"I take orders from the Octoboss."

No Holds Barred

On May 26th, 1989, PINK CADILLAC starring Clint Eastwood and Bernadette Peters was released. That’s a pretty good one, but I already reviewed it just a couple years ago. So look over that review if you want and now let’s move on to the next week, when “Rock On” by Michael Damien was the #1 single and a movie with similar levels of quality and soulfulness, NO HOLDS BARRED, came out.

When Roddy Piper wanted to star in THEY LIVE (1988), he had to leave wrestling to do it. World Wrestling Federation owner Vince McMahon wanted a piece of everything his “superstars” did, so he promised to get Piper another, bigger movie to star in if he’d stay. As Piper told it years later, he refused the offer because he knew it wouldn’t be a movie directed by John Carpenter.

Good move. A year later, the WWF’s biggest icon Hulk Hogan got to star in the kind of vehicle McMahon could put together as a fledgling movie producer. NO HOLDS BARRED is an unimaginative, pea-brained wrestleploitation movie that plays most of its acting, themes, jokes and drama for the back row of the stadium.

Hogan (whose idol “Superstar” Billy Graham appeared in the infinitely better movie FIST FIGHTER earlier in the summer) basically appears as himself: the big-hearted, beloved by fans and children World Wrestling Federation champion. But he’s not named Hulk, he’s named Rip, and instead of wearing shirts that say “Hulkamania!” he wears shirts that say “Rip ’em!” So it’s like an alternate dimension that’s the same as ours except Hulk Hogan has a different name. Terrible episode of Sliders.

The villain is Brell (Kurt Fuller, THE RUNNING MAN, RED HEAT), standard issue huge asshole suit who took over World Television Network two months ago, has a bronze statue of himself in the board room and likes to haphazardly fire people and smash things as his underlings timidly stammer out their ideas for how to compete with the unnamed ratings behemoth that WWF – or specifically Rip – is on. Brell offers Rip – who he calls a “jock-ass” no less than three times throughout the movie – a literal blank check to come to his network, but the champ is already under contract and, as somebody said at the board meeting, “Mr. Brell, I’m told that Rip’s word is his bond.”

Then Brell gets an unexplained anonymous tip to bring his bootlicking toady stooges Ordway (Charles Levin, “TV host,” THE GOLDEN CHILD) and Unger (David Paymer, PAYBACK) to a sub-sub-sub-Double-Deuce shithole called the No Count Bar, where cartoonish toothless rednecks and barbarian bikers drink beer, get tattoos, and rowdily enjoy no rules wrestling matches. Brell co-opts it into a show called WTN Presents Battle of the Tough Guys Live, with a $100,000 prize (on the first episode only?) that attracts a nearly unbeatable ex-con goliath named Zeus.

Zeus, as you probly know, is played by the variously credited Tommy Lister, Jr., a former football player who had been doing bit roles for several years, including in RUNAWAY TRAIN, EXTREME PREJUDICE, BEVERLY HILLS COP II and PRISON. Like most of the wrestlers in the movie, Zeus doesn’t seem to necessarily have the ability to speak, and loudly growls and roars throughout his matches. This might have the highest amount of human men growling of any movie. Also, both Zeus and Rip frequently cackle.

It almost seems like a stretch to call him a character, but he has a look: head shaved with Zs of hair remaining on the sides, weird uneven monobrow like an anime character. And he has a classical backstory: Rip’s trainer Charlie (Bill Henderson, “Angry Patient with Urine Sample,” LETHAL WEAPON 4) was once Zeus’s trainer but “couldn’t control him,” and Zeus just got out of prison for killing a guy in the ring “after the bell.”

The best thing about Zeus is that when he enters the bar there’s a lightning/thunder strike and everybody goes silent. After one match he lunges at the crowd and they run away screaming, like it’s a G.G. Allin concert. When he’s about to make his entrance for the big match at the end the people in the crowd (as well as Rip) look really scared, like they’re in danger. But my favorite Zeus entrance is when Rip is overseeing the wrestling at some children’s field day type event and Zeus comes down in a helicopter to challenge him. There’s a slo-mo shot of Zeus emerging from a cloud of smoke, his exposed chest glistening in the sun, the chopper and the network suits behind him.

