For TV Movie, 1999
Text by RD
all the shocking events that have transpired in wrestling over
the past few years, none have grabbed the mainstream media's attention
like Jesse Ventura's rise in politics. Obviously with good reason
- while us smarks like to get all worked up about the closing
of WCW or the various deaths that have been associated with the
business over the past few years, realistically nothing has impacted
as many lives as someone becoming Governor of Minnesota. It really
is a fascinating story, and one that NBC decided to capitalize
on shortly after the event took place in 1998.
we get to the movie, however, I have to admit I was more than
a little concerned about writing this induction. There were two
items that went throught my head during the process: 1) that people
might think that I don't have respect for Jesse and all he's accomplished;
and 2) that I might not have all my facts together. In regards
to the former, let me just say that I think what Jesse has been
able to do in his political career is nothing short of amazing.
Here you have a guy who is best known as a wrestler/actor, and
was able to turn that fringe celebrity status into the governership
of Minnesota. I may not always agree with what he has to say,
but I love the fact that he is one of the few guys in the political
realm that is willing to say things that he knows will wind up
ruffling a few feathers just because that's how he feels. As he
used to tell Gorilla, "I call it how I see it."
for point 2...suffice to say I am pretty sure I can't possibly
be wrong on more things than what the producers of this film were.
In fact, I will go so far as to say that the bogus inductions
I did on April 1 with Chris Benoit and Eddy Guerrero were a lot
more accurate than this film ever dreamed of being.
movie starts off by introducing us to the man to our left.
This is Jesse Ventura. You know how we know that? Because
he tells us.
goodness he did, because I had no earthly idea who he
was supposed to be. Jesse Ventura? If you say so. He looks
more like Bull from NIght Court to me.
quick listen to his voice and you will come to the conclusion
that not only does he look nothing like Jesse, he also
sounds nothing like Jesse (and here's
a clip from the real Jesse
to refresh your memory).
also doesn't help that he talks with all the emotion of
one of those animatronic figures at the Hall of Presidents
at Disney World.
movie then gives us a glimpse at the in-ring antics of
Jesse, whom you might recall was a bad guy back in his
how evil was "The Body"? Why, according to this
documentary, he once grabbed an old woman in a wheel chair
and sent her careening down the entrance ramp to her doom.
thing to say
about a bit like that.
- I don't recall him ever plowing over the elderly, but
then again, my memory of Jesse's life is a bit hazy, at
least when taken into the events presented in this film.
you know who this is?
didn't either, until I learned that it was, in fact, Superstar
Bill Graham. Amazing - he actually looks even less
like who he's supposed to be than "Jesse" does!
I go back to blasting the movie, there is one fun element
that needs mentioning.
see, not only does the older version of Jesse appear at
the onset of the film, but also as the narrator throughout
it, in all kinds of wacky bits. That's right, he just
kind of shows up and starts talking.
Old Jesse selling popcorn at a wrestling match...
here he is talking about his days as a Navy SEAL. Nothing
like seeing a guy in a suit parachute out of the sky.
his stint in the Navy, Jesse relates: "Seal Training
is a six month kick in the coconuts. But let me tell you,
they are coconuts worth having." His commanding officer
then proceeds to kick him repeatedly in the coconuts.
Maybe it's just me, but if someone kicked me in my
coconuts, for six months straight no less, I doubt I'd
say the same thing.
best part about the skydiving deal is that Old Jesse winds
up landing in a used car lot (!!), where the shifty salesman
won't even sell him a motorcycle. For you see, Jesse was
in Vietnam and apparently Discount Stan was opposed to
happens everywhere Jess goes, in fact, and it starts to
gnaw at him. Thankfully, he disguises himself as Billy
Gunn and is able to take in the wrestling matches.
should be noted that these wrestling matches, which supposedly
took place in the early 1970's, featured such moves as
an atomic drop balls first onto a ladder.
remember when Bruno did that to Stan Hansen?
Jess decides that he is finally going to fulfill his lifelong
dream and become a pro wrestler himself. He enrolls at
the local school, and comes up with his persona of Jesse
"The Body" Ventura.
younger Jesse is learning the ropes (quite literally),
Jesse explains how it all works.
was just waiting for him to tell us about how the promotion
handed out signs to the fans, but I guess that was another
show (which oddly enough was put together at almost the
exact same time by NBC as well).
between hitting the gym and riding his motorcycle, our
hero finds time to be a bouncer at a local bar where he
meets a pretty young lass named Terri. Despite the fact
that she completely blows him off upon their first meeting,
he convinces her to go to a wrestling match where she
subsequently falls in love with him.
know, with everything Ventura ever wound up doing in his
life, I have to think that getting this hot chick with
zero interest in him to a) go to a wrestling match and
then b) fall for him at said event might be his most impressive
accomplishment of all.
winds up marrying the chick, all the whilst wearing leather
pants. Terri throws the bouquet, and yep, you guessed
Jesse catches it, pummelling several small girls in the
According to wedding tradition, this would mean he's going
to get married again or something. I thought he was governor
of Minnesota, not Utah.
to my confusion - isn't a woman
supposed to catch the bouquet?
the lovebirds go on their honeymoon, which includes Jesse's
debut pro match, as he goes up against Bill Goldberg,
who was the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world
in 1975, yet another fact that was news to me.
the hell did the fact checking for this movie? Lou Albano
and Bert Sugar?
then get a few clips of the different stages of Jesse's
in-ring career, such as his stint as a king.
