Monster Wars’ only flaw is time. The god-tier promos? Thirty seconds. The tanks flopping through the air? Ten seconds, if they take it slow.
Then there’s the dead air stitched to each episode, like goat loins on a 1920’s patient or 2020’s fitness guru. That could probably go.
In case you missed enlightenment: Monster Wars showed monster trucks and wrestling mascots making magic. Twelve minutes of it a week, tops.
Between races, they panic. I would too; an hour a week sounds easy until the first engine explodes. That leaves three bad choices. They can replay everything six times (Physical 100), televise vast fields of nothing (Survivor), or dive behind the scenes (Brazzers). They enter Door Three, but emerge from Door Two. Which is still better than Door One.
Unfiltered insight would be interesting, but lifestyle brands (all nerd shit counts) don’t do insight. They’re in the filter business with Joe Camel and data miners. A segment either drives sales or fires you.
Glancing at the archives, my take’s odd. Most retrospectives claim Monster Wars needed more reality, and less of this:
Incorrect. Ignore the heretics. When Ragnatruck comes, they will meet The Sword. The Sword is a 12,000 pound truck, and his mascot’s Kenny Omega.
Every show needs this. From Jeopardy to state funerals. If pundits dressed like the Doomslayer, I’d still avoid TV news like death. But my third CNN joke would be nicer.
The Really Real Reality segments eat momentum and human memory. They’re holes in spacetime, absorbing all light between WCW promos. Turns out the Warp looks like early YouTube, before we learned that kid’s songs and terrorist manifestos did numbers. Especially combined.
Besides, have you seen reality? Here’s a snapshot:
Things are tense. Instead, we could have:
Easy example: the premiere has a mini-doc about a fan. Host Luanne Lee, a fellow member of the Peter Parker name club, introduces it at gunpoint:
The delivery? Think a person imitating a robot imitating a person. Which, given the cast, might be what she’s going for. 1993’s between Battlestar Galactica series, so that niche is open.
Every word rings with corporate insecurity. “Women watch this. Romneys of women. Studio women are watching races instead of cutting this take. Thanks, Jane.” And I’m sure plenty do. Monster Jam’s a Texas-sized Death Race, who can look away? But there’s an art to defensive bragging.
Here, it pays to be less like wrestling.
Then we get Jim Davidson. He’s the Monster Wars field reporter, and they grew him in a pod.
The delivery? Selling you your own catalytic converter.
I don’t know Jim or his story. He might be from Invader’s planet, where sincere people talk this way. But he sounds like a stooge to my Earthling ears. I don’t think any content could survive this tone. “Juliet–yes you, Juliet, with the hair–you’ve got it going on. IT with a capital eye-tee. Shazam! We should get hitched and chug poison p-p-p-PRONTO. Don’t tell your Dad.”
Our winner’s named Deb. Jim greets her with the same upbeat voice hacks use to wring content from juggalos.
Still, Deb’s game. TikTok hadn’t trained us to distrust anyone that smiled without sexual interest. She’s ready to connect with monster truck fans worldw—okay, nationwide. Monster Wars is more American than next week’s massacre.
Deb’s job fits her addiction brilliantly: she can warp zone to any heavyweight car crash in the country. It’s pure synergy, like being a Drake fan and fourteen.
I’m not sure the agency even pays her. She shows Jim and his hollow eyes a map of USHRA (that’s Truck WCW) shows she’s attended. It’s transcontinental.
Deb’s watched sumo racing in more states than I’ve breathed. That’s awesome. But it’s a big world, and she’s a sane human. The race is still on. I know the biggest Monster Wars fangirl tattooed Invader on her face. The words “scripted” and “carbon footprint” trigger acts of unimaginable violence. She watched Deb and Jim speak live, from a rooftop.
Well, that or we’ve since mastered creating and exploiting obsession. But that would be–man, monster trucks are sweet. Vroom!
At first, Invader’s color scheme seems to clash with his truck. Then you realize his space-gun matches, and life is alright.
Deb looks like a nice friend, so this segment is doomed. How many friends would you watch on Saturday morning? While they watched something more interesting? That you have easy access to? Twitch doesn’t count, that’s softcore findom.
Still, running one doc a season isn’t crazy. Invader needs time to translate “I LASER YOUR GOD” into space-peasant. Yet the premiere has two non-racing shorts, draining valuable crashing time. The second segment advertises Grave Digger, who’s already on the show. And wins this episode’s tournament. And is the monster truck people in Union states know.
It feels a little self-indulgent.
Monster Wars has a small tunnel vision problem. The kind that makes Anderson Cooper commit live PR hara-kiri. One truck matters, and it’s not the world champion. Each episode’s Grave Digger against the rest of Destiny’s Child/D12/Odd Future/G-Unit/The Z Fighters/The Cleveland Cavaliers. Salieri was right: Always poison the main act if you want to live.
It follows that Grave Digger’s driver, Dennis Anderson, gets a short. Even I have a doc, and I’ve never crashed into anything courts could prove.
