THREE GUYS AND… A MOVIE
series created by Marvin Mercer and Nick Stephenson
written by Dominick Cappello
Rocky Balboa vs. Mr. T and Hulk Hogan? Trust me, it was acceptable in the 80s. This is the film that introduced “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor to the franchise. A montage chronicles Rocky’s first ten title defenses and him becoming a media darling. He even guest stars on “The Muppet Show.” Intercut with Rocky’s triumph is Clubber Lang, Mr. T’s character, a vicious brute who is climbing the boxing ranks.
Paulie is as jealous as ever of his brother-in-law’s success and is arrested for destroying a Rocky pinball machine. But, he and Rocky are quick to bury the hatchet and Paulie joins Mickey in Rocky’s corner for a charity exhibition against pro wrestling champion Thunderlips, played by “The Immortal” Hulk Hogan. Appearing in this film is what lead to Hulk Hogan becoming a huge star in the world of pro wrestling. Many say this scene is pointless, but I disagree because I think we needed to see Rocky have a fight before losing to Clubber Lang. Act one of this film is Rocky basking in fame and fortune. Act two is him being defeated and humbled. Act three is him battling back and his redemption. Yes, the film opens with a montage of all his title defenses, but I think we needed a fight in its entirety during act one. If it was just another boxing match, the film would have gotten a little repetitive, so that’s why Sylvester Stallone was smart to make it a wrestling match.
At the Philadelphia Museum of Art, atop the iconic steps, city officials unveil a statue of Rocky. Rocky addresses the spectators and contemplates retirement, but Clubber Lang crashes the party and challenges Rocky. Mickey refuses on Rocky’s behalf, which humiliates Rocky. Mickey later admits that he’s handpicked easy opponents for Rocky to defeat because Rocky has lost his edge. Mickey believes that Rocky has become too civilized to defeat Clubber Lang. Not wanting to retire with his tale between his legs, Rocky accepts Clubber’s challenge, but the fight ends tragically. Mickey’s heart condition acts up during a pre-fight altercation between the combatants. Rocky must then defend his title without Mickey in his corner. Apollo Creed, now retired, serves as a color commentator and can sense there is something wrong with Rocky. Clubber smells blood and it takes him only two rounds to KO Rocky. Rocky slinks back to his locker room and watches helplessly as Mickey passes away. The much greater loss.
Rocky is lost without his mentor, but Apollo reaches out and offers to train him for a rematch. Rocky is hesitant, but Apollo convinces him that they can win the title back together. They travel to Los Angeles, where Apollo began his career. Apollo’s trainer, Tony, assists in helping Rocky regain the “eye of the tiger.” Just like “Rocky II,” the training goes poorly at first, but after some inspirational words from Adrian, Rocky is able to get motivated. Instead of jogging up steps, Rocky and Apollo race across a beach. Afterwards, they splash around in the ocean. Odd, but like I said, acceptable in the 80s. The rematch between Rocky and Clubber is held at Madison Square Garden, but crowd shots from the Spectrum in Philadelphia were recycled from “Rocky II.” Apollo gives Rocky his stars and stripes trunks from their first fight. His way of passing the torch. The climatic fights in the previous two films lasted the full fifteen rounds, but the Rocky Balboa vs. Clubber Lang rematch lasted only three rounds. The third round was pretty long though. I’ve never timed it, but it seems longer than a regulation round of boxing. Rocky wins by KO and regains his championship.
Apollo said throughout the film that Rocky owed him a favor and the favor turns out to be a rubber match. No cameras, no reports, just the two of them finding out once and for all who the better man is. As they connect with punches, the image transitions into a painting and the credits roll. It seemed like we’d never know who won, but Rocky revealed to Adonis in “Creed” that Apollo was the winner.
In my own humble opinion, “Rocky III” is a great sequel. Vince McMahon, the owner of WWE, owes Sylvester Stallone a great debt for making Mr. T and Hulk Hogan into stars. They were a tag team in the main event of the first WrestleMania. Without “Rocky III,” there may never have been a WrestleMania. Sylvester Stallone inducted Hulk Hogan into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005. Kevin Smith has pointed out similarities between “Rocky III” and “The Dark Knight Rises,” illustrating how Bane was to Batman what Clubber Lang was to Rocky Balboa. Batman even got a statue in “The Dark Knight Rises.” All we need now is for someone to post a video on YouTube with “Eye of the Tiger” playing when Bruce Wayne climbs out of the pit.
– Dr. Jelly