Induction: The Mama’s Family Wrestling Episode – “Mama Mania”

40 Submitted by on Thu, 01 March 2018, 20:00

Syndicated TV, 1987

This week’s induction is “Mama Mania,” the ninth episode of the fourth season of Mama’s Family. Why is a situation comedy being featured on a wrestling website? Bear with me, perplexed reader, as your confusion shall be dispelled in due time.

The show begins with the Harper family sitting down to a macaroni dinner. Supper time is quickly interrupted, though, when Vinton and nephew Bubba leave the table early to watch wrestling — specifically the Tri-State Wrestling Semi-Finals.

That’s right, it’s a wrestling episode! This particular wrestling episode was created by “Nature Boy” Dick Clair and Jen O’Mac.

Naomi can’t understand why anyone would want to watch a bunch of sweaty, muscular, scantily-clad men… but wait a minute!


She and neighbor Iola rush over to join the boys around the TV set, where Iola is surprised to discover that the wrestlers are women.

“They certainly are!” says Naomi, because she needed more lines in the script.

Mama Thelma is disgusted with the spectacle, however, calling it a “hoochie coochie show”, which is a really filthy term when you break it down.

But Vinton and Bubba won’t turn it off – after all, this is the most important tag team match of the entire year, which is even more impressive given that it’s only the semi-finals. Maybe the finals are held January 1st.

Naomi, who has apparently never seen this wrestling promotion before despite her husband apparently watching it all the time, recognizes one of the Queen Bees as her old high school friend, Didi.

Say, do you think a character is going to end up in a wrestling match due to wacky circumstance, as in such previously featured wrestling episodes as Fuller House, Family Matters, Alvin & The Chipmunks, and Hey Dude?

The Queen Bees beat the Siberian Huskies via pinfall with a Boston crab. And before you complain that you can’t possibly pin someone with a Boston crab…

…remember that Bret Hart somehow nearly pinned Fatu with a sharpshooter  in 1993.

The victory means that the Bees will be wrestling next week right in town, so Naomi invites her wrestler friend to dinner. Didi arrives, but has bad news: her never-seen tag team partner has injured herself in a shower mishap.

No tag team partner? What in the world is a pro wrestler on a sitcom to do! Luckily, Naomi agrees to fill in, despite Mama’s skepticism, after Didi tells her all she needs to do is stand on the apron while the real wrestler does all the work.

At the match, Iola gifts Mama with a home-made Hulk Hogan seat cushion.

Bubba takes the JYD cushion…

…so Iola sits on Andre the Giant’s face. Now there’s a story I want to hear about in HBO’s new Andre doc!

In no time – really, because it’s the first and only match – it’s time for the main event! I think it’s cute that WWE likes to tout its “Women’s (R)evolution” when Tri-State Wrestling was getting by just fine in the 80s using a lone women’s match to pack the house.

(Oh, and that ring announcer?

He would go on to promote Chicago’s WrestleRama on Family Matters seven years later. Since this show is set in the Midwest, it’s not out of the question that this is the same character on both shows.)

The Queen Bees enter without anyone noticing that Didi has a different partner…

(although, admittedly, making Naomi wear shoulder straps for once is a brilliant piece of trickery)

…followed by the reigning champions, the Masked Mabels, played by two wrestlers from GLOW: Emily “Mountain Fiji” Dole (who passed away earlier this year) and Dee “Matilda the Hun” Booher (who invented phone sex in the early 1970s).

With the whole cast seated on the hard cam side, Mama is in perfect position to trash-talk the Mabels.

Soon, Mama’s in the ring trading fat jokes for age jokes.

Mama gets overzealous, though, and accidentally KO’s Didi with a metal bucket. Because Tri-State Wrestling’s concussion policy is decades ahead of WWF’s, this means that the Bees will have to forfeit the match…

…unless there were somebody else standing around who could fill in as a wrestler for one night only.

But there isn’t, so the Queen Bees forfeit and the episode ends.

