At Odds with Wrestling Homework – No Holds Barred

Once again it is time for a homework assignment from the At Odds with Wrestling podcast. This week is one of the movie selections thus we all sat down and some of us may have even enjoyed watching the Hulk Hogan cinema classic, No Holds Barred. 

While watching this movie, the oddest thing happened. Well, two odd things actually. One, I have no recollection of watching this movie before even though I must have. A few years ago I pitched a sequel to this movie on a podcast. Also, I remember watching far too much WWF at the time and renting everything I could at the local video stores. I must have watched this and maybe blocked it from my memory. 

The other thing is a realization that while the movie is terrible it is also an incredible warning for the future of sports entertainment if Hulk Hogan, I mean Rip, is not on top. Full of barbaric wars that take place inside of an octagon shaped ring. No consideration for the health and safety of the fighters. A promoter who slaps women. I’m sure Hogan and his own promoter can keep their noses clean and continue to fight the good moral fight decades later. 

On to the movie. 

The movie starts with Jesse Ventura and Mean Gene Okerlund calling a match. I don’t remember seeing Hogan’s name listed with all of the actors, but Ventura gets a special credit. Hogan as Rip is getting ready for his match alongside his brother Randy and a trainer that I never caught the name for, but is really only in this movie to provide information later. Rip fights “Jake Bullock” who I didn’t realize until the end of the movie is played by Demolition Ax. The ratings are through the roof apparently, which upsets a rival TV exec. He wants Rip on his network so he can reap the ratings rewards. I have to wonder if he plans on hiring his own wrestlers as well, plus all the other people necessary to run a weekly wrestling program. These are details not thought up nor addressed in cocaine fueled hotel room writing binges (allegedly). 

It’s always interesting how wrestling matches are filmed for movies. Dramatic angles, too many close ups, and quick moves with even quicker camera cuts. I can’t think of a movie that actually let a match breathe except maybe the finale of Ready to Rumble. That’s not quite right, but it shows more of a build up than other wrestling movies. 

“Jock Ass” is used repeatedly as an insult throughout the movie and I have to guess it was used as a way to hurl insults while also keeping the film PG-13. 

The stories and locations jump pretty quickly and credit to the movie, this hour and a half flew by. I’ve paused multiple times watching things that were only 30 minutes. Before I knew it this movie was over. That said, things move so fast my write up is going to jump pretty fast too. 

Rip is brought to evil TV exec’s office and presented with a blank check if he switches networks. Rip refuses and exec (I could look up the name but I just don’t care enough to) gets his goons on Rip. One is driving the limo and locks Rip inside. He tries to break loose but then the limo pulls into some hidden garage. Three thugs surround the limo so Rip breaks through the roof to much fanfare in one of the most overdone scenes in the movie. Rip beats up everyone and causes the limo driver to shit his pants. But again, we can’t say such a word in this movie, and thus viewers are treated to the infamous “dookie” scene. Vince McMahon’s sophomoric humor is all over this. 

Rip has a new accountant – Sam. Antha. Samantha. Oh what a trick. She’s attractive and he can’t keep focused during a business meeting. However, as tempting as she is, Rip’s main focus today is on one of his many charities. Rip agrees to discuss business more with Sam(antha) over dinner. Rip and Sam are seated in a fancy restaurant and the maitre’d goes over the menu with Sam while insulting Rip. Perhaps monsieur would like a burger d’ham? A chaud chien? That’s the end of what I remember from French in high school.The kitchen staff come out to see Rip and it turns out he’s a regular at the place. Rip is a cultured man. This gets a reaction out of Sam. She’s got a little tingle in her fanny. That’s French for butt. No, wait, it isn’t. That means something else. Still works. 

Meanwhile the TV execs go to some dive bar to watch Power Slap. I mean some local tough man competition. Which for some reason in 1989 is hosted and dominated by Stan Hansen. They are out of place but our evil TV exec smells money. His associates try to order top shelf drinks but that’s not this kind of bar. “Three beers.” As if there’s only one kind of beer. I don’t go to bars anymore but I wonder what I would be handed if I just said give me a beer. Anyways, everything is gross here. The assistants use the bathroom which is an overflowing troth urinal and a less disgusting one. They mock everything about the place, unaware that Stan Hansen is taking a dump and hears everything. Stan scares the rest of the piss out of them and mocks their genitals. Again, I can visualize this scene being written in the hotel room. 

A deal has been made and “Battle of the Tough Guys” is live on the evil network. The bar has been rearranged a bit to film a TV show inside. The winner will receive $100,000 which I imagine is akin to a million today. Why is this fought in an octagon shaped ring? When UFC started and used that shape I never questioned it. But seeing it here makes me think there’s some sort of history to the eight sides that I’m not aware of. I did a quick Google search of 8 sided rings but it only mentions UFC as the originator. 

Anyways, the first episode is taking place at the bar when a wall or door or something comes crashing down and Zeus has entered. Zeus picks up a woman with one hand and drops her from one story up as she crashes through a table. He’ll fit right in to this world. Zeus very carefully choreographed takes out all the other fighters. Rip and his crew are watching this madness at home. Rip’s trainer reveals that he trained Zeus and gives an origin story. 

