It’s a sunny afternoon in Los Angeles, and Dave Atkins is driving his pickup truck when the fuzz gets on his tail. With siren wailing, a police officer pursues him through the suburban LA streets on a motorcycle.
Fighting traffic and the terrible glare that shows up in many of the shots, Dave thinks he has lost the cop. But he should think again! And if any of this sounds remotely exciting to you, you should, too.
After a supposedly high-speed chase, the officer finally catches up to him and tells him he’s been going 80 miles an hour.
The footage of him cruising through town says otherwise.
But he must have been going 80 to get big air like this!
Turns out, it was just a game – he and the cop are friends!
And they’re wrestlers! And they’re late for their match!
They’re both cops, in fact, who moonlight as wrestlers. You might recognize this premise as very similar to the 1991 ABC pilot, “Tag Team”. It turns out that the six-year-old son of the Hollywood writer who pitched it didn’t have such an original idea after all.
Before Jesse Ventura and Roddy Piper transitioned from the beat to the ring…
…Adam Baldwin and Mike Jolly split up their time between the uniform and spandex in 1986’s action-comedy, Bad Guys.
The two arrive just as the match before theirs is ending, with a wrestler named “Red Shoes” Dugan gets the pinfall.
The real “Red Shoes” Dugan was 74 at the time, and a referee.
Next up, Dave faces two men in a handicap match…
…defeating them thanks to the shenanigans of his buddy Skip, who is still in his uniform.
A sports reporter named Janice Edwards compliments the guys’ “act”, but Skip and Dave make it very clear that wrestling is no act, but 100% real. Foolishly, she doesn’t completely believe them, but she does offer to take them to the top of the sport.
Skip and Dave turn her down, though, since they’re police officers first and foremost, wrestling on the side only to stay in shape. Not sure why jogging was out of the question.
The next day on the job, the guys are called to a bar fight and are confronted by a big fella named Murphy Green. Murph spits at Dave with an invisible loogie that echoes throughout the cavernous bar and silences the noisy crowd.
In response, the two cops beat up everyone in the bar single-handedly…
(or double-handedly, as there are two of them)
(or quadruple-handedly, as they each have two hands).
The next day’s newspaper headlines bluntly state, “Brutal Cops Beat Up Bike Club”, rather than the more neutral, “Bike Club Injured in Officer-Involved Ass-Kicking”.
In the wake of this PR nightmare, the police captain suspends both the wrestler cops without pay, meaning they’ll have to find a new job to do full-time. Are you thinking what I’m thinking?
I don’t know, but Skip and Dave certainly aren’t, as they start working at a construction site rather than in the wrestling ring.
On seemingly their first day, Skip interprets a woman’s very subtle signals as a sexual invitation.
He seems to have guessed correctly, but that spells trouble when the foreman immediately catches Skip and his wife together. Such are the perils of having sex on the job with your boss’s wife when your boss is right there.
With their construction jobs out the window, they next venture into stripping at Skip’s insistence. Davey isn’t into it, though, and his fortunes will turn for the worse when the Repo Man –
– or rather, a repo man – tows away his truck.
This leaves Skip and Dave to depend on two horny cougars to give them a lift home.
But they have no intention of dropping the boys off, instead sexually assaulting them…
…and ditching them in the middle of nowhere when they won’t put out.
Only then do they remember that they are also wrestlers, and that a reporter has recently offered them a chance to make lots of money wrestling.
And eventually they get home, somehow.
Janice tells them that they can make big money if they sign with Lord Percy Babbington.
If that monocle is any indication, though, lord Percy isn’t to be trusted. Too good for glasses, are we?
The guys get a try-out match against a classic French-Canadian team of bald Russian heels.
Skip and Dave win by disqualification when the Kremlin Krushers ram into referee Jesse Hernandez…
…but to Janice’s dismay, Percy is more impressed with the Russian heels and signs them on the spot.
The trick to getting ahead in the wrestling biz, it seems, is to be bad guys…
…so Janice sends the two to the meanest wrestling trainer around, Turk McGurk (played by Gene LeBell), and christens them, “The Boston Bad Guys”. You know, because they’re bad guys. At least she didn’t have to step in dog crap to come it with it, like in Backyard Dogs.
A training montage shows all the ways the Boston Bad Guys are training to be strong and, more importantly…
Beating up an old man is a good start.
If the Bad Guys want to be bad guys, they’ve got to get some better ring gear, too, so they go to Adele’s of Hollywood…
…whose owner resembles Gene Wilder in blackface, but is in fact Harvey Jason in blackface.
And in case the flashy clothes, woman’s name, and giant earring on his right ear didn’t give it away…
…Adele calls the Bad Guys gorgeous. That’s right, he’s a homosexual… a gay homosexual, to be precise. And he’s quite fond of the wrestlers.