No wait – Mama could wrestle the match! After getting volun-told by the ticked-off Masked Mabels…

…Thelma reluctantly emerges from the dressing room in Didi’s bee suit, which Iola has altered significantly so as not show Thelma’s hoochie-coochie.

A frightened Naomi tags in Thelma, so Mt. Fiji wants a piece of the action…

…resulting in this highly illegal tag.

I’ve seen sitcom families eating all at the same side of the table so everyone can face the camera…

…but I’ve never seen it applied to the wrestling ring.

Thelma escapes the world’s weakest headlock with a stomp to Mabel’s foot, then twists her mask around and delivers a kick to the butt…

…resulting in the world’s worst bump and/or attempt at the worm.

With Mabel incapacitated, Mabel runs in (yes, they are both named Mabel)…

…but after some more mask trickery, Mama hits her with an Irish whip even sillier-looking than a normal Irish whip.

Mama pins both Mabels to win the match, the tournament, and the titles. Of course, this shocking turn of events is quickly forgotten by the next episode.

For once – for once – I would like a wrestling episode to result in a sitcom character becoming a sports-entertainer full-time for the rest of the series’ run.

I mean, Family Matters started off as a down-to-earth family sitcom, and ended up revolving around a nerdy teenaged boy who loved polka, built a robot, transformed into Bruce Lee, cloned himself, and went into space.

Would it have been too much to ask to make him a wrestler, too?

Wrestlecrap has been running longer than Mama’s Family and Family Matters combined. How about throwing us a few bones on Patreon?

Written by

A wrestling fan ever since the days of Wrestlemania IX, Art graduated from college in the same building where Art Donovan called King of the Ring 1994. He also runs the "How Much Does This Guy Weigh?" blog, where he reviews New Generation-Era Monday Night Raws. Follow him on Twitter @Art0Donnell. Email at:
40 Responses to "Induction: The Mama’s Family Wrestling Episode – “Mama Mania”"
  1. El Atomico says:

    Oh man, I totally remember this episode! And I thought Didi was hawt!

  2. Hulk6785 says:

    I find strange but somewhat appropriate that someone from GLOW invented phone sex.

  3. James says:

    Didn’t Laverne and Shirley have a wrestling episode too?

  4. #OPC says:

    This makes me want to go eat at Mama’s Family Restaurant, a greasy spoon diner here in Detroit.

  5. CP says:

    Ah, Mama’s Family. What a strange show that was. Especially during the syndication years.

  6. Big Daddy Strong says:

    couple of things here……….love Mama’s Family. Thelma Harper was the original Madea. This show was set in Indiana? All I ever heard was that it was set in the fictional burg of Raytown and judging by the character’s accents it was somewhere in the bible belt south. Weird.

    Anyway I now realize this particular show is trash. Has about as much thought put into it as your average Monday Night Raw. Everybody on one apron in a tag team match? Jeez. Guess you really have to suspend your disbelief for this one.

    Anyway there are plenty of wrestling episodes from shows that could be inducted. The one that jumps to mind for me is from a show called Tales From the Darkside. A Hulk Hogan wannabe wrestles a demon for his soul (at least I think that’s the plot) but the crapper is this jabroni’s manager is his wrinkly old mama whose managerial strategy is to feed her knucklehead son cookies during his matches which give him the ability to (kinda sorta) Hulk Up. Needless to say, the demon does the job and Cookiemania runs wild, brother!

    • Art0Donnell says:

      Huh. Why did I think it was set in Indiana?

    • ThatGuyThere says:

      I always figured it was set in Missori the accents are about right and there is a real Raytown Missouri not far from Kansas City.

    • TK says:

      Didn’t the demon have some valets that helped him cheat and eventually got doused in milk that caused them to melt like the wicked witch of the west? I think I’ve seen that episode… it’s been a long time though

    • KatieVictoriasSecret says:

      Huh! I always thought it was set in Kentucky or Tennessee.

