scott’s evil gang.
This Show Had Evil Gangs?
In season two, the show’s antagonist was the smooth-talking bully Griff Hawkins, played by the guy who said “Are we having fun yet??” in those beer commercials. Griff is a Louie Spicolli type who annoys Mr. Feeney by getting massages in class and inherited a set of henchmen from the previous school bully, “Harley.” Those henchpersons are Frankie ‘The Enforcer’ Stecchino, a gentle giant played by Ethan Suplee, the guy who couldn’t see a sailboat in Mallrats; and Joseph ‘Joey the Rat’ Epstein, a squirrely little fucker played by Blake Sennett, who’d eventually team up with Jenny Lewis to write the best song ever made about modern adulthood.