Every Simpsons Wrestling Moment
For the video on this topic & more pro wrestling content: Wrestle Pod - YouTube
Originally created by Matt Groening, since it’s first televised episode in 1989 The Simpsons has grown into a pop-culture powerhouse.
The mad-cap adventures of this much beloved yellow family have been watched by hundreds of millions of people around the world.
With it’s innovative parody of the working-class American family sitcom that was popular in the late 80s, to it’s unflinching look at the world of celebrity, and beyond.
In the modern day, The Simpsons family are still looking for parts of the cultural zeitgeist to poke fun at, with over 700 episodes under their belt.
Through the years, the illustrious show has gone through hoards of voice actors, animators and writers aswell as being led by a host of talented and creative show runners.
My personal favourite period of the Simpsons is the earlier stuff, through the 90s and the early 2000s. A time when I was in my formative years, but more importantly a time of huge popularity for another one of my lifetime passions. Pro wrestling.
With the Simpsons & Pro wrestling both having arguably their best runs at the same time, and with the fact that the Simpsons has simply aired so many hundreds of hours of original ideas – it was almost inevitable that the two hugely successful forms of entertainment would collide.
In this video, I intend to look at 25 of the references to pro wrestling in the Simpsons television show. I want to see if there is a reason as two why these two 90s mainstays remain so special to me on a personal level. And, if perhaps modern day WWE & The Simpsons actually may have more in common than initially meets the eye.
// OLD MAN AND LISA 1997
I want to start with possibly the most famous and well-known appearance on anything to do with pro wrestling in The Simpsons.
Bret Hitman Hart in 1997 was one of the biggest stars in the grappling world. Well respected for his in-ring ability for both fans and fellow athletes alike, Bret Hart had worked his way into the main event of WWF and was well known outside of the squared circle for his striking pink appearance and his connection to popular media at the time.
One massively nostalgic connection, was that which Hitman shared with The Simpsons.
If you’ve seen the episode Old Man & Lisa then you will know all of the classic lines from Bret Hart’s classic appearance. For those who haven’t, a little back story.
Mr Burns, evil billionaire and regular foil to the Simpsons had been caught up in some corporate financial complications and ended up losing it all. As part of the loss of his belongings, Mr. Burns was forced to sell his iconic Springfield Mansion along with all of it’s contents.
We follow Mr. Burns & his trusty aid Smithers back into the mansion as Burns attempts to reclaim a few of his most valuable possessions.
That is when the star of the piece walks into frame. Led by a realator, Bret Hart is being shown around the mansion for a property viewing but is undecided.
After a mention of the screaming sheik and a little coaxing from the estate agent The Hitman decides to buy the property and goes to confront Mr. Burns as he attempts to leave with a painting.
This is the moment we get the most iconic line from the segment, where Hart refuses Mr Burns request to take one single painting with him, with what is possibly the most pro wrestling sounding insult of all time…
The appearance was a huge success with both The Simpsons & WWF realising that they shared more of a large fan base cross-over than they first thought. This led to an official Bret Hart Simpsons figure aswell as a connection between the 2 sets of fans, just look at these wonderfully creative blendings of pro Wrestling & the simpsons.
The Dr. Hillbilly & Iron Yuppie
// LAST EXIT TO SPRINGFIELD 1993
The next instance I’d like to examine comes from one of the most beloved and fondly remembered Simpsons episodes of all time.
Entertainment Weekly in 2003 ranked it as their best episode of all time and noted “this episode is virtually flawless, the product of a series at the height of it’s creative powers, when satire was savage and relevant.”
Last Exit To Springfield, which originally aired way back in 1993 is not remembered for it’s pro wrestling, however we do get a great insight into the view the general audience had of the violence in wrestling at the time.
We see an announcer introduce Dr. Hillbilly & the Iron Yuppie ahead of their upcoming deathmatch.
We are given a textbook example of fierce rivals facing off which we so often see before a wrestling match. Two giant men ready to go to war with hate in their eyes and their masks on the line.
Dr. Bonebreak and Rumbleina
// THE PARENT RAP 2001
This newly wed couple waste no time in going to war during the 2001 episode The Parent Trap. Dr. Bonebreak & Rumbleina, once star crossed lovers, still dressed in their formal garb from their romantic wedding get into the ring to smash lumps out of other.
Dr Bonebreak is swinging a steel chair at his new bride. Rumbleina has the much more exotic and lesser seen fire extinguisher, which she thrashes about in anger.
By 2001 pro wrestling had become much more extreme, violent and graphic in it’s production and approach to wrestling matches.
With the birth of the hardcore championship in WWF and the rise from local cult minnow to globally popular wrestling brand for ECW brought with it more weapons, more blood and more destruction.
