Ape Week: Rasslor 🌭

I was wrong: hats on hats kick ass. Today’s feature is a concept nesting doll, and fantastic. The superhero spinoff (pink bandana) of a boy genius comedy (wraparound shades) parodied a Marvel storyline (backup shades) by adding a wrestling parody (black bandana) featuring our savior (10-gallon hat). That’s rare, and I own a stereotypical number of hats.

Meet “Rasslor.” The apex of Dexter’s Laboratory. Impressive, since it’s in the second episode. Westworld took longer to peak.

Unlike Westworld, the rest of animator/director/Warner Bros. prisoner Genndy Tartakovsky’s catalog hits. “Rasslor” just feels like a finisher opening a match. After Galactic Conqueror Randy Savage, it takes burning furniture to keep viewers awake. Or samurai in the future. Depends on the crowd.

Some context helps the monkey-power shine.

The short’s a parody of And They Shall Call Him… Champion!, a fan-favorite Marvel Annual. I’m the fan. When Earth was young, a crossover brawl could unfold in one issue. In this case, an alien boxer called Champion is the champion of the universe.

First contact goes poorly: he’s here to beat the piss out of all our non-champions, and blow up the planet if he feels like it. If you remember Good Futurama, you’ve seen another riff on this. More importantly: if you remember Good Futurama, check your cholesterol. Lifelong health starts today.

It’s a great time, but there aren’t any apes. Unless you have a hardcore misanthropy issue, in which case all media’s been downhill for you since cave paintings. Even more damningly, there isn’t a single panel of Randy Savage. I’ve covered some flops/tragedies/crimes against humanity, but that may be the darkest.

Champion also refuses to say “boxing.” He speaks Earth-peasant otherwise, or at least my mortal brain reads it that way. But Champion dodges boxing like “zombie” or “war crime.” Everything is “sport.” But the sport is boxing. There are gloves and everything. And they care way more about the rules than on Earth.

Thor gets disqualified for violating the rules of boxing. Hammers are for construction and ice skating.

Sasquatch gets disqualified for unsportsmanlike bleeding.

Hulk gets disqualified for fuck off we need a story.

Leaving the Thing, who’s on the cover. This came out a year after Rocky, so you can imagine what uncopyrightable pluck and resilience he shows before a cosmic assbeating machine. Not to spoil the next MCU phase, but Earth doesn’t blow up, and they’re swapping Kang for Doom.

Gags aside, it’s a great story. I just call our sun “the broken flashlight keeping me awake.” Doctors say compulsive mockery’s treatable, but only for people with real insurance. Until then, I have vintage comics.

“Rasslor” is better.

That’s not the usual line for a parody, sequel, or open theft (the three dominant American modes). “Rasslor” gives each hat enough TLC for mandatory smiles. You can trust me: I’m famously neutral to animation, wrestling, and callous violence. A relatable outsider, just like everyone in campaign ads.

“Wait, how does a ’00s cartoon expect kids to get a parody of a ’70s comic book?” That’s the thing. If you’re good enough, no one has to know what you’re talking about more than half the time. It’s like Zhao Gao told the emperor: “Don’t worry, my lord. Everyone understands Haman Karn jokes.”

Randy Savage aside, “Rasslor” has two key observations on the original. “That’s a peak Russo number of DQs,” and “this could use a telekinetic monkey.” Leading to this image:

Sorry, that’s the first segment. Dexter’s Lab had variety. I meant this image:

Dial M for Monkey’s first impression. When aliens get bored of watching us boil ourselves, they won’t punch Earth to death. They’ll DDT it through Mars.

Dial M for Monkey’s a show within a show. The main show, Dexter’s Laboratory, follows a preteen mad scientist. Nominally. Where an episode ends up is anyone’s guess. “Unstable genius copes with normals” prints money at least once a decade, thanks to the built-in blank check for whatever you feel like doing that week.

The sub-show’s about this monkey.

Who’s secretly this monkey.

Summoned by Genndy’s subsconscious.

You might assume the monkey talks. Fuck that. It’s all chirps and screeches, as the comedy gods intended. If I cared what a monkey thought, I’d read…where should I aim this ether? Who deserves the heat? I haven’t bashed my brain with Times op-eds in a bit.

There’s a chance I’m biased: I’m a lifelong Genndy advocate. I’d tolerate seven Jar-Jars and two Palpatine cranes for his Star Wars shorts. I even considered watching Hotel Transylvania for human money. I think of him as Walt Disney with a much worse contract and no eugenics cred. If I’m wrong about that last bit, smother me instead of telling me.

Why bother? My favorite movie has six minutes of Tarantino feet. I’m not even sure my next Fucking Day feature’s legal. An ass man is barely data. Just know that Billy Gunn’s probably Genndy’s second favorite wrestler.

