Back in 1989, WWF entered a brand new arena. No not the Palace of Auburn Hills, I'm talking the movie arena. No doubt Vince McMahon had been waiting for years to make a movie to show the rest of the entertainment industry that he truly belongs in their world and wrestling can be seen as legit entertainment, not just some small arena in Illinois. He was hitting the big time and he was bringing Hulk Hogan with him to produce NO HOLDS BARRED .For those who have never seen this movie, it's all about Hulk Hogan playing the most popular wrestler in the world named "Rip Thomas". Not Hulk Hogan. Even though he's essentially Hulk Hogan. Throughout the movie, Rip battles a lot of people, including one he makes crap his pants. But his biggest and best opponent of the movie? The Human Wrecking Machine...ZEUS!
Played by actor Tiny Lister, who many now know as Deebo from Friday, The President in First Element, and many other roles. But in 1989, he was Zeus, the ultimate opponent for Rip Thomas. He was huge, imposing, and didn't say alot other than his name. He looked like a million bucks and made me believe he'd straight up murder Hulk Hogan...or Rip Thomas. I bought into him 100%. The presentation was perfection especially if you were a kid that didn't watch wrestling for technical abilities and cohesive storylines. It was a time of showmanship first and ability came second. Of course after the movie came and went, then the real fun began. Somewhere, Vince got the idea that he needed to turn this Zeus fella into a REAL LIFE OPPONENT for Hulk Hogan with the backstory being he was angry Hogan claimed to be the real star of the movie.
Again. I was 6 years old, so I ate all this up.
Tiny was thrown into main events awfully quick. Like, way quicker than anyone should be, let alone someone with absolutely no experience. But, it made for some fun and memorable PPV's and buildups. Zeus would appear on The Brother Love Show with Randy Savage and Sherri to yell about his hatred of Hulk Hogan and BEEFCAKE BARBER to hype up Summerslam, he'd also appear on the Million Dollar Team with Ted Dibiase, The Warlord and The Barbarian at Survivor Series 1989 in Chicago.Zeus would usually be left to just lumber around the ring or put people in bearhugs as to hide his weaknesses as a performer. In between those, he'd also do a few publicity appearances including a stop on the Arsenio Hall Show with Sherri. Thankfully, Sherri did most of the talking and hyping of his upcoming matches and did a darn fine job of charming Arsenio.
Well, that brings us to the end of 1989. No Holds Barred sped from theaters to PPV and in order to make some extra buys, WWF added a bonus. If you ordered the PPV, you also got a match between Randy Savage and Zeus vs. Hulk Hogan and Brutus...the f'ing barber...Beefcake. But that's not all, it took place in the ultimate draw: A STEEL CAGE. This match was a big deal already but putting them in a cage?!?!? Oh man. It was a great way to wrap up the story of Zeus and No Holds Barred, it was a fun cage match and but it was time to move on. Zeus had done all he needed to do in the WWF. Of course, he'd later pop up in other companies doing a spot or two, including a match with Abdullah The Butcher. He'd also join the WCW as Z-Gangsta to align himself with The Dungeon Of Doom for a small program against Hogan and Brutus Beefcake and...well, it was garbage. Pure garbage.Best part of all this? HE GOT AN ACTION FIGURE. Yup. In 2006, Zeus got his action figure thanks to Jakks in their iconic Classic Superstars line!
I'm probably the biggest No Holds Barred fan and a massive fan of Zeus. It's just so fun to know that a movie actor stayed in the fictional character in a movie and then transitioned into the wrestling world as that same character. Especially considering it was for the first WWF movie. I love it. Especially at a time when wrestling wasn't taken as seriously and the bigger the character, the more believable it was. And I believed every second of it. Heck, if I were a kid now and they were to do this, I'd prolly buy into it as well.