The next day the TV execs are meeting and Toughman was number one in the ratings. They received tons of complaints about the show but number one is number one so they move forward. Episode 2 takes place at some steel mill looking venue and I think Zeus may have killed his opponent. Rip takes Sam-antha to a diner where he’s also a regular. Two robbers come in and Rip comedicily fights them off. I hope he pays to fix all the damages too. Rip and Sam have to stay in a hotel for the night, and for some reason there’s only one bed. Whatever will they do? Rip sets up a curtain privacy divide and this scene between Rip and Sam getting ready for bed but also trying to be respectful of each other is a little sweet. Sam enjoys seeing Rip bent over in his shorty shorts. So that makes one of us. Short meeting for the Council of Grease, hey check out Sam. Cute nightie. Rip is working out but it sounds like he’s doing something else, which allows Sam to steal another look. Rip gets into bed but he’s so big the bed crashes and Sam rolls over onto him. This starts a fight and Rip tells Sam that she has put up too many walls. You know, because she won’t fuck a client that she just met a couple days ago. What a prude. 

Later, Sam is being accosted by evil exec. She’s a double agent! She was trying to get Rip to switch networks. Exec slaps her. Well, at this point he’s just method acting what an actual promoter of such a show would do. Sam leaves and goes crying to Rip. She tells him everything. He forgives her. They’re falling in love. Wow that was quick. Like maybe 2-3 minutes of screen time. They’re not paid by the hour. 

Rip and Sam are being cute and having a bit of tickle foreplay when Rip falls on the remote and the TV turns on to a Zeus interview. He’s calling out Rip. That will have to wait because Rip has to be at some sort of youth charity wrestling event. A helicopter shows up, which is not safe for anyone, and out comes the TV crew plus Zeus. Rip is challenged but refuses to fight in this circumstance. Zeus is declared winner by forfeit and they all leave. Zeus barely avoids going full Dawn of the Dead as he enters the helicopter. 

Quick cut to some later time and Sam gets attacked in a parking garage. I’m not quite sure what the attacker is trying to do to Sam but she’s very shaken up. Rip happens by on his motorcycle and tells Sam he’ll be back as he chases after her attacker. Very fine line here. Yes go after the bad guy but come on Rip, she needs some help. Rip takes down the assailant and comes back to Sam’s side. “I hate it when you’re hurt.” Dude, you’ve been together for maybe 20 minutes of screen time. How many times has she gotten hurt in your short relationship? 

Zeus is now fighting in some sort of molten metal mill next to train tracks. Randy, Rip’s brother, decides to go check out the show because he makes brilliant decisions. Everyone realizes who Randy is and he’s rewarded with a Zeus beat down. 

Rip finds out about this and goes to Zeus’s gym to fight. Zeus isn’t there but Exec has a message on the monitors. Rip destroys everything in his rage, ending with the mirrors and the CCTV camera. Off screen, Hogan and McMahon pay a fee for ripping off Enter the Dragon and Berry Gordy’s The Last Dragon. 

Rip visits Randy in the hospital. What the hell is Sam reading? “Men Who Love Good?” Zeus is training hard. Rip is helping Randy through therapy. This fight must take place months later. Everyone shows up for the final battle which takes place in a TV studio and not some random place where tough guys work and drink. Samantha is kidnapped on the elevator. Exec tells Rip to last for ten minutes of the fight and then take a dive. Wow, no faith in Zeus. Rip sends his trainer to find Sam while the fight begins. None of this is how an actual show or “wrestling” match of this type would happen but hey pal we’re making movies. Zeus comes out in this ridiculous get up which I don’t anyone in a toughman contest would actually wear. At least not in the toughman contests I see on pay per view from random county fairs. Zeus now has a second? Someone to just help him remove this giant cape? There’s a side story here where Zeus got famous and then got lazy. 

Rip vs Zeus begins in an octagon shaped ring. Apparently when Gracie was starting UFC he met with a screenwriter to come up with some unique concept for a ring. I wonder if that writer was attached to this movie at some point. Maybe the octagon was his giant spider in the third act. 

Sam escapes while security is distracted watching the fight. The goons catch her coming off the elevator but that’s when Rip’s crew shows up just in time to take them out. Well, they finally did something in the movie. Zeus starts taking apart the ring like he’s Joshua Bishop. Rip finally fights back. All of this is taking place on the other network that Rip refused to work for. Randy falls out of his wheelchair and Zeus beats up everyone. I’m convinced Randy was supposed to be mentally handicapped but someone convinced McMahon not to portray that on screen. Exec starts destroying the control room in a panic as he believes Zeus is about to be defeated, which takes the show off the air. Zeus falls from a balcony and collapses the ring when he lands. Rip turns to the exec and throws a chair through the glass in the control booth. The exec electrocutes himself on one of the wires he just ripped out in his rage. Rip seems concerned for a moment but then turns to celebrate with Sam and Randy. One, maybe two people just died. The show is off the air. There’s going to be a lot to explain. Rip just won in the number one show on a rival network. A network which now has a power vacuum due to death. Zeus is injured if not dead which means they’re going to come for Rip even harder. Rip might be in breach of contract too. The battle may have been won but the consequences have just begun. 

This movie is copyright 1989 Shane Distribution. Poor Stephanie. 

Now I have to find that episode of Sequel Quest where I pitched a follow up film to this and see if I addressed any of the consequences.

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