Video Game Review: WWF King of the Ring (NES)

The original WWF wrestling game for Nintendo was a piece of shit. I mean, it was passable in 1989 when I first played it but it’s a clusterfuck of buggy controls, strange physics and is limited by its roster and only having one match type.

This was the fourth WWF game for NES, after the three Wrestlemania games. This one took the King of the Ring tournament format and brought it into the game.

Now while this is limited by having basic one-on-one or tag team matches, it does boast a bigger roster than the original Wrestlemania game.

However, what makes this much, much better than Wrestlemania is that it is playable!

This game isn’t hard to figure out pretty quickly and you certainly don’t get as frustrated with it as you do the other early WWF titles. Sadly, there isn’t much as far as move sets go. I’m not even sure if you can do finishers. This is basically a button masher and as long as you can adapt to the patterns of the game, it’s really damn easy.

But because of this being a basic bitch of a wrestling game, it gets repetitive fast and after playing through one tournament, there isn’t much else to keep your attention.

Rating: 5.5/10
Pairs well with: other NES wrestling games: Pro Wrestling, Tag Team Wrestling, WCW Wrestling and WWF WrestleMania Challenge.

Video Game Review: WWF WrestleMania (NES)

I was so excited for this game when it was coming out. I remember my cousin and I playing this game all night before Wrestlemania V. While we were waiting to see the Mega Powers due battle on the “grandest stage of them all” we simulated the upcoming match, over and over, taking turns as Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage.

But I also remember how frustrated we were playing the game. The mechanics stunk, even for a wrestling game from 1989. We tried other characters but none of them seemed to work too well.

For those wondering, this features a massive roster of six WWF superstars: Hulk Hogan, the “Macho Man” Randy Savage, “The Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase, Andre the Giant, the Honky Tonk Man and Bam Bam Bigelow, who made us laugh our asses off because his special move was a friggin’ cartwheel.

Playing this game now is even worse than it was in 1989. Sure, Pro Wrestling had bad controls but one can still play it and figure things out. This game is just a mess though and it’s damn boring to look at. At least Pro Wrestling and Tag Team Wrestling had a bit of visual flair to them.

WWF WrestleMania is just mindnumbingly bad. But WWF games would get better in time. The follow up to this at least looked better. But really, WWF games didn’t start to flourish and improve until the next generation on the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo.

Rating: 3.5/10
Pairs well with: other NES wrestling games: Pro Wrestling, Tag Team Wrestling, WCW Wrestling and WWF WrestleMania Challenge.

Documentary Review: Andre the Giant (2018)

Release Date: April 10th, 2018
Directed by: Jason Hehir
Music by: Rudy Chung, Justin T. Feldman
Cast: Andre the Giant (archive footage), Hulk Hogan, Vince McMahon, Rob Reiner, Billy Crystal, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Robin Wright, Cary Elwes, Ric Flair, Jerry Lawler, Shane McMahon, Gene Okerlund, Pat Patterson, Tim White

Bill Simmons Media Group, HBO, WWE, 85 Minutes

Review:

I was anticipating this since I first heard about it’s production a while ago. Then, once I saw the trailer, I was really stoked.

I have seen a lot of documentaries about professional wrestling but they have mostly been the ones put out by WWE. Sure, those have great production values and even greater stories but I’m always skeptical about WWE releases due to their history of showing a lot of bias. Go back and look at their hit piece called The Self-Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior if you don’t believe me. In fact, WWE has sort of ignored that that film even exists after mending their relationship with the Ultimate Warrior and his family.

HBO put together and released this documentary on the legendary Andre Roussimoff a.k.a. Andre the Giant. So that alone puts it in higher regard than WWE’s own productions.

While it does follow his wrestling career, it was nice seeing some of the focus being put on his short acting career, as this documentary interviews those who worked on The Princess Bride with him: Rob Reiner, Billy Crystal, Cary Elwes and Robin Wright. It also showcases his childhood and his family but not as much as I would’ve liked.

Strangely, the film also features Hulk Hogan a lot. I get that they needed to foreshadow the importance of their epic WrestleMania III main event match but it seemed as if the Hogan material was distracting from Andre’s story. Granted, Andre was still the primary focus. Also, Hogan is a well known bullshitter that likes to present revisionist history. I had to kind of take what he was saying about his and Andre’s relationship with a grain of salt.

