Of all the shocking events that have transpired in wrestling over the past few years, none have grabbed the mainstream media’s attention like Jesse Ventura’s rise in politics. Obviously with good reason – while us smarks like to get all worked up about the closing of WCW or the various deaths that have been associated with the business over the past few years, realistically nothing has impacted as many lives as someone becoming Governor of Minnesota. It really is a fascinating story, and one that NBC decided to capitalize on shortly after the event took place in 1998.
Before we get to the movie, however, I have to admit I was more than a little concerned about writing this induction. There were two items that went throught my head during the process: 1) that people might think that I don’t have respect for Jesse and all he’s accomplished; and 2) that I might not have all my facts together. In regards to the former, let me just say that I think what Jesse has been able to do in his political career is nothing short of amazing. Here you have a guy who is best known as a wrestler/actor, and was able to turn that fringe celebrity status into the governership of Minnesota. I may not always agree with what he has to say, but I love the fact that he is one of the few guys in the political realm that is willing to say things that he knows will wind up ruffling a few feathers just because that’s how he feels. As he used to tell Gorilla, “I call it how I see it.”
As for point 2…suffice to say I am pretty sure I can’t possibly be wrong on more things than what the producers of this film were. In fact, I will go so far as to say that the bogus inductions I did on April 1 with Chris Benoit and Eddy Guerrero were a lot more accurate than this film ever dreamed of being.
|The movie starts off by introducing us to the man to our left. This is Jesse Ventura. You know how we know that? Because he tells us. |
Thank goodness he did, because I had no earthly idea who he was supposed to be. Jesse Ventura? If you say so. He looks more like Bull from Night Court to me.
A quick listen to his voice and you will come to the conclusion that not only does he look nothing like Jesse, he also sounds nothing like Jesse (and here’s a clip from the real Jesse to refresh your memory).
It also doesn’t help that he talks with all the emotion of one of those animatronic figures at the Hall of Presidents at Disney World.
|The movie then gives us a glimpse at the in-ring antics of Jesse, whom you might recall was a bad guy back in his day. |
Just how evil was “The Body”? Why, according to this documentary, he once grabbed an old woman in a wheel chair and sent her careening down the entrance ramp to her doom.
There’s only one thing to say about a bit like that.
Weird – I don’t recall him ever plowing over the elderly, but then again, my memory of Jesse’s life is a bit hazy, at least when taken into the events presented in this film.
|Do you know who this is? |
I didn’t either, until I learned that it was, in fact, Superstar Bill Graham. Amazing – he actually looks even less like who he’s supposed to be than “Jesse” does!
|Before I go back to blasting the movie, there is one fun element that needs mentioning. |
You see, not only does the older version of Jesse appear at the onset of the film, but also as the narrator throughout it, in all kinds of wacky bits. That’s right, he just kind of shows up and starts talking.
Here’s Old Jesse selling popcorn at a wrestling match…
|…and here he is talking about his days as a Navy SEAL. Nothing like seeing a guy in a suit parachute out of the sky. |
On his stint in the Navy, Jesse relates: “Seal Training is a six month kick in the coconuts. But let me tell you, they are coconuts worth having.” His commanding officer then proceeds to kick him repeatedly in the coconuts. Maybe it’s just me, but if someone kicked me in my coconuts, for six months straight no less, I doubt I’d say the same thing.
The best part about the skydiving deal is that Old Jesse winds up landing in a used car lot (!!), where the shifty salesman won’t even sell him a motorcycle. For you see, Jesse was in Vietnam and apparently Discount Stan was opposed to the war.
|That happens everywhere Jess goes, in fact, and it starts to gnaw at him. Thankfully, he disguises himself as Billy Gunn and is able to take in the wrestling matches. |
It should be noted that these wrestling matches, which supposedly took place in the early 1970’s, featured such moves as an atomic drop balls first onto a ladder.
Hey, remember when Bruno did that to Stan Hansen?
|Anyhoo, Jess decides that he is finally going to fulfill his lifelong dream and become a pro wrestler himself. He enrolls at the local school, and comes up with his persona of Jesse “The Body” Ventura. |
As younger Jesse is learning the ropes (quite literally), older Jesse explains how it all works.
I was just waiting for him to tell us about how the promotion handed out signs to the fans, but I guess that was another show (which oddly enough was put together at almost the exact same time by NBC as well).
|In between hitting the gym and riding his motorcycle, our hero finds time to be a bouncer at a local bar where he meets a pretty young lass named Terri. Despite the fact that she completely blows him off upon their first meeting, he convinces her to go to a wrestling match where she subsequently falls in love with him. |
You know, with everything Ventura ever wound up doing in his life, I have to think that getting this hot chick with zero interest in him to a) go to a wrestling match and then b) fall for him at said event might be his most impressive accomplishment of all.
Jess winds up marrying the chick, all the whilst wearing leather pants. Terri throws the bouquet, and yep, you guessed it…
|…Old Jesse catches it, pummelling several small girls in the process. |
According to wedding tradition, this would mean he’s going to get married again or something. I thought he was governor of Minnesota, not Utah.
