Movies That Suck, But Not Really: No Holds Barred

There are no rings, no refs, no rules…No Holds Barred. This 1989 action/sports film is the World Wrestling Federation (WWF now WWE) first venue into the film world and who better to lead the charge then the man of professional wrestling at the time none other than Hulk Hogan.

Zeus, Brell, Rip

Hogan stars as Rip, the World Wrestling Federation champion who has millions of fans and is loved by everyone(very similar to Hogan in real life). His success in the WWF and on Network television doesn’t sit well with Brell, who is a rival TV executive who’s ratings have slipped because of Rip.

Brell decides to try and bribe Rip into signing to his network and after a failed attempt, Brell makes it his mission to bring down Rip. He gets a couple of goons to attack Rip and Rip does what he does best and destroys them.

Brell’s desperate for something, anything that will give him a leg up and finds it in the form of a fresh out of jail maniac called Zeus (Tommy “Tiny” Lister) who is a killer. Brell comes up with a concept for a show called “Battle For The Tough Guys” and he makes Zeus the cornerstone of it, all the while getting Rip’s attention.

It has been years since I last watched No Holds Barred. This is virtually the first movie to actually be about wrestling that isn’t really that bad. Could it have been better? Of course, but it has all the elements of an 80's action flick so if you like those types of movies like I do then you’ll enjoy No Holds Barred.

Stan Hanson

Since I basically went into the movie blind I completely forgot about the cameos from some of the big names in wrestling at the time like Mean Gene Okerlund, Jesse Ventura and the always over the top Stan “The Lariat” Hanson. Who oddly enough isn’t to much different in the movie then he was when wrestling which is kind of scary when thinking about it.

Hogan does a serviceable job as Rip, who is basically Hogan playing Hogan but with a different name and instead of the atomic leg drop, he uses a double axe smash across the face as a finisher. Hogan is at his best when he’s in the ring but is charismatic enough in the more acting scenes to keep you interested in what’s going on when there isn’t any fighting going on.

Joan Severance is worth the watch of this movie alone just because of how beautiful she is and her eyes could put any man down for the 3 count. If I was Rip, I would’ve said the hell with fighting Zeus and ran off with her. Joan’s stone cold demeanor in the beginning quickly goes away once her and Rip relationship grows and in one bedroom scene basically puts it over the top…did i mention how beautiful she is?

Joan Severance and Hogan

The stand out performance of the entire movie is Kurt Fuller as Brell who I quickly was convinced was playing a version of Vince McMahon for any WWE(World Wrestling Entertainment) fans know exactly what I’m talking about. His over the top acting makes for some of the movies unintentionally hilarious moments along with his two stooges played by David Paymer and Charles Levin.

Fuller as Brell trying to berate Rip

Tommy “Tiny” Lister, Jr. as Zeus is one scary guy from the moment he appears on screen, he is an intimidating figure and looks as if he legit killed a couple of people before showing up. Lister does a good job as Zeus but looking back on it now there seems to be some off brand racial things about the character that I didn’t really care for but can be over looked.


All in all if you enjoy 80's action with a lot of cheese then No Holds Barred is the movie for you. With this being the WWE(WWF at the time) first venture into film isn’t too bad considering that they ripped off Rocky III and IV. And thanks to the cult success that No Holds Barred has gained was the launching point for WWE to create their own film company.

Rip’em Brother!!