That’s also a funny scene for double underlining Rip’s boy scout persona. He’s already claimed that “his main outside interest is his charity work.” Here we see him encouraging the wrestler kids: “You’re both winners. That’s it. Keep it up. Way to go, guys!” And when Zeus approaches there’s a really funny shot of Rip standing in front of the crowd of like 100 kids and parents, his arms out as if to protect them all.

Another thing about Rip: his greatest love and biggest supporter is his regular sized, blond little brother Randy (Mark Pellegrino, Jackie Treehorn’s thug in THE BIG LEBOWSKI). Randy goes to a match to get a look at Rip’s future opponent, but Brell finds out he’s Rip’s brother and forcibly brings him to Zeus.

This scene actually has the two funniest parts in the movie. First, Brell comes up behind Zeus and yells his name, and Zeus does a 180 degree jump landing in an action pose, ready to fight him.

Then, this exchange:

Brell: Guess who this is?

Zeus: (after a beat) I don’t guess.

I love the idea of a guy who has a rule against guessing. A man’s gotta have a code. But also when you think about it this is a pretty reasonable stance. This is not a situation where it’s gonna be a fun game for the person to make a guess, and therefore it was not a request Brell should’ve made.

Anyway, obviously Zeus ends up choking and beating Randy, putting him in the hospital, so Rip does the sensible thing and goes to the police. Just kidding! He storms into Zeus’s gym, and tries to attack him, but it turns out to be a projection and not the actual Zeus. (Can you imagine how fucking dumb you would feel if you fell for a trick like that?) So he gives the evil executive what he wants and agrees to appear on his program to fight Zeus in “the octagonal ring” (four years before UFC!). Man, you showed ’em, Rip!

There’s a ROCKY IV-style montage contrasting the training between the two sides. Zeus punches through cinder blocks and uses high tech exercise equipment while Rip just helps his brother with physical rehabilitation.

I haven’t mentioned the whole subplot about Sam Moore (Joan Severance, BLACK SCORPION), who I think Rip thinks is an executive for the network he works for, but she’s actually working for Brell, but don’t worry, she falls in love with him. There’s a whole thing where they go on a trip together and get stuck sharing a bed in a hotel but he hangs a sheet across the middle of the room and bed and doesn’t make a move when he accidentally breaks the bed and she rolls over on top of him. He is an absolute gentleman with the exception of when he was introduced to her as an executive and he stared at her ass and didn’t hear a word of her presentation.

Her best moment is when, during a dramatic hospital waiting room scene, she’s reading the book Men Who Can’t Love. Trying to subtly give us some insights into Rip’s character. Or maybe it’s a joke about the movie’s PG-13 sexlessness.

Anyway, instead of kidnapping the brother to force him to take a fall they kidnap the lady. She manages to escape from her captivity in the green room and it’s a desperate race to let Rip know she’s okay before he throws the match. At least that’s what it seems like, but then it just seems like he’s going to actually lose anyway. It’s unclear to me what the stakes are, because if he wins it would supposedly end the show, which would be a good fuck you to that asshole Brell. But if he lost, he just doesn’t get that. Who cares?

I guess it’s just a part of the movie’s WWF values that it’s important to not be a puss. Ordway and Unger are the most contemptible characters not only because they’re Brell’s cowardly lackeys (before just turning straight up evil at the end) but because they’re sissies. They go to the No Count Bar wearing their suits and are terrified of everyone there, as well as the filthy bathroom. They get called “wimps” and “little wangers” and a waitress at first assumes they’re looking for the gay bar across the street.

