Classic Induction: Grunt – The Most Influential Wrestling Movie Ever Made!

12 Submitted by on Mon, 24 June 2013, 09:15

Theatrical Motion Picture, 1985

I have to admit – I was perhaps overexcited at the thought that we were going to dedicate an entire month here at the Crap to wrestling movies. If there’s one thing I love more than horrible wrestling, it’s horrible movies. Tell me we’re watching Schindler’s List tonight, and I will probably pass. Tell me it’s Cat in the Hat time, and you can bet your fanny I will break any and all prior plans to be there.

And looking through the tape collection here at the Crap, I see there is no shortage of wrestling films we have yet to review. Over the next four weeks, we’ll be posting all kinds of new wrestling movie inductions, and what better way to start the shenanigans than with the most influential wrestling movie ever made, Grunt.

Oh sure, you laugh now. I would have too before I watched this celluloid masterpiece. You might have thought, like I, that this was just a silly wrestling romp, but it’s more than that, far more than that.

Like I said, it’s the most influential wrestling movie ever made!

Like I wrote above, scoff if you’d like. But let’s take a look at our first piece of evidence, in this case, our opening contest of the evening: “Skull Crusher” Johnson vs. Mad Dog Joe De Curso.

Sure, the movie wins no points for original ring names, but the action is all over the arena – chair shots, reverse frankensteiners off the top rope, and nutcrackers on the ring post. And it’s all shot in black and white, during what appears to be an earthquake (AN earthquake, not THE Earthquake, as sadly John Tenta doesn’t make an appearance).

Crazy move, insane violance, wonky cameras. Smells like ECW to me. Paul Heyman, I can only hope you did the right thing and sent the producers of this film a check.

Although, in hindsight, wiring cash would have probably been a better idea.

Anyhoo, eventually Skull Crusher gets his head caught in the ropes Mick Foley style (man, everyone stole from this flick). Mad Dog sees his prey helpless and does what anyone of us would do: dropkicks his head off.


No, I’m not joking. Through the murkiness you can make out the dude’s head rolling around on the arena floor, like an 8-ball searching for the corner pocket. Gotta give this movie major props: I’ve never seen that finish before (though to be fair, I’ve not seen every Funk-Onita match).

Cut to backstage, where a group of reporters has cornered the commissioner, who looks suspiciously like adult film legend John Holmes.

The first, and most logical question is asked: does a man who loses his head lose his title

After all, he was never pinned, didn’t tap, nor, obviously, did he ever say “I quit”. In fact, his manager (a man by the name of J. J. Jay – apparently, his mother was a stutterer) vehemently stated that he should remain champion, because, and I am just quoting here, “he’s come back from far worse than that!”

And what of the fans who witnessed such a debacle? Even months later,they ranged from being shocked to horrified

Said one man: “I want a head on my beer, not in my lap!”

After being acquitted of manslaughter, Mad Dog celebrated his freedom by immediately attackingthe judge and the bailiff.

Note to any of you charged with a felony: should you be acquitted, I suggest NOT attacking the judge. You’d think that would just be common sense.

Anyway, Mad Dog is sent to the big house for 7 months. After being released from prison, he falls into a deep depression, eventually throwing himself off the Golden Gate bridge. Thankfully, the movie gives us a helpful map showing his descent, just in case anyone else wants to follow the same path. Remember, X marks the spot.

The championship picture, meanwhile is in a total state of anarchy, and remains so for six years. Commissioner John Holmes finally faces an awful truth: in the six years since his decapitation, Skull Crusher has failed to defend the title even ONE STINKIN’ TIME. Sheesh, what a bum.

There is no choice but to declare the title vacant.

Cut to a man who appears to be the offspring of Ed Begley Junior and Steve the Crocodile Hunter (please don’t ask me who supplied the ovaries for that this event).

It’s Leslie Uggums, but not THE Leslie Uggums, he explains. Oh, thanks, I was confused. Especially since I have no freaking clue who LESLIE UGGUMS is. Now if you said Leslie Neilsen, well, maybe I’d understand. Anyway, he explains to use that he’s a film maker whose passion has always been wrestling.

And now we have our second person to rip off this movie: Barry Blaustein. Though, to be fair, Blaustein never claimed this was the reason  for his obsession with the business. Maybe that got left on the cutting room floor when he was doing Beyond the Mat.

Anyway, he’s making a film about Mad Dog, whom some have claimed is moonlighting under a mask and working under the name of, get this, The Mask.And who better to consult on the film than the president of the Mask is Mad Dog Fan club, Dr. Tweed? We catch up with the good doctor driving a taxi. Weird. I was stumped by the fact that a supposed doctor would be doing such a thing, but then it hit me: he’s a cabbie by day, an open heart surgeon by night. See, makes perfect sense.Tweed claims that the two have to be the same person: they use the same moves, have the same mannerisms, and share the same physique. Leslie counters that Mad Dog had tattoos on his arms, while Mask has scars on his arm. Tweed is like, “Well, duh, dumbass, he had them removed, which is why he has scars.”

