Tulsa King star Sylvester Stallone has had a lot of cinematic foes, but one of his Rocky adversaries got a little too carried away. The character in question is the infamous “Thuderlips” from Rocky III. Thunderlips was a flamboyant wrestler that the Italian Stallion went up against in a friendly exhibition match for charity. However, Thunderlips never got the memo and decides to manhandle the much smaller Balboa.
Of course, Thunderlips was played by iconic wrestler Hulk Hogan. It turns out, that the fictional events of the movie weren’t that far from the truth. Sylvester Stallone said as much in a 2006 interview with Hogan. “Truthfully, the hardest I was ever hit was actually by you, Hulk Hogan,” Sly recalled. “We didn’t put it in the movie [Rocky III] because I was so traumatized,” Stallone joked.
Sylvester Stallone goes on to describe the specific incident that left him reeling. “It was where you threw me into a corner and you leaped up, and you were really, really light on your feet that day, for 310 pounds. You went up and caught me with your shin, believe it or not, on my collarbone. I collapsed to the ground,” Stallone said. The veteran action star took a minute to get his bearing after the blow. “I’ll never forget, I was laying there and I was thinking, “I don’t want to look. I don’t want to look because that bone is sticking through my flesh and it’s over. Here’s the end of the movie.” Of course, it was only Sly’s ego that was shattered.
Sylvester Stallone picked up newfound respect for Wrestling
However, Sylvester Stallone definitely walked away with a new respect for the sports entertainment of professional wrestling. “So that was the worst actual impact I ever had that was instantaneous, spontaneous, eruptive, absolutely mind-boggling pain at that time,” Stallone said. “When people tell me, “Oh, wrestling isn’t traumatic,” I say, “Trust me. He was going easy on me and I couldn’t see straight for three days.”
During the interview, Hulk Hogan asked why his character never returned to the franchise after that appearance. Sylvester Stallone had quite an answer. “Because Thunderlips actually has moved on, became kind of a producer of adult films,” Sly quipped. Hogan was clearly amused by the response. “Oh my gosh. Well, there’s the answer to my next question, which is “Where is this character now?” Hogan joked.
The role of Thunderlips in Rocky III catapulted Hulk Hogan to a superstar. Ironically, his wrestling boss, WWF’s Vince McMahon Sr didn’t want him to take the part. According to Hogan, in the late ’70s, professional wrestlers never broke character in film roles. “Back then, ‘78, ‘79, if you were a wrestler, you didn’t do TV. You didn’t go do a movie,” Hogan explained to Steve Austin in 2019. “If you’re a wrestler, you’re a wrestler.” However, following the role, Hogan was invited back into the fold.