#wcw That Time Hulk Hogan and Macho Man Showed Up on a Baywatch Episode About Skin Cancer
By Mike Cardillo
Welcome to another installment of the highly popular #WCW segment here at The Big Lead. Today we explore the time back in 1996 when Hulk Hogan, Macho Man Randy Savage, Ric Flair, Big Van Vader and Kevin Sullivan showed up on Baywatch. Blame Lisk for this.
It must be nice to be rich. Let me be more specific — not just rich but obscenely wealthy like, say, Ted Turner. When you have that kind of money you buy television stations and start movies (for guys who like movies) at 6:35 on a Thursday night, because you can. You can also spend millions of dollars to hire aging wrestlers like Hulk Hogan to change the fabric of your own federation, WCW, as Turner did in the early 90s.
Alas, World Championship Wrestling is gone and forgotten now, relegated to a specific niche of 90s Internet nostalgia, mostly for the Shockmaster incident. For a time, though, WCW was actually relevant — at least in wrestling terms, mostly thanks to the whole n.W.o. gimmick and America’s brief love affair with fanny packs. Pre-n.W.o. the company blatantly copied the WWF template from the 80s. Prop up Hulk Hogan, give him the belt, have him pal around with celebrities and extol the virtues of good, prayers-sayin’, vitamin-eating living to America’s youth. Come the 90s, Hogan wasn’t headlining WrestleMania I alongside Mr. T anymore, rather fighting Big Van Vader in a cage match at Bash at the Beach with Pamela
Anderson Lee and the rest of the Baywatch gang in attendance.
Yes, this is something that actually happened. Yes, the entire 42-minute Baywatch episode with its German title intro — Baywatch – Die Rettungsschwimmer von Malibu — is uploaded to YouTube. Yes, it is about as cheesy as the mid-90s get, brother.
And that’s not even the strangest aspect of it. Somehow an episode of (syndicated) television that begins with Hulk Hogan and Randy ‘Macho Man’ Savage racing each other on jet skis and getting distracted by “babes” ends with Mitch Buchanan (David Hasselhoff) embracing Stephanie Holden (Alexandra Paul) on beachside rock formation following a devastating skin cancer diagnosis delivered by a doctor sporting a long, flowing mullet.
Look, this is an episode of television that is nearly two decades old about sexy lifeguards in skimpy clothing interacting with professional wrestlers, but shouldn’t someone have had a little common sense somewhere in the process and scripted something a little less weighty for an episode that also includes Vader smashing a basketball in his hands?
Or how about this pacing? It’s more than little jarring to cut from a scene where Stephanie finds out her cancer might have spread, to this fucking asinine montage featuring the Hulkster’s shitty WCW “American Made” theme song — a pathetic rip off attempt at the iconic “Real American.”
As for the actual plot here (yes there is one), Hulkster almost drowns during the jet ski race with Mach and is saved by C.J. Parker. He’s instantly smitten by the red spandex and spends the rest of the episode — like Borat — trying to make sexy time with Pamela Anderson’s character. Hulkster’s seduction skills include rolling up with a sleeveless Levi’s denim shirt.
Yes, in retrospect we can kind of laugh at this, but damn, it’s pretty pervy and sexist. Perhaps the writers were making metaphor, Hulkster wears red tights, has blond hair and is tan — the same as C.J. — so maybe he’s actually in love with himself deep down on a Freudian level. Nope, nevermind this is Baywatch we’re talking about. It’s just creepy.
There’s also a lot of weight lifting at Venice Beach. Like, seriously, a lot of weight lifting. There’s even a scene at Lifeguard HQ where some bro is doing shirtless bicep curls as Mitch walks past.
Eventually it’s revealed Hogan has ties to the local youth sports center, which has fallen on hard times. Lo and behold the club is in jeopardy of being sold … to Ric Fucking Flair who is going to develop it into condos or something. I’m going to pretend the reason for this is because Flair wanted to tack on”Real Estate Buyin'” to his famous, “The Stylin’, profilin’, limousine riding, jet flying, kiss-stealing, wheelin’ n’ dealin’ son of a gun!” quote. Whooooooooo!
In an amazing coincidence, Flair rolls up on the weight lifting in his limo with The Taskmaster Kevin Sullivan and Vader in tow to mock Hogan about his impending property windfall. (Come to think of it, this plotting is ripped off from the Cyndi Lauper song about the Goonies that cast Roddy Piper, Classy Freddie Blassie and the Iron Sheik as villains.)
The Hulkster isn’t hearing any of Flairs taunts about the property development and drops this truth bomb on his foes, “You know what they say, brother, those who can, do, those who can’t don’t.” You have to wonder,why didn’t Hogan release a “Zen of Hulkster” book circa 1997? Oh right, he was too busy selling pasta makers to all the little Hulkaroos out there.
Anyways, you’ll never guess what happens next: Hogan challenges Flair to a wrestling match for the property deed to the youth center. Yeah, I know, crazy, right? Technically, Macho Man gets Flair and Hogan fights Vader (in a secretly arranged cage match — cue evil laughter), while Sullivan is just there to wear face paint in public, apparently. To confirm the plot’s forward momentum, Hogan delivers this gem while pointing one of his 24-inch pythons at the Nature Boy, “Saturday, on the beach — and bring the escrow papers, Flair!”
Allow a moment for that to sink in. Honestly I wish I wrote that line instead of making pithy quips about it 19 years after the fact.
For a piece of television so inherently ludicrous, there are a lot of sober scenes about skin cancer — which is nothing to make light in the least — juxtaposed around beefy wrestlers cackling and saying “brother.” Baywatch deserves a least some plaudits for Stephanie scolding her sister Caroline (Yasmine Bleeth) for using SPF 8. Of course, Wikipedia informs me that Stephanie died via a “lightning strike at sea” in season seven, so I guess Baywatch never exactly mastered compassionate, subtle adult plot points around its slow-motion beach jogging sequences .
As you can probably surmise at this point, Hogan et al have their bash at the beach, which is actually taken from the 1995 Bash at the Beach Pay-Per-View. Hogan — shocker — beats Vader via stinky leg drop to save the youth center.
Hulkamania rules, we did it for the kids! Whoooo!
Oh wait, that needs quotation marks because it’s an actual line of dialogue. “Hulkamania rules, we did it for the kids! Whoooo!”
* Hopefully in the future we’ll have a Macho Man (RIP) voice option for Siri or whatever. His voice-overs during the jet ski scene are incredible. Actually, everything Randy Savage says in his episode is incredible.
* I made it this far without mentioning either Baywatch Nights or Thunder in Paradise. Well, guess those will have to wait for a rainy day since we’re well past the 1,000-word threshold by now.
* Baywatch … well … it’s not Masterpiece Theater, but it did find its niche in the pre-Internet media landscape. I’d guess the opening credit sequence will be taught in film schools for the duration of human history.
* Hogan said “brother” 12 times during this episode.
* 1995 was a big year for Pamela Anderson and wrestling. In April she escorted Big Daddy Cool Diesel (Kevin Nash) to the ring at WrestleMania XI and then appeared in this episode of which was filmed at the 1995 Bash at the Beach in July but aired in 1996.
* Hogan and Hasselhoff never interact during the episode, which is odd given their iconic 90s status. Again, this is basically two episodes smushed into one — likely at the behest of some cackling television executive who probably didn’t realize the professional wrestling synergy would be buffeted by the other serious plot line.
* To repeat: Skin cancer is a serious issue and nothing to make light about on a pithy Internet post.
At the 1996 Bash at the Beach, this happened.
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