This week the boys wade into the world of Pro Wrestling, which brings a smile to my face. I used to work back in my misspent youth as a cameraman for NWA Wrestling in Atlanta back in the 80's, showcasing the likes of Ric Flair, the late great 'American Dream' Dusty Rhodes, Harley Race, Terry Funk and a cast of thousands!
The title of the ep, 'Beyond the Mat', is a callback to a documentary about the sad, grimy, depressing side of the business. And I can attest to that based on what I saw back in the day. Pro Wrestlers put their bodies on the line every night for the adulation of the fans. Yes, it is 'fake', but the bumps and physical toll is very real, which is why so many became addicted to drugs and alcohol. Night after night in a different town, body taking a pounding, the only way many could cope is to medicate.
Dean cajoles Sam into paying respects to 'The Hangman', a fave of Dean's as a child, who just passed away after a match. They go to the funeral and meet the icons of their childhood, and Dean is stoked! His all-time fave is a guy named Gunner, and after a conversation with his idol Dean decides that the boys should go to the next match that night.
Dean and Sam revel in the theatrics of the matches, and strike up a casual conversation with a man who is there with his son. This reminds the boys of the times when they went to matches with their dad. The dad has to hit the bathroom, finds it full, and slips out to the alley to take care of his business. Before you know it he is sliced and diced by an unknown assailant. Can you say 'Do we have a case?' Yes you can!
Now we go to Hell for the B-side of this ep. Cas-ifer is pushing his charges to look high and low for another 'Hand of God' weapon to use against The Darkness (this season's Big Bad). In between he tortures his 'puppy' Crowley, the former King of Hell.
One of Cas-ifer's minions, Simmons, takes pity on Crowley and helps him escape the evil clutches of Cas. Crowley leads Simmons to a secret stash of artifacts, including 'The Rod of Aaron', which just so happens to be a 'Hand of God' weapon. In walks Cas-ifer, a big grin on his face, and delivers the line of the night- 'It's gettin' phallic in here!'. Double-cross!
He opens the case, but the Rod is gone! He turns to find Crowley holding the Rod, an evil smile rippling across his face. Triple-cross!
Back to rasslin' now - Sam does some legwork and finds that someone has died at each stop on the wrestling caravan, and a symbol at the scenes indicate a demon is responsible. Dean tests all the wrestlers with a mixture of tequila and holy water, with the exception of Harley (played by WWE's 'The Miz') who is MIA. Sam hacks into CCTV footage at the motel where the wrestlers stayed and finds that Gunner has kidnapped Harley!
In the next scene it is revealed that Gunner has sold his soul to a demon, and the demon forces Gunner to reap souls for him. The demon offers Harley a deal-fame and fortune for his soul. Harley declines. The demon then orders Gunner to kill Harley!
This is actually pretty ordinary stuff for Supernatural, and this really doesn't advance the over-arching plot at all. The fact that Dean's hero is the instrument of evil also isn't new. Dean and Gunner have a conversation about how it's never too late to do the right thing, how Dean's been there, done that, blah blah blah. Gunner then actually does the right thing - kills the demon- but as a result his deal comes due and hellhounds come to drag his soul to hell. We've seen it before on this show and this plot, with the exception of the funny wrestling angle at the beginning, is kind of lazy.
Far more interesting is the Crowley/ Cas-ifer plot, so let's get back to that shall we?
Crowley, with the Rod of Aaron, is feeling it! He gets all glowy (which seems to happen a lot with these 'Hand of God' weapons) and fires a bolt of energy to vanquish Cas. Simmons dives in front of Cas, gets blowed up good, and Cas is saved! Crowley tries again, but the juice is gone. Just like last week, the 'Hand of God' weapons are good for one shot only - bummer! Cas seizes upon Crowley and delivers a nasty head shot, sending Crowley over a table. Cas walks up to finish the job, but Crowley (no fool) teleports out.
The end scene is also something we've seen before - Dean telling Sam that no matter what comes their way, they will save Castiel, banish Lucifer, and ultimately vanquish The Darkness.
Kind of a boilerplate Supernatural ep, nothing special honestly, but fun nonetheless.
One more thing:
Dean going into the ring for the comedic highlight, channeling Ric 'The Nature Boy' Flair and Randy 'Macho Man' Savage! Whoo!!