Scooby-Doo WrestleMania Mystery! (2014) – Directed by Brandon Vietti – Starring Frank Welker, Mindy Cohn, Grey DeLisle-Griffin, Matthew Lillard, Charles S. Dutton, Mary McCormack, John Cena, Brodus Clay, Michael Cole, Kane, AJ Lee, Santino, The Miz, Triple H, Vince McMahon, Corey Burton, Bumper Robinson, Fred Tatasciore.
I’m not generally a fan of Scooby-Doo mysteries co-starring real people. Every so often, there’s a good attempt featuring Batman or the Globetrotters, but for the most part, the kind of story introduced by THE NEW SCOOBY-DOO MOVIES back in 1972 just doesn’t work for me. Being both a huge Scooby fan and wrestling fan, I was hopeful enough to be cautiously optimistic for SCOOBY-DOO WRESTLEMANIA MYSTERY! but wary enough to not get my hopes up too high.
I’m happy to say that WRESTLEMANIA MYSTERY! does not disappoint, and despite not reaching the heights of the outstanding MASK OF THE BLUE FALCON, the latest Scooby-Doo movie delivers exactly what I wanted out of a team up between the WWE and Mystery, Incorporated.
After successfully completing a WWE video game and perfectly executing a Sin Cara dance, Scooby and Shaggy win an all-expenses paid trip to WWE City and WrestleMania. There was a part of me that cringed when I saw the WWE City concept roll past at the start of the movie. It’s not that I am automatically averse to seeing changes from reality made in a cartoon in which a dog solves mysteries while eating enough pizza in one sitting to give the entire WWE Universe Type 2 diabetes, but I like that traveling carnival aspect of the WWE and thought it worked well with the traveling caravan that is Mystery, Incorporated.
The WWE City concept won me over rather quickly, though. By having a stable location, the producers could build a setting that worked for them. Here, that meant applying the NXT concept of everyone living/working together to the main roster and creating a nearby woods to make the “local legend” concept come to life into the form of the Ghost Bear, which actually looks more like he walked in out of an old episode of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe than from a century earlier. I love the nod, though, to the historical roots of wrestling when dudes wrestling bears were an unfortunate occurrence, at times.
I appreciate that every member of Mystery, Inc. has their own thing going on in WRESTLEMANIA. Scooby and Shaggy are the only real wrestling fans, but Fred is interested in trying out his new camera, Velma explores the historic roots between the WWE and Greek wrestling, and Daphne develops a crush on John Cena, which irritates Fred. It’s little moments like that (or Shaggy’s rebuttal to Daphne’s complaint about not bringing their luggage that it shouldn’t matter because they all wear the same clothes everyday, anyway), that this new generation of Scooby movies have gotten really good at doing. Ostensibly, Scooby-Doo is still a product for kids but there’s no doubt there’s lots of older dudes like me who will check the movies out on occasion for a brief bit of nostalgia. By having the main plot work mostly for kids, the producers are able to pepper the subplots and background bits for older fans. The BLUE FALCON film was the best at this, but there’s a decent amount of smaller moments here, too, that reward the older viewer: Sgt. Slaughter! Jerry Lawler! Jimmy Freaking Hart!
It works in a similar way with the WWE characters that appear in WRESTLEMANIA MYSTERY. It’s easy to get mad at who’s not here (no Daniel Bryan, no Shield, no Wyatts, no Sheamus, no Big Show) but I’d rather concentrate on who is here and why they were chosen. First, the film was announced back in August 2012, which means there was nineteen months between that announcement and the film’s release. That’s a heck of a long time and I’m sure the WWE wanted to make sure they included wrestlers who were still going to be on the main roster two years later. There’s also an obvious attempt to take a Skittles approach here, hitting a wide variety of racial, ethnic, and gender markers (which is a good thing), and giving a preference to their more cartoonish personas: John Cena, Brodus Clay, Sin Cara, Santino, Triple H, The Miz, Kane, and AJ Lee have the most prominent roles.
It’s an interesting mix: Cena’s inclusion is obvious. Not only is he the biggest star on the roster, he’s the most dependable company man in WWE history and the most popular wrestler with kids. Brodus and Santino are effectively live action cartoons, Triple H allows for a nod to the Attitude Era, Kane is the most translatable heel (August 2012 was just before he and Bryan formed Team Hell No), the WWE desperately wants Miz to be the #2 Company Man behind Cena, and AJ was just emerging as a star in her own right. It’s Sin Cara’s inclusion that’s the oddest, in some ways. It makes perfect sense they’d want to include a Mexican wrestler for the company’s large number of Mexican fans, but it seemed a bit odd to me, at first, that they’d use Sin Cara instead of Rey Mysterio or Alberto Del Rio. As the film wore on, however, it became clear that rendering Sin Cara mute works fantastically in a cartoon setting.
In fact, cartoon Sin Cara is far more realistic and interesting than real Sin Cara has ever been for me.
Heck, Miz’s “Really?” catchphrase has never been used better, either. He’s the first WWE superstar to face the Ghost Bear and gets worked over pretty good. When next we see him, it’s after the Ghost Bear crashes through his cabin. We see Miz lying in bed with all sorts of casts on him and he asks, “Really?” as the Ghost Bear tears off.
The plot involves the threat of someone stealing the WWE Championship belt before the big main event at WrestleMania, and the suspects are largely non-WWE personalities. Kane is a bit of a suspect (he’s returning to WWE City from exile after he lost a match) but because he’s the first suspect and WWE talent and booked to face Shaggy and Scooby at WrestleMania-
OK, let’s explain that. In WWE City, there’s a rule that says if you’re alleged to have committed a crime, you can wrestle your way out of it.
Shaggy and Scooby get booked against Kane because he doesn’t have a match, yet, which allows the producers to give us a training sequence, led by AJ Lee. (It’s a weird narrative bit for AJ, which did leave me wondering if maybe this role was originally meant for Eve Torres.) The training allows them to have a bit more wrestling in the production, as the focus is really on the mystery of who’s trying to steal the belt.
SCOOBY-DOO WRESTLEMANIA MYSTERY! is a blast. Combining two of my favorite things, the film does not disappoint. To be sure, it’s more breezy than brilliant, but it’s always a good time. I’d love to see a sequel.