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 YouTube 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 Roseanne. What Is It?
Back in the early 1980s, a runaway from Salt Lake City did so well for herself on the comedy scene as a “working-class domestic goddess” that she was offered the role of Peg Bundy on Married … With Children. She turned that down, and the executive producers of The Cosby Show gave her her own show: Roseanne, an unconventional, down-to-earth sitcom that connected with TV audiences by faithfully recreating what it’s like to be poor, barely educated and beaten down by life and family in white-bread, middle-class Middle America.
Anchored by Roseanne Barr’s stand-up, John Goodman’s supernatural likeability and Emmy Award steamroller Laurie Metcalf, Roseanne ran for eight successful seasons plus one miserably awful year of fan fiction and was at one point the highest rated sitcom on television. It recently came back after a 20+ year hiatus to monster ratings and lots of really concerning shit on the Internet. We’re gonna stick to classic Roseanne here, if that’s all right.
And There’s A Wrestling Episode?
There is! And Roseanne herself is barely in it!
Does It Happen In the Good Seasons Or That Bad One
The bad one. And deep into the bad one, too. We’re talking 20 episodes in, with only two episodes between it and the series finale. Buckle in!
A couple of notes before we begin:
- If you aren’t familiar with the show and are wondering about the “bad” season, basically Roseanne got really rich and famous in real life and decided to turn her show about normal people living normal lives into an absurdist romp where she wins $108 million in the lottery, hangs out with celebrities and battles terrorists on a hijacked train. None of that is a joke.
- season 9 also replaced the sax intro with Blues Traveler in a very mid-1990s move
- The episode is called ‘Roseanne-Feld,’ like Seinfeld, for no reason. It’s not a Seinfeld parody, nothing Seinfeld-like happens. They’d pretty much just given up already.
Roseanne’s son-in-law Mark, notable for eloping with oldest daughter Becky and ruining her life so badly she literally became another person, has tickets to “Championship Wrestling” at the Lanford Armory. While nothing else about the wrestling show ends up being very accurate, shout-out to the Roseanne writers for putting a local Illinois wrestling event in an accurate venue. Most shows are like, “we’re gonna go down to the wrestling arena tonight!” It was probably Roseanne herself, if those tweets about New Japan Pro Wrestling say anything.
Anyway, everyone else has plans and his wife thinks wrestling is stupid so he ends up taking Roseanne’s sister Jackie. Jackie is Laurie Metcalf, who is consistently the best part of the show and who just last year got nominated for an Academy Award and won 24 acting awards for Lady Bird. Heads up: she knows this is a bad episode, which we’ll get to in a minute.
Championship Wrestling turns out to be a women’s promotion — the “Fabulous Ladies of Wrestling,” or FLOW, which at least isn’t “BLOW” — with a weird fan participation angle. Because like a suspicious amount of wrestling episodes we cover in this column, show writers want their characters to wrestle whether it makes sense or not. According to Mark, you “fill out a card, and they pick a different audience member every week” to get in the ring in the middle of a match and fight the wrestlers, and that he’s filled out cards for both of them.
Would I Recognize Any Of The Wrestlers?
Maybe? The babyface here is ‘Cincinnati Patti,’ played by Spice Williams, who played ‘Honey Bee’ in the wrestling episode of Mama’s Family and ‘Battery’ of ‘Assault and Battery’ in the wrestling episode of Step By Step. Seriously, that lady got a decade-plus of featured television work by handing every celebrity she met her card and saying, “would you like to do a pro wrestling episode of whatever you do?”
The heel, who Mark wants to get into the ring and fight every week but never gets the chance to, is ‘Black Widow.’ She’s played by 15-time world arm wrestling champion Dot Jones, who you might recognize as Coach Beiste from Glee. Mark heckles her by calling her a pig, so she threatens to rip his head off his shoulders and pull his lungs out through his shoulders. Pure sports build!
Mark’s name gets announced and he gets hype to … fight this woman for real, I don’t know how it works, but it turns out he just has a phone call. Because yes, you can call wrestling events and they’ll announce the call over the loudspeaker in the middle of the match.
