Early in this 50’s-sitcom inspired, classic children’s cartoon straight-to-DVD WWE crossover movie, The Flintstones & WWE: Stone Age Smackdown, Fred and Barney have decided their solution to their problems is animal fighting. Fred’s boss having just carved his paycheck on a stone tablet and smashed it with a hammer in front of him, as it is right and proper for Job Creators to do, he and Barney need to come up with an alternate means of funding the vacation they’ve promised their wives they’re taking next week — this despite Fred’s willful professional incompetence and Barney’s apparent unemployment.
Deciding to stick Barney’s pet dinosaur1 in a pair of boxing gloves inside the squared circle, he and Fred invite strangers to pay for entrance into the ring to fight the creature. Most of its opponents are swiftly dispatched until CM Punk Rock and Mark Henry, whose stone-related pun is so bad I blocked it out, step in the ring.2
Once Punk and Henry prove to be the first actual competition in the interspecies match Fred and Barney themselves established, Barney becomes abruptly protective of his beloved slave-pet. His subsequent wrestling victory against Henry and Punk earns a significant amount of money for Barney and Fred’s vacation fund and serves as Fred’s inspiration for inventing the WWE.
Naturally Fred recruits market-tested wrestlers to be the stars of his new wrestling franchise, bringing aboard John Cena, Rey Mysterio and the Undertaker in addition to hesitant superstar Barney Rubble. Cena and co. wrestle Punk and Henry, who decide to crash Fred’s spectacle. The good guys win; only Cena gets his theme song3 played while his cartoon avatar wrestles. Punk and Henry are dispatched and presumably don’t collect very many royalties from their own merchandise sales, and Fred hands over the newly invented WWE to Vince McMahon, who until this point in the movie is just as dubiously employed as Barney. But he lent Fred emotional support while he was inventing pro wrestling, so that’s probably a great reason to give someone a company.
Ultimately the real winners are the children, who learn:
- Wrestling is a performance, and the wrestlers (mostly) do not hate each other, but beat each other up for your entertainment but do so (mostly) without hurting each other.
- It is okay to lie to people so long as you make enough money off that lie to justify it.
- You should give all of your money and non-liquid assets to Vince McMahon.
a scaly kangaroo-type creature apparently possessing less sentience than most of the other subjugated species of talking dinosaur that serve as everything from construction equipment to lamps to goddamn toothbrushes for their human masters ↩
Yes, despite CM Punk having quit the WWE years ago now, they somehow retained the rights to his image and to make him the angry, stupid, self-righteous antagonist of this children’s crossover cartoon. ↩
This is actually my favorite part of the movie. It’s not that I’m particularly fond of John Cena’s entrance music —though I do like the M.O.P. track it samples, “Ante Up”. Cena’s not the only wrestler in the WWE stable to use rap music, or even their own corny hip-hop track, as entrance music — though Cena’s massive popularity, specifically among the kids to whom this movie is marketed, ensures it’s is certainly among the most frequently heard and instantly recognizable themes in the WWE. That’s all pretty awesome, because in the first seconds of “Ante Up”, and therefore also in the first seconds of Cena’s theme music, there’s a cry: “AMADOU!”
If you check the reddit threads where these things are discussed, you’ll find a few TILs that explain “Amadou” is not some nonsense a hypeman shouted at the beginning of the track, but a reference to Amadou Diallo, the 22-year-old Guinean immigrant murdered outside his Bronx apartment by the NYPD in the winter of 1999. The four officers at the scene shot the unarmed Diallo 41 times.
You can be reminded of this by hearing about similar stories in the news; or you can watch a 50’s sitcom-inspired classic children’s cartoon straight-to-DVD WWE crossover movie’s reference to the cartoon avatar of the WWE’s most profitable wrestler’s sample of an M.O.P. track off the group’s fourth full-length album, Warriorz. This is how deep down the culture rabbit hole one can get when examining the content the WWE produces. At a certain point, inquiring whether or not the franchise fully understands the building blocks upon which the product itself is constructed becomes pointless — the stuff of reddit threads. ↩