A seemingly begrudging Roddy Piper returns to the Legends’ House in the same clothes he left in. Everybody is happy to see him back, but nobody is happier than Jim Duggan, who suspiciously eyes the rest of the legends, like a psycho girlfriend, as they welcome back Piper with hugs. Pat Patterson even confirms what I brought up in last week’s review, that Duggan slept in Piper’s bed while he was gone. Ashley shows up to the house a bit more covered up than usual. And surprisingly, nobody gets pervy. Go figure. She lets them know that they’ll be taking part in a roast of Piper, which pretty much lets everyone else know where they fall in line. As if they didn’t know already.
The next day, comedian Guy Torry arrives. You might remember him as the black prisoner who helps Edward Norton get over that whole racism thing in American History X. He brings along two other comedians, Dan Ahdoot and Ben Gleib to help the legends work on their material, while Guy exclusively helps Piper with his stuff. After expressing some reservation about making fun of Piper, Tony Atlas depresses Dan, as is usually the case after listening to Tony’s life story. Ben, while working with Howard Finkel, doesn’t get The Fink’s Andy Samberg/Norm Macdonald approach to roasting, which consists of killing Piper with kindness and purposely(?) bad jokes.
Meanwhile, Roddy Piper is going old school Piper’s Pit with Guy Torry. The first joke we hear of his immediately burns both Tony and Duggan, as he mentions that “Duggan is so dumb, he was once considered the white Tony Atlas.” BOOM! That’s how it’s done. And that was all Piper. But then, Piper goes into troubled Randy the Ram mode, contemplating whether or not he’s going to hold back. Before he can drag it out any further it’s showtime and the legends take their place on stage at a nearby casino. The casino’s small theater where the roast is taking place is made up of a bunch random patrons the producers probably paid $20 to sit in on because they had nothing better to do on a Tuesday afternoon.
Special guest The Iron Sheik joins the legends’ dais and immediately I wonder why the hell wasn’t this guy included as a regular household member. It would’ve made the show a thousand times better. Sheiky Baby waits his turn as Hillbilly Jim takes to the podium as the night’s first roaster. Off the bat, Hillbilly uses a Gary Coleman reference as a dig at Guy Torry. Seriously, no poor man’s Kevin Hart? I guess these legends help maintain their relevancy by sticking to pop culture knowledge from their era. It makes sense. Mean Gene is up next and he takes a cheap shot at Tony for being poor. C’mon Gene! Tony being poor is the running gag of Tony’s entire life, at least try a little bit. Pat Patterson wasn’t too bad on the mic and even threw in a mediocre dick joke because that’s what all the previous dick jokes had been building towards.
Finally, The Iron Sheik is up and the first word out of his mouth is immediately bleeped out. The rest of his roast was difficult to understand, as Iron Sheik only works well in small sound bytes where he overemphasizes his curse words. But I did make out jabroni, humble, and B. Brian Blair. You know, a typical Iron Sheik rant. Jimmy Hart’s performance was hands down the worst of the night. Of course, he blamed the comedians/writers, much like that idiot The Situation did when he bombed on the Donald Trump roast. Duggan started off strong with a jab at Hillbilly Jim then downward-spiraled into “Pat Patterson is so old he wrestled Moses” stuff. Guy Torry brings up The Fink by claiming that, “Any woman who’s fucked him is just too lazy to masturbate.” Dayumn! And what does The Fink do in retaliation? He almost faceplants on the way to the podium. Howard bombs almost as bad as Jimmy Hart, but embraces the trainwreck of a performance which got him some sympathetic love from the audience.
Guy then brings up Tony, but not before mentioning that Tony grew up with groceries on layaway, which proves that he should’ve bowed out after his Howard burn. They really like to push the whole Tony Atlas is poor gimmick, don’t they? I guess it doesn’t help any when the majority of Tony’s t-shirts are sleeveless. Patterson is impressed by Tony’s performance, which might’ve meant something if he was talking about his in-ring performance, but seeing as he was judging him on his roasting abilities it definitely didn’t mean much. Piper finally closes out the night, and he leads in with something that I assumed was going to be about him being the only real legend in that house, but sadly it didn’t. In fact, most of Piper’s jokes were a letdown. I guess Piper didn’t want to be too mean spirited. There’s only so many times you can call Tony poor and Howard fat.
Back home, Piper thanks the legends for not taking cheap shots considering he’s Roddy Piper and has troubled Randy the Ram baggage. Tony cooks dinner again, and we hit a milestone as this episode spent the least amount of time dwelling on the legends having to feed themselves. During dinner, they all share their thoughts about distinguishing themselves from their gimmicks and how there’s much more to them than their wrestling personas. According to Hillbilly Jim, he really is Hillbilly Jim, but judging how he’s been acting on this show, you’d think he was the one from Venice Beach, brother. Pat Patterson says there’s more to him and I, along with what I am assuming is every wrestling fan watching, immediately think he’s going to give his “coming out” speech, despite being in his 70’s and everyone who follows wrestling, as well as everyone in the business, already knowing.
The conversation then turns to everybody walking on eggshells and how the majority of them feel like that is the case for them on the show. Finkel admits he doesn’t feel like it, which prompts Roddy Piper to call him out for sitting on “The King’s Chair” while in the limo on the way to Vegas. I guess Piper felt that as a lowly ring announcer, Howard should be tip-toeing on eggshells if anything. Let it go, man. That’s a weird thing to be hung up on. That’s the kind of thing a person who yells “shotgun” before leaving the house would be obsessed over. Piper then makes up with The Fink and the legends have a good cry as they listen to Pat once again struggling to say something I’m pretty sure we all know.
The next day, Jimmy confides in Tony that his daughter had recently passed away. Not to make fun of Jimmy Hart’s loss, because that’s probably the worst type of loss anybody can experience. It’s such a sincere, genuine moment coming from a guy whose personality, up until that point, was based on his hair, love of music, and lack of eating. And, again, not to make fun, but when you have a story that makes Tony Atlas, of all people, feel bad for you, then that’s one helluva sad story. It’s a touching moment and, as weird as it seems, those last ten minutes of this episode made me wish that every previous minute of Legends’ House was as revealing as those ten were.
I grew up watching and reading about these guys who played larger than life roles. The whole point of a “reality” show is to catch a glimpse of something real and, with the contrived activities that are constructed for the purposes of entertainment, that usually doesn’t happen. An outsider might see those last ten minutes as typical reality show fodder in order to keep with the typical conventions of that genre. But for us wrestling fans (who are obviously the only ones watching since it’s on the WWE Network), it was a rare moment. For a show about wrestling performers, especially old school wrestling performers who spent the majority of their lives heavily guarding the Kingdom of Kayfabe, it’s rare to see those walls come down. Hell, I’ve read Jimmy Hart’s autobiographical book and nothing written on those pages even came close to feeling as real as what I saw last night.
Legendary Lessons Learned
- Hillbilly Jim’s “lounging around the house” t-shirts are inspired by Jennifer Beal in Flashdance.
- Pat Patterson explaining why jokes are funny is the best.
- Jimmy Hart’s jokes are so inside only he gets them. And they’re not funny.
- The Piper roast is the worst thing that Tony Atlas ever did.
- Jim Duggan is the white Tony Atlas.
- Howard Finkel only owns one tux, and despite how large he is, it still fits him too big.
- Tony Atlas has more muscles in his ass than Piper has in his whole body.
- Gene Mean & Howard Fingo – Bizarro versions of Mean Gene and Howard Finkel
- Jimmy Hart is Tony Atlas’ hero.