Luanne eases us in again, and gets a much stronger start. This time, her teleprompter Elvira schtick enhances the material. It feels like a Robocop gag, complete with looming mechanical violence.
Bullshit or not, “I have no fear” is perfect. That’s my new go-to for dates, interviews, and DHS interrogations. The rest of English is a waste. Fearful nouns for fearful men.
Between that line and commentary’s worship, the UnderTrucker has a little mystique. Let’s destroy it.
Jim Davidson (God damn it) heads down to North Carolina, America’s best Carolina, to see how Dennis Anderson lives. Maybe I’m bigoted against TV hosts. With the company ringer, Jim still sounds like he’s harassing commuters for likes, or convincing a rich moron CNN+ is the future.
Lord knows what Dennis is actually like. I assume he’s been coached into a second personality. But in this narrative, he’s always Grave Digger. He’s become one with the lime green flames. For example, Dennis drives a miniature Grave Digger around town, which makes him mayor by default.
But Mini-Digger is old news. Dennis Anderson has a side project: a gift shop dedicated to Grave Digger, with a museum attached. The Grave Digger Center for Promoting Grave Digger sounds like a temple to human ego, since that’s the objective truth. I still admire it. If slamming Sherman tanks into arena walls doesn’t justify self-love, what does? Sometimes, you have to grow your own roses.
After this Grave Digger feature, Monster Wars gets back to Grave Digger. But the Pueblo, Colorado stop has time to fill too, and they don’t have a third idea. So we dive into another truck’s driver.
The best truck, free from human burdens like winning races and avoiding walls. Ignore Terran scorecards: Invader’s undefeated in Kr’zkk.
Are you ready? I’m not. Surely the best mascot represents a part-time secret agent. Or a real truck-driving, glark-loving alien. Right?
Meet Ray Piorowski. He’s perfectly normal.
That’s not a dig. I don’t expect LeBron to dribble in his sleep. I don’t expect Stephen King to tell real trains riddles. I don’t expect Wired profilers to hate themselves after five. Outside this show’s good half, Ray’s a normal human that eats solid food with his Earth wife.
Remember: this is a Saturday morning show called Monster Wars. The opening has four explosions and 1.5 vampires. Unless Ray’s hiding a grenade in his mustache, we’re off-message. The editor even taunts us with a slick description of crashing. Right before we watch Ray golf.
Bonus points to Ray. That’s circus life in a nutshell.
There’s another highlight: wrestling’s influence on Monster Wars includes labor eating shit. Ray has a side hustle towing cars. Great gig, if you don’t make a conglomerate millions pulverizing your spine every weekend. USHRA read Vince McMahon’s entire book.
The Pueblo stop has more air to fill. But Ray showed a bit too much humanity for the board’s taste. It’s time to expand the franchise. Now that Monster Wars has the juicy timeslot after Power Rangers, they’re soft-piloting tractor pulling.
For the uninitiated (me), tractor pulls celebrate Conan’s final victory. Steel is much, much stronger than flesh. It’s not close. A strongman can only beat a tractor with a bigger tractor.
Impressive stuff. But something’s missing.
Even mascotless, they’re fine altars to steel. Thulsa Doom is a streak on the back right tire. The first self-driving tractor will pull us into a new era, complete with sentient flame vents. USHRA can’t wait to pay drivers negative money.
With automation charging ahead, you might wonder what’s next. It’s unclear. Some say that after the machine war, we will envy the de—man, look at that tractor go!
Jim doesn’t sweat the machine war, because he plans to sell us out. Trust me: he plays the hunk of the week in a Charmed episode, so he’s villainous by default. Until then, he gesticulates beside two brothers without media training. The Walshes are a tractor-pulling family, and the stakes for designated driver have never been higher.
That shot’s from 1993, by the way. Monster Wars decided that Milwaukee looks like Dorothy’s farm. During my stay, it looked more like blacking out at 4 PM. But this plays better on Saturday mornings.
The interview’s more saber-rattling for the USHRA itself. Who else could help two brothers achieve stardom? Stardom requiring a second job, and a few new nerves down the line? Also, USHRA owns the vehicle branding. And usually the vehicle itself. Again, the wrestling connection only starts with the costumes.
Is anything worse than an ad for something you’re already watching? Yes. Resisting the machines. But in entertainment, recursive ads are a common sin. One of many MBA crimes our saviours shall punish.
Purges aside, few things make me smile like Monster Wars. I just wish more of it was Monster Wars. My son had so much left to teach us.
Everything above is still worth it for forty seconds of sci-fi glossassia. I’ve sat through much more for much less. Anime that made Dragon Ball Z look like flash fiction. Seminars about colonialism in Wishbone. Green card marriage. Only one had a screaming, gun-waving alien. Quite the seminar.
I’ll remember Monster Wars for the peaks (Invader) rather than the valleys (all other content). Life’s better that way. At least my edit of it.
Monster Wars Week is brought to you by a hot Hot Dog tip from Monster Mo, which is an anagram for Momonster.