Hey Dude was a comedy that ran on Nickelodeon from 1989 to 1991 and was re-run for many years to come. As a kid, what attracted me most to the show was that it was on TV, and that reputation certainly holds up to this day.
But what brings Hey Dude onto Wrestlecrap is that, like other Nickelodeon shows to come (Ren & Stimpy, Pete & Pete) it had a wrestling episode.
The episode, entitled, “Killer Ernst”, starts off with the titular Mr. Ernst watching wrestling while typing angrily on his computer.
This is very true to real life, except this was before the Internet, so he’s only using his computer for accounting, and the reason he’s upset is that his dude ranch’s profits are down.
As the Masked Marauder wins the match to advance to the semifinals of an unnamed tournament, Ernst wrestles himself out of his chair and strains his neck. Cue the opening credits.
Now, Hey Dude was unexceptional in every way but one: its theme music.
If the Smoking Gunns had used this as their entrance theme, not only would they be in the Hall of Fame today, but New Day would still be trying to beat their record for longest title reign.
None of the cast members went on to much fame, except for one: You might recognize Melody as Ben Stiller’s wife… sorry, that’s sexist.
I mean, you might recognize Melody as Christine Taylor’s husband’s wife.
After the intro, Ben Ernst gathers his teenaged staff to tell them about his big idea to attract business to the Bar None ranch.
He asks the kids what the biggest thing is in America today. Rock ’n’ roll? No. Texas? No, you dunce. Besides, Alaska is bigger. But it’s not Alaska, either.
It’s sports! Sports were apparently very popular during the show’s brief run, and Mr. Ernst wanted to capitalize on the new craze before it fizzled out like CB radios, hula hoops, and video games.
Mr. Ernst says pro wrestling is “one of the biggest spectator sports”, presumably along with football, baseball, basketball, and many other sports that aren’t as conducive to sitcom shenanigans. That’s why he’s going to host a wrestling match right there at the ranch between the Masked Marauder and his tournament opponent, Captain Lou Albano.
Ernst himself has some experience in wrestling, having served as his high school team’s 112-pound water boy, but that should be irrelevant to the viewer because he’s not going to be the one wrestling. No way, no how!
Soon, the phones are ringing off the hook with wrestling fans buying tickets for the upcoming match.
Just then, the imposing Captain Lou enters. Captain Lou’s arrival so shocks the Bar None staff that they hang up their phones… twice.
Immediately, the gruff Captain starts making unusual and unreasonable demands, such as raw meat and a wake-up call every 20 minutes to make him mean.
He even makes Danny carry his bags full of rocks, which he eats to help his digestion. The rocks, not the bags — that would just be too over-the-top.
Speaking of over-the-top, Lou demands a dozen rawhide doggie chews to gnaw on while he works out.
Yeah right! Like Captain Lou works out.
Lou treats wimpy little Ben Ernst like a total chump, not even bothering to learn his name and calling him “Ernest.”
I bet he wouldn’t treat Rocky Melvin that way!
Lou demands photographers, citing his importance and his match with Hulk Hogan a year prior. Either the writers got their facts seriously wrong, or Captain Lou is a master bulls**tter (in which case, the writers got their facts seriously right).
When Lou finds out that Ernst is going to charge people to watch him train, he demands strict privacy, despite his demand ten seconds earlier for press and paparazzi.
“Nobody watches me train, Ernest. You got that? Nobody!” He’s right, you know. No one has ever seen Captain Lou Albano train.
He then threatens to tear out the first-time promoter’s spleen and dance all over it. No one has ever seen Captain Lou Albano do that, either.
In a better mood after having issued his threats of involuntary splenectomy, Lou lets Danny sample his pineapple-orange juice.
Danny quickly pukes it out because it’s a year past expiration. Lou likes it that way.
Lou even threatens to back out of the match unless he’s treated like the star he is (He’s been in People magazine for God’s sake!) and gets his money up front.
Ernst ignores his staff, who interrupt him about a very important phone call, to sign Lou’s contract guaranteeing him his money.
Turns out, the phone call was from Lou’s opponent, who had to cancel due to a kiln explosion.
That means that Ernst will have to cancel the match… but he’ll still be on the hook for Captain Lou’s guaranteed payday, putting the ranch out of business.
This is bad because he wants the ranch to remain in business.
Fortunately, the Masked Marauder already mailed his ring gear to the ranch for some reason…
…meaning Mr. Ernst himself can pose as the Marauder and wrestle Lou.
Unfortunately, after some more complaints about a lack of raw meat and ice, Lou says in so many words that he’d beat Ernst badly if they ever got in the ring together. His exact words are, “I’d beanbag bingbingbing splat!”
He also threatens to execute his finishing move, the “Deep Six”, on Ernst and the kids on his staff if they don’t shape up. Baron Corbin must have learned a lot from this episode. I mean the parts about hating children and always being pissed off. The “Deep Six” thing is probably a coincidence.
Ernst goes through a training session that doesn’t go very well…
…before breaking the news about the Masked Marauder no-showing to Lou. It isn’t easy because, to begin with, Lou is already steamed that his opponent is late getting to the ranch.
See, Captain Lou wants to rehearse his match with the Masked Marauder.
Bear in mind that this episode where wrestling is a work aired in 1990, just one year after the Captain went on the Morton Downey, Jr. Show and swore up and down that wrestling was real and that the outcomes of matches were never pre-determined…
…and eight years before he would go on the Fox network and flunk a lie detector test claiming that wrestling was real…
…which itself would air only two years before Lou’s Complete Idiot’s Guide to Wrestling would be published, which would say that wrestling was a work (and that The Rock’s real name was Rocky Melvin)
When Ernst tells Lou that he’ll be taking the Masked Marauder’s place, Lou tells him he’s going to beat him up for real.
Soon, it’s fight night, and for a guy who’s trying to save his ranch from financial ruin, you’d think Mr. Ernst would have scheduled the match for the day time so he wouldn’t need that expensive lighting rig…
…not to mention save 25% on the ring rope budget by ordering the traditional three ropes instead of four.
Our masked hero tries to run away from Lou in the opening moments…
…but pretty soon winds up, as they say on the range, getting his ass kicked.
Ernst ends up getting knocked so loopy he thinks he’s a little boy again, so Jake pretends to be his mom and tells him to tie his shoes.
Ernst ducks down, causing Lou to hit the turnbuckle…
…then falls onto the Captain for the 1-2-3.
After the match, Ersnt, now happily retired from sports entertainment, is seen in a neck brace fielding a call from a promoter.
It seems Jake has forged Ernst’s signature on a contract to wrestle a Samoan tag team.
I imagine this was Randy Savage’s reaction backstage when Jake Roberts’s cobra bit him and wouldn’t let go.
Now there’s a match they could have held on this show: Jake Roberts and his snakes vs. Randy Savage and those man-eating jackrabbits. And that killer cacti.