2 thoughts on “That Time Hulk Hogan Stretched His Range And Played…Hulk Hogan

  1. Rocky III was the first time I ever saw Hulk Hogan. None of my friends nor I had any idea who this giant wrestler was. We all thought his real wrestling names was “Thunderlips” – the character Hulk Hogan plays in the movie. We only realized he went by “Hulk Hogan” when he started to appear on WWF.

  2. Considering real life events, it may be more likely that the Thunderlips/Rocky scene in ROCKY III was a fictionalized version of the match between famous wrestler Andre the Giant and boxer Chuck Wepner at the second “Showdown at Shea” event staged by WWWF (the precursor to WWE) in 1976. This is the same Chuck Wepner who has professed that Stallone based his “ROCKY” script on his own 15 round bout with Muhammad Ali in 1975 (where Ali TKO’d Wepner with 19 seconds left in the final round, unlike Rocky Balboa, who “went the distance” against Apollo Creed). Stallone has always denied basing his script on that fight, which finally was made into a film the following year.
    Stallone may have a harder time denying the Thunderlips scene wasn’t based on Wepner’s fight with Andre, though. In 1976, Wepner was nearing the end of his boxing career (he would retire in 1978 after going 3-4 in his last 7 bouts) and appeared in a gimmick “wrestler vs. boxer” match that Vince McMahon Sr. was doing. Ironically, the “main event” for that “Showdown at Shea” was Muhammad Ali vs. Antonio Inoki, a legendary Japanese wrestler (and founder of New Japan Pro-Wrestling). Their match itself turned out to be a dud, with Ali mostly keeping his distance and Inoki spending most of his time on the mat, trying to kick out Ali’s legs.
    Wepner’s match with Andre, the B-event of the gimmick, was far more memorable. There was some miscommunication as to what was expected, as all of the athletes in these “gimmick” matches got the same appearance fee (i.e. it didn’t matter if anyone won or lost, they got paid the same). Wepner was awed by Andre’s sheer size, while Andre was at least a little concerned about taking too many punches to the face. But after a round or so, Andre decided he’d had enough and headbutted Wepner, before lifting him off his feet and “body slamming” him out of the ring. Chaos ensued with coaches and managers rushing into the ring and the ref trying to maintain order. Wepner, meanwhile, took too long to recover after being hefted like a sack of flour, and lost the match by count-out (being outside the ring for 10 seconds).
    In ROCKY III, Balboa, Mickey, and Paulie are awed by Thunderlips’ sheer size. There is some miscommunication with Balboa as to what it takes to do a wrestling match versus boxing. Thunderlips “body slams” him out of the ring and chaos ensues with managers rushing around. The only difference, of course, is that Balboa gets his revenge and the match is declared a draw.
    So in many ways, Hulk Hogan was playing Andre the Giant in a scene in which, even while being very generous to Stallone, seemed heavily inspired by a real match. It is still a classic, though.
    It’s easy to find the Andre/Wepner match on YouTube for comparison.

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