If you aren’t up on all things professional wrestling, this weekend saw WrestleMania 34 take place in New Orleans. It was decent.
That was only the warm-up match, however, to what is undoubtedly the main event: the Tired Old Hack WWF Superstars Game Boy Roast Battle.
For those not down with the lingo, a ‘roast’ is when you ruthlessly insult someone else with a joke designed to hurt their feelings. A successful roast results in a ‘burn’, or so today’s youth reliably informs me.
If you’re new to roasting, here’s an example of some particularly nasty jokes during a roast of Donald Trump which took place back when he was thinking of running for president: a simpler time when he was considered merely a moron rather than a dangerous moron.
(Warning: there are some tasteless and offensive jokes in this video)
You get the idea. What we have here, then, is a roast battle in which five former WWF (now WWE) superstars will take turns roasting each other, via the medium of video games.
Specifically, they’ll be doing it through the pre-match dialogue sections in WWF Superstars on the Game Boy, a 1991 wrestling game developed by Rare.
Unlike most other wrestling games of its era, WWF Superstars has a unique pre-match ritual in which each wrestler smack talks each other. First, wrestler one says something generic about how great he is. Wrestler two then responds in a similar fashion.
Crucially, the pair then trade another set of comments, this time catered specifically at their opponent. Put Hulk Hogan against the Ultimate Warrior, for example, and they’ll call each other out on certain elements of their persona. Thus the roast battle is born.
There are five wrestlers in WWF Superstars. I’ve played through the game with all five of them and captured screens of every combination of match-up.
In this battle, each superstar will get to deliver five lines: a generic one about themselves, followed by one aimed at each of their opponents.
I will evaluate each line, giving my views and analysis on them.
Finally, after every superstar has had their say, I will decide who is the overall WWF Superstars roast champion.
This is all very serious business, as you can tell.
‘Macho King’ Randy Savage
Real name: Randy Poffo
Years active: 32
Finishing move: Flying elbow drop
Better known as Macho Man, when WWF Superstars hit the Game Boy Randy Savage was going through his ‘heel’ (bad guy) phase as the Macho King instead.
Of the five contestants in this roast battle, Savage is the only one with previous experience of actual roasting.
In his absolutely abysmal 2003 rap album(!) Be A Man, the title track is essentially a three-minute diss aimed at Hulk Hogan, with such gems as:
“Your movies are straight to video, the box office can’t stand / While I got myself a role in Spider-Man.”
Granted, this role was a two-minute one as wrestler Bonesaw McGraw, and Hogan had a similarly minor role in Gremlins 2, but the point remains.
Real name: Terry Bollea
Years active: 36
Finishing move: Big boot and legdrop
Status: Alive, disgraced
Even if you aren’t a wrestling fan, you’ve almost certainly heard of Hulk Hogan. Much like John Cena today, he’s one of the few wrestlers who transcended the boundaries of the wrestling industry and became part of popular culture.
He’s been a movie star (although No Holds Barred, Suburban Commando and Mr Nanny aren’t exactly classics), he’s been a television personality and he even ran his own pasta restaurant for a while.
He even dipped his toe into the music pond too, releasing an album called Hulk Rules that’s even worse than Randy Savage’s.
In recent years, he’s been out of the wrestling business after he was recorded in private making racist comments and was subsequently abandoned by the WWE.
Given the sheer caucasity of his opponents in this roast battle, however, it seems unlikely that this ugliness will rear its head again.
The Ultimate Warrior
Real name: Warrior
Years active: 23
Finishing move: Gorilla press drop and running splash
Born as James Hellwig, this larger-than-life character legally changed his name to Warrior in 1993. That’s just Warrior, with no first name, which must have been a bastard when filling out forms.
The Ultimate Warrior was a huge superstar in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, and his sheer size and energy more than made up for his bizarre rambling interviews (which don’t really bode well for this roast battle).
After he left the WWE in 1998 following accusations of a breach of contract, Warrior remained on bad terms with them for more than a decade and a half, until he returned in 2014 to be inducted into their Hall of Fame.
Tragically, he died just three days later, leaving behind his wife Dana Warrior, his daughters, and his daft surname.
Real name: Curt Hennig
Years active: 23
Finishing move: The Perfect Plex
Mr Perfect’s gimmick was that he was infallible: everything he did was to perfection, whether wrestling-related or otherwise.
There were a number of promo clips shown on WWF TV shows in which he bowled a perfect game of 300, hit home runs in baseball and caught his own passes in American football.
He went on an undefeated streak in the WWF for over a year, until Hulk Hogan beat him. He won two Intercontinental Championships at the WWF, as well as the Heavyweight Championship at rival company WCW.
When I was a kid, my brother and I used to call him Mr Pervert because we thought it was funny, even though we didn’t really know what that word meant.
‘The Million Dollar Man’ Ted DiBiase
Real name: Ted DiBiase
Years active: 24
Finishing move: The Million Dollar Dream
When it comes to being a good heel in wrestling, it helps to have a character trait that the fans will immediately hate.
The Million Dollar Man had a brilliant one: he was stinking rich.
He was so wealthy that he had a spring, summer, autumn and winter residence, and instead of trying to win titles he just bought his own diamond-encrusted one, the Million Dollar Championship.
In this roast battle, DiBiase has an edge in that he’s the only wrestler who isn’t either dead or an exposed racist.
Given that the now-retired DiBiase is now a Christian minister and travels the world preaching at churches and conferences, however, it seems unlikely that he’ll take advantage of this information.
Round 1: ‘Macho King’ Randy Savage
Up first is rap album butcher Randy Savage.
Let’s see if he’s able to live up to his name and deliver some savage burns to his opponents.
