“You can’t be a champion until you can beat a bear.” – Daniel Bryan, Saturday Morning Slam
When it was announced a year and a half ago that there was going to be a Scooby-Doo/WWE crossover, I admit that I was taken aback. It seemed like such an odd pairing. Then, over time, I noticed that it wasn’t so strange after all. WWE has crossed over with the Muppets and two generations/incarnations of the A-Team. They’ve dealt with iconic talking animals and a fictional group of four who go from town to town in a van, getting into adventures. Meanwhile, Scooby and the gang regularly teamed up with Batman and Robin and the Harlem Globetrotters, who are violent dudes in colorful tights and a bunch of athletes who take part in a predetermined sport, respectively. Honestly, I’m rather surprised it took this long.
Scooby-Doo: WrestleMania Mystery is the first of what appears to be a series of WWE and Hanna-Barbera crossovers. The next one is set to be a Flintstones cartoon, but that one’s a little hairy due to its inclusion of CM Punk. This one isn’t without its share of being past the expiration date on wrestling happenings, but it’s mostly minor stuff like Brodus Clay’s funky personality and Kane wearing a mask. Also, if you want to get really anal about it, Sin Cara’s lack of a shoulder tattoo.
The story is even weirder than the title suggests. Having Mystery Inc. go to WrestleMania isn’t the hardest plot to write, but it goes hog wild anyway. Scooby and Shaggy play a WWE video game via Kinect and Scooby beats it on the hardest mode possible (even though it really makes it seem like they’re playing against each other, but oh well). By reenacting Sin Cara’s complicated victory dance to perfection, Scooby wins a free week in WWE City and front row tickets for WrestleMania. Yes, you see, instead of touring the country, WWE does all their stuff in WWE City, which I guess is like a theme park and training center where you go watch wrestling.
The other young detectives reluctantly go with them with Daphne being the most reluctant. She basically play the role of any given girlfriend of a guy who follows wrestling. That changes when she sees John Cena and falls in love, which irks Fred to no end. Dude, just walk away. I’ve seen what this did to Zack Ryder’s career and it ain’t pretty.
It wouldn’t be Scooby-Doo without a mysterious masked monster and while Kane is indeed in the movie as a major antagonist, the one they’re focused on is the Ghost Bear, who has been terrorizing WWE City from the inside. Who could it be? The movie gives us four original characters, each as buyable as a suspect as the rest (except maybe the one who’s blatantly a red herring), plus you have all the wrestlers. I will say it’s not Vince McMahon. I’m reluctant to give out spoilers, but I have to spoil that one. I get it. “It was me, Austin!” Everyone’s made that joke. It’s time to move on.
I’m thinking the writer foresaw everyone connecting those dots, since Shaggy at one point calls McMahon the Higher Power.
I guess the main problem with the animated movie is that it’s a little too loose due to an excessive amount of characters we’re meant to follow. You have the five main characters, the four original characters, and four WWE characters who are deemed important. That causes you to forget that Velma even exists for 99% of the movie and Fred is so relegated to the background that his own little arc is a complete afterthought.
In terms of WWE cast, the ones who are a big deal are Vince McMahon, John Cena, Kane, and Sin Cara. To this movie’s credit, it does a better job making Sin Cara look appealing than the last two years of WWE programming (not counting the time Damien Sandow randomly found him backstage, scavenging for cardboard in a garbage bin for reasons never explained). The cartoon format helps paint him as the most unique of all the grapplers and you can almost argue that he’s the closest thing to a primary protagonist in the WWE camp. After all, the Ghost Bear has ties to his retired father, the great luchador Sin Cara Grande. You can almost get the sense that the real WWE’s been laboring to keep the gimmick going despite no longer having the original Sin Cara on the roster just so they can make him work in light of this movie’s potential success. I hope so, at least, since I really want to see more of this cartoon’s depiction of the masked man.
Other than those guys, Miz and AJ Lee get minor roles, while the others either get a couple lines or no lines at all. There are some really random choices for famous names that show up.
The animation is pretty solid, outside of a sequence where the gang is chased by a blatantly CGI boulder. It’s a moment that really takes you out of the scene. Despite the silly crossover concept, the real highlight of the movie is a chase sequence where the sleuths are chased by the Ghost Bear in a cave. It starts out like the hallway chases from the old show, only it’s like the people making the movie suddenly remember that they have a budget and it starts to get inventive with how the characters scramble around in relation to each other without having to recycle any movement. It’s a pretty fantastic bit.
Speaking of animation, when John Cena removes his shirt, he does it the John Cena way. You know, that thing where he whips it off with one hand in one quick motion? Lovely attention to detail.
In terms of humor, there doesn’t feel like there are too many actual jokes, all things considered. Granted, there are a couple times I did laugh (mainly a clever sight gag when the Ghost Bear shows up in the arena to Michael Cole’s horror). I almost feel like there’s barely any room for jokes because the script is just so strange. It’s like the idea of a talking dog and his stoner friend solving mysteries with professional wrestlers isn’t out there enough so they have to toss in more crazy ideas to the point of borderline incoherence.
The voice acting is a mixed bag, outside of the dependable Scooby mainstays like Frank Welker (of course), Mindy Cohn, and Matthew Lillard. Miz and John Cena are naturals, McMahon’s quality changes from line to line, and Brodus Clay and Triple H sound completely off. Clay’s lines are already cringe-worthy and his delivery doesn’t help matters.
If you’re like me and love “why does this exist?” type entertainment, you might as well give it a shot. There’s nothing actively wrong with it, although it’s nothing I’m rushing to rewatch again. It’s a colorful adventure that’s all over the place with ideas and direction, but grooves into a fantastic climax. Best of all, we’re spared of any meeting between Scrappy Doo and Hornswoggle. I feel like we dodged a bullet with that one.
Scooby Doo: Wrestlemania Mystery is currently available on iTunes and will be released on DVD and Bluray on March 24.