Maybe It Was Important?
Well yeah, they think it’s a call from the hospital (because Roseanne’s daughter Darlene was having a baby prematurely, and nobody was sure whether or not it would survive), but it’s … not that. The opposite of that. We’ll get to that at the end.
While they’re taking the call, they hear the announcement of the raffle winner: it’s Jackie, and she’ll have to step into the ring with the Black Widow and Cincinnati Patti. Remember earlier when I told you Laurie Metcalf knew this was a bad episode? This is her reaction to the news:
That’s somewhere between Maria’s reaction to Dolph Ziggler dumping her and the Italian Spider-Man face.
Does Jackie Win The Match With The Metcalf Crusher?
No, but that’s a great joke.
Despite having been a police officer and presumably having some combat training, Jackie’s immediately airplane spun and dropped with a Wade Barrett WASTELAND by Black Widow. Also you’ll notice that now there are more wrestlers in the ring for some reason — check out what Patti’s doing on the apron — so I guess maybe it’s a Royal Rumble style thing where one of the surprise entrants is a fan?
Regardless of the rules, Mark tries to get into the ring anyway and keep Jackie from being dog-piled by all of the wrestlers. It doesn’t help, and Jackie lies on the ground making wacky faces until we fade out.
The next time we see Jackie she’s got a black eye, and for some reason has invited Black Widow into Roseanne’s house to have a conversation about whether or not wrestling’s fake. Widow confirms that it’s fake for “guys like Rowdy Roddy Piper,” but when women fight, it’s for real. I hope Vince Russo got a writing credit on this episode.
Mark decides to prove his manhood by taking on Black Widow in an arm wrestling match, and she has sympathy on him for being a regular at the shows and a total mark (cough) and lets him win. Then Roseanne herself shows up for her end-of-episode cameo, recognizes Black Widow and looks to be about to shoot defeat her at arm wrestling as the episode ends.
Why? Because this is Roseanne’s show in the ninth season and if she wants to shit golden bricks, ABC’s gonna bend over sideways to make it happen. Gotta make Roseanne look strong!
Is That It?
I was going to say the wrestling stuff was the B-story, but the episode’s honestly nothing but B-stories. The major plot (if you can call it that) are Roseanne’s gay friends Fred Willard and Martin Mull, who looks like the blue states Jeff Foxworthy, meeting Roseanne’s mom’s new girlfriend, who they expect to be embarrassing. But wait, it turns out it’s a lounge singer they like from a restaurant above the Lanford Holiday Inn, and they have a good time! That’s … that’s the entire story.
The other plot revolves around Roseanne’s youngest son DJ and his quest to have sex with his girlfriend by taking her to see the special edition of Return of the Jedi. Jedi Rocks is a real aphrodisiac. The date’s why he can’t go with Mark to see Championship Wrestling, and Mark offers him a condom in case he seals the deal. DJ turns it down thinking he won’t get anywhere near home plate, so then it turns out he’s totally about to and has to call Mark at the show to get it. I told you that call wasn’t “dying baby” important.
Mark’s busy, so he tells DJ to go look in his dad’s sock drawer, because that’s where he and Becky used to score rubbers. DJ rushes upstairs and digs through the drawer but only finds Ho Hos snack cakes and, oddly, an autographed photo of Julie Newmar. It’s signed “thanks for everything,” because of course it is. A disappointed DJ goes back downstairs and his girlfriend’s like, “hey, for future reference I have condoms, but I don’t feel like having sex now because shit’s weird.” DJ agrees, sees her out, and then breaks the fourth wall to alert us that he’s about to jack it to his dad’s Batman 66 spank bank.
So What Have We Learned?
- I still miss Doyle from Angel a lot
- if you want to have sex with your girlfriend and don’t have a condom, ask her if she has one, because she might
- gay people are often very fun to hang out with
- if you’re a character on a television show, don’t got to a local wrestling event, they’re gonna try to get you to wrestle
- Roseanne is the physically strongest character in the Roseanne cinematic universe