Negatives aside, this was still well done and it painted a picture of a man that was really a gentle giant. Sure, he would use his size to his advantage but ultimately, Andre was sort of a sweetheart that sadly suffered from a lot of physical, as well as emotional, pain.

But more than anything else, he was a man that was beloved by many.

Rating: 7.75/10
Pairs well with: The recent Ric Flair 30 For 30 documentary by ESPN.

 

Film Review: Rocky III (1982)

Release Date: May 28th, 1982
Directed by: Sylvester Stallone
Written by: Sylvester Stallone
Music by: Bill Conti
Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Talia Shire, Burt Young, Carl Weathers, Burgess Meredith, Tony Burton, Mr. T, Hulk Hogan, Chino ‘Fats’ Williams

United Artists, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 100 Minutes

Review:

“No, I don’t hate Balboa. I pity the fool, and I will destroy any man who tries to take what I got!” – Clubber Lang

Rocky III is the first sequel to kind of dip in quality. Regardless, it is still an enjoyable film that is actually a bit more entertaining than the previous two pictures. It’s shorter, it’s more fun overall and both Mr. T and Hulk Hogan make the fights in this film more exciting and definitely more colorful.

This film fast forwards a bit from the events of Rocky and Rocky II. Here, Rocky Balboa has been the world champion for a little while. We get a nice vignette of him conquering a myriad of challengers along the way. Plus, the beginning of this film is greatly enhanced by its theme song “Eye of the Tiger” by Survior.

The reason why I like Rocky III so much, even though it isn’t of the same quality of the first two pictures, is that it has so much energy. Hulk Hogan plays Thunderlips, a giant wrestler that Balboa fights for charity. He is a massive brute that is overly ostentatious. Then you have the real villain of the story, Mr. T’s intimidating and jacked Clubber Lang. The guy literally looks like a killing machine in boxing gloves.

This chapter also adds some serious emotional baggage that treads new territory for Rocky. He loses his trainer, loses his title and feels like he’s hit rock bottom. Then Apollo, his greatest rival, shows him how to pick himself up and find his edge. Apollo knows that Balboa is greater than Clubber Lang and his respect for Rocky pushes him into helping the fallen fighter right the ship.

I love Rocky III. It really evolved the series into a new decade, the ’80s. And like that decade, it feels more carefree, entertaining and opulent. We enter a world of excess, where Balboa is beyond poverty but with these changes, come new challenges and life isn’t a cakewalk for the warrior.

Rating: 8/10

Film Review: No Holds Barred (1989)

Release Date: June 2nd, 1989
Directed by: Thomas J. Wright
Written by: Dennis Hackin
Music by: Jim Johnston
Cast: Hulk Hogan, Kurt Fuller, Joan Severance, Tiny Lister, David Paymer, Jesse Ventura, Gene Okerlund, Howard Finkel, Stan Hansen

Shane Distribution Company, New Line Cinema, 93 Minutes

noholdsbarred6pcReview:

No Holds Barred is an amazing movie! Okay, that may be an overstatement and yes, I am aware that it was critically panned and that it has been the butt of jokes for nearly three decades but who gives a shit what those snobbish film nerds and Hulkster haters out there have to say?

This movie was a vehicle to launch Hulk Hogan’s film career. Let’s be honest, Hogan sucks as an actor and all of his films after this one are abominations and blights on the film industry. No Holds Barred however, had some very enjoyable bits and had some redeeming qualities that set it apart and have made it an entertaining movie.

The acting was awful, the cinematography was b-movie 80s schlock, the plot was worse than the acting and the characters were beyond goofy and bizarre. But those are the things that made it great. Because while those elements can easily create a stomach-churning viewing experience, there are those films that somehow have the right balance and formula that magically transform those bad elements into something exceptional.

No Holds Barred is a beautiful smorgasbord of bad 80s filmmaking clichés. It is quite literally a perfect storm.

As a kid, I didn’t get to see the film until it was out for 6 months. Two days after Christmas in 1989, the World Wrestling Federation held a pay-per-view event called No Holds Barred: The Movie, The Match. That event showcased the film in its entirety and was then followed by a tornado tag team cage match pitting Hulk Hogan and his partner Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake against “Macho Man” Randy Savage and Hogan’s opponent in the film, Zeus. Zeus was played by now semi-famous actor Tommy “Tiny” Lister, Jr. Lister has since gone on to star in a ton of films and television shows, most notably Friday and The Fifth Element.

