Donnybrook Theater

Donnybrook Theatre

I absolutely LOVE WWE “Classics On Demand” (formerly “24/7”, don’t see the point in the name change). Aside from wiping certain people completely from wrestling history, pixelating/muting copyrighted phrases or minimalizing the unique and creative contributions of certain talents, the pay channel does a great service to those of us who like to reminisce about the good old days, when a babyface from a foreign country can get a “U.S.A.!” chant and punching a heel manageress/valet in the face got a standing ovation from the rabid crowd of wrasslin’ fans. Yes, “the good old days” of wrestling are long gone but WWE’s “Classics On Demand” lets us relive those glorious, edited for content and copyright moments for 8 dollars a month plus certain FCC fees and services reflected on your cable/satellite bill. If you hate wrestling these days, do yourself a favor and get a subscription to this and you will resdiscover your love for it.

Actually, you’ll discover more than that, as this month, WWE “Classics On Demand” has the distinction of premiering a program that has NEVER been seen on television until this month. And I believe the first time EVER that Wrestlecrap has inducted something that has never been seen on television by a wide audience until now. But trust me, it’s well worth the induction.

We all remember the TNT show, right? Tuesday Night Titans. The television show that took our favorite and non-favorite wrestlers and tried to sell their characters (or lack thereof) to the public via the talk show format and unintentionally funny (At Home with Dr. D)…or completely unfunny (Polish Sausage Festival, I’m looking at you) sketches. The concept was a huge hit and proved to be a gold mine of WrestleCrap that RD, Blade, Harry, Derek, Sean, Madison and myself continue to dig from and emerge comedically wealthy.

Skip ahead to the year 1995, the wrestling business in general was suffering from a “depression”, so to speak. WWF was quickly sinking into quicksand with it’s “New Generation” stars that weren’t catching on with the fans and their main competition, WCW, was buying up all the “old” stars of the WWF that refused to ride off quietly into the sunset, while ECW in Philadelphia was providing the template for characters and storylines that would eventually be kyped by “the big two” promotions with no credit given.

In this very desperate atmosphere, the WWF decided to revive the spirit of the TNT show with a very similar show, only have it called…..Donnybrook Theater. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, a “donnybrook” is an old Irish term for a wild brawl or fight. (Un)fortunately, Donnybrook Theater was nixed before it could even make it to air. However, the WWE in their infinite wisdom, decided to dust off this forgotten masterpiece and present it for the first time EVER on national television to you, the viewer.

Our host for Donnybrook Theater is the true Spawn of Satan himself, Todd Pettengill. He’s dressed for the occasion in an Erich von Stroheim/Fritz Lang movie director from the 1920’s outfit, complete with beret, knee-high socks, turn of the century megaphone and a riding crop, which will be used on him later by a dominatrix with an executioner’s hood in a lower Manhattan S&M club.

I should note that prior to his entrance is music so unfathomably goofy I am shocked, SHOCKED, I say, that Blade and RD aren’t using it to introduce yet another horrible segment on WrestleCrap Radio.

(Note from RD: Not using it…yet.)

Oh, and Pettingill isn’t alone – he’s in front of a LIVE STUDIO AUDIENCE, one containing a kid so amped up that I can only guess that his mom shoved enough Frankenberry down his gullet to send him to Outer Space without a rocket.

That or his mom told him the Ninja Turtles were going to be there.

No way anyone, no matter what their age, gets THAT excited seeing Todd Pettengill.

No way.


Todd explains the premise and introduces the cast for this week’s show. Hey, it’s the Rosatti Sisters as Miss Kitty saloon girls! Did Vince have their phone number on speed dial? Not only was he buying up talent from WCW and ECW, but he was stealing up background players from Richard Simmons’ Sweatin’ To the Oldies videos.

AND our good friend Lord Alfred Hayes is our announcer….very pissed off announcer, might I add. He looks like someone told him, “Alfred, after you die, you will be on WrestleCrap Radio.”

Throughout the show, he is very cantankerous and seemingly would rather be anywhere than where he is right now. Between introducing the scenes, he does a crossword puzzle to pass the time between dead sketch after dead sketch.

“What’s a four letter word for annoying, over-enthusiastic jerk on crank?

Begins with a T and ends with a D?


