SI.com’s Week in Wrestling is published every week and provides beneath-the-surface coverage of the business of pro wrestling.
Sylvester Stallone on pro wrestling: “I hear people say it’s not real. Really? Gravity is real. Jumping off the top rope or having 300 pounds landing on you, that’s real.”
Sylvester Stallone will forever be known for his ability to tell a story.
An iconic actor, screenwriter and filmmaker, Stallone is now approaching his fifth decade as an accomplished movie star. His newest blockbuster, Samaritan, will be released later this month, featuring a role that welcomes Stallone back into the world of action films.
Samaritan marks the latest piece of acting for Stallone in which he takes a role and brings it to life on-screen, evoking sympathy, empathy and genuine emotion from his audience. Stallone, who is now 76, has wide range as an actor from his time in Hollywood, and he attributes a great deal of the emotional aspect of connecting with a crowd to his time as a pro wrestling fan.
“I love wrestling,” Stallone says. “It’s all about getting swept up in the drama.”
Samaritan is a story about the fighting spirit. The trailer aired during WWE’s SummerSlam event on Peacock, fitting considering 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 realm helped shape Stallone’s storytelling in films, including Samaritan.
“There’s a passion for that world, big time,” Stallone says. “People like Bruno Sammartino, those are people that helped forge my personality and my outlook on life. Bruno, Gorgeous George, [bodybuilder/actor] Steve Reeves, [boxer] Rocky Marciano—especially Rocky Marciano.
“I love wrestling’s mythic qualities. I made my daughters watch wrestling—I wanted them to watch for the story.”
Stallone’s ties to wrestling connect back decades. Most famously, Hulk Hogan was cast as Thunderlips in the 1982 hit Rocky III, a breakout performance for the man who was on the verge of taking wrestling to new heights. Before that, Stallone wrote, directed and starred in the ’78 film Paradise Alley, a story set in the 1940s about three brothers in Hell’s Kitchen who became involved in pro wrestling. It featured wrestling great Terry Funk, as well as cameos from Ted DiBiase, Dick Murdoch, Dory Funk Jr., Dennis Stamp, Ray Stevens and Haku.
Last summer, Stallone starred in the smash hit The Suicide Squad, which included a starring role for John Cena. Stallone also holds a unique distinction of appearing on both WWE and WCW programming. He starred in Demolition Man 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 were not merely promotional tools. Stallone understands the heartbeat and psychology of pro wrestling, and he also relates to the countless number of wrestling’s stars that have never received full credit for their lengthy accomplishments in the ring.
“I understand what goes into it,” Stallone says. “I hear people say it’s not real. Really? Gravity is real. Jumping off the top rope or having 300 pounds landing on you, that’s real.
“I feel the same way about action films. They’ve been submerged in sort of a dismissive sort of genre. Like, ‘Oh, it’s an action film.’ All I know is I’ve had maybe 31 operations due to action films, so I consider it very real.”
Stallone’s illustrious 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 Aug. 26, Stallone will seek to once again redefine himself as Hollywood’s preeminent babyface in Samaritan. After working to embed wrestling’s most captivating qualities in his character, he hopes the film will resonate after its credits roll, no different from a match that still holds meaning long after the bell rings.
“Wrestling, it has nothing to do with who’s scoring a touchdown,” Stallone says. “It’s entertainment. It’s not meant to be ‘The score is now 14–3.’ It’s a morality play, all about the drama. That’s what it’s all about.”
The (online) week in wrestling
- Following 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 after Dynamite, defending the GCW championship 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.
- Gunther and Shinsuke Nakamura were fantastic together on SmackDown, with Gunther retaining the IC title and taking another step toward stardom in WWE.
- With or without Kenny Omega, this match should be phenomenal. But … it certainly 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 on display this Sunday at Beyond Wrestling’s Americanrana show. While the show will feature plenty of AEW performers (most notably Eddie Kingston), it is also a showcase of the best in indie wrestling.
That includes B3CCA, a 25-year-old sensation that has progressed at a rapid pace inside the ring. She will wrestle Masha Slamovich at Americanrana, which is Beyond’s signature show and will air live on IWTV, concluding a story line that also features Alec Price.
“We have a story, with Masha driving a wedge between me and Alec, and this is the showdown,” says Becca, who prefers not to use her last name in interviews. “It’s going to be big. It’s going to be a spectacle. And it’s going to be violent.”
Athleticism, charisma and an unrelenting drive have helped transform Becca into one of the indie’s emerging talents. Until this winter, she went by Becca before changing the spelling to B3CCA, another small yet meaningful part of her approach to constantly keep 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 looks like a screen name. That’s what I want people to think of, and that was the reason behind the change.”
The past year has been integral in her development, wrestling all across the states as well as across the globe. Her most recent European tour took place last month, where she wrestled in Spain, England and Germany.
“It’s so cool that people want to see me wrestle in other countries,” Becca says. “I had the chance to wrestle for EVE in London, a promotion I’ve been watching for a while, and they always have so many great women. Looking around the locker room, I thought, ‘I want to wrestle all these girls.’ It’s a chance to wrestle people with different training and experience, and showcase myself in a different environment. It’s a crazy feeling to know there are people in other countries watching me wrestle.”
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, yet that time away helped refine her presence and confidence.
“I’m stronger now than I was in February,” says Becca, who ran a 10K to improve her endurance while she was injured. “I’m lifting more weight. I didn’t think I could do it, but I forced myself to work really hard. And I feel even more confident in the ring.”
That renewed sense of self projects in the ring, where she has the monumental task of standing out on a loaded card Sunday. Considering how the top promotions have snatched up indie talent, it is worth asking how much longer Becca will be here before signing with WWE or AEW. But before then, she still has a lot to prove.
“I want to continue to build myself on the independents,” Becca says. “Every time in the ring is a new chance to express myself.
“I have promotions I’d like to work for, and I love joshi, so I’d love to wrestle 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 show out for the fans.”
A singles match at Americanrana, especially against someone with as much momentum as Slamovich, represents an incredible opportunity for Becca.
“Masha was one of the earliest matches in my career,” Becca says. “I look and wrestle completely different now, so it will be so interesting to wrestle her again.
“It’s a big opportunity and a big challenge. I’m treating this like the biggest match of my career.”
Tweet of the Week
Fellow Kliq member—and all-time great—Kevin Nash is on board with the start of the Triple H era.
Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.