Having just experienced this film for the first time in years, I was still entertained and loved it. It brought me back to a time when professional wrestling still felt magical, Hulk Hogan was a god and Joan Severance replaced Phoebe Cates as the apple of my eye.

Sure, this may not have the same effect on others; I am probably falling victim to nostalgia but I don’t care. This film is in a rare breed considering that it is still completely stupid yet completely awesome. If you don’t believe me, watch the clip below.

And now, the trailer!

Film Review: The ‘Gremlins’ Series (1984-1990)

The Gremlins film series is proof that America wasn’t ruled by overprotective helicopter parents in the 80s. I’m glad I grew up in that era, as opposed to nowadays when a good old family film like Gremlins would be severely toned down and edited or have to be rated R and thus, not a family film.

I saw it in the theater with my parents. I was five. Yes, I saw people killed by little monsters and a bunch of horror violence but guess what? I loved it because I wasn’t coddled into being a complete wuss.

So let me discuss these films that, by today’s standards, should have destroyed me and turned me into a budding serial killer.

Gremlins (1984):

Release Date: June 8th, 1984
Directed by: Joe Dante
Written by: Chris Columbus
Music by: Jerry Goldsmith
Cast: Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, Hoyt Axton, Polly Holiday, Frances Lee McCain, Dick Miller, Corey Feldman, Keye Luke, Jackie Joseph, Judge Reinhold, Glynn Turman, Jonathan Banks, Don Steele (voice)

Amblin Entertainment, Warner Bros., 106 Minutes

gremlinsReview:

The first one is the best one. It is a classic and a “must view” film come Christmas time, even though it oddly came out in the summer months of 1984.

Gremlins is a prefect balance of comedy, horror and holiday cheer. It also is a perfect balance of cuteness and insanity and I’m not talking about the very young Corey Feldman in this picture.

The creature effects are top notch for their time and I would still rather watch these animatronic puppets than CGI any day. And one can’t not be impressed with how many Gremlins they actually put in some of these scenes. In the movie theater segment alone, it looks as if there are dozens of these creatures, all controlled and animated by some off-screen puppeteer.

The story is pretty basic and straightforward but most fairy tales are. But this is a dark and amusing fairy tale. The Gremlins, for being terrifying little monsters are hilarious. They joke around, act crazy and are lethal, even to each other. The fairy tale also has its rules that must be followed. Of course, the rules aren’t followed and that is why we end up with the glorious chaos that is this film.

Zach Galligan and Phoebe Cates are perfect as the leads in this film and they had great chemistry, which also worked well in the sequel. In fact, unlike other boys my age, this is the film where I got a huge crush on Phoebe Cates, as opposed to Fast Times At Ridgemont High. Hoyt Axton was entertaining as the father character, a struggling inventor whose gadgets are the butt of several jokes in the films. Judge Reinhold and Dick Miller both show up for a bit as well.

This was one of my favorite movies when I was a kid and it has aged well. It still exudes the magic I found in it as a five year-old in the theater. Yeah, it is cheesy and over the top but it has a grittiness to it that you will never get when this film is eventually remade.

Gremlins is great. It is some of Joe Dante’s best work as a director.

And the soundtrack is fantastically nuts.

Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990):

Release Date: June 15th, 1990
Directed by: Joe Dante
Written by: Charles S. Haas, Chuck Jones
Music by: Jerry Goldsmith, Carl Stalling
Cast: Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, Dick Miller, Jackie Joseph, Christopher Lee, John Glover, Robert J. Prosky, Robert Picardo, Hulk Hogan, Paul Bartel, Rick Ducommun, Kathleen Freeman

Amblin Entertainment, Warner Bros., 106 Minutes

gremlins_2Review:

The New Batch is a pretty satisfactory sequel. I feel like they took too much time off between films but it still has a lot of the spirit of the original. It was also cool to see Zach Galligan and Phoebe Cates return, as well as Dick Miller.

The film also has Christopher Lee in it, one of my favorite actors ever, as a mad scientist who does zany experiments on animals. His carelessness leads to the Gremlins acquiring some extraordinary abilities and a few bizarre abilities. The inclusion of Christopher Lee’s character ups the ante in this film, making the Gremlins more of a serious threat than they were in the first movie.

