Beyond the Mat is the 15th episode of Season 11. It aired on February 24th, 2016.
Dean sees an obituary notice for a wrestler he and Sam used to watch when they were kids. Deciding they need a break from tracking the Darkness, the brothers decide to attend the funeral to pay their respects. The funeral is full of wrestlers, including Shawn Harley (guest star Mike “The Miz” Mizanin), a hot shot new wrestler with a fiery temper who pushes everyone’s buttons, and veteran wrestler Gunner Lawless (guest star Aleks Paunovic). Sam and Dean attend the next match to re-live one of their fondest childhood memories but when another wrestler turns up dead, play time quickly turns to work.
At a Top Notch Wrestling event in Brimson, Missouri, the wrestlers "The Hangman" Larry Lee and "The Electric" Shawn Harley are going at it. During the match Hangman places a noose around Harley’s neck and pretends to hang him. The hanging is a bit too realistic, and after the bout Shawn confronts Larry in the locker room. Gunner Lawless steps in to diffuse the situation. Later, while alone in the locker room, Larry is packing up when a noose drops around his neck and he is pulled off his feet.
In the Bunker, Dean shows Sam an internet article about Larry Lee dying. They reminisce about John taking them to see wrestling when they were kids and how Larry was John’s favorite. Dean suggests that they go to the funeral. Sam balks, stating that they have more pressing matters like finding a way to stop The Darkness and saving Cass from Lucifer. Dean retorts that they need to take a break and "stretch their legs." In Crowley's Lair, Lucifer has the demons searching for another Hand of God. Meanwhile, Crowley is still chained up, cleaning the floor with a toothbrush, when Lucifer asks if he has something to add, he replies nothing. Lucifer then takes away the toothbrush, telling Crowley to use his tongue instead. The demons look on reproachfully as Crowley begins to lick the floor.
At Larry Lee’s funeral Dean sees the wrestler Gunner Lawless and informs him that he got his first ‘B&E’ for breaking into a house to watch Lawless’s cage match on the homeowners' pay-per-view. Meanwhile Sam talks with Rio, a woman who used to manage some of the wrestlers. He tells her that she was his "first crush." During their conversation, Rio tells Sam that Larry committed suicide, but the family asked to keep it out of the papers. Sam and Dean decide to stick around and attend the memorial match later that evening. At the memorial match, Sam notices that the venue is small and attendance is even smaller and not as he remembered it as kid. In the dressing room a man approaches Gunner Lawless and hands him a small package or envelope. Gunner takes it, shakes his head and shrugs his shoulders and leaves the room. As the other man turns to leave he sees Harley backing out of a doorway leading into the room. The match proceeds and contains all the usual craziness of a professional wrestling match, complete with a folding chair to the head. Sam and Dean root and cheer like die-hard fans, culminating in Gunner Lawless winning the match. As the match ends, a man who has been sitting behind Sam and Dean with his son gets up to go to the bathroom. Seeing a line, he opts to go outside. As he is preparing to urinate against a wall he hears a rustling sound and turns around. He starts to scream but is cut short as he is stabbed and his blood squirts against the wall behind him.
Sam finds out from the police that the body was "marked" with some sort of symbol carved into the chest. Sam goes back to the motel while Dean stays to "shake some trees.' He goes back to the empty ring. Not being able to contain himself he steps in and proceeds to try out his best wrestling moves. Rio comes in and Dean introduces himself as an FBI agent assigned to the case. Rio tells him that the other wrestlers are starting to think that they are cursed as another body was found outside their venue in another city. Dean asks where the wrestlers would be now and Rio directs him to a bar.
At the bar, Dean sits down with Gunner. They talk about the rough crowds that come to the show and then start to share "war stories" about the various scars they have. As they’re talking, Sam calls and tells Dean that every stop on the Top Notch tour has had a body turn up, and every body has had the same mark, even the Hangman. The mark is an ancient Sumerian mark that is said to "pluck the spark of life," which Sam and Dean surmise to mean souls, which in turn may mean demons. Dean tells Sam to keep working on it and he turns back to the bar where Gunner and Harley are getting into a fight. Harley punches Gunner and knocks him down. He then tells Rio and the other wrestlers that Gunner is using drugs, that he saw him and his dealer together before the match. Rio sends Harley home and tells Gunner that she'll talk to him in the morning. Dean helps Gunner up and to the bar and buys him a shot. Another wrestler comes to talk with Gunner and while he is distracted Dean pours holy waterinto his drink. Nothing happens and Dean looks at the other wrestlers in the bar dismayed that he is going to be doing a lot of drinking.
Later, Sam comes to the bar to find Dean passed out on a bench. He wakes him, asking what happened. Dean answers "mostly tequila, cut with holy water" and then explains that he bought drinks for all the wrestlers, except Harley, and that they made him drink too. Sam and Dean go to Harley’s hotel room. He doesn’t answer the door so they break in to find the room ransacked. Sam hacks into the security camera footage and they see Gunner pull up in a van and go into Harley's room, then bring him out several minutes later, unconscious. They track the footage and determine where Gunner took Harley.