Jess gains popularity, he gets an offer to work for the
biggest promoter in the US: James Chaney.
know what you're asking:
guess this is supposed to be Vince, save for the fact
that he looks nothing like Vince and isn't, in fact, named
works his way up the ladder, finally getting a championship
match against the promotion's champion...Kanyon. Don't
ask, it gets much worse.
he winds up collapsing in the ring due to a blood clot
in his lung, thus ending his career.
in-ring career over, he segues into an announcing career
in WCW (??), sharing commentary duties with the voice
of WCW, Gorilla Monsoon.
is the kind of thing that would drive Dave Meltzer right
into an insane asylum. You know, I can just picture Dave,
in a blind rage, heading to the local munitions shop and
then murdering the producers of this film gangland style
in a blind rage.
said that, if you squint a little and if the guy would
have shaved off his beard, he would have looked quite
a bit like Monsoon (and he did sound somewhat like him),
thus distinguishing himself as the first guy in the entire
film to actually look like the historical figure they
were supposed to be.
Old Jesse explains that he was the first announcer to
trash the 'baby' and root for the 'heel', thereby ensuring
that he won't be getting a Christmas card this year from
a year or so, Jesse soon discovers that he no longer loves
the business, because everyone is now a bad guy. But
it isn't until his buddy Captain Nice (portrayed by Bobby
Johnston, who took the time out of his busy soft-porn
schedule to film this between Femalien and
SeX-Files) complains to him about wrestling politics
that he really contemplates leaving the business for good.
see, that no good ratfink Chaney is having the good Cap'n
lose his final match in his hometown of LA against Raven.
Jess talks to the promoter, and gets him to change it
to a double DQ, or as he calls it, a "schmozz".
any of this starting to sound familiar?
The big match happens, and of course Raven puts Captain
in the sharpshooter. Despite Captain saying he wouldn't
submit, the ref calls for the bell, mainly because Chaney
is at ringside saying, "RING THE DAMN BELL!"
you, I didn't recall Jesse being so intimately involved
in Montreal....but that's probably because he wasn't.
In fact, he was long gone from wrestling by the time the
incident ever occurred.
You know, the fact that the actors look nothing like who
they are supposed to, I can forgive - that's part of the
creative process, I suppose. And though the factual errors
are atrocious, and could have been corrected with like
five minutes of research...I can look past those too.
when you just start blatantly making stuff up to fill
a two hour TV movie? Especially one that covers the life
of a guy that has had such an interesting existence as
mean, come on, guys - the dude was a Navy SEAL, served
in Vietnam, supposedly rode with the Hell's Angels, was
a bodyguard for the Stones, was a pro wrestler, sued Vince
McMahon and WON, and then went onto win the Minnesota
governorship...do you really need to make things up?
Isn't his real life interesting enough?
become disgusted with wrestling thanks to the
Los Angeles screwjob, he decides to go into acting, going
on to star with Arnold Schwarzenegger in Running Man,
Predator, and Batman & Robin.
didn't remember him in that last one, but a quick search
of the IMDB says he was in fact an Arkham Asylum guard.
I'd go back and 2x check, but that would require me to
revisit a movie that is amazingly even worse than this
And, no, sadly they didn't show Ah-nold. That sucks, because
judging by the accuracy the film makers had exhibit previously,
I can only imagine what THEIR Arnold would have looked
maybe I can.
Jess heads back home and goes hunting with his pappy,
blasting a duck out of the air. Unfortunately, the fowl
is covered in POLLUTION, so he can't eat it. Awww, that
inability to eat the greasy bird infuriates him to the
point of going into politics, and he wins the Brooklyn
Park mayorship. However, the power there is very limited.
Therefore, he decides he needs something more, and is
convinced into running for governor of Minnesota.
all know how that turned out, and to be honest, I have
no idea how many errors were in this part. Given the sheer
amount all throughout the rest of the film, however, I'm
guessing somewhere along the lines of 1,4237,263.
fact, I'm surprised they didn't just have him beat Bill
Clinton in the 1996 presidential election instead. If
you're going to say the hell with facts, you might as
well do it all the way.
movie ends with the now old Jesse meeting his still old
I guess, as the camera is zoomed so far out it could have
been any white bald guy in a black suit.
the record, though, it wasn't me.
final image to appear before the credits is this one:
it took two hours, but finally the truth is revealed.
- Actor that sounds totally unlike Jesse
Ventura: "I'm Governor Jesse Ventura. Something, huh? Where
else but in America can someone start as a wrestler, and end up
as a governor?"
- Jesse Ventura, sounding totally like Jesse
Ventura: "This is Jesse Ventura and this is what I stand
for. I believe the Rolling Stones and Led Zepplin are two of the
greatest rock bands ever. I believe in refusing money from special
interest groups so I am accountable only to the people of Minnesota."
- Salem the cat: "She's a stunt granny.
How's that for piledriving Miss Daisy?"
- 'Jesse': "That's the stomp. You see
the way his foot pounded the canvas? That's so that no one can
tell he pulled his punch. You don't believe me? Take another look."