Also joining the cast are John Glover, as Daniel Clamp (a parody of Donald Trump in the 80s), Robert Picardo (a regular collaborator with Joe Dante) and Robert Prosky (as a late night horror movie show host dressed like a vampire). All three of these guys give superb performances, especially Glover.

Gremlins 2 isn’t as good of a film as the first but overall, it might be more fun. It is less dark but it is more campy. It has more Gremlin gags as opposed to a straightforward fluid story. The plot exists and there is a beginning and an end but the in-between stuff plays more like sketch comedy with a few plot points added in to keep it somewhat coherent.

This is a very different film than the first, which is refreshing. I probably wouldn’t want a rehash of what was done previously. This film did a great job of being its own thing while continuing the story on from the original.

I had always hoped for a third and final film but that ship has most likely sailed and Joe Dante isn’t the same director anymore.

Talking Wrasslin’: Hulkamania Is Runnin’ Sour

One cannot deny the greatness that is Hulk Hogan. He is a superstar that took some redneck pastime and made it into a worldwide phenomena.

Sure, he had help from the WWF (now WWE) marketing machine and was guided by the vision of Vince McMahon, Jr. but he did takeover 1980s pop culture and injected a surge of professional wrestling into the arms of kids and adults at that time.

Hulk Hogan is a mastodon and without him, professional wrestling might not exist today. Every superstar and diva that has enjoyed their life in that world, owes a huge debt to Hulk Hogan that none of them will ever be able to repay.

Hulk Hogan preached morals and expressed ethics, he told us all to take our vitamins and to fight for what is right. He became a comic book hero that slammed the immense Andre the Giant, stood against the evil corporate greed of “The Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase, continually conquered the evil Heenan Family and proved he was better than his allies when they grew jealous and turned on him. Every challenge Hogan faced, he overcame. Okay, maybe not the Ultimate Warrior but at the time, Hogan was passing the torch to the next great superstar and hero. He was doing what was “best for business”.

However, that was all thirty years ago and Hulk Hogan is a character just like Spider-Man or Superman are characters. The comic book isn’t reality.

Terry Bollea is the man that played Hulk Hogan. He is not Hulk Hogan. Granted, I don’t think he knows that and most of the time, neither do his fans or the press. It probably doesn’t help that he refers to himself as “The Hulkster” even when he isn’t in the squared circle. He has become the physical embodiment of the fictional character, even though the real man is still in there and will always be there because fiction is fiction and superheroes don’t exist.

If you aren’t aware of the recent controversies regarding Hulk Hogan and his blatant racist and homophobic remarks, then you’ve really been living under a rock. I’m not going to rehash and reprint them here, as they are posted everywhere and this article isn’t about the remarks themselves. This is about the bigger picture.

Somewhere along the way, Terry Bollea started drinking his own Kool-Aid. It is probably our fault, the fans of the guy who have watched and worshiped him since he won the WWF World Heavyweight Championship from the Iron Sheik in January of 1984. But how could we not be effected by Hulkamania in the 80s? Granted, I was more of a fan of the heels (or bad guys) but Hogan was a force of nature and the most charismatic guy on screen no matter who he faced. Hulk Hogan was the brand and that brand was the WWF, which I (and many other people) loved back then. He was the centerpiece of that comic book come-to-life.

When you play a character like that, one who represents your ideal persona and is an extension of your own personality, albeit massively exaggerated, how do you not get lost in that identity? When everywhere you go, people are there expecting to see you, as that character, it is probably damn near impossible not to fully become that character. Take into account the level of stardom and fanfare that Terry Bollea had wearing his red and yellow uniform and one can see that it is something that isn’t easy to just walk away from.

Most people want to be liked. Hulk Hogan was loved and adored and certainly benefited in regards to the lady folk. Why wouldn’t one embrace it? I don’t really blame him for that. I also don’t blame us, the fans, for playing along because it is hard not to love Hulk Hogan, the character and the brand.

By the time the 1990s rolled around, Hulkamania had gotten boring. Hogan eventually became a bad guy and revitalized his career as the leader of the n.W.o. (New World Order). Sure, the n.W.o. was the coolest thing to ever happen to wrestling at the time but despite the revisionist history that is popular now, which states that Hogan became beloved again as a bad guy, people still wanted him gone in order to make room for the new superstars such as Sting, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and Bill Goldberg. Even when the n.W.o. was cheered, Hogan was often times booed, violently. Hulkamania was a thing that most fans, if not all, just didn’t want to buy into anymore. Times had changed.

