WATCHAMANIA fills a longstanding gap in professional, highbrow art and media criticism by watching movies about pro wrestling and assigning star ratings based on the matches they contain. We watch the matches and recap them like we might if they’d happened in real life. Context, pace, choreography, who cares? We want to know your film’s WORKRATE, and we will nitpick it until we’ve reached a consensus.
The second film reviewed in the Watchamania series will be Scooby-Doo! WrestleMania Mystery, director Brandon Vietti’s 2014 statement on what happens to a professional wrestling promotion when they stage a video game contest under false pretenses and have it won by a talking, mystery-solving dog.
If you haven’t seen the film, that’s the plot. Scooby-Doo and Shaggy are very good at the most recent WWE video game release and beat it on its hardest level, unlocking a “victory dance” mode. It’s played with a Kinect setup that mimics their movements onscreen, so Scooby does Sin Cara’s signature victory dance (?) and gets a perfect score. This ultimate game mastery reveals a The Last Starfighter style prize where anybody THAT good at a wrestling game gets an all-expenses-paid trip to “WWE City.” The city where WWE happens. FOR WRESTLEMANIA.
Also, a mystery.
Here is our critical analysis of the matches presented in Scooby-Doo! WrestleMania Mystery. Let’s see if they live up to our expectations for real-life matches.
1. WWE Live Event: John Cena and Sin Cara vs. The Big Show and Alberto Del Rio
The Scooby-Doo gang get into a car accident and almost get shot by a local, so John Cena offers them VIP tickets to the night’s live event in “WWE City.” WWE City is, as far as I can tell, a municipality created solely to promote WWE live events. Think of it like an Impact Zone in some post-apocalyptic future where WWE’s been forced to run every show out of the same building. Meeting John Cena after a car accident seems like a huge coincidence, but 10 minutes into the movie literally all we’ve learned about WWE City is that WWE Superstars jog down the middle of the street in the middle of the night.
We’re treated to a montage of matches, and not enough is shown to give them ratings. These include Brodus Clay squashing someone who is probably Zack Ryder, Santino Marella defeating Braden Walker with The Cobra, and AJ Lee using a moonsault Edge-o-matic on … let’s say Leva Bates. Maxine, maybe? I guess Alicia Fox didn’t want herself animated into a movie as a loser. Triple H also appears on the ramp and screams, but does not compete. So this could just be a really bad Raw.
The main event is an interview segment with Mr. McMahon explaining the vacancy of the WWE Championship, but before that we get a full tag team match between the teams of John Cena and Sin Cara, and Big Show and Alberto Del Rio. This is clearly one of those tag matches where two guys are feuding and two other guys are feuding, so they pair them up to save space. If you’ve seen a Cena match before, you know how it goes. He starts off strong, gets in trouble when his opponents start cheating, but OVERCOMES THE ODDS to come back and win like nothing happened. The offense here is AMAZING, with Sin Cara doing a slingshot coast-to-coast powerbomb to the outside and Cena suplexing Show onto the top rope so he bounces to the outside and flies through the announce table face-first. Maybe the Def Jam Vendetta series took place in WWE City?
Near the end, Show brings in a picnic table (?) and smashes it over Cena right in front of the referee, but they don’t call for a DQ. Smark Velma comments on this from the stands and gets shut down by GOOD WWE FAN Fred.
Velma: “I don’t see anything in the rules about the use of furniture.”
Fred: [condescending] “It’s a show, Velma.”
That says it all. A Five-Knuckle Shuffle and an avalanche Attitude Adjustment later and it’s over.
Winner: John Cena and Sin Cara (Attitude Adjustment, 1:15)
It’s a house show right before WrestleMania, which explains the short matches. My major question is about WWE City. Is it like Slam City? Are they the same? Is WWE trying to plant the idea for a WWE-themed town in the mind of kids? Is that the endgame? A Disney World that ends every night with Mr. McMahon locking the WWE Championship in a translucent safe and fireworks exploding?
After the match, Cena texts Daphne because The Bella Twins aren’t in this movie.
2. Gauntlet Match: Scooby-Doo vs. A Bunch Of Food
In what could literally be called a dream match, Scooby-Doo falls asleep to the sounds of Shaggy playing video games and imagines himself wrestling a bunch of giant food in outer space. It’s a gauntlet match, with Scooby taking on the food fighters one (or sometimes two) at a time.
In the opening match, Scooby springs off the ropes with a somersault headbutt to the chest of a piece of pizza and eliminates him. An anthropomorphic soda is next and gets taken out with a seated senton from the top rope, Rey Mysterio-style. In round three, Scooby utilizes a double clothesline to dispatch two pieces of pizza. He earns a chance at a “bonus round,” facing a colossal Jimmy John’s sub kaiju that is clearly meant to represent Brock Lesnar.
The sub in 21 and sub goes for a stomp, but Scooby dodges. He springs off the ropes, somehow goes up a hundred feet onto the sub’s back and starts biting it. He’s awoken from the dream before we find out if the sub died in the ring.
Winner: Scooby-Doo (1:04 shown)
The big reveal is that Scooby-Doo was sleepwalking and ended up on the back of a GHOST BEAR, which might as well be a scene from A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. A bunch of wrestlers show up and fight the bear, and Sin Cara’s car gets destroyed. If you leave out certain plot details, Scooby-Doo! WrestleMania Mystery sounds like an absurdist masterpiece.