In any case, Monkey’s powers vary by episode because it’s a monkey. Bemoan that on a battleboard and your soul is dead. For today’s purposes, he’s Spider-Man. Slot Pete in, and nothing changes until the Devil steals his wife again. Comics are odd.

Spider-Monkey is among the champions called to battle Rasslor, who we’ll call Randy Savage going forward. Beyond Randy’s delivery, he has Randy’s dialogue ticks, mega-ego, and planet-destroying lats. He also says “wrestle,” giving him a default edge on Champion. The following speech, delivered entirely in Savage, made Saturday morning glow:

We’re cooked. Time to wait for death. Our best counter wanders Gawker’s ruins, pondering the riddle of Hulkamania: should he have recorded slur-free sex, or sex-free slurs? Without a leg drop in sight, unshackled by fair use, Randy Savage crushes two decades of looming blockbusters.

Including Holiday T’Challa:

Captain Superman, avatar of Americana:

The Pewter Samurai:

He skips Monkey.

Black Lightning Minus Lightning:

Just Iron Man:

The Incredible Hulk, Extremely Copyrighted Character:

And Thor, but metal?

I have too many Amon Amarth albums for that joke. Still, a dark day for spandex and Gibson Guitars. Randy snaps a perfectly good Flying V/Thor’s spine, leaving mankind the same odds it has against climate change.

The episode’s wrestling hat stands out: EarthSlam 1995 includes a U.S.A chant, a commentary desk on the right side of grating, near fall spam in the final fight, and an invincible heel champion booked above every other possible concern. It might seem natural that a show shelling out for pro-wrestler cameo would get the format, but studios can always find money a fresh pyre. Little Hercules cast Big Show and Hulk Hogan as warring deities, and they fought by pointing, sneering, and hoping that the effects gods would have mercy. They didn’t.

Oddly, the wrestling version of this plot has cleaner finishes. Everyone in the Marvel Annual had a doctor’s note for losing (but Sasquatch), lest monthly sales dip. Dial M for Monkey knows Randy Savage needs no justification, which smooths things along. The full cast of Dexter’s Lab’s second spinoff goes on an all-pin cleanse.

Besides, it’s hilarious that both versions bury Thor.

Until one champion remains. Not Champion, or the champion, but a champion. You know what I meant. It’s Monkey.

Randy reacts the way anyone would: he ducks fighting an ape and goes back to battering parodies. Granted, his motives are reversed. Randy assumes he’d rip the chimp’s arms off. That’s not a human problem, despite the annual attempt, headline, and awkward funeral. Like Champion, Randy’s here for sport. Unlike Champion, he wields wrestling logic.

Monkey reacts the way any chimp would: screeching and attacking the rival primate. Revealing Randy’s one post-Elizabeth weakness:

Hold on.

Wait for it.

Here it comes.

Right, Randy Savage doesn’t have a weakness. This monkey’s boned.

But pluck earns Monkey victory’s understudy: pity. The force pulling most degrees, relationships, and treaties across the finish line. For the first time, Randy understands what it’s like to have biceps smaller than a second, also-jacked person. He finds respect for the weakest creature he can imagine: a psychic supersoldier designed by Earth’s greatest genius.

Sorry, I forgot a line.

Heartwarming. And proof that you can’t just jam monkeys into something and expect it to work. You need to jam in monkeys and kickouts.

Don’t worry, he can’t tell the difference.

And that’s why we celebrate Ape Week. To honor our savior –Randy Savage, not the monkey– sparing our small Terran lives. And embracing that scientifically-modified gorilla –the monkey, not Randy Savage– as a role model. Remember: Randy Savage could return one day, and find us wanting. Cleanse the faithless among you, until only the Children of the Bandana remain.

This article was brought to you by our fine sponsor and Hot Dog Supreme: John Minkoff, the Champion that challenges all comers at every daycare in the greater Fort Worth area.

3 replies on “Ape Week: Rasslor 🌭”

I feel like I forget how much Dexters Lab I consumed up until a single reminder, and then suddenly there’s lore in my mind I never knew. The superhero roomates. The puppets. The reocurring Deedee ‘Charlies Angels’ Parody. Dexters lab truly rode the line between “what if we reference old as hell media” writing and “actually good cartoons”, and I say that with adoration in my heart.

The Racer X episode had me crying I was laughing so hard. “…and I never saw your sister again…”

“Daaaad, I’m right here!”

“It’s like I can still hear her voice!”

Good times. I pull that gag on my kids to this day.

“… pity. The force pulling most degrees, relationships, and treaties across the finish line.” is probably the most brilliant Ambrose Biercesque definitions I’ve read in a long time. Well played!

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