The punchline of another scene is that Rip scares a WTN limo driver so bad it makes him cry and shit his pants. That’s one of a handful of non-wrestling action scenes. He gets locked in the limo and tries to kick his way out, which is kind of cool. But then when he fights some guys in a garage it’s just stiff wrestling moves. There’s another one where a hired thug has pinned Sam on the ground in a parking garage like he’s gonna rape her, Rip randomly shows up on a motorcycle and chases after the guy, knocking him into a tree and some other stuff. It seems inappropriate how much Rip laughs and has fun before coming back to comfort the crying victim. Also, what happened to the attacker? Is he dead? Or you just let him go? You’re not gonna, like, report this or anything?

Other than when the denizens of the No Count Bar are caricatured as subhuman white trash, the movie tries to align itself (and Rip) with the working class. When Sam takes him to a French restaurant the waiter is a condescending snob, but the kitchen staff all welcome him as a hero. He brings her to a small town diner where the owner loves him and is okay with him endangering her life and severely damaging her establishment to stop an armed robbery with a pie fight.

But the final match seems to be a rich audience – the men wear tuxedos – and they root for Rip too. So he transcends class I guess.

1989 was a few years after my stint as a WWF fan, and I somehow never watched this until now. I always wondered if they did that thing where they pretend wrestling is real, since this was made before the Supreme Court overruled kayfabe. Actually they have a pretty good way around that – they open with a WWF match (special commentator appearances by “Mean” Gene Okerlund and Jesse “The Body” Ventura) but don’t show anything behind-the-scenes there. For all we know that’s a put-on but these bar bouts are genuine.

It’s interesting that it acts like wrestlers just work for TV networks, and that the villain is the closest to a Vince McMahon type character. One thing that’s supposed to show how bad Brell is is when he doesn’t care about the letters complaining that Zeus gave children “violent nightmares” because the ratings were good. But McMahon, of course, spent years pushing the envelope of what was considered too much for TV, that was one of his talents. He would’ve loved that letter.

Surprisingly there aren’t a bunch of WWF cameos, but Jeep Swenson, who would later play Bane in BATMAN & ROBIN, plays a Zeus opponent named Lugwrench Perkins. IMDb claims John Cameron Mitchell is an uncredited audience extra, but this was after he’d already done BAND OF THE HAND and several TV episodes.

I got some laughs out of this one but I really think it’s a shitty movie. Though Hogan does fine in the quick part where he has to cry, he’s mostly acting at about the same level as when he introduced episodes of the Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n Wrestling cartoon. The theme song by John Joyce is the best traditional ’80s action movie part of it, and they put it on the end credits instead of a montage where it belongs. The movie has at least three awkward ADR-conversation-transitions and doesn’t feel that much more cinematic than a TV movie like, say, TOUGHEST MAN IN THE WORLD starring Hogan’s sometime-tag-team-partner Mr. T. The stunt coordinator, Buck McDancer, was from TV shows including Remington Steele, Murder She Wrote, Growing Pains and Matlock.

Though director Thomas J. Wright had directed the Pamela Sue Martin/Steve Railsback drama TORCHLIGHT in 1985, he was mostly a TV guy too, at that time a regular director for Beauty and the Beast. He’s been a prolific contributor to genre television from the ’80s through the present, having helmed episodes of The Twilight Zone, Max Headroom, Highlander, Nowhere Man, Space: Above and Beyond, Dark Skies, Millennium, The X-Files, Angel, Dark Angel, Firefly, Dinotopia and Supernatural. He also created the paintings for Night Gallery! But his action movie cred is pretty much just limited to being second unit director on BEVERLY HILLS COP.

NO HOLDS BARRED was written by Dennis Hackin, who wrote BRONCO BILLY based on his own novel. I’d like to see the novel for this one.

A bunch of other movies opened on June 12, 1989: RENEGADES, DEAD POETS SOCIETY (on 8 screens), VAMPIRE’S KISS (on 29 screens), SCENES FROM THE CLASS STRUGGLE IN BEVERLY HILLS (on 1 screen) and FAR FROM HOME (on 4 screens). NO HOLDS BARRED opened above all of them, but below INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE in its second week. By the next week it had plummeted to #6, eventually making about $16 million. McMahon claimed to have only broken even, and later used this as a dig against Hogan when they were on the outs. (Yeah, it’s his fault you made a horrible movie. Would’ve been amazing with Bruce Willis.)