Uggums, though, is unconvinced, so he consults a tattoo removal specialist, who states that the best way to remove a tattoo is to simply replace the limb on which it exists. As if I ever need another reason to NOT get a tattoo.

Yay! Boobies!

Sho nuff, we get a flash of skin as we head back into the ring where The Mask tackles the Grunt Brothers, one of whom is no less than Dick Murdoch. I couldn’t think of anyone more appropriate to be in this flick than someone with the moniker “Captain Redneck”.

It is here where Mask’s valet decides to distract Mr. Grunt by letting her chesticles fly free, thus helping her man avoid a chairshot to the noggin. I’d like to think, that if I am ever in a similar circumstance, Mrs. Deal would not do the same. (Though, to be fair, Terri Runnels did this exact same thing on an early episode of Shotgun Saturday Night, so there’s someone else who’s swiped from this flick.)

I should probably note that all of this mayhem takes place as the heartwarming ditty I’m Only Happy Breaking Bones plays in the background.

That’s it, I’m off to eBay to find the Grunt: The Wrestling Movie Original Motion Picture Soundtrack.

It’s not long before Mask is climbing his way up the ladder of contention. He goes through various challengers before happening upon his toughest yet:

EL TORO!Hey, wait a minute – you know who that it is?Oh yes – Mondo.

Or should I say…

MONDO (oh oh oh oh ohohooh oh)! 

Ok, it’s official – nothing this man is in could ever be bad, especially when he wears a mask with HORNS.

Unfortunately for WrestleCrap’s newest favorite son, he too goes down at the mighty hands of the Mask. As the commentator for the bout so succicintly puts it, “he has gone from beefcake to beefsteak” (just like Ed Leslie).

Of course, everything leads to a showdown for the world title of the universe, and the only man standing in The Mask’s way is…

Hugh G. Rection, you’ve just been replaced at the top of the list of worst wrestling names ever. It’s as if Dan Spivey was playing Mad Libs with a six year old and thought, “By God, that’s a GREAT ring name!”Anyway, I lied. It’s not just one man keeping The Mask from the championship, it’s nine men, as we finally, after 81 minutes get our main event of the evening: a “Battle Royale” (pronounced as such, so no doubt it comes with cheese) for all the marbles.

(And yes, before you ask, I do know of the horrible wrestling movie entitled All the Marbles and will attempt to hunt that down and review it for your displeasure soon.)

In addition to American Starship Eagle, other nogoodniks in The Mask’s way include such legends as Exotic Adrian Street, John Tolos, and…the COMMIE WARHEAD. Ok, maybe that last guy wasn’t a legend, but he damn sure should have been with that name.

All of this pandemonium leads to the film’s climax, as The Mask and Captain Carnage (my fingers so wanted to type “Caveman” there) wind up as the last two men in the ring. And it’s not looking good for the Cap’n, as his head winds up tied in the ropes…just like Skull Crusher’s!The Mask runs back and forth across the ring, and springs into the air for what will no doube be his patented Drop Kick of Decapitation when suddenly the arena doors fly open and…

…MAD DOG appears riding to the ring on a motorcycle!Oh, and for those of you keeping score: that’s the fourth thing someone in wrestling has ripped off from this movie. As you’ll recall Ready to Rumble ended in virtually the same way, with Dewey riding in on his Harley.Hey, I never said that the ideas people swiped from this movie were, you know, good.

Mask is all kinds of pissed off that a guy riding a motorcycle has interrupted his planned chicanery, and thus wraps a chain around his neck, no doubt hopping to pop the dude’s head from his shoulders like a zit.

But Mad Dog, suffering from Nam like flashbacks of the film’s earlier beheading, is all like, “nuh uh, bitch” and commences to whipping the guy’s ass.

And thus, all is again right with the world.

Well, except for poor Leslie Uggams, who feels that his movie isn’t complete (there’s number five, as the guys who were filming Wrestling With Shadows said the exact same thing, almost verbatim, before Bret got screwed), as it doesn’t have an ending. After all, why was Mad Dog gone for so long and where is he now? And who was the Mask? Tweed attempts to console him with, among other things, sweet potato pie and lemon cake.

And thus ends the best wrestling movie featuring a John Holmes look-a-like and storyline involving decapitation ever made.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to console myself with some sweet potato pie.

Or maybe lemon cake.

It’s such a hard decision.

