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    Friday, March 5, 2021

    Smark TV: Get The F Back in Young Rock's Episode 3

    This week's Young Rock episode ("Forward, Together") took us to a time jump backward to Dwayne's childhood in the early '80s. This time around, the focus was on establishing "Soulman" Rocky Johnson's days as a top star (or at least his personal belief that he was the top guy) during that era. We also got a look at his grandmother Lia Maivia and her career promoting wrestling events at that same timeframe. We had less Dwayne and more of everybody else this week and that wasn't necessarily a bad thing.

    The whole episode was more of full-on nostalgia for me than anything else. It was great seeing the WWE (then WWF) legends be portrayed in the show along with some witty quips and funny dialogues. Also, seeing Andre the Giant showing everybody his upcoming action figure gave the kid in me very classic vibes. The portrayals of everybody from Andre the Giant to the Macho Man Randy Savage were spot-on and uniquely entertaining because, in a way, you can actually imagine them being this fun and crazy save for the accent that this Andre uses—the Giant I remember had a barely inaudible speech pattern.

    Apart from all these nostalgic moments, the highlight of the week was Lia's character. As portrayed here, she's shown to actually have a really good and close relationship with WWF head honcho Vince McMahon. It does make you wonder how much of it was true but also makes you think if it's part of the reason the Soulman thought so highly of himself. It's a pretty relatable trope—when your mom (or in this case, mother-in-law) is good friends with someone in a position of authority in your workplace you actually start to think you're untouchable.

    We also had a side story of how a rival promoter was signing other wrestlers to exclusive contracts. Lia put her foot down (or in this case, put her slapping gloves on) and confronted the Junkyard Dog to discuss the terms of their relationship. Perhaps, this was a sign of things to come (in real life, Vince McMahon bought a lot of the territories) albeit on a smaller scale. Exclusive contracts weren't really a thing during this period, hence, Lia saw it as something to be concerned about. She's a no-nonsense character with a really strong personality and I feel this will endear her to the common viewer. On that note, could it be possible that she and Rocky end up having some conflicts of their own?

    A series of events led to Rocky starting to doubt his star power and it kind of gives you more thoughts to ponder. Why wasn't Rocky as big as his other contemporaries? He's portrayed as a cool, slick, talented, and charismatic performer so it's surprising he didn't turn out as big as others. Admittedly, the '80s was a different time and, in real life, it wasn't until the early '90s that people of color were given more opportunities to shine—just look at Ron Simmons's push.

    In a cliffhanger moment, Soulman also got offered an exclusive deal and he stopped to consider if it was worth taking. I'm sure during these early days of wrestling territories, money wasn't as easy to come by for wrestlers—and as I previously mentioned, especially for people of color. As seen in the other episodes' flashforwards, the Johnson family did get hit hard financially so we're left to wonder if he took eventually the deal, or if he got on Vince's bad side, or if it's because the wrestling territories died down and the family lost money.

    In hindsight, this episode more or less just established the relationship of the Maivia/Johnson family with the big names in the wrestling industry and showed how they treated other members of their circle. As with the general theme of the show, there is nothing more important than family, and if you cross that line, there'd be hell to pay. I am actually looking forward to seeing whether Vince or Andre irks Lia or Rocky in a big way which could cause some ripples in the connections they've built.

    PS. Props to the funny poster scene for the Island Battle Royale.

    Episode Grade: B+

    Screencaps taken from Young Rock


    Miguel “The Migz” Llado is your resident Young Rock reviewer here at the Smark Henry offices. A lover of music, wrestling, videogames, and food, he lives his life tweeting his mind off (@the_migz) Instagramming random food items and locations (@tha_migz), and streaming videogames on Twitch (@the_migz) while he pursues his musical career via his YouTube channel (Migz Llado) and courtesy of his band The Mox (TheMoxGarageRock). You can also add him on PSN (MigzLlado) to show your WWE 2K (or any PS4) skills.
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    Item Reviewed: Smark TV: Get The F Back in Young Rock's Episode 3 Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Migz Llado
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