After delivering his open statement, Randy will then address each other superstar in order. Over to you, chief.
An aggressive start from the Macho King there, demanding that when he talks his opponents “better shut up and pay attention”. That said, in a roast battle such a request is redundant since that’s sort of the whole point.
His dismissal of DiBiase’s cash is a strong one: the theory that mere wealth isn’t enough to escape an arse-booting is sound and I’m sure it’ll have the lad sweating buckets.
His takedown of Mr Perfect, however, is a little lacking in bite. “Mr Imperfect is more like it” is the sort of thing you’d expect at an amateur level roast battle event, whereas these chaps are supposed to be professionals.
Sadly, with his momentum lost, Savage ends with an ultimately toothless pair of taunts, merely telling the Ultimate Warrior that he won’t back down from him and informing Hulk Hogan – his so-called enemy – that he should save his strength because he’ll need it.
In all, a promising start let down by the lad’s arse collapsing halfway through.
Round 2: Hulk Hogan
The Hulkster is easily the most famous and well-loved of the five contestants – well, at least he was before he got all N-wordy – but will the quality of his put-downs reflect his level of fame?
Hit us with it, Hulk.
For a man who once enjoyed global success, Hulk Hogan’s attempts at roasting are about as effective as Nemo’s attempts at staying within eyesight of his old man.
His opening salvo – that “this is going to be a fight to the finish, big dude” – is little more than stating the obvious: if a fight doesn’t go “to the finish” then it’s infinite, and that isn’t the plan here.
He doesn’t ever recover from this piss-poor start, sadly. Calling Mr Perfect “a perfect disgrace” is rubbish, because he says it as if that’s a common phrase and it just isn’t: he’s pulled it out of his arse.
He can’t outdo the Ultimate Warrior so he attempts to talk up his own fanbase instead, and even his token attempt at a money pun when dealing with Ted DiBiase is weak.
Worst of all, though, is his feeble challenge to Macho King Randy Savage to “get it on”. I feel the need to remind you that this is a man who created a rap song insulting Hogan, and also once recorded a bizarre training video calling Hogan “a fucking punk” while also threatening to take Triple H’s wife. “Let’s get it on” doesn’t really cut it.
An extremely disappointing showcase from the star of Santa With Muscles.
Round 3: The Ultimate Warrior
Considering the Warrior barely made sense half the time, it’s perhaps fair to not expect much from him in this roast battle.
Prove us wrong, you mononymous musclebound monolith.
Given the WWF steroid scandal in 1994 it’s perhaps bold of Warrior to open with a description of what’s flowing through his veins, even though in this case it’s little more than the blood of previous warriors.
Predictably, he’s all over the place when it comes to wrestler-specific jibes. He dismisses grammar with reckless abandon when calling out the Macho King, choosing not to entertain the concept of a full stop.
He threatens to reveal Mr Perfect as someone who actually isn’t perfect at all: this attempt at exposing a wrestler’s gimmick, which in wrestling parlance is known as “breaking kayfabe”, is a somewhat underhand technique.
His Hogan put-down is standard, by-the-books “I’m stronger than you” bumwash, but then things escalate quickly as he promises to gain possession of Ted DiBiase’s soul.
It’s hard to come to a definitive verdict on the effectiveness of Warrior’s roasting abilities, then, but given his past promos we should probably be grateful his lines were at least comprehensible.
Round 4: Mr Perfect
Time for Mr Perfect to show us his catalogue of contempt.
Since he claims that everything he does is perfect, one would hope that his choice of mockeries will be suitably flawless.
Let’s put the theory to the test.
Well, it’s decent, but it ain’t perfect. Indeed, it seems that some of Mr Perfect’s burns of choice come from the big book of clichés.
Many’s a time we’ve been told over the years to look up a certain word in a dictionary to find a picture of someone’s face, so a similar suggestion here is nothing new.
Likewise, “the bigger they are, the harder they fall” is about as cookie-cutter as it gets in the grand scheme of things.
He does attempt to join in the usual money-related jokes when addressing Ted DiBiase, but he bottles it when dealing with the Macho King: “Perfect simply can’t lose” is a bit of an awkward sentence.
By the time he reaches Hogan he’s reduced to a husk of frustration, with him simply declaring he’s “had it” and finding himself incapable of forming anything remotely harsh.
Round 5: ‘The Million Dollar Man’ Ted DiBiase
And so we come to the final contestant, the richest man in wrestling.
Having already been informed by Randy Savage that money can’t buy the right to avoid an arse-booting, it’ll be interesting to see if Ted DiBiase’s wealth has at least helped him acquire some choice slaggings.
When you’re ready, Theodore.
I’m a sucker for a good pun, and DiBiase’s cents/sense wordplay is a fucking belter. Fair play to the guy for that.
He drops his focus a little after this, hitting the Ultimate Warrior with a rather generic threat suggesting he’s going to drop him on his arse. Anyone could make such a claim, in reality.
After this dip, though, DiBiase finds momentum again and delivers three knockout blows in succession, all playing on the fact he’s more loaded than Rambo’s machine gun.
Telling Macho King it’s time for him to cash out and explaining to Hogan that for his money (“and [he has] plenty”) he’s a punk are strong moves to make.
He then rounds things off perfectly (which is ironic) by whapping Mr Perfect with some more lovely punnery, a play on the classic “do you want to leave a tip?” “aye, here’s one: don’t be a wank” restaurant ritual.
Given that DiBiase is the final competitor, I think it’s safe to say that means…
The winner: ‘The Million Dollar Man’ Ted DiBiase
Take it away, Young Vince McMahon™:
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