I should have heeded this warning…
There were two things that made me laugh in this show. One was that Little Rusev’s reaction to Little John Cena trying to tell the campers that they need to save their parents before their houses blow up, was to go bang his head repeatedly against a tree. The other was Ric Flair beating dust out of pillows by elbow dropping them. And that was about it.
The problem with this show is evident in the very beginning. Why the hell are we here? Why is Vince McMahon running a summer camp? What the hell does any of this have to do with WWE? None of these questions ever get answered, and as a result it leaves the show completely ungrounded in anything that would resemble an actual episodic television show.
The basic plot of the pilot episode is this:
Vince McMahon runs Camp WWE. Again, why this is, we have no clue. But what we immediately find out is he’s been stealing all the campers’ care packages. The show makes some Vince-based jokes, but they’re just lame. The goal seems to be to make Vince into some kind of cool, unhinged, megalomaniac (such as bottling his own McMahonade) but there’s no humor in that. It’s just self-serving. It’s like someone saying “I have a good sense of humor about myself” without actually having a good sense of humor about themselves. A funnier show would probably do a little bit more poignant cut up of this character.
The rest of the characters have a completely disjointed internal logic in terms of the rules that govern this show. Triple H and Stephanie are teenage counselors who help Vince run the camp. Triple H is portrayed as Stephanie’s hot, but complete moron of a boyfriend, while Stephanie is a brilliant and caring, if slightly conceited well-meaning daughter to Vince. If you were a wrestler from the Attitude era onward, you’re a kid-ified camper. So yes, even in animated WWE, it has to be clear that HHH and Stephanie are a rung above everyone else (although the subtext of Vince only tolerating HHH because he’s with Stephanie is kind of unintentionally funny). Ric Flair, because he’s a legend, seems to be a counselor. Sgt Slaughter, also a legend, is like a Groundskeeper Willie type for the camp.
Anyway, because Vince has been stealing care packages, Kid Cena (who’s supposed to be a do-gooder dork) gets depressed that he hasn’t received anything from home and gets homesick. This worries Vince, who alludes to a past incident where Camp WWE got shut down because homesickness spread like a plague. He enlists Ric Flair to help cheer up Cena, but Flair spends all his time humping various things including a rock, actually fucking a bear, and humping a tire swing. Flair’s failure leads to Cena concluding he wants to go home. In a last ditch effort to change his mind, Vince shows him a 50s style informational video stylistically ripped right out of ‘The Simpsons,’ only horribly unfunny, and really Beaver Cleavage-y. Young “Billy” and “his gal,” who looks like his mom, are having fun, but the gal wants Billy to take her to Camp WWE, but Billy just wants to go home. The gal offers to show him her tits if he takes her, but he still goes home, and his house explodes, killing him, because home is dangerous. This scares Cena, who runs away yelling for all the campers to go home, afraid that their parents are in danger.
With the camp in full panic, Vince orders a Hell In The Cell (from a control watch he wears on his wrist) to enclose the camp. Stephanie and HHH try and calm down the rest of the campers, but because HHH is a moron, he keeps making things worse, like telling Kid Truth that his parents were killed by a serial killer, and it was his fault, or telling the Kid Bellas that their dad who’d been missing for five years, came home while they were at camp and was brutally murdered. Meanwhile, Vince straps on a bunch of weapons (Get it? He’s craaaaaaaaaaazzy! To the EXTREME!) and chases after Kid Cena, who’s fled.
The other campers, inconsolable because their parents are allegedly dead according to HHH, hold a funeral service led by Kid Undertaker, but it’s ruined by Kid Austin who jumps out of a casket and sets the camp on fire. Vince finally catches Cena, and confesses that he was the original camper who had Camp WWE shut down because he was home sick (How this makes sense, who the fuck knows?). Cena feels better about staying. The two return to camp to see it burning down, and Vince uses his watch to call Sgt Slaughter, who launches a bunch of missiles at a water tower that puts out the blaze. Vince confesses to the kids that he stole their care packages because he wanted them to stay at camp, and the campers, for reasons that don’t make any type of logical sense, decide to stay.
About 50% of the problem off the bat is the voice acting on this show. It’s just not good. The best animated shows get the accolades they get because they employ really talented people to voice the shows. WWE seems to have scraped the bottom of the barrel on this one. None of the performances are good, including Vince McMahon and Ric Flair (in fairness to Ric, half his dialogue is “Woo,” I could see him being good, with better dialogue, on the limited sample of actual words he spoke), the only two who actually voice their own characters.
The show clearly is trying to ape ‘Family Guy.’ Full disclosure: I hate ‘Family Guy,’ because like the ‘South Park’ manatee episode illustrates, the show just thinks randomness, without a linear thread, is funny. But if my complaints about that show are that that show just isn’t grounded enough, Camp WWE has broken orbit. Not a single joke they attempt is earned in any way, by being built through the episode. The show seems to think that Ric Flair fucking random things is inherently funny, nevermind they never even establish him as a character. They also do a lengthy, clearly Family Guy inspired, Sgt. Slaughter bit where he’s waiting for a siren to go off to spring him into action, and he sips on a juice box for about 30 seconds too long, believing the length makes it funnier. Yes, that style of joke would work if we had any frame of reference for the Sarge character, but it’s the first time we see him. So who cares if he sips juice. Context makes things funny.
There also just aren’t that many jokes, period. The funniest shows churn them out every couple of lines. I think what this show believes is that in lieu of jokes, Vince McMahon cursing, or little kid wrestlers cursing, is the joke. It’s a huge miscalculation.
I’ll admit, I had extremely low expectations heading into this. If it was a half-way watchable show, I probably would have been generous. But this is utterly unsalvageable. There’s no reason for this to exist. There’s no plot. There’s no real characters. There’s no real jokes other than: cursing Vince and cursing kids are suppose to be funny, and I can’t even imagine what a second episode of this would involve. This is a total Vince ego project.
Episode Grade: F
I’m not sure why WWE didn’t release all the episodes of this at once so you could binge them. I’d say there’s like a 15% chance I would have watched another episode after the pilot, if it was available, just to see if it got any better. But I honestly can’t say I have any interest in waiting a week and then watching the second one. There was absolutely no substance to this show at all. No comedic value. No plot thread that kind of tied things together. The internal logic of the show doesn’t even make any sense.
Allow me to pitch a different show: Vince McMahon, as result of some prior litigation (drunken antics? serial sexual harrassment?), is sentenced to the largest community service sentence in American history (5500 hours). Rather than spend his days toiling around in a soup kitchen, or cleaning roads, and because he’s a billionaire, he founds Camp WWE to do his service; a camp for needy youngsters. Vince immediately bullies and strong-arms all of his top wrestlers, who want no part of this, into serving as camp counselors, and guest instructors, while Vince, because of the sentence, begrudgingly has to be there. The basic dynamic is that everyone involved in Camp WWE is unqualified and somewhat negligent in terms of being counselors, but somehow, because at their heart they’re good people, they end up making things right in their own unique misguided ways. There are numerous campers, but about 5-6 original campers constitute the focus of our show. Maybe there’s a core group of 4-5 wrestler-counselors, but we also get guest appearances from time to time. The issues the show deals with are everyday, young teenager issues, with an irreverent and unique spin on them, because wrestlers and a megalomaniac camp director are solving them.
There, how hard was that?