Meanwhile back in the dressing room…hey wait, usually that’s just a segue we’d put in here. This time, it literally says it on the screen!

MEANWHILE, BACK IN THE DRESSING ROOM…Mr. Fuji tries to sell Yokozuna the idea of dressing up like a cowboy. “You be biggest movie star like Clint Eastwood!”

Not quite sure Yoko is sold on this idea.

Todd is clearly high on speedballs as he enthusiastically exclaims “There are no scripts! There is no writing! Just the BRAIN! And the IMAGINATION! Like Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory!”

My response to that?


(Note from RD: Personally, when I saw it, I thought of Wonka saying he was a “trifle deaf in my left ear.”

Or maybe I just wished I was.

In both ears.)

Hey, is that Vince Russo hiding behind a giant moustache, playing the barkeep?


Yokozuna and Fuji walk onto the saloon set and sit down for a game of cards, cause that’s what outlaws do in these WWF western saloons. If you don’t believe me, I suggest you re-read RD’s Fuji Bandito induction.

“Hey Yoko, I got a western for ya! The Man Who Ate Liberty Valance!”

Now that’s just mean.

Todd von Stroheim takes this directing gig seriously, as he waves his spanking tool…errr, riding crop around and narrates the action. And when I say narrates the action, I mean every single minor detail. Just picture right now, Todd Pettingill is in your house announcing your every action: every time you take a beer out of the fridge, every time you change the channel, every time you go the bathroom, and that’s what you get here.

Now that we’ve established Todd is in your house, FOR GOD’S SAKE THROW HIM OUT!

Anyways, back to the show…

“I miss the days when Terry Funk would cover me in barbecue sauce and hang me by the neck from a tree.”

In a historic moment, Yokozuna would speak on WWF television, his first lines of complete English dialogue. What could it be, you ask?

“I’ll take a double order of ring dings.”


Mr. Fuji adds that they need a side of teryaki sauce.

Well of course, that’s what I have every time I visit Westworld.

However, he discovers that the Ring Dings are…get ready for it…GARLIC-FLAVORED! The audience in the background is laughing their heads off.


Are they going to use the garlic Ring Dings to ward off vampires with diabetes?


My fantasies are interrupted by a familiar “yellow-shirted stranger” that recently jumped to WCW and shows back up to make trouble.

It’s ring announcer Howard Finkel in the guise of The Hulkster! In a bizarre twist, he’s getting soundly booed by women and children that cried and thought Hulk was dead when Earthquake sat on him.

You people are fickle.

Geez, Fink, lay off the human growth hormone, will ya? You’re out of control, brother.

The Finkster sits down at the table and for no other apparent reason than being dressed like Hulk Hogan, Yokozuna decides to murder him.

Gotta believe that Vince was living vicariously through Yoko at this point in the program.

If you’ve seen enough episodes of OZ, you know this scene doesn’t look promising, as Yoko stands over the helpless Finkster. I’m not sure if Yoko is giving birth to the Finkster or pooping him out.

Either way, not a visual I ever needed to see.

When we cut back from a theoretical commercial, Todd informs us the Hulkster has been turned into “Mongolian Barbecue”. WWF, always taking the high road with jokes only Vince, Pat and Gerry laugh at.

(Note from RD: To be fair, about this time Hogan was feuding in WCW with the Dungeon of Doom. I think in one skit they may have had a big pot they wanted to cook him in. Maybe not, but I could have totally seen that bit happening on Nitro.)

Meanwhile, Yokozuna and Fuji are engaged in a tense game of “Go Fish”, which quickly erupts into a heated confrontation, wherein Mr. Fuji says something about “Ding Dings” as Todd looks on doing his best blow up doll impression.

That’s yet another visual I didn’t need see.

Yokozuna refuses to take this insult as he and Fuji have a stare down and in the climactic moment…

…nothing happens.

No seriously, this show has no ending. According to Gene Okerlund, it has been “lost to time”.

Perhaps a WWE employee has bravely hidden the ending of this show, lest all of our heads melt like the kids in Halloween III.

Thankfully the WWE has finally learned a valuable lesson from this failed TNT redux, and has decided not to force bad actors with poor improvisation skills down the throats of the fans and the unsuspecting public.

I stand corrected.

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