“Rock ‘n’ Wrestling” refers to a significant crossover between the worlds of professional wrestling and rock music that took place in the 1980s. It primarily revolves around the partnership between the World Wrestling Federation (now WWE) and the music industry, particularly with the involvement of musicians and collaborations with MTV.
During this era, the WWF recognized the potential of combining the popularity of professional wrestling with the mainstream appeal of rock music to create a larger fan base. This led to various initiatives and events that blended the two worlds, resulting in a phenomenon known as “Rock ‘n’ Wrestling.”
One of the key figures in this crossover was Cyndi Lauper, a prominent pop singer of the time. Lauper’s association with professional wrestling began when she appeared as a manager for wrestler Wendi Richter. This led to a storyline feud between Richter and Lauper’s rival manager, Captain Lou Albano, which culminated in a highly publicized match at the inaugural WrestleMania event in 1985.
The success of this collaboration prompted further integration of music and wrestling. The WWF featured rock musicians in their programming, such as Rick Derringer performing “Real American” for Hulk Hogan’s entrance theme. Additionally, the WWF created animated series called Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling, which featured animated versions of wrestlers teaming up with various rock stars in comedic adventures.
The “Rock ‘n’ Wrestling” era represented a significant period of cross-promotion and entertainment convergence, bringing together the larger-than-life personalities of professional wrestling with the energy and appeal of rock music. It played a crucial role in expanding the fanbase of both industries and capturing the pop culture zeitgeist of the 1980s.
The natural progression of this awesome pairing was to bring the action of pro wrestling and sounds of rock music to the movie screen. However, this is where interest seemed to stop for most people. Perhaps purchasing a ticket and spending a day at the movies was always going to be a bit overkill for fans perfectly happy to watch Cyndi Lauper just have fun from their own living room for or parents who got a free cartoon for their kids every Saturday morning. Whatever the reasons, this effort to hit the big screen ultimately left us with movies like No Holds Barred (which Jim Ross once referred to as No Profits Allowed) and the should be cult-classic Body Slam.
Body Slam was a comedy released in 1986, revolving around a down-on-his-luck music promoter named M. Harry Smilac, played by Dirk Benedict of The A-Team fame. Smilac just happens to get involved in the world of professional wrestling and mischief ensues.
The film follows Smilac as he encounters a washed-up pro wrestler named “Quick” Rick Roberts, portrayed by Rowdy Roddy Piper. Smilac sees an opportunity to combine his love for music and wrestling by managing Quick Rick and a wrestling rock band called Kick at the same time.
With the help of his assistant Candace, played by Tanya Roberts, Smilac sets out to promote Quick Rick and his wrestling partner Tonga Tom, played by Sam Fatu. They embark on a tour with Kick, hoping to achieve success and fame by merging the worlds of music and wrestling. As the story progresses, Smilac faces challenges, including rival wrestling promoters, the constant chaos of managing a group of wrestlers and musicians, and the difficulty of putting on a show that features both live music and wrestling. Of-course the film culminates in a climactic showdown and a high-stakes wrestling match.
Body Slam combines elements of comedy, wrestling action, and music, creating an entertaining story about an unlikely group of characters trying to find success and redemption in their respective fields. Other wrestlers and personalities of note appearing in the film include Captain Lou Albano, Afa Anoai, Barbarian, Billy Barty, John Astin, Fans of The A-Team will especially enjoy this film as Dirk Benedict drives around in a Ferrari in some scenes and is essentially playing the Templeton Peck character (he juggled commitments to both projects during this time). That’s perfectly fine because Rock ‘n’ Wresting is a venture that the Face man would get into to make a buck.
Body Slam was not a financial success. The film was met with negative reviews and failed to attract a significant audience. The movie’s poor performance contributed to its status as a relatively obscure and forgotten film today. While it has gained a small following among fans of professional wrestling and ’80s movies, it hasn’t achieved the same level of cult status as some other films from the era. Its lack of critical acclaim and commercial success prevented it from attaining widespread recognition or a dedicated cult following. This isn’t surprising when thinking about the mainstream audience but perhaps a little more unexpected when considering the fandom of wrestling fans.