Janice, on the other hand, gets the cold shoulder. Ew, women.
Adele’s partner prances across the room with some leather vests, drawing disapproving glares from Skip and Dave. They must really not like leather vests or something.
The guys hate their new costumes and have to make a mad dash to their car so as not to be seen dressed like that in public. It was either that, or change back into the clothes they were wearing before.
“Oh, snookums! They look good enough to eat,” lisps Adele’s male friend.
“Just stick to your diet!” lisps Adele (they both have lisps). He’s referring to his penis, in case that wasn’t clear.
The Bad Guys for some reason arrive late to their big re-debut, getting there after the show has already started. The good news is that they still have time to get changed backstage.
The bad news is that Lord Percy cuts a ridiculous deal with another promoter where, from now on, his Krushers get to be the only heels (or “bad guys”) on the whole card and collect 50% of the gate.
And even worse, Murphy Green, the ruffian who spat on Dave a dozen times in succession at the bar, is in league with Percy and would be glad to help him knock those “jerk-bastards” off the bill.
The Boston Bad Guys, who are called the Boston Bad Guys because they wear leather jackets, fur shawls, and masks and are from southern California, wrestle their first match as heels against the Padres (one of whom is José Lothario’s brother).
Their first order of business is to smash the Padres’ award from the AWA over one of their opponent’s head. Remember that in the movie’s universe, wrestling is 100% real, the plaque isn’t gimmicked, their opponents didn’t know they’d get bashed in the head, Skip and Dave are doing these terrible things just to make more money, and they are the heroes of the movie.
A riot breaks out before the match can begin.
Meanwhile, the dastardly Lord Percy conspires with Murphy to sue Skip, Dave, and the police department for $10 million for police brutality in the bar fight, so their captain forbids them from wrestling to avoid any more bad publicity.
Wait – isn’t that why they wear masks?
Janice convinces Skip and Dave to keep wrestling anyway, then promotes their next match on a TV commercial, where they don’t even wear their masks!
But there’s still more trouble brewing, as not only does Dave not want to be a bad guy anymore, but Lord Percy gets the Bad Guys kicked off the bill!
So they do the only sensible thing they can do in a world where wrestling is real –
– they crash the show and do a run-in.
Thrilled with the trespassers’ assault on his booked talent, the wrestling promoter grabs the house mike and announces that they’re getting a match against the Kremlin Krushers at the next show.
Both teams get prepared in the second training montage of the film.
But things get complicated when Skip and Dave, both smitten…
…each ask Janice out for dinner to “talk strategy”.
Things get heated when both guys show up at the same restaurant at the same time, until Janice says she’ll take ‘em both. She’s hardcore!
Or, she actually does want to talk strategy.
The Bad Guys sport new, patriotic outfits, their third set of gear in three matches. As soon as they leave in Dave’s truck (which Janice has bought back for him)…
…Murphy and his hoodlums tail them.
Another slow-speed chase ends up with the Bad Guys trapped in a warehouse and held at gunpoint.
Over at the arena, the entourage is worried, wondering how the boys could be late to their big match (despite the fact that they have been late to every match in the movie).
At the warehouse, the cops show up to arrest Murphy and his gang, then rush Skip and Dave to the arena in their cop cars. If only there were a way to stall for time.
How about a Sgt. Slaughter cameo?
The Bad Guys arrive thanks to a blatant misuse of a police siren, just in time to avoid forfeit. Their match is announced as a tag team elimination match, scheduled for one fall. I know what all of those terms mean, but that sentence makes no sense.
Neither does the fact that Mando Guerrero is announced as the referee, but it’s really some white guy – and not Red Shoes Dugan, either.
When Toru Tanaka interferes on the Krushers’ behalf, Sgt. Slaughter jumps in to even the sides.
One of the Krushers grabs the American flag and beats Skip with it…
…so the police captain threatens to arrest him if he doesn’t put it down. The sequel to Bad Guys would be a legal drama where the LAPD and the Krushers argue before the Supreme Court over whether smashing someone with the American flag is protected political speech.
Turk McGurk makes the save for Old Glory…
…and Skip and Dave each pin a Krusher simultaneously to win the match, meaning we’ll never know whether it was contested under elimination rules or one fall rules. The Bad Guys get a title shot at Madison Square Garden (which would ultimately be cancelled because only Vince McMahon can book shows there)…
…while Lord Percy gets arrested.
The Bad Guys (who have wrestled half their matches as good guys) continue to celebrate for minutes as Sgt. Slaughter unceasingly chants, “USA”.
Skip and Dave end up having it all – a promising wrestling career, their jobs back at the police force, a bigamous relationship with Janice.
If there’s one thing this movie has going for it, it’s that it shows just how silly it would be if wrestling turned out to be real.