Top 10 Rocky Moments – Condominiums? I Never Use Them.

Top 10 Rocky moments

Check out our Top 10 Rocky moments of all-time.

With Creed (essentially Rocky VII) opening in theaters wide Wednesday, I thought it would be fun to countdown the top 10 Rocky moments of all-time.

My Twitter buddy Brian put the idea in my head, so we’re running with it like all the children of Philadelphia in Rocky II.

By the way, the title is a quote from Rocky II. After Rocky and Adrian get married, Tony Gazzo, the loan shark Rocky used to work as the enforcer for, asks Rocky about life after boxing. He asks him about investing in condominiums. And well, you know the rest.

So, what’s on the list? It’s not just about the sentimental moments. There are many of them. But it’s the moments that make you smile. It’s about the moments that if you see it flipping through channels, you have to watch the rest of the movie. That’s what’s on my list.

What’s not on my list? Stuff like when Rocky asked Adrian back to his apartment, didn’t have a phone so she could call her brother, took off his shirt, and then when she wanted to leave, blocked her way and then just about forced her to make out with him. The Italian Molester is surely not on my list.

10. Living In America

Not to say that this is an underrated scene in the series because it’s very memorable, but I don’t think it gets its just due. Think about this for a second.

Living In America is James’ Brown’s last top ten hit of his illustrious career. He does a mini-concert right before a fight between one of the greatest heavyweight champions of all-time, Apollo Creed and a newcomer from Russia who is built like a bodybuilder. Like only the Godfather of Soul can, Brown performs and dances all while setting the table for Creed to dance right before his fight. This is like Roy Jones playing basketball the day of his fight.

Was Creed blown up before the fight started? Could the dance exhibition have caused him his early exit? And what about treating the Russian like he was a circus animal? How about not making the guy angry before the fight? When Drago threw the last punch, do you think it had bad intentions because they tried to make a fool out of him?

And this had to be all Apollo’s doing right? Well, Apollo and James. Because neither Drago’s side, or Rocky, Duke, and Paulie seemed like they knew what was going on. In an indirect way, can we blame James Brown for Apollo dying?

Nope, Duke says it’s still Rocky’s fault.

9. Rocky pulls off a drop toe hold.

The Rocky vs Tommy Gunn street fight is underrated in Rocky lore. For one, it’s not housed in a boxing ring. Secondly, Rocky V is the worst of the movies and the least seen. It didn’t make a lot of money in the box office in 1990.

But the fight itself is well-choreographed and features Rocky taking it to the street. What does that mean? Well, he dirty boxes, throws Gunn into a fence, and executes a drop toe hold. He’s outsmarting the kid all while beating him up. Who knew Rocky would bust out a pro wrestling move to help him beat up Gunn?

The only bad part of the fight is when young Robert Balboa (who ages about 7 years between Rocky IV and the beginning of Rocky V which is only supposed to be a day or so) tells his dad that he needs to beat him up because Gunn stole his room. This version of young Robert was the most annoying.

RIP Sage Stallone.

8. Rocky bodyslams Thunderlips.

This may have been a bigger challenge than even beating Ivan Drago. This was Hulk Hogan in his ultimate prime. He was the human skyscraper. He was shredded and jacked to the gills. But he didn’t have jiu-jitsu skills.

It was 11 years before Royce Gracie used his jiu-jitsu to win the first UFC tournament that Rocky used a rear naked choke to put the giant Thunderlips down. Thunderlips had no way to defend the move, which Rocky changed from the type of rear naked choke you see today, to a straight up old school choke. It set up the big bodyslam which took out five rows of the ringside audience.

While he didn’t end the Cold War with the bodyslam heard around the world, he did drive Hogan to use the eye of the tiger to beat the Iron Sheik in 1984 to win the WWF Heavyweight title, kicking off the era of Hulkamania. If not for getting beat by Rocky, Hogan may not have beat Sheik and Hulkamania may have never existed.

7. Mickey wants to train Rocky.

There are a few memorable acting scenes which overcome how slow the original movie is. There’s the scene when Rocky watches the presser with Adrian on TV which features Apollo making fun of him. Rocky plays it off like he doesn’t care and that it’s all in good fun. But when he’s ready to leave Adrian’s house, he lets her know that it did bother him. And the director uses the old school technique where the object closer is in focus and the object in the background is blurry and then it immediately switches. I’ve always loved that scene.

