Grunt! The Wrestling Movie (1985)

Once, years ago, “Skull Crusher” Johnson took on Mad Dog Joe De Curso for the title. Johnson got caught in the ropes, Mad Dog hit a dropkick and “Skull Crusher’s” head went flying into the crowd. After being acquitted of manslaughter, Mad Dog attached the judge and bailiff, went to jail and then jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge.

But what about the world title? Well, seeing as how he didn’t have a head, Johnson hasn’t defended it in six years, which is the first of many cues that this movie doesn’t understand wrestling all that well. But now, wrestlers from all over will appear in a battle royal to pick the next champ. And one of those wrestlers, The Mask, just might be Mad Dog.

We get to watch The Mask battle in a two on one match — again, this movie has no real idea how wrestling works and it’s about wrestling — against Dick Murdoch and Richard Beyer, who are billed here as the Grunt Brothers. I’m assuming that Beyer is Dick Beyer, otherwise known as Mr. X and most famously, the Sensational Intelligent Destroyer. The Mask wins this match when his valet shows her breasts to the twosome, which seems to be a way beyond early 80’s finish.

The movie episodically presents a mockumentary where we see The Mask battle against other wrestlers like El Toro (Mondo Guerrero, doing dives way before anyone else), American Starship Eagle (Dan Spivey, whose other partner in American Starship was Coyote, or Scott Hall; he went on to be Waylon Mercy and helped develop the Bray Wyatt character), Commie Warhead, Captain Carnage, “The Golden Greek” John Tolos and “Exotic” Adrian Street.

Old school — really old school — fans will recognize Victor River as Skull Crusher, Matilda the Hun from the original GLOW as Queen Kong, Steve Pardee, Count Billy Varga, El Goliath, “Irish” Pat Barrett, Bill Anderson and Pistol Pete Marquez in the movie.

Mad Dog is played by Magic Schwarz, who was Smasher in Over the Top and Poker in Stone Cold. The Mask is Steve Strong, who in addition to wrestling, was also in the Bo Derek movie Tarzan the Ape Man and Looker. Captain Carnage is played by “Man of Steel” Bill Grant, a weightlifter who is in Puming Iron.

Most interestingly, Wally George shows up. Yes, in today’s conservative Fox News-style television world, Wally is forgotten. But at one point, “Mr. Conservative” was the innovator of combat TV, which was just as fake as pro wrestling, but made for some entertaining trash. He’d go on to appear in Repossessed and A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child, as well as commentary on RollerGames, the sadly abortive 1990’s attempt to bring back roller derby before it went from worked sport to real one, which is exactly the opposite trajectory of pro wrestling. George was married six times and before you say he contributed nothing of value to this world, know that he’s the father of Rebecca De Mornay.

This all came from the mind of Allan Holzman, who made the absolutely deranged Forbidden World for Roger Corman. After knowing that, this all makes so much more sense.

You can watch this on Tubi. If you need to own this for yourself — and you probably will — Scorpion Releasing is putting this out on blu ray in July.

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