WWE – Slam City (Cert 12)
1 Disc (Distributor: Fremantle Media) Running Time: 49 minutes approx
Well this is something different – a stop motion animation show featuring the WWE wrestlers, aimed at kids of course. An original piece of programming for the WWE Network (yet to arrive in the UK) and aired on Nicktoons TV channel in the US. Of course, some would argue that WWE is already enough of a cartoon series these days but I digress…
The concept is ridiculously simple – a fiendish masked man called The Finisher interrupts a live WWE show, having captured Vince McMahon and stolen the company from him, and fires all of the wrestlers, sending them to Slam City to work “regular jobs”. It’s a cute concept with plenty of scope for fish-out-of-water humour some of which is exploited and made good use of while others don’t work so well.
With a small cadre of wrestlers featured there is a slight feeling of repetition in some of the gags but considering the audience it is aimed at, one has to give a pass to the simplicity of the material. Much of it is slapstick with plenty of substances ending up in faces and hugely implausible cartoon style fights for some easy laughs, although there are some nice subtleties thrown in to accommodate us older fans too.
Of some interest is the cast list which is exposed by the now absent faces featured rather than those under WWE employ; John Cena (natch), The Rock, Stone cold Steve Austin, Randy Orton, Mark Henry, Kane (masked), Sheamus, Damian Sandow, Big Show, Daniel Bryan, Brock Lesnar and The Miz (with a very brief guest appearance by AJ Lee) share screen time with CM Punk, Alberto Del Rio, Rey Mysterio and Santino Marella.
To get some mileage out of the main concept the wrestlers are largely placed in jobs which contradict their wrestling personalities or seek to accentuate their individual traits. For example, Rey Mysterio is a lollypop man and uses his high flying Lucha Libre moves to stop traffic; Kane is a school canteen dinner lady going to great lengths to heat the food for fussy kids; CM Punk is an ice cream salesman with a hybrid cow-ice cream stand; Del Rio works in a coffee shop; Mark Henry serves in a restaurant with robot penguins; Orton is a zoo keeper; Cena works in a garage, and Sheamus is a cinema usher.
Miz and Sandow show up purely to annoy everyone while Austin, Rock and Bryan make cameos. Lesnar is thrown out of the cinema by Sheamus and they embroil in a number of cinematic punch-ups! I’m not sure why Undertaker is on the DVD cover as he doesn’t appear at all here (if I recall correctly) – nor is the identity of The Finisher ever revealed although he does resemble Kane is some ways with his black and red attire and mask which is similar to Kane’s wielder’s mask from a couple of years back.
Each one of the twenty six episodes is roughly two minutes long and they have all been compiled into one forty nine minute presentation jumping randomly between wrestlers and their exploits. In the extras some of the individual threads have been singled out and again edited together for one complete story dedicated to just that one wrestler.
The animation eschews modern CGI for good old fashioned stop motion animation as popularised by the likes of the legendary Ray Harryhausen or Nick (Wallace & Gromitt) Park for you younger readers. However they do relay on some computer assistance to help clean up the practical effects and of course for the wrestler’s signature introductions.
It doesn’t seem as though the wrestlers provide their own voices, judging by some of the awful renditions heard here – Austin and Big Show are deplorable while Sheamus sounds South African! – although Cena’s sound so close it wouldn’t surprise me if he added “voice over artist” to his ever expanding list of WWE duties!
A second series has been confirmed for 2015, by which time the WWE Network *might* be running in the UK, so don’t fail to miss that. There isn’t really too much else to say about this release in that it will be something new and unique for UK fans but it won’t appeal to everyone.
Slam City is a harmless piece of kiddie friendly hokum that is capable of raising a titter or two but is hardly a classic in the making. Younger WWE fans will lap this up while completists will tuck this at the back of their collections to keep their hardcore cred in tact. It’s a briefly diverting distraction but not an essential addition to the WWE collection.
Probably a cute stocking filler since the festive season is soon upon us (at the time of writing).
The Making Of Slam City
Between A Rock And A Pizza
Surround Pound Stadium Beating
Alberto The Barista
Rating – ** ½
Man In Black