When Hulk Hogan returned to the WWF in the early 00s, he was still n.W.o. Hogan. However, shortly after, he returned to his superhero roots and put the red and yellow back on. By that time, it was a welcome change and fans embraced it. People are weak for nostalgia, especially professional wrestling fans. The long hiatus without that character allowed people to get over their boredom with it. The fans loved old school Hogan and he has been powered by that reaction ever since.

Following his career resurgence, he has been in and out of WWE (which changed from WWF in May of 2002), ran TNA (Total Nonstop Action) and even started his own wrestling promotion. Mostly, he has been a WWE character that shows up at big events to help with promotion. Terry Bollea, as Hulk Hogan, has spent the last few years being an ambassador for WWE and he’s done a pretty fine job of it, as he is still the most recognized face of the brand – sorry, Dwayne.

However, he’s seemed a bit off ever since a lot of his family issues came to light in recent years. He has gotten divorced, it was messy and very public. His son drunkenly crashed his car, giving his best friend permanent brain damage in the process, after Hogan allowed his kid and his kid’s friend to drink while underage. He has had issues with his daughter and trying to manage her nonexistent music career. He even had a sex tape surface. I don’t want to watch Hulk Hogan have sex. Celebrities are terribly boring in the sack anyway. Seriously, they have awful fucking sex.

Also, while making media appearances over the last couple years, he seems like he has a bit of brain damage. Maybe he took too many chairshots to the head.

For instance, while cutting a promo during Wrestlemania XXX in the Superdome, he kept referring to it as the Silverdome. The Superdome is in New Orleans, the Silverdome was in Detroit and hasn’t been functional for a decade. Then during the Stanley Cup Finals he kept talking about how big of a Tampa Bay Lightning fan he was but kept referring to head coach Jon Cooper as “John Connor”. I didn’t know the leader of the resistance against SkyNet was a hockey coach? Of course, this can all be brushed off as the effects of old age and Hogan being senile.

However, he’s often times told his own revisionist history when describing his relationships with other former wrestlers who grew to hate him. He kept talking up how he and the Ultimate Warrior buried the hatchet just before he died. It got to the point where the Warrior’s widowed wife had to blast Hogan for it. Nothing is sacred to Hogan and he has become a guy who will do anything to keep the spotlight on himself. Hence, the whoring out of his family to VH1, as well as him force feeding the world his daughter.

Hulk Hogan became obsessed with himself. Or I should say, Terry Bollea became obsessed with parading around as this fictional character he and Vince McMahon created years ago. And all the while, we have seen him as nothing other than Hulk Hogan: an invincible, moral, ethical and positive role model.

And that is why people are so shocked. Hulk Hogan would never say and do those horrible things. Hulk Hogan is a perfect superhuman. Hulk Hogan is a hero to everyone. “Take your vitamins”; “Fight for the rights of every man”. Hulk Hogan is the “Real American”.

Terry Bollea is just a man though.

Men have faults. Men aren’t perfect. They can, at times, be super and heroic but ultimately, at the end of the day, they are mortal. They can hurt and be hurt. They can fall. They can make mistakes.

I’m writing this because I think people have either lost sight of this or they have never really put it into the proper perspective. I am not excusing what Terry Bollea did, by any means.

We’ve all said stupid shit at some point or another. Most of us have probably done something horrible to someone else over the course of our lives. We’ve all fallen. Luckily for most people, we aren’t under a microscope.

We live in a celebrity obsessed culture that completely fucks up the perception of reality for many people. And this is what happens when we deify human beings. When they don’t live up to the image of perfection placed upon them, everyone loses their damn mind.

Terry Bollea will have to live with this for the rest of his life and face the consequences of his stupid behavior. Behavior that has gone on to taint the legacy of “The Immortal” Hulk Hogan.

But instead of Terry looking in the mirror at Terry, he’s probably going to keep hiding behind his Hulk Hogan facade. It isn’t about turning off the switch because he’s gotten to the point where he doesn’t remember where that switch is.

Delusions of grandeur are still just delusions.

The thing is, we don’t have to be delusional with him anymore.