There’s also the scene on the morning of the fight when Rocky can’t sleep because he knows he can’t win the fight, but all he wants to do is make sure he doesn’t get knocked out and goes the distance.

But the best acting scene in the entire movie is between Rocky and Mickey. Mickey, an old trainer who wouldn’t give Rocky the time of day prior, is all of a sudden interested in training Rocky for his big opportunity. Rocky’s feelings are hurt because he’s not sure who to trust now that he has this opportunity. But he also knows that he’s going to get killed without Mick training him.

6. Clubber Lang is the best heel.

Ivan Drago was a machine until Rocky cut him and dropped him down to human status. He may have been Rocky’s toughest competitor. Apollo Creed was the best character of Rocky’s opponents. Tommy Gunn was modeled after Gerry Cooney and other great white heavyweight hopes, so he really sucked. And Mason “The Line” Dixon nearly lost to a guy who couldn’t spar because he had calcium deposits in his joints.

The best villain in the entire series is Spiderico, I mean Clubber Lang. Clubber was the single scariest person in movies in 1982. I’m not sure what horror films came out in 1982, but I guarantee that not one character was as intimidating as Clubber Lang. And all Lang had was two fists and a gravelly voice. He also introduced me to the term “paper champion.”

And let’s not be mistaken about this. He killed Mickey. I’m not sure why charges weren’t pressed. I’m not sure why it wasn’t a bigger story that the heavyweight champion of the world was a murderer. Would you have left anyone alone in the same room with Clubber Lang at that time? The answer is no.

Mr. T’s wrong step was actually getting in the ring at WrestleMania 1 and 2. It may have helped Vince McMahon’s pocketbooks, but it absolutely hurt his credibility. If Mr. T goes from Rocky to the A-Team and then retires, is he still believed to be the toughest guy ever? The early UFC probably throws a ton of money at him in 1993 because he’s untested, but he’d have to turn that down too. Roddy Piper was wearing heavy boxing gloves and took T to school at WrestleMania 2.

By the way, you haven’t seen Mick die until you’ve seen it in Spanish.

5. Best fight

Let’s eliminate the ones that aren’t all that special.

We can eliminate the following:
- Balboa vs Spiderico
- Balboa vs random jabronies in Rocky III
- Balboa vs Lang I
- Creed vs Drago

That leaves us with…

Balboa vs Lang II

Balboa vs Lang II is less than three rounds. Apollo Creed’s strategy was that Lang tired quickly because he was such an action fighter that Rocky would have to be in tremendous shape to outlast him. He figured 7 or 8 rounds would do the trick. Rocky dieted down, looking more like a cruiser or light heavyweight than a heavyweight. In the first round, he was on fire and Lang couldn’t catch him. But in the second, Lang caught him and Balboa started to take a beating. It was impending doom.

But Rocky had answers and Apollo didn’t initially understand the strategy. Rocky started to trash talk Lang and get him to tire himself out even more, allowing Lang to bang at his body. It wasn’t quite the rope-a-dope, but it was close. And then when Lang tired, Rocky, being in great shape, was able to let loose and win the fight.

YouTube doesn’t have the entire fight, oddly.

Balboa Vs Dixon

This fight isn’t as pleasing to watch, but I give it the upper hand over the prior simply because it went the distance, which is really the story of the entire series. Okay, maybe I like it more because Mike Tyson challenges Dixon from the crowd. It’s also cool to hear Jim Lampley, Larry Merchant, and Max Kellerman on the call.

This fight resembles the great Balboa vs Creed II in that Rocky is the brawler and looks outclassed by the boxer. His second knockdown is reminiscent of the way Balboa goes down awkwardly against Creed in that same fight.

It’s kind of inconceivable that Balboa would be able to stay with Dixon, until, Dixon breaks his hand. This was a brilliant touch. When Dixon breaks his hand, he has to stop punching and it gives Balboa the chance to wear him down and he does by going to the body, which may have been a liver shot the way that Dixon goes down.

There is a weird flaw in the last round. Dixon hits Balboa who puts his glove down, which should count as a knockdown. But the referee doesn’t step in. And yes, the right finish is that Balboa loses. And he doesn’t even care.

