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Monday, March 31, 2014

"Dressed for the Occasion": On Vince McMahon and Hulk Hogan's "No Holds Barred"

Welcome. It's the Niles Files fourth annual April Fool's blog. Undermining my reputation like nothing else, which is hard. Hi! Again, hi! If you're really bored and life is still pointless, like it was last year, check out 2013's entry on UHF, 2012's piece on Young Einstein,or the selection from the year before that, Bill and Ted's Excellent AdventureHave a good day! Wheeeee!

Thomas J. Hart’s No Holds Barred begins its bellicose exchanges on a black screen, the verbal wranglers out of sight but indelible by the sound of their voices. “I dress for the occasion!” color commentator Jesse “the Body” Ventura proclaims to his straight-man counterpart, “Mean” Gene Okerlund, who’s just pointed out the audacious outfit of the Body. “I’m dressed of course stupendously!” Ventura adds. “Stupendously I…think would have to be the word,” Okerlund says before returning attention to the eagerly anticipated clash about to transpire in the ring.
Promotional image from the 1989 motion picture of warring bodies, “No Holds Barred”
No Holds Barred was the marvelous first attempt of WWE (then, WWF) promoter Vince McMahon to successfully migrate his sports entertainment empire to Hollywood, tellingly at the end of a decade he had helped define. The prologue between Ventura and Okerlund is not throwaway stage banter, but, as we finally see Ventura’s wacky hairpiece looking on, we understand that it cuts into the motion picture’s stance on wrestling and McMahon himself, a suit unable to “dress for the occasion,” controlling the dialogue but, like Okerlund dwarfed by Ventura, not really understanding the words. In film, McMahon’s collaborator and star, Hulk Hogan, was the scene stealing Thunder Lips in Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky III, leading to a fruitful relationship with A-Team actor Mr. T, who would co-headline the first Wrestlemania. McMahon’s pay-per view ventures in the decade effortlessly married west coast screen icons to professional wrestling, and finally, in 1989, No Holds Barred would attempt to be celluloid deliverer for McMahon and Hogan’s silver screen legacy, the two straddling disparate worlds of coliseum action and swanky restaurants, the same way Hogan does in the film.

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