Make no mistake. William Zabka , one of the two leads in YouTube Red’s new Cobra Kai series, has great respect for the mighty Van Halen. Thus, we can only imagine his showing up on-screen wearing the vintage style “1980 Invasion” t-shirt wasn’t just a random choice by the costume department. Johnny Lawrence—he of “Sweep the leg” infamy—shows off the tee in the third episode of The Karate Kid spin-off, which is showing no mercy to its streaming competition (yes, including Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why and Arrested Development.)
Zabka’s not just an actor playing a part, though, he’s a true fan. In 2015, he tweeted a picture of himself with Eddie backstage at the Hollywood Bowl, reminiscing about his very first concert. Who else? Van Halen, when Zabka was only 14.
Cobra Kai takes place 34 years after the original Karate Kid, focusing on Lawrence’s quest for redemption. Zabka’s character, however, hasn’t lost his loyalty to decades past. He drives a beat-up ‘80s Pontiac Firebird, while listening to ‘80s rock full throttle. Still, it’s not all drama and hardship. During a scene with his young neighbor, Miguel Diaz, Lawrence hears the teen’s cell phone playing a rather lame pop tune, spurring him to tell the kid:
“And change that ringtone. Get some Guns N’ Roses or something.”
“What’s… Guns N’ Roses?” Diaz asks.
“I’m gonna pretend you didn’t say that.”
Later, when Diaz’ phone goes off again, there’s a tune much more to Lawrence’s liking.
“Is that…” he asks.
“Ratt?” Diaz replies, “Awesome, right? I went online and looked up Guns N’ Roses and ended up going on this whole ’80s rock rabbit hole. That shit is dope!”
By the way, that vintage “1980 Invasion” tee? It’s a Van Halen Store exclusive. And the one for the Cobra Kai show was the first one ordered. So, you can’t be the first fan to be seen in one…but there’s still time to be first in the neighborhood.
Order your own “1980 Invasion” Van Halen t-shirt by Trunk Ltd. It’s an officially licensed Limited Edition — only 300 pieces worldwide!