After the match, the Scooby-Doo gang finds out that WWE’s problems are caused by bear attacks. Makes sense.
3. Turn of the century carny promotion: Vicious The Bear vs. Sin Cara Grande
Long before there was a WWE City, a local carny promotion ran shows built around VICIOUS THE BEAR, a vicious bear (natch) who could not be defeated in the ring. That is, of course, until it was challenged by SIN CARA GRANDE, the great, great, great grandfather of Sin Cara. He’s just like Sin Cara, only bigger and slower. So, Hunico.
The match is clipped, but Sin Cara Grande ultimately defeats the bear with a double-stomp to the back of the head. Maybe this took place in PWG, I don’t know how long they’ve been around. After the match, the bear goes into a rage and starts destroying the town, so Sin Cara Grande has to wrestle him into submission again. This time, Grande suffers a career-ending leg injury, confirming that yes, he IS Sin Cara’s ancestor. Sin Cara Grande never wrestles again, and Vicious disappears into the woods.
Winner In 2 Falls: Sin Cara Grande
Sin Cara believes that the bear’s spirit has returned because of WrestleMania, and for some reason a bunch of people listen to that and decide it’s true.
4. WrestleMania: Scooby-Doo and Shaggy vs. Kane (Last Man Standing Match)
Someone has placed post-hypnotic suggestions in the brain of a talking dog and tricked it into trying to steal the WWE Championship. Actual plot of the movie here. WWE officials want to send Scooby and Shaggy to jail, but it turns out WWE City has a “trial by combat” option: anyone accused of a crime can compete in the ring for a chance to win their freedom. Mr. McMahon has the power to give them that chance, and (I swear I’m not making this up) puts them in a handicap match against Kane. A handicap match that will OPEN WRESTLEMANIA. Reminder: WWE is run like this because “bears.”
What results is one of the most overbooked matches of all time.
It starts off 2-on-1, Kane vs. Shaggy and Scooby (now known as “Skinny Man” and “Dead Meat”). The ropes and mats in WWE City are made of trampolines, so every time somebody takes a bump, they bounce 10 feet in the air and fly out of the ring. When they hit the ropes, they go out really far like Wile E. Coyote using an Acme Slingshot to hurl himself at the Roadrunner. At one point Kane hits a double chokeslam, but Shaggy and Scooby just kinda no-sell it and run around the ring in terror.
Then, the lights go out. It turns out that during that whole “kidnap the WWE Championship” plot, the real championship belt was replaced by an IRON one (proven when Velma uses a magnet to attract it, which gold wouldn’t do). It has also been fitted with an EMP device that takes out WWE City’s power supply, cutting the PPV feed and blowing all the lights. The match continues, though, with everybody fighting in the dark until Brodus, AJ, Santino and others light flares and stand around the arena like druids. At this point you should be side-eyeing the shit out of this WrestleMania opener.
But that’s not all, folks. The power outage allows GHOST BEAR to break in and destroy a bunch of memorabilia, including a shrine to Sin Cara Grande. Fred uses an iPad to try to close a bunch of metal doors and trap the Ghost Bear in the building, but Ghost Bear gets into a fight with WWE developmental talent Ruben “The Bone Bender” and the fight spills out onto the ramp. Fred then hits a button on his iPad that activates a CATAPULT ON THE ENTRANCE RAMP and accidentally shoots Ruben and the Ghost Bear into the ring onto Kane. You’d think that’s the end, but nope. Suddenly, a CAGE BEGINS TO LOWER and SIN CARA and JOHN CENA dive into the ring. IT’S THE NIGHT DAPHNE DANCED ATOP THE ECW ARENA.
Also, Fred ends up on top of the Hell in a Cell.
Here’s the good news: Scooby-Doo has realized that he can recreate video game moves in real life (because he is an exceptionally athletic dog with a photographic memory who is … always running away from guys in ghost costumes? I don’t know). He starts flipping around the ring and really taking it to Kane. Shaggy gets tied up in the ropes and stays there for like ten minutes. The combination of Ruben, Shaggy and Sin Cara doing some Yoda lightsaber fighting choreography distracts the bear until the most important person in the world — JOHN CENA — can powerbomb it and break its neck with a Five-Knuckle Shuffle.
It turns out the bear was playing GHOST POSSUM and sends Cena and Sin Cara into the cage, knocking them out. In one last desperation move, Scooby-Doo pours water on Kane, reviving him and causing a monster vs. monster showdown in the cage. Kane chokeslams the bear and everybody piles onto it to hold it in place for a Scooby-Doo Superfly Splash that collapses the ring and explodes the Hell in a Cell.
The bear is then unmasked as the uncle of the developmental talent, and he’s wearing the WWE Championship under his bear costume. Everyone stands together and chants for Scooby-Doo. THIS IS THE OPENING MATCH OF WRESTLEMANIA.
Winner: Dead Meat (12:18)
If the final match had lived up to the fun of the opening tag, the outer space gauntlet against food monsters and Sin Cara’s Granddad vs. a bear, it would’ve rated much higher … but man, I can only give so much love for a WrestleMania that blows itself out that early. Was that the only match at WrestleMania? Is WWE City an extension of WWE Network, where they suddenly feel like the champ isn’t necessary and they can just rest on their laurels? Do they do WrestleMania every month in WWE City? Do they think $9.99 is only worth one match featuring EVERYTHING ALL AT ONCE?
So many mysteries. Anybody got a dog that can solve them?