Body Slam


Body Slam (1987)

Wham, bam, thank you, Body Slam

The Tonga Kid and Roddy Piper

It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I most certainly do not feel fine.

Every four years, the world gathers to witness the majesty of the summer Olympic Games. But the world’s biggest stage will never be the same after it was announced that starting in 2020, in all likelihood, wrestling will no longer be an Olympic event.

That’s right, wrestling, one of the oldest sports known to man will not be a part of future Olympic games. However, they will still award equestrian medals – presumably to horses, since they are doing all the work. No fretting, Popeye, as sailing will still be included. As will synchronized swimming. Not to mention the other 30 or so variations of swimming which are included in the event. Who cares how you are getting from one end to the other, as long as you do it? How much hardware does Michael Phelps need?

Olympic wrestling had provided some incredible moments, like the time in 1976 when France’s Andre The Giant tossed Japan’s Mr. Fuji completely off the wrestling mats and into the third row of spectators en route to capturing the gold medal, while his mother Stella The Giant looked on in tears. I’ll never forget the 1984 Olympics when U.S.A. representative Hulk Hogan (accompanied by Ronald Reagan and Sylvester Stallone) single-handedly ended the Cold War with his victory over the Russian Bear. No, that was not a nickname. Russia’s wrestling team that year was captained by a grizzly bear.

Sadly, many have forgotten these moments. If you do a quick Google search, you’ll be hard pressed to find any recollections of these events – hell, you might even find contradictory information.

Thankfully, wrestling will always live on through film. Legendary films such as Nacho Libre and No Holds Barred should be viewed by the International Olympic Committee before any rash decisions are made. As should the film I’ll be taking a look at this week – Body Slam.

Dirk Benedict (The A-Team, Battlestar Galactica) portrays M. Harry Smilac, a music promoter who has seen better days. He has one floundering act, and is up to his ears in debt. However, in a case of art imitating life, the worlds of rock ’n’ roll and wrestling unite to raise Smilac’s career out of the doldrums.

In a case of mistaken identity, Smilac signs Quick Rick Roberts (“Rowdy” Roddy Piper) and Tonga Tom (Sam Fatu, a.k.a. The Tonga Kid), thinking they are musicians. The only beautiful music these two are making is inside the wrestling ring, where they are top contenders to the prestigious tag team championship.

Once he realizes his mistake, Smilac decides to stick to his guns, because music simply wasn’t paying the bills. But Smilac is not exactly welcomed into the wrestling business with open arms. Legendary professional wrestling manager Captain Lou Albano takes on the challenging role of legendary professional wrestling manager Captain Lou Murano. Captain Lou is a despicable character whose Cannibals team puts Smilac and his tandem on the shelf.

Now injured and basically blackballed from the major leagues by Murano, Smilac decides to take his wrestling duo on the road with his only musical act. The Rock ’n’ Wrestling connection is a huge success, leading to a winners-take-all battle between the forces of good and evil.

Body Slam is a beautifully acted and tremendously written look at what the stars of sports entertainment really go through. It is everything the 2008 film The Wrestler should have been. Wrestling icons Bruno Sammartino and Ric Flair make cameos. As does renowned comedian Charles Nelson Reilly, and Billy Barty, the greatest under 4-foot tall actor who ever lived (sorry, Tom Cruise). For the second time in his career, Dirk Benedict was a member of an A-Team as part of this stellar cast. Body Slam will have you pinned down on your sofa for its entire 89 minute duration.

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