Adding to my confusion – isn’t a woman supposed to catch the bouquet?
|Off the lovebirds go on their honeymoon, which includes Jesse’s debut pro match, as he goes up against Bill Goldberg, who was the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world in 1975, yet another fact that was news to me. |
Who the hell did the fact checking for this movie? Lou Albano and Bert Sugar?
|We then get a few clips of the different stages of Jesse’s in-ring career, such as his stint as a king. |
|As Jess gains popularity, he gets an offer to work for the biggest promoter in the US: James Chaney. |
I know what you’re asking:
I guess this is supposed to be Vince, save for the fact that he looks nothing like Vince and isn’t, in fact, named “Vince”.
Jess works his way up the ladder, finally getting a championship match against the promotion’s champion…Kanyon. Don’t ask, it gets much worse.
Unfortunately, he winds up collapsing in the ring due to a blood clot in his lung, thus ending his career.
|His in-ring career over, he segues into an announcing career in WCW (??), sharing commentary duties with the voice of WCW, Gorilla Monsoon. |
This is the kind of thing that would drive Dave Meltzer right into an insane asylum. You know, I can just picture Dave, in a blind rage, heading to the local munitions shop and then murdering the producers of this film gangland style in a blind rage.
Having said that, if you squint a little and if the guy would have shaved off his beard, he would have looked quite a bit like Monsoon (and he did sound somewhat like him), thus distinguishing himself as the first guy in the entire film to actually look like the historical figure they were supposed to be.
Old Jesse explains that he was the first announcer to trash the ‘baby’ and root for the ‘heel’, thereby ensuring that he won’t be getting a Christmas card this year from Ric Flair.
|After a year or so, Jesse soon discovers that he no longer loves the business, because everyone is now a bad guy. But it isn’t until his buddy Captain Nice (portrayed by Bobby Johnston, who took the time out of his busy soft-porn schedule to film this between Femalien and SeX-Files) complains to him about wrestling politics that he really contemplates leaving the business for good. |
You see, that no good ratfink Chaney is having the good Cap’n lose his final match in his hometown of LA against Raven. Jess talks to the promoter, and gets him to change it to a double DQ, or as he calls it, a “schmozz”.
Is any of this starting to sound familiar?
The big match happens, and of course Raven puts Captain in the sharpshooter. Despite Captain saying he wouldn’t submit, the ref calls for the bell, mainly because Chaney is at ringside saying, “RING THE DAMN BELL!”
Like you, I didn’t recall Jesse being so intimately involved in Montreal….but that’s probably because he wasn’t. In fact, he was long gone from wrestling by the time the incident ever occurred.
You know, the fact that the actors look nothing like who they are supposed to, I can forgive – that’s part of the creative process, I suppose. And though the factual errors are atrocious, and could have been corrected with like five minutes of research…I can look past those too.
But when you just start blatantly making stuff up to fill a two hour TV movie? Especially one that covers the life of a guy that has had such an interesting existence as Jesse Ventura?
I mean, come on, guys – the dude was a Navy SEAL, served in Vietnam, supposedly rode with the Hell’s Angels, was a bodyguard for the Stones, was a pro wrestler, sued Vince McMahon and WON, and then went onto win the Minnesota governorship…do you really need to make things up?
Isn’t his real life interesting enough?
|Having become disgusted with wrestling thanks to the Montreal Los Angeles screwjob, he decides to go into acting, going on to star with Arnold Schwarzenegger in Running Man, Predator, and Batman & Robin. |
I didn’t remember him in that last one, but a quick search of the IMDB says he was in fact an Arkham Asylum guard. I’d go back and 2x check, but that would require me to revisit a movie that is amazingly even worse than this one.
And, no, sadly they didn’t show Ah-nold. That sucks, because judging by the accuracy the film makers had exhibit previously, I can only imagine what THEIR Arnold would have looked like…
|…or maybe I can.|
|So Jess heads back home and goes hunting with his pappy, blasting a duck out of the air. Unfortunately, the fowl is covered in POLLUTION, so he can’t eat it. Awww, that sucks. |
His inability to eat the greasy bird infuriates him to the point of going into politics, and he wins the Brooklyn Park mayorship. However, the power there is very limited. Therefore, he decides he needs something more, and is convinced into running for governor of Minnesota.
We all know how that turned out, and to be honest, I have no idea how many errors were in this part. Given the sheer amount all throughout the rest of the film, however, I’m guessing somewhere along the lines of 1,4237,263.
In fact, I’m surprised they didn’t just have him beat Bill Clinton in the 1996 presidential election instead. If you’re going to say the hell with facts, you might as well do it all the way.
|The movie ends with the now old Jesse meeting his still old twin. |
Well, I guess, as the camera is zoomed so far out it could have been any white bald guy in a black suit.
For the record, though, it wasn’t me.
The final image to appear before the credits is this one:
Well, it took two hours, but finally the truth is revealed.
– Actor that sounds totally unlike Jesse Ventura: “I’m Governor Jesse Ventura. Something, huh? Where else but in America can someone start as a wrestler, and end up as a governor?”
– Jesse Ventura, sounding totally like Jesse Ventura: “This is Jesse Ventura and this is what I stand for. I believe the Rolling Stones and Led Zepplin are two of the greatest rock bands ever. I believe in refusing money from special interest groups so I am accountable only to the people of Minnesota.”
– Salem the cat: “She’s a stunt granny. How’s that for piledriving Miss Daisy?”
– ‘Jesse’: “That’s the stomp. You see the way his foot pounded the canvas? That’s so that no one can tell he pulled his punch. You don’t believe me? Take another look.”