This episode of the Simpson’s take of the senseless violence is both over-the-top and hilarious and for me only serves to add to an incredible episode of television.
// SMOKE ON THE DAUGHTER 2008
Over the years we’ve seen Bart Simpson take on a number of memorable alter-egos. Whether it be fighting crime as superhero Bartman or cooking deliciously as The Cupcake kid – Bart is no stranger to adopting different characteristics in order to achieve his goals.
His first foray into a pro wrestling alter-ego came in 2008. Smoke on the daughter, an episode which overarching themes explores adults pressuring their children and those who try to live vicariously through them – ends with the familiar episode wrap-up by The Simpsons family. However for the last joke of the show – it is proved that Homer has not learnt these lessons and is forcing Bart to perform as a masked luchador wrestler.
El Guapo or The Handsome One, although only appearing momentarily has Bart adorned in a classic colourful Mexican mask and is encouraged by his father to preen, preen harder. Bart is even told to feed off the hatred of the crowd, after all he is so hungry.
ANDRE THE GIANT
// BART THE FINK 1996
From his face being morphed by Shephard Ferry and plastered on walls around the world under the Obey brand. To the main event of Wrestlemania 3 facing off against Hulk Hogan. It’s undeniable that Andre The Giant was larger than life, in just about every way.
So, him featuring in The Simpsons should come as no surprise. Although Andre did not lend his name nor his likeness to the show, he will forever be immortalised by the voice of the late Phil Hartman, when his beloved Troy Mcclure character opened one of his many periodic spin-off segments by saying, “ Hello, I'm Troy McClure! You might remember me from such celebrity funerals as "Andre The Giant, We Hardly Knew Ye”.
// The Twisted World of Marge Simpson" 1997
In the opening scene of the episode The Twisted World of Marge Simpson from 1997. We see a meeting between the Springfield Investorettes discussing past and future business opportunities.
When Marge expresses doubt about the potential of one of one of the groups next investments, Mrs Krabappel interjects to explain how if the group had listened to Marge’s financial advise in the past, then they would have missed out on one of their more successful ventures.
El Bombastico, a muscle clad and mysteriously masked luchador who the Investorettes have for unknown reasons decided to back financially.
This joke, the visual of Mrs Krabappel holding up the poster of El Bombastico in all of his glory and then seemingly nobody having a rebuttal for Mrs Krabappel’s point, showing that however ridiculous their support of the wrestler may seem for the punchline, they are in fact probably making good on that particular investment.
Rasputin the Friendly Russian & Werner Von Brawn
// BART THE DAREDEVIL
If you ask most people what they remember from the classic Simpsons episode Bart The Daredevil, they would surely point to one of the most memorable and iconic moments in the shows entire vast lineage.
The moment Bart attempts to jump across the Springfield gorge. A moment so bizarre and hilarious that it had school playgrounds and office lunchrooms ablaze with recollections of it’s first airing the next day. But for me, the first time I ever watched this episode, the moment that stood out to me the most – one that I hold with such a warm nostalgic fuzz, I’m not sure I’d ever be able to look at it objectively. The pro wrestling of course.
The retro “World Class Wrestling” banner alights the screen of Bart & Lisa Simpson as they sit with their friends at home. As Springfield Centre for the Performings Arts is revealed in all it’s majesty, we see that Homer and his drinking buddies are watching from Moe’s tavern. This whole setup and subsequent way in which the following wrestling match is interweaved within the story of the show is immaculate.
We see Rasputin the Friendly Russian, draped in the soviets glaring red, making his way down the ramp as legions of adoring fans scream in appreciation. The Simpsons’ writers created this name as a parody of Grigori Rasputin a Russian in the real world pro wrestling who was also known as the mad monk. We are then told by Lisa that he was formally known as The Mad Russian, but due to the then current political climate, she fears The Mad Russian moniker may be lost to time. The broadcast then shows us his opponent, from the university of Haidelberg, Professor Werner Von Brawn, that’s Brawn with a ‘W’.
“2 titans at the height of their careers..setting up for one hell of a match.” Bart.
The allure is broken for a moment as we are ripped away from the action by Lisa’s line; I hope you aren’t taking this seriously. Any 5 year old knows this is as choreographed as any ballet.
We cut back to Moe’s tavern and see the men there enjoying the start of the match in the same way in which the children were. Even going as so far as to have Homer repeat the “hell of a match line” from Bart in the previous scene, the pair are also both scoffing some kind of snack. As we see the bad guy Brawn start to posture in the ring, we see how the fans in the bar are turned off by his vanity. Moe even going so far as to call it disgusting.
