Fantasy Island – The Wrestling Episode

Pro Wrestling On Fantasy Island

“Smiles everyone, smiles!”

And just like that, I know how poor Bobby Heenan must have felt during Nitro when everyone made fun of him being totally out of date for making Quincy references.

Well, too bad. Sometimes you have to do one for yourself, and this here induction is just that, as we are heading all the way back to 1981 (!!) to the luxurious destination known the world over as Fantasy Island. Or, since we are referring to the show itself, let’s bust out the italics and get it right – Fantasy Island.

For those who aren’t quite as ancient as your old buddy and your old pal RD Reynolds (which has to be 95% of the population these days), this was an incredibly popular television show that first hit the airwaves in 1977. Each week, visitors to the island would show up in hopes of living out their wildest dreams which they would present to a mysterious man by the name of Mr. Roarke, played by the great Ricardo Montalban. (And I know I just heard the nerdiest of you screaming KHAN!!! at the top of your lungs.).

Of course things would never go quite the way the guests expect, and at the end of each episode there was generally a lesson to be learned. Think of it as The Twilight Zone with hot Hawaiian dancers and a little guy clanging a bell whilst yelling “De plane! De plane!” and you won’t be far off. It was wacky, weird, and wonderful.

It was also chock full of the most popular B- or C-listers of the day. You know you weren’t getting the biggest stars, but you’d be getting tons of folks you’d at least heard of or seen elsewhere. I’d tell you it was just like The Hollywood Squares, but if you don’t know what Fantasy Island is, you’d probably be like ol’ Mike Check and not get that particular reference either.

On our show today, though, we get a pretty spectacular pair.

Meaning our TWO guest stars, of course.

Oh if you thought I was just referring to the lovely woman pictured above, keep in mind I’m not a pig like you.

That said, I probably should attempt to explain the greatness of one Maria Rosario Pilar Martinez Molina Baeza, the lovely señorita in the aforementioned JPG, much more famously known as Charo. She was a dancer/comedienne/actress/guitarist who was breathtakingly beautiful in her day and wasn’t afraid to flaunt her hourglass figure. Funny story – the other night Mrs. Deal asked who my first celebrity crush was and without hesitation I shouted “CHARO!” at the top of my lungs.

Not to be crude, but that girl very well may have started puberty for me. The fact I get to revisit her for a WrestleCrap article? I feel like I myself just had some weird fever dream-induced fantasy I never imagined now fulfilled.

She is joined on this here episode by Sherman Hemsley, whom at the time was best known for his portrayal of George on the incredibly popular sitcom known as The Jeffersons. And it is due to Hermsley’s character that we are actually here today, as he portrays one Charlie Atkins. We are told he has arrived on the island because “like many small men who’ve been bullied, he wants to be the strongest man in the world.”

I may not be a small man, but I was bullied pretty mercilessly when I was a kid, and I never, ever wanted to be the strongest man in the world.

While Roarke usually handles the fantasies in these parts, we’re told this time he will be handing the reigns over to his god daughter Julie. If you don’t remember her, well, you’re far from the only one. She showed up late in the show’s run as the producers were looking to show Tattoo the door as the guy who played him, Hervé Villechaize, was becoming something of a nightmare behind the scenes, becoming unreliable and demanding as much money as Montalban himself. On this episode they even make a joke about him not being there to start the proceedings.

In some alternate universe, I bet Dave Meltzer penned Fantasy Island Observer to give aficionados the inside scoop on stuff like this.

Charo is here as Dolores DeMercia, who is a famous guitarist. Well, she didn’t have to stray far for this one. Her fantasy is to discover the truth behind El Lobo Rojo, the “Robin Hood of Old California”. They could have made this a lot easier for folks by saying the “Zorro of Old California”, because that is 100000000% what they are basing everything off of here.

So Julie and Roarke give Charlie some wacky juice that will give him superhuman strength, all courtesy of the goofiest special effects imaginable.

When you see neon elliptical rings combined with inverted still frames, it’s a pretty good bet your Delorean has made a stop in the middle of 1981.

Discussion of whether or not the potion worked comes to an abrupt halt as Charlie goes to leave and pulls the handle and a healthy chunk of the door off. Even Roarke is impressed at his own wizardry.

Dude, no offense, but you made people literally invisible and one time you battled the devil himself and won. This seems like small potatoes in comparison.

We are also introduced to THIS MAN, Sampson (former AWA tag team champ Hard Boiled Haggerty), who is here as part of a Fantasy Island Wrestling Convention. I thought this place was a bit more select in the folks they let show up, but apparently he and his carnie manager Willie are there promoting matches. Just one problem – there’s no one around for Sampson to fight. Until of course Charlie accidentally punches his fist through a cinder block wall and they’ve found just who they need to for an epic battle.

