SI.com’s Week in Wrestling is published weekly and provides below-the-surface coverage of the professional wrestling business.
Sylvester Stallone on pro wrestling: “I hear people say it’s not true. Really? Gravity is real. Jumping off the top rope or having 300 pounds sitting on top of you, that’s real.”
Sylvester Stallone will forever be known for his ability to tell a story.
An iconic actor, screenwriter and director, Stallone is now approaching his fifth decade as a successful movie star. His latest blockbuster, Samaritanwill be released later this month, featuring a role that welcomes Stallone back to the world of action movies.
Samaritan marks the latest acting work for Stallone, in which he takes a role and brings it to the screen, evoking sympathy, empathy and genuine emotion from his audience. Stallone, now 76, has a wide range as an actor from his time in Hollywood, and he attributes much of the emotional aspect of connecting with a crowd to his time as a professional wrestling fan.
“I like wrestling,” says Stallone. “It’s all about getting into the drama.”
Samaritan it is a story about the fighting spirit. The trailer aired during WWE’s SummerSlam event at the Peacock, fitting given that pro wrestling is also a world that depicts good versus evil. As a longtime fan dating back to the glory days of Bruno Sammartino, the pro wrestling scene helped shape Stallone’s story in films, including Samaritan.
“There’s a passion for that world, big time,” Stallone says. “People like Bruno Sammartino, they are people who helped create my personality and my outlook on life. Bruno, the wonderful George, [bodybuilder/actor] Steve Reeves, [boxer] Rocky Marciano – especially Rocky Marciano.
“I like the mythic qualities of wrestling. I made my daughters watch wrestling — I wanted them to watch for the history.”
Stallone’s wrestling ties go back decades. Most famously, Hulk Hogan was cast as Thunderlips in the 1982 hit Rocky III, a remarkable performance for the man who was on the verge of taking wrestling to new heights. Prior to that, Stallone wrote, directed and starred in ’78 The Road to Heaven, a story set in the 1940s about three brothers in Hell’s Kitchen who become involved in professional wrestling. It featured the great Terry Funk wrestling, as well as cameos from Ted DiBiase, Dick Murdoch, Dory Funk Jr., Dennis Stamp, Ray Stevens and Haku.
Last summer, Stallone starred in the blockbuster hit Suicide Squad, which included a starring role for John Cena. Stallone also has the unique distinction of appearing on both WWE and WCW programming. He played in The man of destruction in 1993 with a cast that included Jesse “The Body” Ventura, leading to an appearance on WCW television. More than a decade later, he inducted Hogan into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005 and even appeared on Raw in ’06 to promote Rocky Balboa.
Those appearances weren’t just promotional tools. Stallone understands the heart rate and psychology of professional wrestling, and he also relates to the countless number of wrestling stars who have never received full credit for their long achievements in the ring.
“I understand what goes into it,” Stallone says. “I hear people say it’s not true. Really? Gravity is real. Jumping off the top rope or having 300 pounds sitting on top of you, that’s true.
“I feel the same way about action movies. They are immersed in a kind of dismissive genre. Like, ‘Oh, it’s an action movie.’ All I know is that I’ve had maybe 31 surgeries because of action movies, so I consider it very real.”
Stallone’s stellar body of work is currently being highlighted on Amazon Prime Video’s Stallone Week, setting the stage for his new film. Debuting exclusively on Prime Video on August 26, Stallone will attempt to redefine himself as the face of Hollywood in Samaritan. Having worked to instill wrestling’s most appealing qualities into his character, he hopes the film will resonate beyond its title, not unlike a match that still has meaning long after the bell rings.
“Wrestling, it’s not about who lands a punch,” says Stallone. “It’s fun. It’s not meant to be ‘The score is now 14–3.’ It’s a morality play, all about drama. That’s what it’s about.”
Week (online) in wrestling
- After an entertaining title defense by Jon Moxley against Chris Jericho, the highlight of last week’s Dynamite was the return of CM Punk.
- Moxley stayed busy behind Dynamite, defending the GCW Championship on Saturday against Effy in Atlantic City at GCW Homecoming Weekend.
- Hit Row is back in WWE. Isaiah “Swerve” Scott is now wearing gold in AEW, but the product is better with Top Dolla, Ashante “Thee” Adonis, and B-Fab–The OG3–back in the mix.
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- With or without Kenny Omega, this match should be phenomenal. But… of course it would be even better with Omega.
B3CCA ready to steal the show this weekend at Beyond Wrestling’s Americanrana
The heartbeat of the industry will be featured this Sunday on Beyond Wrestling’s Americanrana show. While the show will feature many AEW performers (most notably Eddie Kingston), it is also a showcase of the best in indie wrestling.
This includes B3CCA, a 25-year-old sensation who has progressed at a rapid pace inside the ring. She will fight Masha Slamovich in Americanranawhich is Beyond’s signature show and will air live on IWTV, completing a story line that also includes Alec Price.
“We have a story, with Masha making a fight between me and Alec, and that’s the showdown,” says Becca, who prefers not to use her last name in interviews. “It’s going to be big. It will be a spectacle. And it will be violent.”
Athleticism, charisma and a relentless drive have helped make Becca one of indie’s rising talents. Until this winter, she went by Becca before changing the spelling to B3CCA, another small but significant part of her approach to consistently keeping fans engaged.
“Why not have fun with it and make it different?” says Becca, who has cultivated a masterful persona that resonates with crowds—and on social media. “It sounds like a screen name. That’s what I want people to think and that was the reason behind the change.”
The past year has been integral to its development, toiling across states as well as around the globe. Her most recent European tour took place last month, where she played in Spain, England and Germany.
“It’s so cool that people want to see me fight in other countries,” says Becca. “I had the opportunity to fight for EVE in London, a promotion I’ve been watching for a while, and they always have so many great women. Looking around the dressing room, I thought, ‘I want to fight all these girls.’ It’s a chance to fight people with different training and experience, and to showcase yourself in a different environment. It’s a crazy feeling knowing there are people in other countries watching me fight.”
Becca has reached a new level of confidence in the ring, which she doubted would be the case when she was on the injured list earlier this year. She suffered a separated shoulder in February which kept her out of action until the end of May, however that time away helped to improve her presence and confidence.
“I’m stronger now than I was in February,” says Becca, who ran a 10K to improve her endurance while injured. “I’m lifting more weight. I didn’t think I could do it, but I forced myself to work hard. And I feel even more confident in the ring.”
That renewed sense of self projects into the ring, where she has the monumental task of standing out on a loaded card on Sunday. Considering how the major promotions have been snapping up indie talent, it’s worth wondering how long Becca will be here before she signs with WWE or AEW. But before that, she still has a lot to prove.
“I want to continue to build myself on the independents,” says Becca. “Every time in the ring is a new chance to express yourself.
“I have promotions I’d like to work for and I like wrestling so I’d like to fight in Japan. And I love the Beyond crowd. They react to me in such an interesting way and I want to explore that relationship. Whether it’s my first time or my millionth time wrestling for them, I want to show up and prove myself to the fans.”
A singles match at Americanranaespecially against someone with as much momentum as Slamovich, it represents a tremendous opportunity for Becca.
“Masha was one of the earliest matches in my career,” says Becca. “I look and fight completely different now, so it will be very interesting to fight again.
“It is a great opportunity and a great challenge. I’m treating this as the biggest match of my career.”
Tweet of the week
Fellow Kliq member – and all-time great – Kevin Nash is on board as the Triple H era begins.