The Blu-Ray includes two wrestling matches with Hulk Hogan and Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake vs. Zeus and Randy “Macho Man” Savage. In the first, there’s some kinda shit going on where Savage’s long time manager Miss Elizabeth has switched to Hogan’s side, and after the match Hogan holds his fist up to Savage’s new manager Sensational Sherri, grabs her by the neck, then lifts her up (the crowd goes crazy, either because of a man assaulting a woman or because they see her garters) and sorta slams her but onto her feet so Elizabeth can then knock her out. Kinda weird, ’cause in the movie Brell is seen as a bad guy for hitting a woman.

The second match included is a steel cage match that, in December of ’89, was sold along with the movie as a pay-per-view event called No Holds Barred: The Match/The Movie. It was also Lister’s last match in the WWF, after months of feuding with Hogan to promote the movie. In 1996, when Hogan had switched over to World Championship Wrestling, Lister (under the name “Z-Gangsta”) and Swenson (being called “The Ultimate Solution”) were members of a team called “The Alliance to End Hulkamania.”

The alliance did not succeed, leaving it to a sex tape where Hogan used the n-word to end Hulkamania many years later. Hogan would first star in SUBURBAN COMMANDO and the TV series Thunder in Paradise, among other things, but never evolve into a real movie star. His best roles to date are still his first film, ROCKY III, and his cameo in GREMLINS 2: THE NEW BATCH, Lister, however, would gain icon status just from playing big scary dudes, plus one president (in THE FIFTH ELEMENT). Most memorably he played the neighborhood bully Deebo in FRIDAY and NEXT FRIDAY, and the small but important character “Tattooed Prisoner” in THE DARK KNIGHT. Other notable appearances include UNIVERSAL SOLDIER, TRESPASS, POSSE, THE METEOR MAN and JACKIE BROWN.

Though now usually credited as Tommy “Tiny” Lister, NO HOLDS BARRED got him credited as Tiny “Zeus” Lister or Tiny “Zeus” Lister Jr. for MEN OF WAR, HOLOGRAM MAN, FRIDAY, THE SET UP, BARB WIRE, PHAT BEACH, WHITE CARGO, STREET CORNER JUSTICE, A TIME TO REVENGE and a couple other things. So that maybe the film’s biggest legacy.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, June 19th, 2019 at 10:46 am and is filed under Action, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

30 Responses to “No Holds Barred”

  1. I remember this one only in spurts. I realized this when I was recalling it from someone and it turns out the scene I described I had remembered from the Kevin Arnold/Nintendo collabo THE WIZARD. Which is crazy cause I saw this enough back then to remember something. Like even COP & A HALF had scenes I still recall. In the end SUBURBAN COMMANDO registered more with me despite this one being more “macho cool”. Actually the one thing that was indeed memorable was the tag team feud this feature inspired on WWE TV between Hulk & The Barber and Macho GOAT Randy Savage teaming up with Tiny Lister. Tiny still goes by “Zeus” in hood circles till this day. I guess that stuck too.

  2. Vince’s later dig at Hogan about it had less to do with his performance than being promised if the movie wasn’t a hit he’d return his salary, “I guess the check is still in the mail” is what he joked during a live episode of RAW.

    When it came time for Lister to wrestle, he was basically thrown in the deep end and worse still refused to learn which is why the matches were largely tags and not one-on-one. Brutus Beefcake said that when he’d get too stiff all him or Hulk had to say to him was “free James Brown” and he’d let go.

    Vern is right in there aren’t many WWF cameos but Stan Hansen, legendary territory guy and in Japan, has a part as a guy Zeus crushes in the bar.

  3. Don’t sleep on Hogan’s iconic line “Dookie!?” being the inspiration for the Green Day album title.

  4. “What’s that smell?” “Doooooookiiiiiiiiiiee!” “Dookie?” *cut to Rip in a boardroom meeting*

    Man, this is a movie that must be seen to believed. It’s ROAD HOUSE, but made by and for morons.