The match is underway and Rasputin is firmly in control lifting his nemesis above his head, seemingly in a position to win the match. The heel Von Brawn resorts to use of a deadly weapon and attacks Rasputin from behind with a spanner. The crowd in the arena boo as the referee counts for the 1,2,3. And we cut again simultaneously to the reactions of our 2 groups watching the televisions. We see all involved hurling their snacks at the TVs in disgust as the scene comes to an end.
The colours, are so reminiscent of the time the show was made, my fond memories of this episode are covered in a nostaligic fog, but when you go back and watch this wonderful and must-see piece of television, even in 2020 it has a sense of real warmth and comfort to it. Even though it’s a crudely drawn cartoon, it somehow feels so much more realistic that much of the live action we see on our screens today.
Not to mention the art direction and way in which the story cuts between the Simpsons home, Moe’s Tavern and the match via two different televisions, one of which is in black and white is a spectacular achievement and a feat of creativity which solidifies this period of the Simpsons as one of the greatest runs for any television series ever.
WRESTLING FROM MEXICO!
//Homer Vs. Lisa And The 8th Commandment 1991
The next mention of pro wrestling was much more brief than the epic battle we have just encountered. Whilst Homer begins to rewire the satellite dish in order to steal satellite television from his neighbour Ned Flanders – Homer is granted access to one thing he cuvetted more than anything else in this world, well maybe aside from food – a shit load of television channels.
During the episode Homer Vs. Lisa & the 8th Commandment from 1991, we see a gorgeous montage where Homer stays in place on his comfy and reliable sofa whilst the family goes about their day around him, stopping by to catch Jaws & Die Hard movies amongst other things.
One moment that gets slightly more attention is where we see Homer and Lisa listening to the introduction of “Wrestling In Mexico”, which prompts Homer’s reaction of; “You know down there it’s a real sport” which cracks me up every time.
The last topic for this video will be the most pro wrestling focused episode The Simpsons has ever created. We get to see Grandpa Simpson relive his glory years as he reveals his past as Springfield’s most villainous heel wrestler from aby gone era.
We see a set of wonderful flashback sequences which show how Grandpa Abe Simpson was once Glamourous Goddfrey a man who wore a powdered which and acted as if he was superior to the fans and his opponents alike.
Adorned in royal gowns and with valets escorting him to the ring, the comparisons between Glamourous Goddfrey and the likes of pro wrestlers Ric Flair and Gorgeous George, amongst other athletes who have chosen the path of extreme vanity and pomp in order to drive fans into booing them.
During Grampa's entrance"La Réjouissance" from Music for the Royal Fireworks, by George Frideric Handel, plays.
Like the heels of pro wrestling Godffrey in seen using underhanded tactics in his matches, cheating in order to succeed and earning as reputation as a wrestler who was truly hated outside of the ring, something which would go on to ruin Abe’s personal life as he couldn’t seem to keep reality and pro wrestling separate, something which we have unfortunately seen amongst some pro wrestlers of the past.
During these flashback sequences we see Grandpa recall matches against a couple of opponents which I will quickly recall for you now;
Babyface Palooka This man is shown to be the classic boring good guy in pro wrestling. One who takes a severe beating via a chair shot and who seemingly had many classic battles with Glamourous Godffrey throughout the pairs short time on the Springfield Wrestling circuit. Along with scenes from one of the pairs matches, we see a poster depicting the babyface in Mr Burn’s hall of wrestling memorabilia.
Fury of The Fjords, Olaf Johannsen came from Sweden to compete in the Springfield wrestling league, only to be cheated out of a match in a most unusual way.
During a face off between Olaf & Glamourous Godfrey, the latter always looking for ways to maintain his perfect complexion, took a break mid-match to begin a quick salon beauty treatment in the ring.
When Olaf turned his back to argue with the referee, Godfrey pounced and strangled his opponent to the ground using a shower cap.
As the flash back ends we are taken to the modern day, and Abe Simpson’s return to in-ring competition, the story eventually arriving at a match with the whole Simpsons family lined up to come and watch.
The Golden Age Of Wrestling
Whilst in the queue, Lisa, still the pro wrestling historian, carries with her a copy of “The Golden Age Of Wrestling” a run down of some of Springfield’s most iconic pro wrestlers of the past.
On the cover we see the $10,000, man a clear reference to The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase from WWF and a hilarious one at that.
Quick Count Basie
A village people looking police officer with his hairy chest and proudly masculine pose. His name suggests however he may be some kind of wrestling referee if indeed Basie is the one who is doing the aforementioned quick count. Perhaps it refers to Basie’s ability to get anyone down for the count quickly. Regardless – he has a beautiful moustache.