    • wikipedia says:

      The show is set in the city of Raytown, which actress Vicki Lawrence later revealed to be Raytown, Missouri, a suburb of Kansas City[5] (although the script writing suggests the setting was Raytown, Mississippi).

  7. Christopher Haydu says:

    I don’t care how old the actors are. This show needs to be rebooted. I don’t care how much RD hates it!

    • Art0Donnell says:

      Hey now, I wrote this induction. not RD. I don’t know where Mr. Reynolds stands on the Mama’s Family issue.

  8. Mark L says:

    Well, Didi sold that bucket to the head better than half the WWE roster.

    And no Viscera/Men on a Mission joke for the Masked Mables? For shame…

  9. "The Big Cheese" Paul Kraft says:

    As a huge Mama’s Family mark I’m so glad to see this inducted! 🙂

  10. C Boz says:

    Hey. Leave that Fuller House episode alone now – you got your (deserved) induction. I actually am friends with two of the writers… and they too think the show is rather rubbish. But a paycheck is a paycheck.

  11. Christopher Haydu says:

    It was a great induction, Art. But RD doesn’t care for Mama’s Family as far as I know. In the article for Shelton Benjamin’s Mama, Triple Kelly compared her to Mama from Mama’s Family. After that comparison, RD said something disparaging about the show. I hadn’t seen it back when that article was written. I saw it for the first time two years ago. The characters are so silly that it’s hard not to laugh!

  12. CF says:

    One wonder if an Anti-Induction for the pro-wrestling-themed episode of _The Powerpuff Girls_ might be in the offing; whoever did *that* ep was either a full-on mark, or really did his research….

  13. Blaquerayne says:

    Great induction!

    I just want to point out that Married With Children had two wrestling shows. I don’t remember all the details but in one Al had to wrestle a female wrestler to win some cash and in the other bud had to replace another wrestler who also had a bee gimmick (Didn’t know bees were that popular in wrestling.)

  14. Al Boondy says:

    Uproxx had a post on this episode just one month ago … Great minds thinking alike?

  15. Knyte says:

    I nominate two Terry Funk episodes of shows: Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction, where he wrestles a dead guy, and the Quantum Leap wrestling episode.

  16. #OPC says:

    There was also a wrestling episode of City Guys. RVD was in it.

  17. Al Lobama says:

    Mama’s Family would actually make a good name for a heel stable. In fact, as a kid, I always joked that one day we would see Jim Cornette’s mama show up on TV…and it’d be Vickie Lawrence. And just to tie a bow on this, “The Night the Lights Went out in Georgia” sounds like a show Ole Anderson would have promoted back in the day.

  18. Caveman says:

    I wonder why more wrestlers don’t try to pin the oppent’s shoulders to the mat when said opponent is facing the mat. As long as both shoulders are on the mat (which could require their dislocation, depending on how voluminous the pinned wrestler’s chest is), it should count. A wrestler could even wrap the mat around the standing opponent and pin the shoulders on it (with pins!).

  19. KatieVictoriasSecret says:

    Excellent induction, Art!

    I’m around the second or so Mama’s Family mark on the site and I have a certain fondness for this episode. I think because it’s so good-naturedly goofy but mann I agree that the wrestling segment of this poorly choreographed.

  20. WadeMcG says:

    I vaguely remember a wrestling episode of The Incredible Hulk. Yes, at one point, it had a mask and wrestling gear wearing Bill Bixby in the ring with an opponent turning into a green Lou Ferrigno.

    I am not kidding.

    • WadeMcG says:

      Just to clarify things, I’m meant Banner in mask & wrestling gear turning into the Hulk after Banner got slammed for a fair while.

      It didn’t go well for the other guy once Hulk came into play.

  21. Felicity says:

    IIRC there was an episode of “Nash Bridges” that had Ken Shamrock and Dan Severn in it, though the episode was not about wrestling. I thought I remembered Steve Austin being in it but apparently he was in a few other episodes.

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