In Crowley's Lair, a demon, Simmons, opens Crowley's cage and tells him that she is getting him out, that he’s not a dog, and that there are people who want him back, want Lucifer gone. As they’re walking through the hallways they are met by two demons, whom Crowley quickly kills. After cleaning up and getting into his signature black suit, Crowley leads Simmons away. Harley awakens in a dark room, face bloodied, tied to a chair. Gunner is there, drinking a beer. Harley apologizes for being a "dick" and for taking a cheap shot at him. He asks him not to hurt him to which Gunner answers that it's not up to him. At that point, the man from the locker room appears, eyes glowing red. The demon, Duke, offers Harley whatever he wants in return for his soul and an occasional favor once in a while. He indicates that he would like another franchisee in his service, like Gunner. Harley refuses and the demon knocks him over and severs his Achilles tendon. He then tells Gunner to kill him and mark him.
Meanwhile Crowley and Simmons are arrive at Crowley's Lock-up, which is filled with things he likes to keep hidden. He finds a rectangular wooden box and tells Simmons that it contains the Rod of Aaron -- an object given by God to Aaron, the brother of Moses, on the sixth day and that it’s a "Hand of God." As they’re talking, Lucifer walks into the room and tells Crowley that Simmons set him up and that all the demons in Hell hate him. He pushes Crowley away from the box and opens it, only to find it empty. He turns around and Crowley is holding the rod, which looks like a wooden walking stick. Crowley hits Lucifer across the face with the rod and sends him across the room. Simmons runs to his side. The rod glows red in Crowley’s hand and power radiates throughout his body. Crowley bemuses if the power is what it feels like to be God. His hand starts to glow and he flicks it towards Lucifer and Simmons. Sparks emanate outward and Simmons and Lucifer are thrown against the wall. Simmons is obliterated and Lucifer falls to the ground. As Lucifer starts to get up Crowley tries to strike him again, with no effect. The rod falls to the ground as Lucifer punches Crowley across a table. He looks for the Rod of Aaron, but it is not in sight.
Sam and Dean enter the lodge to find Harley sliced open on the floor and Gunner standing over him, knife in hand. As they draw their guns they're flung backwards against the wall. The demon tells Gunner to kill them. Gunner throws Dean through a wall and beats him while the demon keeps Sam pinned in place. As Gunner ties Dean to a chair he apologizes and they begin to talk about the demon and Gunner’s deal with him. Dean tells him it's never too late to do the right thing. In the other room Sam is still pinned by the demon. Sam asks if Crowley knows that he is stealing souls. The demon says that with the Darkness out and Crowley gone it’s every man for himself, and that when Gunner’s deal came due he gave him the choice of being killed or collecting souls for him. Dean walks into the room and the demon flings him aside. As he turns with a knife in his hand towards Sam, Gunner stabs him from behind. After the demon dies, Gunner hears hellhounds coming for him. Dean offers him his gun but Gunner declines, saying that he has this coming.
Back in the Bunker Sam and Dean lament that Gunner had to die, stating that he was a good guy who made a bad decision, like Sam, Dean and now Cass. Sam and Dean are now determined to win -- to get Cass back, and kill the Devil and the Darkness.
- Jared Padalecki as Sam Winchester
- Jensen Ackles as Dean Winchester
- Misha Collins as Lucifer
- Mark Sheppard as Crowley
- Brazil by Edmundo Ros (while Lucifer is directing the demons)
- Modern Day Cowboy by Tesla (during the wrestling match)
Featured Supernatural BeingsEdit
- Hellhounds were last seen in the season 9 episode King of the Damned.
- Crowley escapes captivity in this episode.
- A Crossroad Demon was last featured in the season 9 episode Blade Runners.
- Antagonists: Lucifer and Duke.
- This episode marks the second appearance of a Hand of God.
- Lucifer is shown wearing Castiel's trench coat, despite having left it at the Men of Letters bunker before Sam banished him.
- Dean introduces himself as "Agent Roussimoff". Famous wrestler Andre the Giant's real name was André René Roussimoff.
- Rio mentions Shreveport as the first stop on their tour and where Duke's first victim was killed. Shreveport was the home of the Styne Family and was seen in Dark Dynasty and The Prisoner.
References to other mediaEdit
- Duke: Well, it's kinda every demon for him/her/shimself.
- "Shim" is a portmanteau of she and him, and is a slur used against trans and gender diverse people.
- Lucifer: You're going to search every warehouse, every farmhouse, every hen house, outhouse, and doghouse. This is a quote said by Tommy Lee Jones's character from The Fugitive.
- Dean: You think about that. Town after town putting your ass on the line for next to nothing. No money, no glory. Wow.
- Sam: You realize you just literally described our jobs.
- Gunner: I've been beat up, spit on, stabbed, roughed up. But I will be damned if I didn't always get back up. One thing I learned, you gotta keep on grinding no matter what's thrown your way.
- Duke: (moments before death) This is my favorite part!
- Shawn: Look man, I've never been much for God or whatever. Sort of just thought that when your curtain came down, that was it, my night. But if you're a demon, that means there's a hell. And if there is a hell, there is a heaven and I'm not giving up my shot at paradise for a belt I can win on my own.