The English Pound
A British wrestler I assume with a witty pun for a ring name. I like his formal hat and wonder if he wears it during his matches.
The Tiny Titan
The Tiny Titan appears next on the cover of The Golden Age Of Wrestling, with his small stature and horned helmet this character stands out as the oddball amongst an entire group of unusual characters.
Comrade Crush takes up a large portion of the front cover and leads me to believe that perhaps he was the most sugnificent foreign heel of the bunch. His nickname is catchy, his attire is perfectly fitting with a Russian stereotype, akin to Ivan Koloff or Nikolai Volkoff and he is the wrestler who I could see most fitting into the real life golden era of wrestling in the US.
The Wild Irishman
To round off this rag-tag bunch we have the Wild Irishman whose appearance is honestly too vague to say he’s a direct parody of one particular wrestler, more an amalgamation of stereotypes we’ve seen from Irish wrestling for decades.
None of these characters are a huge hilarious joke in of themselves, but the fact that the writers and animators bothered to go to the length to create several wrestling personas and even with their brief appearance on screen, still feel fitting with the story in the episode and the wider history of pro wrestling – is a fantastic testament to how hard these people worked to make the references to pop culture fit within this episode.
Bringing his old sparkly gown and wig out of storage and reigniting some of his oldest rivalries, we see Grandpa step into the ring and continue with his dirty tactics from his past career.
When his grandson Bart in attendance is enamoured with Abe’s display in the ring, he begins to form a heel persona of his own.
Beautiful Bart with his spiked blonde hair and fur jacket begins to get a taste for the showman ship and celebrity afforded to him as he begins to train as Glamourous Goddfreys sidekick.
As the 2 regain the popularity Godfrey had in his heyday, it becomes apparent that Bart cannot handle the limelight and his evil actions within the ring are beginning to seep into his everyday personality – even going so far as to sign a fans autography by snotting onto the page.
As the pair make their way to the ring we are introduced to the tag pairing of
CAPTAIN FLAG & HALF MAST
Captain Flag & Half Mast are the by the book super good guys set to oppose the villainous ways of Glamourous Godfrey & Beautiful Bart, dressed in all americana red white and blue they carry the pride of a nation in their star spangled hearts.
But before the match can begin, not wanting to lead his grandson astray – Grandpa Abe sets aside his evil ways in his final match and transforms the Glamourous Godfrey character into a bastion of righteousness and hope.
He whips off his blonde wig and slings on a Lincoln hat and beard. Honest Abe in born and with it brings a change to his sidekick too. Honest Abe pulls the wig off of Beautiful Bart and dresses him in an outfit more likened to the statue of liberty with the request that his grandson forever more be known as Laddie Librety.
The two become fan heros and good guys and the story of the episode, like so much in pro wrestling is so effective because of it’s positivity.
I have to be honest with you. Making this video was an absolute joy for me. I love pro wrestling. I love the Simpsons. Getting a chance to go back, research and watch a bunch of old Simpsons episodes whilst thinking about their links to the world of grappling was a real pleasure.
The Simpsons is such a huge success, in part, due to it’s ability to ask questions about the cultural world around us. The Simpsons have seemingly gone through various stages of their production where they put more worth into the addition of pop culture references in their show.
At times they directly parody, shot for shot remakes of a popular scene from a Hollywood film. And sometimes their references are more a subtle, background nod to something the writers decided was worthy of inclusion.
If you make it as a celebrity, or brand that the creators of The Simpsons include in an episode, then in the world of popular media at least – you’ve made it. We saw the family and their friends watching pro wrestling on television, with fictional stars as a parody of what was happening in the squared circle in real life at the time – to the direct inclusion and voice acting supplied by a real pro wrestler in Bret Hart, its fair to say that in some obscure way, this is a measure of the significance to the cultural zeitgeist in the US that pro wrestling has had.
As I thought more about the similarities between these two seemingly disperate forms of entertainment. It was clear that I’d have to look past the obvious. Pro wrestling is live action and The Simpsons is an animation in 2D.
But as I dug deeper, I saw that one was an over the top set of characters, based around exaggerated versions of real life people and the other revolves around the conflicts and successes of larger than life figures who all operate in a close knit community. But think about it. Which is which?
It’s not so clear is it?
Both have violence. Both have an abundance of Slapstick humour and ridiculous comedy. They both feature people who are exaggerated to make their attributes more relatable and obvious. There are rivalries in both. Friendships and families.
And, what I think is most important – intriguing characters who we grow to love through their trials and tribulations, feeling the impact of the negative moments, seeing our favourites lose and then, sometimes through hard work and creativity and sometimes through sheer dumb luck, both allow us to enjoy their success.