No Holds Barred (1989)
Wrestling week continues on TVE with a buried classic that should probably, stay buried. Some movies that you see and love as a child should be left in your childhood and never revisited as an adult, lest you tarnish those memories. No Holds Barred is just such a movie. I knew going in that this movie was not going to be a classic by any stretch of the imagination, but I wasn’t fully prepared for just how bad it was going to be. That said, if this movie does not contain cherished childhood memories it is so laughably bad that it is perversely entertaining. Hulk Hogan, who plays Rip, brings the same charisma from his wrestling days to this movie, and since he is basically playing himself he doesn’t do that bad of a job. Reading back through old reviews from the 80s, critics at the time tore this movie, and Hulk’s performance apart, and while yes, the movie is mostly terrible, I still maintain that if you are going to make this movie, there is no better leading man for this role than Hogan was. That said the dialogue here is so cartoonish, including the infamous “Dookie” line that I will not spoil if you have not seen it. Tiny Lister was the scariest man in the world when I was kid. He plays Zeus here, the big bad of the movie who breaks Rip’s little brother’s back in order to force him out of retirement to meet him in one final showdown. It’s funny to reflect that this movie, which was a WWE produced venture, depicts a universe in which professional wrestling is a completely legitimate athletic contest, but it is the big bad mainstream media and TV moguls who are the real “phonies”. I can only imagine the cackle bellowing from a young Vince McMahon as someone described to him the plot for this one.