In 1988, Vince McMahon
and Hulk Hogan
were eager to take a step into Hollywood. Hogan was at the height of his popularity in the WWE
(then WWF), and in fact, he did have some acting experience, most notably in Rocky III
as Thunderlips. Having Hogan star in his own major motion picture seemed like a natural progression, so Hogan took some time off from wrestling while Randy Savage
was champion. McMahon and Hogan collaborated as executive producers, and unleashed No Holds Barred
upon the public in 1989.
Hogan stars as "Rip", the most-popular professional wrestler in the entire world (no, really!). One day, he is approached by Brell (Kurt Fuller), the hamtacular evil head of the World Television Network
, who wishes to lure Rip to his network so that he can Take Over the World
of television ratings. The honourable, loyal and handsome Rip thwarts Brell's blank cheques, sexy Femme Fatales
ambushes, so Brell starts his own wrastlin' program called "Battle Of The Tough Guys"
: a glorified bar-brawl that crowns the seemingly-invulnerable Zeus
(Tom "Tiny" Lister) as champion. Yet Brell will not be satisfied until the rock-hard abs of Rip are under his control, and a heinous attack on Rip's little brother might just be the ignition for Rip to accept a final showdown against Brell's champion.
Hulk's movie career didn't quite take off as hoped as a result of No Holds Barred
, as while it just about broke even, it was critically savaged upon release for its acting and dialogue. It seemed like an Old Shame
for those involved until 2012, when the movie finally
saw a DVD release.
No Holds Barred provides examples of:
- The Ace: "RRRRRRRRRRIP!!!"
- Anger Montage:
- Rip goes to Zeus' gym for one of these after Zeus sends Rip's little brother to the hospital.
- Brell gets one of his own during the climactic fight.
- Attempted Rape: One of Brell's Mooks to Samantha.
- Bad-Guy Bar: Where Brell gets his idea for Battle of the Tough Guys. Includes disgusting rednecks, a crude wrestling ring, and a random monkey-like man in a cage throwing peanut shells in your beer.
- Big Ol' Unibrow: That thing on Zeus is something to behold.
- Bring My Brown Pants: The limo driver near the beginning after Rip defeats all his buddies. "WHAT'S THAT SMELL?"
- The Brute: Zeus, again.
- The Cameo: Since the movie has a fictionalized version of the WWF, it's no surprise to see Howard Finkel, Gene Okerlund and Jesse "The Body" Ventura show up. More surprising is a cameo by Stan Hansen, who wasn't in the WWE at the time.
- Catch Phrase: "RIP 'EM!"
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Brell will stop at nothing to rule the world of television ratings, right up to assault and kidnapping.
- Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Brell already has the highest-rated show on television. He didn't need to resort to felonies to force Rip into his Battle of the Tough Guys show.
- Disgusting Public Toilet: One in the Bad-Guy Bar, which features an overflowing urinal trough and a guard dog, for some reason.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Just before Samantha falls asleep, she hears weird, repetitive grunting noises coming from Rip's side of the hotel room. But it's cool: Rip's just doing pushups.
- Finishing Move: Interestingly, Rip's finishing move is a double axe-handle, which is Hulk Hogan's real-life finisher when wrestling in Japan.
- Food Fight: Rip's counterattack towards an armed robbery at his favorite restaurant. Yeah.
- It's Personal
- Kick the Dog: This movie has gone out of its way to make the antagonists as despicable as humanly possible. Zeus had beaten up Rip's brother Randy to a point where he can't walk and to add insult to injury, he punched him of his wheelchair and kicked him while he was on the ground. Brell has gone from a Smug Corrupt Corporate Executive to abusive, by having his old employee Samantha raped by his mooks for actually caring about Rip, hiring goons to attack Rip just because he had the audacity to say no to Brell, letting Zeus cripple Rip's Brother and blackmailing Rip to throw a match.
- Large Ham:
- To say Tiny Lister handles the role with No Indoor Voice would be an understatement. Even his whispering is hammy.
- Brell is amazingly over the top himself.
- Manly Tears: Rip sheds these as he sits beside Randy in the hospital following the latter's beatdown.
- Moral Guardians: In-universe example — some groups and families complain about Brell's "Battle of the Tough Guys". Brell's response? "They WATCHED it, didn't THEY?"
- Mundane Made Awesome: The prize for winning the Battle of the Tough Guys was one hundred thousand dollars... TAX-FREE.
- No Sell: Zeus no-sells hits against him up until the final battle. Rip also does so when he enters states of ersatz Hulkamania.
- Obviously Evil: Brell just rubs his evilness right in your face.
- Only One Name: Barely any of the main characters seem to have last names, or in Brell's case, a first name.
- The Paralyzer: Zeus' forearm shots.
- Pro Wrestling Is Real: Established in Rip's first scene, where we see from his perspective his vision blurring as the result of a sleeper hold.
- Psychopathic Manchild: Zeus. He was only recently released from prison after killing someone after the bell in a match.
- Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh...: As is Hulk Hogan's trademark in the ring.
- Zeus is pretty much made of this till the final moments of the movie, at which point Hogan proceeds to beat the crap out of him.
- Red Right Hand: Zeus's Big Ol' Unibrow. Liston's natural lazy eye is also exaggerated. Zeus is never seen without it crossed.
- Scary Black Man: Zeus, the only black man of note in the film, as it happens.
- Serious Business: Wrestling. It's single-handedly responsible for the success of World Television Network, and Brell is willing to pay any price to have its biggest star. It's as if the station airs nothing else but a single show.
- Show Within a Show: Brell's Battle Of The Tough Guys.
- Shirtless Scene: It's a wrestling movie!
- Teeny Weenie: The redneck in the bar's restroom mocked two of Brell's partners for their minuscule manhoods.
- There Is Only One Bed: The motel scene with Rip and Samantha.
- Vanilla Edition: The 2012 DVD release, which doesn't contain a trailer, any behind the scenes features, or even an acknowledgement of Tom "Tiny" Lister's WWE career.
- Villainous Breakdown: Brell starts trashing his own station equipment as Zeus gets beaten around by Rip at the end.
- Would Hit a Girl: Brell and Zeus both manhandle women at some point.
- Wrestling Monster: Zeus is a seemingly unstoppable force.