Balboa Vs Drago

This is a video game fight. It’s a spot fest. As unrealistic as Rocky fights are, this is the most unrealistic. Rocky was knocked down like five or six times and others weren’t counted as knockdowns even though he was flat on his rear end.

In the first round, Rocky’s gloves touch the canvas, which is technically a knockdown. But Drago punches him again for good measure, which could’ve been a DQ, though maybe not in Russia.

At the end of round two, Balboa cuts Drago with a leaping hook and Drago reacts badly to seeing his own blood. And much like he had to, Balboa turns it into a bit of a street fight, landing a double leg takedown after the bell. Mayhem in Moscow!

“You see, he’s not a machine! He’s a man!”

One of the issues I have with the fight is that Rocky takes an amazing beating, but he doesn’t get tired. He must throw about 4000 punches during the entire fight.

“Yas y byah! Yas y bya!” Sorry, I don’t know proper Russian spelling.

Balboa finally starts moving his head in the 15th when he needs the knockout. Why did it take him 14 rounds to try and make Drago miss? So after Balboa goes down and bounces back up multiple times, Drago goes down once and can’t get up one time? I love the ending of the movie, but not the fight all that much.

Balboa Vs Creed I

The layout of this fight is perfect. You have the cocky champion who is facing a club fighter and he’s talking to him through his mouth piece. He’s flicking the jab at him. He throws his first combination, misses, and the club fighter lands the perfect uppercut and puts the champ down in the first round. You’ve set the tone. (And if I’m Rocky, I’m frustrated with the long count.) Apollo starts to take him seriously and drops him right at the end of the first round, though, no count for some reason.

“He doesn’t know it’s a damn show. He thinks it’s a damn fight.”

The sound effects of not only the punches, but of Balboa and Creed’s grunts echoing is a great touch. Makes it feel old school and smokey. Rocky’s glove touches the canvas in the 14th, though it’s not scored as a knockdown. When Rocky finally hits the canvas late in the 14th, thanks to that jinx Adrian, Mick tells him to stay down because he knows Rocky won’t let him stop the fight.

And then, in the scene of all scenes, Rocky’s eye is closed and he asks the cut man to slice it open so he can see. Cut me Mick. I wonder if Stitch Duran would do that?

If I have once qualm about this fight, the 15th round is about 45 seconds long. Balboa has Creed reeling and it’s like someone from Creed’s camp just rings the bell to get him out of there. It may have been the Philadelphia screw job if someone looked into it.

“Ain’t gonna be no rematch.” “Don’t want one.” By the way, when I was 8, I thought Balboa said, “The walrus.”

The last great tidbit? By having it as a split decision, it opened up the possibility for a second fight. If Creed wins unanimously, maybe he doesn’t care about getting in there again. But because there was that one judge who thought Balboa won? That had to be eating Creed alive.

Balboa vs Creed 2

This one has it all. Apollo hasn’t taken him lightly this time. Rocky didn’t have much time to train and no one thinks he can win. Well, maybe Father Carmine does. Mickey trains him for speed and wants him to fight right-handed to throw Creed off, but to also protect his bad eye. It doesn’t quite work out that way. In theory, fighting right-handed would give Rocky the opportunity to use his power hand to throw jabs and lead left hooks, though watching the fight, Rocky mostly throws it as his power hand. He doesn’t really pick a way to stand. So in the choreography of the fight, nothing is changed much.

But what turns the fight around for Balboa is that he’s flat out embarrassed by the champ early on. He tells himself he’s not going down anymore and it gets him going.

You have to love the use of slow motion which makes you listen and watch even more closely.

In the 15th and final round, Mickey asks Rocky to go back to fighting southpaw, but he doesn’t want to. He doesn’t want tricks. Duke wants Apollo to stay away since he’s clearly ahead on points, maybe losing only one round. But he doesn’t want to hear the same talk from after the first fight. He wants to drop him.

“Listen, you’re getting killed out there!” “It’s my life.”

“Just stick and move!” “It ain’t gonna be like last time.”

Rocky and Creed go toe-to-toe in the 15th and Rocky throws a right hook that not only sends Creed down, but Rocky also goes down. As the referee counts, Creed looks like he’s going to make it up. Balboa actually looks like he’s not going to make it. When the ref gets to 9, Creed takes a siesta in the corner while his wife screams in terror and Rocky barely beats the count.

