The Wrestling Episode: ‘The Three Stooges’ Go To The Extreme

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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 short on Vimeo 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 The Three Stooges. What Is It?

First of all, congratulations on not having parents or grandparents born before 1970.

Second of all, The Three Stooges started as a Vaudeville act in the 1920s who became huge movie stars by unlocking the key to 20th century American entertainment: watching very stupid people hurt themselves and others. The trio made an incredible 90 short films in 12 years for Columbia Pictures (from 1934 to 1946), and blew up again in the 1960s thanks to little kids having television sets and so few other shows including dudes getting smashed in the face with frying pans.

There were a grand total of 190 shorts filmed with a variety of Stooges, not to mention several animated TV shows and about 15-20 feature films depending on how valuable you consider cameos, and whether or not you accept the leading man status of Will Sasso.

And There’s A Wrestling Episode?

Yes! Most Stooges shorts follow the same format: three assholes wander into a normal situation and are given a simple task, which they botch so tremendously that everyone involved ends up hurt and/or covered in thrown food. So of course they had to be pro wrestlers one time. Of course.

Bring on those sweet and timely Three Stooges clicks!

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Here’s your quick guide to the Three Stooges:

  • Moe. Moe is their leader! Imagine if Pete Rose lived in the early 1900s, didn’t know how to play baseball, was extremely poor and always got pissed off about it
  • Larry is the most nervous member of the group, mostly there to suggest a dumb solution to an easily solvable problem and get slapped in the face over it
  • Curly (because he’s bald, get it) is the wild card of the group; imagine if Bam Bam Bigelow got his start in Vaudeville, or if Homer Simpson and the Cowardly Lion had a baby with thyroid and rage problems

Note: Stooges not appearing in this short include Shemp, who’s more or less a middle-aged Alfalfa from Our Gang; Joe, the George Lazenby of Stooge lore; and Curly Joe, who is hot garbage and didn’t even like the Stooges gimmick. He’s the Go-Bots to Curly’s Transformers. Honestly he’s not even the Go-Bots, he’s the Transmorphers.

1937’s Grips, Grunts and Groans features yonder Stooges as opportunistic hobos who train a horse to kick policemen in the face and accidentally knock over a baby carriage while fleeing arrest. Give the Three Stooges guns at any point during their run and they’re villains. But yeah, the duck into “Hangover Athletic Club” to escape the fuzz and end up enlisted as Young Boys for a local wrestling and boxing promoter.

Young Boys?

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Sparring partners, really. Like a lot of people trying to break into the wrestling business, their first job is to let the established wrestlers beat them to death and laugh at them until those wrestlers are too old or broken down to do the job, and the young guys step in as veterans to do the same thing to whoever’s new now. It’s great, and doesn’t foster any kind of delusional toxic weirdness at all.

While they’re getting decked, the gym’s best wrestler (and possible Russian porn star) “Ivan Bustoff” takes a liking to them because they’re such hilarious punching bags and offers to take them out to dinner. Things are looking up until they realize Bustoff’s not just prepping for a match against the local wrestling champion, he’s training for his most dangerous opponent: alcoholism.

Do The Three Stooges Take A Mature Look At Alcoholism

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Of course! Bustoff takes them out and gets shit-faced off “a little bit of tequila, vodka and cognac,” causing him to spear someone through a window and pass out in the floor. It’s at this dinner the Stooges find out that Ivan’s promoters are also in the mob and have placed a large bet on him to win the championship, which he’s not gonna do if he’s … those things.

It’s also here we learn a suspicious fact about Curly: for reasons never explained, the smell of wild hyacinth perfume gives him an unstoppable SPARTAN RAGE that makes him attack everyone in site, and the only way to stop it is to tickle his foot.

Wait, What?

No, seriously.

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The stage is set: the mob is betting on an alcoholic pro wrestler to win a match and have entrusted a group of homeless grifters with violent tendencies severe impulse control problems to make sure he gets to the arena in shape and on time. What could go wrong?

All Of It?

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The guys manage to get Ivan to the arena and Weekend at Bernie’s him long enough to get the mob off their backs, but things go from Stooge to worse when Curly accidentally bludgeons brother’s brains with falling dumbells. With the wrestler knocked out and the mob threatening to shoot kill them, the Stooges hide the body and decide to pass off Curly as Ivan. WHAT COULD GO WRONG.

All Of It?

Yes, all of it, thank you.

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A fake beard trimmed to match Ivan’s and a towel over the head is enough to fool the mob and get Curly into the ring, but once he’s there, the ruse is up. But by then he’s already in the ring with the heavyweight champion, Ironhead, who looks like every wrestler you can picture from before 1940. Charles Atlas in underwear, basically. If you’re wondering how the match goes, the first move is Ironhead BODY SLAMMING CURLY FROM THE RING TO THE CROWD HEADFIRST INTO A CHAIR. First move.

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Like any current WWE Superstar in a match with someone stronger, Curly gains a temporary advantage by side-stepping a charge in the corner. Ironhead goes head-first into the post — realizing his destiny — and is knocked out. Moe and Larry beg Curly to “pin him,” so Curly tries to use a woman’s safety pin to adhere the guy’s trunks to the mat. When Moe explains you have to pin his shoulders (and calls him “pudding head,” which is still incredible), Curly tries to put the safety pin through the guy’s skin. Sociopaths, all of them.

Ironhead wakes up (because he’s being stabbed) and takes Curly to the woodshed with a kneebar and an ankle lock. Then he just starts tossing him around like a Married With Children dummy. With all hope lost and the mafia about to shoot them to death, Moe notices a woman in the front row with a bottle of wild hyacinth perfume. SHIT JUST GOT REAL.

*Cues Up Natural Born Killas*

Rage Monster Curly fires up and fights back using a diverse, New Japan-ass moveset involving Mongolian chops, mule kicks, clubbing forearms and, in a moment that made me almost snort water out of my nose, Mojo Rawley’s Hyper Drive finisher.

Curly has the match won and is about to become Heavyweight Champion, but he’s too hype — in fact, he’s staying hype — to make a laterl press. Remembering the early match work, he bodyslams the referee from the ring to the floor, because ring psychology. Being a rage monster is a double-edged sword, you see, and now that Curly’s had Berserk cast on him, he can’t be stopped. Moe and Larry jump in the ring to try to tickle him, but Moe eats a snapmare and Larry gets K.O.’d with one of Curly’s World Famous “It” Kicks.

That brings in security, which turns into a crime scene as Curly steals the ring bell and beats everyone unconscious with it. Not just Larry and Moe … security too, and anyone else who gets in the ring. The last image of the short is of Curly standing atop a pile of like 20 unconscious people, wildly throwing the bell into the air and accidentally knocking himself out. It’s the cherry on the ice cream sundae that is uncontrollable scent-based death dealing.

So, What Have We Learned?

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  • if three strange men show up to your place of business and start hitting each other all crazy, don’t give them jobs and tasks
  • men might kill you if they smell a certain kind of flower
  • if you’re an athlete, get your drinking under control or several dozen people will have to go to the hospital
  • Curly from the Three Stooges invented comedy wrestling
  • he also invented hardcore wrestling, in the same match