    I love it.

    I’m a bit disappointed how you undersold Kurt Fuller. He is the REAL MVP here, trying to out-mega act Hogan and Lister in every scene and being sometimes even successful!

  5. Stan Hanson is one of the greatest pro wrestlers of all time.

  6. In the great pantheon of wrestlers playing thinly-veiled fictional versions of themselves, Rip’s here’s got nothing on Bone Saw McGraw.

  7. Vince McMahon: Pfft. Piper is going to be SO pissed when he sees the movie that he turned down to do THEY LIVE and HELL COMES TO FROGTOWN for. Two movies no one ever talks about or remembers now!

  8. This is probably Hulk’s best movie in all honesty. I was taken to see MR NANNY as a kid. The 90s were not as good for kid’s movies as you think they were.

  9. This movie sounds like what snooty people would make for an action movie. As if they were just giving the Regular Joe what he wants.

  10. I’ve never seen NO HOLDS BARRED, but I do remember nursing a visceral, blinding hatred for “Rock On” when it was a hit back then. I was in junior high and thus had my ear to the radio constantly, and I simply refused to believe that anyone listened to that song for pleasure (everyone I knew hated it as well), and that its popularity was due to some kind of murky payola shit. It was like the dwarf in MULHOLLAND DRIVE had decided that it was going to be a hit for his own unfathomable reasons.

  11. Au contrair Pac- the Hulkster was in GREMINS 2 very briefly, so clearly that’s his best movie.

  12. I read Hogan’s WWE approved autobiography about 13 years ago, I remember he claimed he and McMahon rewrote most of the movie in a hotel over a day or two. Seems plausible. Less likely was his claim that the movie was “#1 over GHOSTBUSTERS 2”, and by less likely I mean definitely untrue because 1) It didn’t hit #1, and 2) GHOSTBUSTERS 2 had yet to come out to have the pleasure of having NO HOLDS BARRED over or under it. Still not the most far fetched claim in the book. To be fair I think Hogan admitted the book was giberish and wrote a “true” autobiography some years later. I haven’t read that though.

  13. I once accidentally went to a Michael Damien concert. It must’ve been a couple of years after this, so I have no idea if it was after he was coming down from his “Rock On” fame, or if he was still riding that high. It was at a county fair, so I’m guessing it wasn’t a very big high, whenever it happened. A friend of a friend was in the county beauty pageant and my friend wanted to go to support her, so I went along. Right after the pageant the Michael Damien concert was on the same stage and they let those of us in the seats just stay there for the concert, if so desired. We had no real interest in him, but also had nothing better to do, so we stayed. We started out the concert yelling at the women in front of us to sit down and ended the concert wildly screaming and dancing. To this day I honestly don’t know what happened. There wasn’t even any alcohol involved. It was pure crowd mentality. After the concert was over we had no interest in him again. It was just for those moments in time that we got swept up in the excitement around us. Now I know I very well could’ve been jeering and throwing rotten vegetables at the guillotine along with the rest of the angry mob. It was an interesting psychological lesson if nothing else.

  14. Wait, Growing Pains has a stunt coordinator?!?

  15. Oh yeah, the book also had a story about him filming his afformentioned best movie “Steven Spielberg’s GREMLINS 2”; he said he was surprised and disappointed that Spielberg didn’t direct his scene it was “some other guy with glasses”! I wonder if whoever ghost wrote the book was trying to find subtle(ish) WWE-approved ways to make him look bad?

  16. C.J. and Mark: Yeah, Vern is really not doing the “DOOKIE?!!” scene justice. That shit is some SAMURAI COP level hilarity right there. You don’t have to watch the whole movie (though I have a fondness for the incompetent screwball romance of the hotel room scene—it’s just so unnatural!) but if you’ve never seen the “DOOKIE?!!” scene, trust me, you’re gonna wanna treat yourself.

    I was just getting out of my very short WWF phase when this came out, so I remember how hard they promoted it during wrestling. I am pleased to report that they maintained kayfabe the whole time even though everybody must have known it was a piece of shit. I recall Mean Gene saying with a straight face that he foresaw Oscar gold in Hogan’s future. That’s professionalism right there.