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Yeah, you know...the WrestleCrap guy. Been here since before day 1, I have. You can hang out with me on Facebook. (I'm on there quite a bit) or follow my exploits on Twitter (I'm on there not quite so often). Thanks, and Keep on Crappin'!
12 Responses to "Classic Induction: Grunt – The Most Influential Wrestling Movie Ever Made!"
  1. Ewa Beach Boy says:

    I have some vauge horrible memory of Dan Spivey actually going by the name American Starship Eagle in the NWA on some Saturday Night TBS shows in the early or mid 80’s. He wore the same headband too and his matches were crap worthly as well. And I think he had a tag partner with a simular name but a different NASA ship name which escapes me at the monment.

    Thanks for bringing back that long buried memory RD, NOT!!!!!!

    • WaylonMercy24 says:

      His partner’s ring name was American Starship Coyote although he would go on to be more famous under his real name Scott Hall.

  2. Raven7309 says:

    Mondo actually looks like Mean Gene to me.
    On another note, RD, are you going to post an induction of “I Like To Hurt People” anytime soon?

  3. The Last Doink says:

    For those of you want to hear the beautiful song that RD refers to, “Breakin’ Bones”, here you go


  4. Caveman says:

    Thanks for the plug, RD!

    By the way, I think to remember that an announcer (could it have been Bobby Heenan?) once ripped off that “he has gone from beefcake to beefsteak” phrase when commenting a Brutus Beefcake match, too, or at least something similar. Thus the movie becomes even more influental!

  5. Mariano Fernandez says:

    We need more Mondo. xD

  6. Sean says:

    Leslie Uggams was a singer in the ’60s and ’70s. There has to be an inside joke here somewhere.

  7. Mark says:

    This review of “Grunt! The Wrestling Movie!” was originally posted several years ago, and I’ve always found it ludicrous that RD Reynolds–who, judging by his work on this site, strikes me as being a fountain of information about films, television, and music, whether they be popular, obscure, or somewhere in between–is oblivious as to the identity of Leslie Uggams. If he either weren’t American or were under the age of 40, I’d cut himsome slack, but…you don’t know Leslie Uggams…REALLY?

    Leslie Uggams, American star of stage and screen, singer and actress for only about, oh, I don’t know, the last fifty years, with her heyday coinciding with the 1970s (RD’s formative years). She had a leading role as Kizzy in “Roots”, only one of the most watched spectacles in the history of American television. And even if RD doesn’t give a hoot about serious historical dramatic epics (as he pointed out at the beginning of his review), and prefers “bad films” and schlock, he ought to recognise Leslie Uggams from 1970s cult favourites such as “Black Vengeance” and “Skyjacked”.

    I don’t think there’s any grand “inside joke” going on here. The “Leslie Uggams” as portrayed by Jeff Dial in “Grunt! The Wrestling Movie” is very blonde, very pale, and very much of the male gender–everything that THE Leslie Uggams is not. The fact that somebody decided the name his character “Leslie Uggams” is most inspired.

    As for “…All The Marbles”, also known as “California Dolls”, which happens to be the last film directed by Robert Aldrich: I’m not certain who told RD it’s a “horrible” film–probably the same type of people who would have you believe that “El Santo Versus The Martians” qualifies as a “horrible” film. Actually, “…All The Marbles” doesn’t belong in the same category as “Grunt! The Wrestling Movie”, save for the fact they’re both wrestling movies. I know that perhaps it’s not saying much, but “…All The Marbles” is definitely one of the better wrestling flicks out there—well worth seeing, especially if you’re a wrestling fan.

    • Felicity says:

      It just goes to show how someone can be super-famous one minute and disappear completely off the pop-culture radar the next. Like RD, I was born in the mid-1970s. Until a cutaway scene in an early “Family Guy” episode mentioned her, I had never heard of Leslie Uggams either. (And I’m pretty sure I’d remember a name like that.) The “Family Guy” scene had Peter Griffin confusing her with Lola Falana, of whom I also had not heard.

      Similarly, in the 1980s movie “DC Cab,” there’s a character who’s obsessed with Irene Cara. I had not heard of Irene Cara. Fortunately I was watching the movie with my friend who was five years older than me and he remembered her from “Fame.”

      This is not to say that they aren’t famous or to take away from these entertainers’ accomplishments. The fact that I hadn’t heard of them except through indirect cultural references is just an illustration of how fast someone can fall through the cracks of pop culture.

  8. Felicity says:

    Please do review /All the Marbles/ if you haven’t already! Or if you have, please repost it as a Classic Induction!

    And there’s what I think of as /All the Marbles/’s sister film, /The One and Only/.

    Also: /Body Slam/! A movie that combines Faceman, Donatello, Gomez, Jose Chung, and a score of wrestlers, and all in glorious mid-1980s!

  9. Jason S says:

    Just so I’m clear: the picture of “Mad Dog” (3rd from the bottom) is NOT Magnum T.A.?

  10. ClawsomeMan says:

    Mondo isn’t the same person who was in the WrestleRock Madness video, is he?

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