So, you’re a wrestling junkie. If you can’t get your fix from the ten hours a week of televised wrestling action, you can always relive the excitement with the latest releases from the WCW/NWO and the WWF. Available now from Vince McMahon’s controversy-rocked World Wrestling Federation is The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, In Your House and Wrestlemania 15. From the square circle of World Championship Wrestling comes Souled Out, Starcade, Spring Stampede ’99, the Kevin Nash Superstar Series, NWO 4 Life, the Best of Slamboree, the Best of Starcade and the tantalizing WCW: Uncensored.
But if you’re jonesing for old school body slams, piledrivers and patented camel clutches and the recent Wrestlemania box set isn’t enough to get your fix. You can, however, still see the greatest wrestlers of all-time in several Hollywood features.
Before Hulkamania was running wild, Mean Gene, Terry “Hulk” Hogan was hamming it up as Thunderlips the pretty boy wrestler in Rocky III -- the one with Mr T. In real-life, Hulk Hogan would go on to defeat the Iron Sheik for the Heavyweight Championship of the World and reign supreme over the WWF for several years. (Mr. T. even joined him in the ring as a tag team partner in Wrestlemania 1.) The Hulkster eventually starred in several motion pictures, including No Holds Barred, in which Hogan played a popular good-guy wrestler whose corrupt producers force to become a bad-guy for TV ratings. In a few short years, Hulk became Hollywood Hogan.
Now he executes decisions in the Governor’s office, but he used to execute wrestlers in the ring. Jesse “The Mind” Ventura was once known as “The Body,” one of the dirtiest wrestlers to ever dive from the top rope and Vince McMahon’s longtime counterpart in the announcer’s booth. In the sci-fi-action-horror classic Predator, Jesse Ventura portrays the tough-as-nails Special Forces Op Sgt. Blain who uttered such memorable lines as “Son of a bitch is dug in like an Alabama tick,” “I ain't got time to bleed!” and “This stuff will make you a goddamned sexual Tyrannosaurus, just like me!”
Andre the Giant has sadly passed on to the Great Turnbuckle in The Sky. However he will live on forever in our memories not just as the lovable yet lethal behemoth in the ring, but as the lovable Fezzik in Rob Reiner’s fantasy comedy The Princess Bride. Andre the Giant’s arch-nemesis was Big John Studd, who was at 6’5” was a giant himself. (Sadly, Studd passed away a few years back as well.) Studd often played mean-ass bikers and other bit player heavies in films, most notably, perhaps, the role of Jack Daniels in Harley Davidson & The Marlboro Man, a universally-mocked movie that seems to play nonstop on cable. Another Andre the Giant foe was King Kong Bundy, the roly-poly cross between Marvel Comics characters Juggernaut and Kingpin. Bundy appeared as Gorgo in the slapstick Richard Pryor film Moving.
They Live! is a hilarious sci-fi satire from the twisted mind of horrormeister John Carpenter. This cult classic, long overlooked by mainstream critics, stars “Rowdy” Roddy Piper in his first lead role as John Nada, a drifter who unwittingly discovers a special pair of sunglasses that allow him to see that their our aliens living amongst us, plotting to take over the world. This hilarious, action-packed movie contains one of the best and most gratuitous twenty-minute fight scenes involving a lead pipe and a two-by-four ever filmed.
Tim Burton’s biopic on the strange, crossing-dressing director of the worst films ever made, Ed Wood starred Johnny Depp as Ed Wood, Martin Landau’s Oscar-winning turn as Bela Lugosi and a handful of oddball actors as Ed Wood’s posse of oddball actors. Among them is former pro-wrestler Tor Johnson played by “insane” and hirsute George “The Animal” Steele.
And if that’s not enough, check out comic-turned-wrestler Andy Kaufman’s 1983 arthouse favorite, My Breakfast With Blassie, the outrageous tongue-in-cheek parody of My Dinner With Andre in which Kaufman and wrestling manager “Classy” Freddie Blassie enjoy breakfast and conversation much to the hilarious consternation of the diners around them.