MTV’s Celebrity Deathmatch: One of WWE’s Best Crossovers Ever – TheSportster

The WWE has been no stranger to branching out and having its superstars appear on other shows across television. At the heights of the Attitude Era, wrestling fans would end up seeing their favorite stars appearing all over the place, whether it be reality shows, sitcoms or even hosting Saturday Night Live. But, as varied as their one-offs might be, one collaboration sits head and shoulders above all as one of the WWE’s best ever crossovers; Celebrity Deathmatch.

Celebrity Deathmatch debuted as shorts on MTV before getting its first full season in 1998. The premise is a fairly simple one; what if celebrities had fights to the death? Using the magic of claymation (stop-motion animation using figures made of modeling clay), these bouts saw well-known names engaging in wacky, over-the-top, and gory combat, all within the confines of a wrestling ring. Built from the ground up with professional wrestling staples, Celebrity Deathmatch read like a love letter to the sport, and the WWF was more than willing to lend their biggest names and their voices to the show.

The Austin/McMahon Feud Continues In Claymation Form

Stone Cold Steve Austin and Vince McMahon Celebrity Deathmatch

The crossover between Celebrity Deathmatch and the WWF existed right from the off, as “Stone Cold” Steve Austin appeared on the second episode, providing an expert viewpoint on the mega-clash between Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone. Austin would become a recurring character on Celebrity Deathmatch, appearing nearly twenty times in the first four seasons. His roles within the promotion ranged from adding color commentary to acting as their resident scientist, doctor, and weapons expert who wasn’t afraid to dish out some punishment when need be. Whilst Austin raised plenty of hell against some of America’s biggest celebrities, monsters and historical figures, the highlight of his Celebrity Deathmatch run came with his epic showdown with his greatest rival, Vincent Kennedy McMahon.

With the Austin/McMahon feud in full swing, Celebrity Deathmatch technically featured the second-ever singles meeting between the two, with the ‘Fandemonium’ episode airing on August 20th, 1998. After barging in on Austin’s interview with hosts Nick Diamond and Johnny Gomez, McMahon claimed that his intellect could best Austin’s physicality. The two meet inside the ring, and McMahon dips into his bag of tricks, from stamping on The Texas Rattlesnake’s toes to blinding him with whipped cream. McMahon soon finds himself on the top rope, diving on Austin and sending him through the ring. But, as McMahon mocks his rival, yelling down the gaping hole in the middle of the canvas, Austin breaks back through the mat and lands a Stone Cold Stunner. Declared the winner, Austin then proceeds to finish the job, using gifts from The Undertaker. First, he smashed McMahon’s limp body with an actual tombstone until it explodes into bloody pieces, then tossed the remains into a coffin and carted it out of the arena.

More Superstars Join The Federation

Celebrity Deathmatch WWF

Whilst Austin was a recurring presence on Celebrity Deathmatch, several other stars from the WWF went on to appear throughout the show’s original run between 1998 and 2002. The next to show up was The Undertaker, a special guest for the show’s 1999 Halloween special. Not scheduled for action, The Undertaker comes to the rescue as one of the commentator’s children ends up possessed by a demon. The exorcism culminates with the boy receiving a Tombstone Piledriver, banishing the evil spirit, and making sure that The Undertaker is the only demonic figure left on the show.

The third season sees Mick Foley competing for the literal deathmatch promotion, given the opportunity to face whoever he wants, alive or dead. Using the company’s time machine, Foley brings author Ernest Hemingway for a battle of the best-selling writers. This fight harkens back to some classic Foley spots, with the Hardcore Legend getting caught up and choked in the ropes in his patented ‘hangman’ spot. After using Mr. Socko to rip off Hemingway’s jaw and thus win the match, Foley then promises to give the crowd the biggest stunt in the show’s history. The episode continues, but before it goes off-air, a hole is suddenly ripped in the arena roof, with Foley smiling on the other side. He then cannonballs all the way down to the ring, creating a crater that swallowed the whole thing.

The final collaboration between the WWF and Celebrity Deathmatch came in 2001 with Chyna, no stranger to making other TV appearances. Without much reason at all, Chyna is booked against physicist Albert Einstein. The scientist is immediately infatuated with Chyna, trying to court The Ninth Wonder of the World as she beats him down. Though Einstein eventually starts to fight back, Chyna makes quick work of him, eventually wrapping him in his own tongue and squeezing him until his famous brain pops out.

Celebrity Deathmatch was canceled after four seasons, and whilst a brief revival in 2006 saw a Scorpion King dressed Dwayne Johnson make an appearance, there were no more plasticine wrestlers committing homicide to be seen. Like many things from the Attitude Era, Celebrity Deathmatch was not long for this world, and it might not have aged particularly well in some respects. But, for many wrestling fans who remember it fondly, it will forever exist as one of the most fun outside ventures the WWE has ever committed to.

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Noah Leatherland
(54 Articles Published)

Hey! I’m Noah Leatherland and I wholeheartedly believe that Mike Awesome is the best big man to ever do it. You can find me on Twitter @noahwayhome.

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