If the finish to the first fight was perfect, this was either better than perfect, or equal to.

Yes, we all know about the “Yo Adrian, I did it,” part of the speech, but my favorite line is when he says, “Except for my kid being born, this is the greatest night in the history of my life.” THE HISTORY OF MY LIFE!

Adrian interlude

By the way, I mentioned Adrian being the jinx of the first fight. Are we really sure she’s a good person?

In Rocky Balboa, Adrian has passed because of what we assume is breast cancer and becomes more of a focal point than she ever was in the movies in which her character was alive. Because when she was alive, she was annoying as all hell. Let’s take a moment to remember those annoying moments.

- In the original Rocky, she’s so unsupportive that she stays in the back. When does she finally come out? Of course, she comes out right when he’s knocked down. She’s a jinx.

- In the second film, there’s a huge money rematch between Rocky and Apollo and she’s clearly against it because of her fear of Rocky getting his ass kicked, either dying or becoming unable to take care of himself, and being alone. How selfish.

Mick and Rocky just think about fighting Apollo and Mick says that they have to knock his block off, Rocky says, “Absolutely,” and Adrian gives him the death stare. His entire training regimen is thrown off because of it and Mick thinks he has a ticker problem. He doesn’t have a ticker problem, he has a wife problem.

- In Rocky III, Adrian is now the trophy wife. She’s wearing fur coats, angry scary men with mohawks are verbally dreaming about having sex with her, and she was probably vajazzled 20 years before Jennifer Love Hewitt. But she sits idly while Rocky loses his mojo and finally badgers him into admitting he’s a puss and afraid before using some voodoo on him and making him believe in himself again.

- In Rocky IV, after Rocky loses his new best friend (and just a few years after losing Mick), he abruptly agrees to fight Ivan Drago. He doesn’t tell Adrian because he knows she’s going to have a fit about it. When he comes home, she berates him like no other. After making him believe in himself by using voodoo just a few years prior, she changes her tune and screams at him.

“You can’t win!”

She nearly made it so that the Cold War never ended. After hearing his wife tell him that he’s going to die in the ring like Apollo, he heartbrokenly jumps in his car, dreams of yesteryear and pays zero attention to the road. He could’ve been in a car accident and all because of Adrian.

- In Rocky V, she watches as Rocky distances himself from his son, but waits until they’re in the middle of the street in the middle of winter to lecture him, all while making him feel dumb in the process. And this is a man who has headaches because of concussions. She could’ve at least lowered her voice.

So we agree that she’s not a good person right?

4. Best training montage

Believe me when I say that this took real analysis. I had to watch each training montage multiple times to see which one gave me the most goosebumps. And let’s be real about Rocky IV – it’s a 75 minute music video disguised as a film.


- He runs with bricks in his hands. Bricks!
- He runs the steps for the first time. Iconic.

- While cool, according to Stallone, the one-armed jumping push-ups injured him.
- It’s all running and push-ups!
- Where’s the weight training?
- What’s up with the dirty sweats?

Rocky II

- What are we waiting for!
- He blends old school training like using a sledge hammer and one-armed pull-ups with modern weight training.
- He actually hits a speed bag and the mits.
- Lots of counting reps so you know he was working hard.
- Mick screaming at him and making funny faces.

- What’s up with the dirty sweats again?
- I’m not sure doing jumping squats and duck walks with a piece of wood on your back is good for you.

Rocky III

There are two fights that Rocky has to train for, but he’s only really training hard for the second one and there’s no real montage for the first one.

- A crazy bag!
- Apollo is back in the ring.
- He pops the speed bag like he’s Juan Manuel Marquez.

- Lots of footwork, which isn’t inspiring.
- Rocky and Apollo wearing short shorts and half shirts.
- Slow motion running which means slow motion muscle definition and slow motion Stallone lips moving up and down.
- Apollo lets Rocky win the race.

I can’t let that one go. You can’t have the winning montage if Apollo lets up so that Rocky can win the race and have fake confidence going into the fight.

Rocky IV

- The old school Balboa training vs the new school Drago training immediately places even more sympathy on Rocky, as if his wife telling him he couldn’t win wasn’t enough.
- You’d think using a different score would be a negative, but it’s not. It gives the montage a different feel.
- The ever growing beard.
- The steroid shot in the shoulder is still great shock value.
- Dragooooooooooooooooooo!