    Also I have no memory of “Rock On” being a hit, but I do remember it as the theme song to DREAM A LITTLE DREAM, and as such I have a certain fondness for it. I think I might have to sample it.

  17. No holds were barred in the making of this film.

    I always remembered Fuller saying jock ass a lot more. When I watched it again I was disappointed it was only four times.

  18. Kurt Fuller was also in this summer’s GHOSTBUSTERS 2, as the facsimile of William Atherton’s character from the first one. He actually did a few in-character appearances on WWF TV.

    Pacman2.0: Yeah, Hogan’s WWE book is terrible but I have no doubt the other one is too. He’s made many BS claims over the years, but considering the environment of pro wrestling at the time it’s no wonder.

  19. I will always remember the first time I came across this. It was in 1998 and it came on TBS right after WCW Thunder had ended. I am a little surprised that I had little knowledge of this movie up until that point, though with Hogan movies, I was always familiar with Mr. Nanny and Suburban Commando. One thing that came to mind was that being that it was TBS that aired it, it was weird to see that they mention the World Wrestling Federation, being that TBS aired WCW at that time. I remember seeing parts of it, until WGN had aired it sometime later.

    It was definitely a cheesy film, but for some reason it has a bit of cult status. I will note that I bought the DVD when WWE put it out and then later the Blu Ray (Don’t ask why). This movie is the very definition of a train wreck.

  20. I had no idea this even existed, but I dutifully checked out the “Dookie” scene and… wow, the camera actually lingers pornographically on the poor guy’s soaked, shit-stained suit pants. It’s one thing to just say it, it’s apparently quite another to actually see it.

  21. Well Vern’s review finally convinced me to watch this movie on Hulu after only 30 years, and I’m a little surprised how insane it is. I guess I was expecting a fairly straightforward Rocky IV ripoff, but the final product is actually closer to a mid-80s Canon movie; it’s got the mean-spirited violence and childlike dream-logic of Death Wish 3 or Invasion USA, but it isn’t quite as entertaining as either one of those movies. It’s poorly paced and keeps getting sidetracked by endless gross-out comedy gags like the bar bathroom scene. Hogan is actually funnier and more appealing here than he ever was as a wrestler; there’s an almost Nicolas Cage in Deadfall-vibe to his performance, as he spends most of the movie cackling or muttering incoherent nonsense under his breath via ADR. It’s a truly bizarre leading man performance for a truly bizarre movie.

    Two things: 1) I’m surprised Mark Pellegrino ever got work again. I think he’s not a bad actor but almost every thing he does in this movie is like a gif/meme made to make him look as stupid as possible. 2) If I’m not mistaken *SPOILER* both Fuller and Lister died at the end of this thing, right? Like, this wacky sports comedy ends in the brutal and bloody deaths of both antagonists and the crowd just goes about their day as if they saw the most awesome wrestling match ever?

  22. To 1) I guess it helped that not many people saw that movie back then. Also after this, he worked himself up with mostly bit parts and one-off guest roles. When I IMDb’d him during LOST, I was actually surprised to see how busy he was, even if I couldn’t remember seeing his face before.

    2) The 80s, man!

  23. I guess the idea is that Zeus really didn’t die, because the plan was always to bring him in and wrestle Hulk “for real” after the movie came out. And Fuller did one spot on WWF TV in character, and all but mentioning his character’s name.

  24. Zeus did wrestle Hogan for real.

  25. BTW, Zeus also wrestled Abdullah the Butcher in Puerto Rico. It’s awful. Watch it!


  26. grimgrinningchris

    July 3rd, 2019 at 1:29 pm


    Since you mentioned John Cameron Mitchell… I would LOVE you to review HEDWIG… sometime. That would probably make my month as much as when you first reviewed MARY POPPINS so unexpectedly…

    Speaking more of Lister and wrestling and such…
    I once saw him and Tyler Mane get into a fight in the hotel bar during our regional Con here. So that was something.

