Makes no bones about it – "No Holds Barred" is not a great movie.
So why did WWE decide to digitally remaster the 1989 film and release it on DVD (out today) and why would it interest you?
"No Holds Barred" falls in the category of movies that have a cult following probably for the wrong reasons – it's campy, over the top, unintentionally funny. Yet somehow it selects the perfect slices of cheese that you sample and can't stop eating. After an hour-and-a-half, you're left wondering how you were able to sit through the entire movie, but are glad you did and anxiously find others who have as well to share stories.
In the movie, Hulk Hogan plays the role of “Rip” who is ... Hulk Hogan. The fact that Rip and Hulk are the same human being isn't exactly hidden – the film begins with “Rip” being introduced as the “World Wrestling Federation Champion” with WWF (at the time) banners hanging from the rafters. Music very similar to “Real American” accompanies Rip -- who is wearing the WWE title circa 1989 (affectionately called the “winged eagle” belt) -- to the ring. The major differences? Hulk wears yellow, Rip sometimes wears white, sometimes blue. Rip uses a double-axe handle as a finishing manuever; Hulk uses a leg drop.
Tom Lister Jr plays the role of Zeus, Rip's adversary and the man Rip faces in the final battle of the movie. Zeus appeared in WWE for much of 1989 as Hulk Hogan's main foe. The pair feuded leading up to Summerslam 1989, where Hulk and Brutus Beefcake defeated Zeus and “Macho Man” Randy Savage. In December, WWE presented a pay-per-view event called “No Holds Barred – The Match, The Movie” where the teams met again in a steel cage tag-team match. This movie serves as the only “singles confrontation” the two men had on a main stage.
Do not sit down to watch this movie with any sort of high -- or even mediocre -- expectations. If you grab some popcorn, sit with some friends and laugh along at the ridiculousness that ensues. You'll have a great time. It's one of those movies where you will want to provide your own soundtrack.
I really hope the “Rip” hand gesture (which is like the Jimmy Snuka “I love you” but with only an index finger knuckle showing) catches on again. Hopefully it becomes a thing people takes pictures of at odd places and blast the images out on social media, kind of like “planking.”
You can buy “No Holds Barred” at wweshop.com
In addition to writing for The Baltimore Sun, Arda Ocal is an on-air personality with theScore Television Network. Watch his 1 on 1 interviews with WWE superstars and legends here.