- Adrian splits the montage in half. Want to know why this is bad? Everyone on YouTube edits out the Adrian part.
- Rocky does a crazy pilates exercise which makes him look like a gymnast, but you don’t see his face, so I’m sure it wasn’t really Stallone.
- Should’ve shot the steroid in the glutes, which would’ve given even more shock value, though it did make me think. Did Stallone have Drago take it in the shoulder because that’s how he shot his own steroids? Things that make you go hmmmm.

Rocky Balboa

Rocky V doesn’t have a Rocky training montage so we’ll skip that one and go straight to Balboa.

- Let’s start building some hurtin’ bombs.
- The kettlebells get some love.
- Doing bent over standing flys with chains just looks cool.
- He incorporated the one arm push-up using a medicine ball that the MMA fighters were doing at the time.

- Duke says that Rocky has calcium deposits on his joints, so then he lifts extremely heavy weights. Okay.
- He could get away with the bag work in the previous movies because he was in shape and much younger. But not this time. I may hit the bag better.
- The dirty sweats again?

After all that, here’s how I’d rank them:
- Rocky II
- Rocky IV
- Rocky III
- Rocky Balboa
- Rocky

I think Rocky II has a bit more sentimental value when it comes to the montage, which gives it the slight edge over Rocky IV. Even though III is all half shirts and short shorts, Stallone is in crazy shape.

3. Rocky’s speech to end the Cold War

I’m just going to transcribe the speech for you.

I came here tonight and I didn’t know what to expect. I seen a lot of people hating me and I didn’t know what to feel about that so I guess I didn’t like you much none either. During this fight, I seen a lot of changing – the way yous felt about me and the way I felt about you. In here, there were two guys killing each other, but I guess that’s better than 20 million. What I’m trying to say is that if I can change, and you can change, everybody can change!

If you want to do a cool Rocky party trick, do the Balboa ending the Cold War speech and also add in the Russian translation. It will get Rocky fans every time.

2. “And nature’s smarter than people think…”

There are so many fantastic things about this scene. First off all, because it’s a flashback that was filmed 11 years after the time frame in which they are flashing back to, this version of Rocky is sculpted out of granite while the Rocky II version was just a guy in pretty good shape.

It’s also Burgess Meredith’s last time playing Mick, which makes it extremely special. If the Rocky character was the heart of the first two movies, the Mick character was the soul. He was either the soul, or the “motivization” for the early films. For the entire speech, he speaks slowly and in a near whisper, but he hits the final line like he swallowed 10 razor blades and screams, “Get up you sonuvabit**, cause Mickey loves you.”

Rocky V has only a few quality scenes. It’s one of those movies that you desperately want to like and try to grade on a curve simply so you don’t have to say it’s bad. But it’s bad. Outside of the fight scene and this scene, there is one other half decent scene before the big street fight. The guys at the bar want to help Rocky fight Tommy Gunn and Rocky says he doesn’t need their help because, “It ain’t no pie eating contest.”

(What you may not have known is that Burgess Meredith was a world class stickman, maybe even comparable to Leonardo Dicaprio according to Michael Rapaport via Sylvester Stallone.)

1. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows.

How can the greatest moment in the history of the Rocky series come from Rocky Balboa? Well, it just did okay. You’ll have to live with it.

Rocky Balboa wasn’t a fantastic film. But it had several really good scenes, with this one being the best of them all.

Rocky’s kid is annoying as always (though not as annoying as in Rocky V) and doesn’t want Rocky to go through with the exhibition with Mason “The Line” Dixon. Why? Well, he wants his dad to quit overshadowing him and also thinks that his dad is going to become a laughing stock, meaning he will as well. Rocky, like he usually does, takes a little while to tell a story, but when he lets loose, the words have as much impact as his left hook.

We’re just going to transcribe again.

Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna to hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!

Now if you know what you’re worth, go out and get what you’re worth, but you gotta be willing to take the hits. And not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you wanna be because of him or her or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain’t you. You’re better than that! I’m always going to love you no matter what; no matter what happens. You’re my son and you’re my blood. You’re the best thing in my life. But until you start believing in yourself, you ain’t gonna have a life.

Tour. De. Force.

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