  27. Second the HEDWIG request. One of my top 10 movies of all time. Saw the revival of the stage show a few years back and it was one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen. Spent half of the damn thing crying, not out of sadness, just because it was so damn beautiful.

  28. grimgrinningchris

    July 5th, 2019 at 1:42 pm


    Same thing happened to me (ironically, due to part of my previous post) when I saw the Mary Poppins stage show last summer. I am a lifelong fan of the movie and even went to NYC a decade ago specifically to see the Broadway version… and met in NYC with an old penpal friend to see it… and she has since passed away. So seeing it on stage again after so long, memories of my friend and that trip and just my general love for the story and music… I was a bit of an emotional mess (mostly in a good way, though there was a twinge of bittersweet to it).

    And yes, Hedwig is brilliant and in my mind the only TRUE rock musical (lots of other rock influenced musicals have great songs but always teeter between showtunes and rock) that is totally actual ROCK (even when it dips into an alt-country sound like on “Sugar Daddy”) that’s soundtrack album(s) work 100% as standalone records on par with anything released in that time frame.

    Mitchell and Trask are full all geniuses.

    Also, to get back VAGUELY on topic… I just decided I wanted to write a show where William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe’s rivalry comes to a head in a steel cage match at The Rose and call it NO HOLDS BARD.

  29. Wish I’d seen NPH do Hedwig. Or Darren Criss.

  30. There’s no denying this movie’s flaws, but I love it anyway. It’s from 1989, one of my favourite years of all time, and it’s wrestling-related. Very nostalgic, although technically I wasn’t aware of this movie until the mid-1990s when I saw it on TV (as opposed to SUBURBAN COMMANDO which I was excited about before it came out).

    The first time I realised I loved it was when I went to a collectible fair and a local wrestling promoter sold me the official magazine for the movie. We chatted about the movie and agreed that it was better than people think it is. When I finally found a copy of it on VHS I was psyched.

    There’s a theory that the limo driver is supposed to look like Richard Belzer, since Hogan would have had a grudge against him from that lawsuit. This makes me wonder if Brell is supposed to be Ted Turner, since “WTN” sounds like “TNT” and Brell is trying to coax Rip into changing networks, like how WCW used Turner’s vast budget to headhunt WWF’s top wrestlers. Not sure if the timing lines up—1989 might be too early for that. Potentially ironic, since WCW was able to recruit Hogan eventually. But the Ripster can’t be bought at any price.

    Brell is a great performance from Kurt Fuller. IMHO, his greatest role. Definitely my favourite Kurt Fuller role. It was also fun seeing him as Werner Klemperer in AUTO FOCUS, but that was a cameo in a dream sequence.

    I felt sorry for Ordway and Unger, especially in that bathroom scene. Admittedly they were making fun of the staff and patrons of the No Count Bar but their terror at potentially being pushed into the trough full of urine and feces was completely understandable. Also Brell’s management style eliminated every type of executive except spineless yes-men, so what can he expect? They don’t want to get fired.

    Until this movie I had never heard the word “dookie.” When I asked about it on Usenet, shortly after seeing this movie the first time, someone said “I guess you’re not a Green Day fan then.” (And I wasn’t. Eventually I did like their song “Brain Stew.”)

    Michael Damien’s cover of “Rock On” sounded great to me when I first heard it, which was in DREAM A LITTLE DREAM (like Mr. Majestyk). Now I just consider it good, but when I heard it in DREAM I was super-impressed and loved it. That must be how everyone at Handsome Dan’s school felt.

    onthewall2983: Why “Free James Brown”? Was it an arbitrary code phrase they’d agreed on?

    neal2zod: I’m not sure if Zeus dies. He falls into the ring from one floor up and it collapses under him. He never gets up again AFAIK. Brell definitely dies. He has a tantrum and trashes his control room and electrocutes himself.

    Tawdry: I also cried at HEDWIG although it was partially out of sadness (gender dysphoria). I wish I could tell my past self it’ll get better, but it hasn’t. Maybe someday.

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