Charlie isn’t sold on the idea until he meets Carrie, Willie’s assistant. He immediately falls for her and she gives him a wrestling name: Charlie Horse. No offense lady, but that’s a horrible name – I’ve had those and they absolutely suck.

Charlie quickly shows her that he’s not just some dork, spotting a weight lifter about to be crushed and tossing his barbells fifty feet in the air. Even the pale guy in the maroon trunks is impressed!

At this point Charlie feels the only way he can get a date with Carrie is by showing her what a true man he is, and thus tells Willie he’s gonna take on Sampson.

Over in our other story arc, Dolores learns that El Lobo Rojo has gone missing. Undeterred, she determines the peasants need a hero and puts on the red bodysuit and mask herself. Sneaking into the governor’s mansion, she pilfers this evil man and robs him blind.

And by “blind”, I mean she somehow has caused the poor guy to literally lose his vision, as he thinks this is in fact the original El Lobo.

I should note the original El Lobo was a man.

Does this look like a MAN to you???

Charlie meanwhile is feeling more and more full of himself, going so far as to just give Carrie a big ol’ smooch without even asking her for permission first! She is appalled by his actions, moreso when he lets slip that he has taken a potion. “I knew it!” she exclaims. “You’re a junkie!”

I bet if I ever bought some of that crap Frank Thomas shills these days Mrs. Deal would say the same thing to me.

But that’s not the only attempted love affair on screen, as this incredibly greasy mustachio’ed Don Juan attempts to seduce the lovely Delores, explaining to her that he knows she is the one who stole the money. I’m going out on a limb and suggesting that her ridiculously ample bosom on display just may have given her away.

She expresses her frustration in being found out by blowing her own hair in the air. Does anyone still do that? If not, someone needs to bring it back immediately. I would but I’m bald, you know?

And get this – this isn’t just any old sleazeball, it’s Lobo himself! Suddenly Delores is totally fine with his antics and invites him about the coochie coochie express.

I should further explain that was Charo’s catchphrase back in the day. She’d yell it out and shake about in a very…rhythmic…fashion.

So if you think I’m being lewd or something here, well, she went there first!

We get an aside with Carrie and Mr. Roarke, where we learn that she is also there in hopes of fulfilling her fantasy – to meet a plain, nice, simple man so she could experience true love. She is utterly appalled when Roarke suggests she’s met him already. “Charlie Atkins, he’s my fantasy lover? Not even for a weekend!”

Poor George, he should have stuck with Weezy.

The Rojos sadly are captured, and the governor gives Delores one chance to save her man – by marrying him. Meaning the governor, not Lobo. I would think that kind of goes without saying, but I can see how you may be distracted.

So Delores plays the guitar (yes, in that outfit)…

…and her man comes to save her, only to fall down immediately. What a loser. Thus there’s only one hope:

Time for Charo to CHARO UP and save the day! Which of course she does.

I can only surmise the evil governor was also distracted and pondering his own puberty seeing that coming at him.

Oh wait, we still have that wrestling match, don’t we?

So Sampson shows up and despite the fact he’s 199-0, he thinks he may need a little help to defeat Charlie Horse so his manager slips him some salt. The match barely starts before Sampson goes for the dirty trick, causing poor Charlie to fumble around like a total fool.

A FOOL I say.

He looks like even more of a buffoon as Sampson repeatedly bashes his head into the ring apron.

Oh no – I hear that’s the hardest part of the ring!

Charlie regains his vision just long enough to see Carrie, and her loving glance is just the spinach this Popeye needs.

Charlie then pummels Sampson from pillar to post as the worst Rocky theme music ripoff you ever did hear assaults our eardrums. I’ve heard some terrible versions of that over the years, but this one takes the cake.

And with that, Charlie decides he doesn’t want to hurt Sampson and just sets him down in the corner, opting instead to take off and hook up with Carrie, the same Carrie who like 15 minutes earlier said she would go to bed with him on a bet.

Regardless, they wind up making out as Roarke looks on like a total perv.

Seriously, what a creep. Only one word for that: EWWWWWWWWW.

Thus ends the one and only pro wrestling match to ever take place on Fantasy Island. Or I guess since I am now referring to it as an actual physical place, I’ll drop the italics and just make it Fantasy Island.

And with that I bid you a fond adieu. Or aloha. Or…you know what, let’s just have Charo say goodbye instead.

Coochie coochie!

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