Okay folks, you’re going to have to really use your imagination for a minute… take a big deep breath in… imagine a world where Alberto Del Rio and CM Punk (amongst others) are gone from WWE, and now they have real jobs! No folks, Alberto isn’t going to go and work with AAA and CM Punk isn’t just going to marry a Diva and just live it up in Chi-Town, they are going to get jobs in….. THE SERVICE INDUSTRY! Yes, Alberto Del Rio will learn the art of the barista and CM Punk will become a vendor of ice cream. What a world… what a world! (If you haven’t breathed out yet, please do; I don’t want you passing out!).
If you haven’t already guessed, today I’m going to be taking a look into WWE’s latest stab into the animation world. Animated WWE projects have had mixed fortune in the past from the highs of Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling and the recent Scooby-Doo movie, to the lows of “Mr. McMahon and his ass” and “Cheap Pops” – anyone even remember those ill fated web series?
There must be some kind of theme here because when WWE goes it alone they fail, yet when they have a partner (Rock ‘n’ Wrestling and Scooby-Doo) they seem to do quite well. With Slam City WWE has partnered with Mattel and the Slam City series ran for 26 episodes. In addition to being delivered online (and later picked up by Nicktoons) the entire series has been jam packed onto a slammin’ DVD set!
Now the vast majority of you guys and girls reading this will more than likely be outside of the true target demographic for this series – but what the hey. Who doesn’t love to watch cartoons every now and then? Slam City can be our latest dirty little secret 😉
The basic premise of the series is to sell more toys to young members of the WWE Universe, and to do this the series created a main antagonist – The Finisher, who has has taken Mr. McMahon hostage and fired all of the WWE Superstars, as he attempts to steal the WWE Championship. Since the WWE Superstars are technically independent contractors they are apparently unable to contest their unsubstantiated firings. The superstars also look to have not been given their 90 day notice and some of the superstars look to have very poor financial management, as they immediately need to find new (relatively low level) jobs. But for the series, we’ll look past all that stuff.
So, the job-less and apparently money-less superstars (why else would they be wearing their ring gear in the real word?) must seek gainful employment; however they refuse to compromise what made them WWE Superstars.
The episodes vary in length from two to five minutes with some stories being told across several episodes. The episodes, while mainly independent, do have a degree of crossover with other superstars and stories being cross referenced (an example would be the poster for CM Punk’s ice cream stand in the garage). In total the entire series on the DVD runs for a little over 48 minutes and the episodes are tied together with clips of a map of Slam City showing the Superstars’ locations as each episode begins.
The series was created using stop motion puppets – these puppets have the same look and feel as the actual Slam City toys by Mattel (see what they did there?). The DVD has a nice special feature which looks at the creation of the series and even lets you know how to create your own Slam City animation using the toys (again folks, buy those toys!). The look and feel of series is really quite cool, the over exaggerated features of the superstars gives the series a nice charm. As commented in the special feature, the series does have a Looney Tunes vibe in the superstars’ mannerisms and actions. At one point the vibe becomes even more blatant when CM Punk mimics Bugs Bunny – while it wasn’t very subtle, this is something which would appeal to the older (outside of the main demographic) fans.
John Cena (of course the main protagonist of the series) takes a position at a garage, named “Greasy Lube” (yes… Greasy Lube — I thought exactly the same thing!), Kane becomes a cafeteria worker, Rey Mysterio a crossing attendant, Randy Orton a zookeeper, Mark Henry a giant penguin at a pizza place, Alberto Del Rio becomes a barista, Sheamus a movie theater usher and of course, as I mentioned earlier CM Punk becomes an ice cream man. In addition to these superstars a number of other superstars make guest appearances such as The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin, while: The Miz, Santion Marella, Brock Lesnar and Damien Sandow (none of which have jobs, for some reason) are the main antagonists and foils for the baby-faces; of course The Finisher is the lead antagonist.
The series itself was a fun watch, I’m not too sure what the reaction of the younger fans was towards the series, but I imagine it went down well. Obviously it isn’t something which you can take too seriously. There wasn’t really a point where I questioned why I was watching and there were most definitely a few chuckles – particularly with Sheamus and Brock Lesnar, CM Punk and the pathetic-ness of Santino.
I won’t spoil the ending, if you want to check it out, but it sets up perfectly for a second season – and apparently season two is already in discussion (if not even production!). I for one can’t wait. 😉
Could I recommend you guys and girls go out and spend your hard earned money on this release? — I’m not entirely sure that I could. The biggest issue is that the episodes are so widely available elsewhere to view (either online, on TV or even on the WWE Network), to me that makes it hard to justify paying to have them on DVD – granted you do get a nice near 7 minute special feature on the how the series was made, but that on its own certainly doesn’t justify the DVD. However, if you’re a hardcore collector, you’ll have to add this to your “collection” (in that case, at least it has nice artwork and a colorful case). If you’re not a hardcore collector and you are ever bored, I would absolutely suggest that you check out the episodes. I suspect you’ll get a kick out of at least a few of the moments.
If you have made your own Slam City stop motion animations with the toys, please feel free to share them below. If not, why not?
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