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 Sabrina The Teenage Witch. What Is It?
On her 16th birthday, TV’s Melissa Joan Hart finds out she’s part witch and can do magic. She quickly runs afoul of demonic Ron Perlman, who is using WCW Superstars to train demons and send them to Christian Hell if they don’t win wrestling matches. [checks notes] Sorry, wrong witch show wrestling episode.
Sabrina spends her time practicing magic alongside her 500-year old witch aunts, Hilda and Zelda, and the family pet Salem, a black cat possessed by the spirit of a punished witch who tried to take over the world and was sentenced to 100 years shitting in a box. Normal sitcom stuff. Sabrina’s not very good at magic, but she means well, making her a sort of Satanic Paddington Bear.
Shorter version: What if Buffy The Vampire Slayer wasn’t allowed to kill anybody?
And There’s A Wrestling Episode?
Oh, you didn’t know? Your ass better call somebody.
It’s technically more of a wedding episode, but it’s got enough wrestling in it that 20 years later Melissa Joan Hart is a huge Twitter smark and was, at least in my head-canon, the inspiration for Stephanie Tanner cheering skeletons over chickens on that one episode of Fuller House.
Through no real fault of her own, Sabrina Joan Hart ends up the maid of honor in an “Other Realm” wedding and must perform the duties of the bride’s father because the bride’s actual father is, again, a black cat possessed by the spirit of a punished witch who tried to take over the world and was sentenced to 100 years of being unable to have a clean face unless he licks his hand and wipes it. The Other Realm is an other-dimensional world for magic users that’s millions of light years away from the Mortal Realm. Basically it’s our world with slight differences, such as, “wrestling matches happen at weddings.” No real Stranger Things giant spider action or anything.
Is The Cat’s Daughter Also A Magical Cat?
No, she’s played by the only person more unrealistic than a magical cat: former Saturday Night Live cast member and current alt-right conspiracy theorist Victoria Jackson. It turns out she and Salem have been estranged for decades — I mean, wouldn’t you be — and Sabrina has to bring them back together by Explaining It All. Yadda yadda yadda, Sabrina’s wearing a Napoleon hat and a “MAID OF HONOR” sash in a wedding set in Event Horizon‘s Hell universe.
The wedding party includes her aunt’s dates, Daniel Boone and Leif Erikson, who are here via time travel because the aunts just realized how to use a magical grandfather clock to date dead people. Boone has an identity crisis because everyone assumes he’s a more famous historical frontiersman, instead of like, assuming he’s a guy dressed like a frontiersman. Do you have to be famous to use the clock as a dating app?
Sabrina learns from the pastor (the subway ghost from Ghost) that the most sacred moment of the wedding ceremony is “the ring.” It’s what you see before you die! Sabrina’s worried that she didn’t bring a ring, and that’s when she finds out she (as Salem’s human representative) will have to professionally wrestle the father of the bride to complete the wedding.
In case you were hoping the rest of the episode was Melissa Joan Hart exchanging forearms with an old stranger man, I’m sorry to inform you that the father of the bride is ‘The One’ Billy Gunn, and he’s got a Cesaro-esque tearaway suit.
I mean, he’s not technically “Billy Gunn.” He’s Xavier ‘The Avenger’ Prescott, presumably so The Rock wouldn’t pull him aside on some random Smackdown and cut a 15 minute promo on him for getting his ass kicked by Clarissa Darling. The match proceeds as planned, because in a dark netherworld in which a cat must convince a teen girl to pro wrestle Billy Gunn in front of a viking and a pioneer to validate Victoria Jackson’s marriage, you eventually say “fuck it.”
[checks notes] Sorry, “suck it.”
Sabrina, who just dragged a tree down an aisle and tried to blow up a balloon while she was out of breath because she didn’t remember she is literally a magician, gets her ass kicked by Gunn until, hey, she remembers that she’s literally magical. Here she is avoiding Gunn’s signature Jerry Lawler first drop from the second rope (?) by teleporting to the other side of the ring, watching Billy bump, then gouging his eyes. With finger magic!
So Sabrina’s Working Heel?
Sort of? It’s interesting that in the Other Realm you can’t marry a man unless their dad can beat up yours, and your dad is willing to risk permanent injury to prevent you from being married, but has to go along with it if they get pinned. Maybe I’m overthinking the sociopolitical undercurrent of the world where the furniture talks and a cursed cat tried to piss on the entire Great Wall of China.
So yeah, after cheating by using magic and blatantly raking the eyes in front of the referee, heel-ass Sabrina Spellman starts posturing for the crowd and doing the Andre the Giant walk on Gunn despite being a third of his size. Gunn, being a 270-pound adult man, recovers quickly and gorilla presses her from the ring to the floor.
Gunn grounds and pounds her (pictured) until Salem decides to do a run-in. He gets thrown out of the ring quickly, too, but is thrown back in by Daniel Boone to set up the finish: A SURPRISE ROLL-UP AFTER MULTIPLE DISTRACTIONS. Did Sabrina the Teenage Witch end up booking WWE, or was it the other way around?
Behold, Bill Gunn’s Emmy-quality, Bela Lugosi-esque battle with a cat doll.
+1 to Sabrina for hooking the leg, though. Most sitcom protagonists think you win wrestling matches by scoring the most points.
Having been defeated, and apparently not wanting to complain about the incredible amount of rudo nonsense going on, we get this incredible shot of Gunn on the ground talking to an animatronic cat head and, for the episode’s big joke (?), revealing his kinda super prejudiced backstory:
The wedding continues as planned, Victoria Jackson marries an unseen man in a suit of medieval armor, and Billy Gunn’s character hates gypsies. Maybe Victoria Jackson wrote that part? There’s a gypsy in the White House!
Is That It?
Nope! That marriage thing actually comes back around to the B-story, in which we follow everyone’s 1990s TV boyfriend David Lascher as he listens to rumors that Sabrina’s boyfriend Harvey is about to break up with her. He needs to check Melissa Joan Hart off his list (which includes Blossom, Kelly Taylor and Brad from Hey Dude), so he’s ready to swoop in at a moment’s notice.
But whoops! Harvey, who is so non-threatening he makes Steve from Full House look like Brock Lesnar, is actually pre-proposing to Sabrina, not breaking up with her. He’s giving her a PROMISE RING, which means that maybe one day if they’re still together and nothing horrible’s happened they’ll think about getting proposed. Which is the exact same thing that happens when you don’t give someone a promise ring. Weird. It’s also the most G-rated 1990s thing you can give your partner, unless you’re dating Jamiroquai and proposed by putting a bunch of butterfly clips in his hair. Sabrina accepts, because it absolutely does not matter whatsoever.
So, What Have We Learned?
- the only way to keep your girlfriend from having sex with David Lascher between 1990 and 1999 was a promise ring
- get married in the mortal realm or your poor dad might end up getting his ass kicked by Val Venis
- cheat to win, especially if a crazy person’s happiness is at stake
- Billy Gunn had his best-ever singles match on a sitcom
- Sabrina Spellman is a lazy wrestler
- I mean, I’m saying Sabrina is a lazy wrestler, not Melissa Joan Hart, please don’t block me
- make the cat rebuild his own goddamn family, he’s cursed for a reason