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Fight of the Century? Seventies Rocky Goes Punch for Punch Against Eighties Rocky

People don’t change, right? Rocky doesn’t believe that for a second. The Rocky we meet in the seventies (Rocky and Rocky II) has a different sense of style and humor and, yes, a different level of brain function than the eighties version of Balboa (Rocky III and Rocky IV). Talk about personal growth. Since you’ve been dying to know which Rocky is better, this breakdown should answer all of your questions.

Ten out of ten doctors agree that the fewer brain injuries you suffer the better your brain will function. But Rocky Balboa doesn’t believe in science: seventies Rocky is not exactly a smart guy. His first commercial (for Beast Aftershave, a product that only a man of refinement could endorse) is derailed when we learn that Rocky can neither read nor speak English. But in the eighties, after receiving hundreds of blows to the head, Rocky transforms into a smooth pitchman, going from being unable to read cue cards to endorsing American Express cards. The transformation is astonishing. They don’t show it in the film, but there’s a pretty good chance Rocky invented the flux capacitor at some point in the intervening years.

Eighties Rocky. No matter your line of work, being able to read is a plus.

Seventies Rocky dresses head to toe in black like he’s an extra from Grease. His idea of class is wearing a dog collar as a bracelet, and, after his first match with Apollo (Carl Weathers), he embarks on a manic spending spree. (Naturally, since Rocky doesn’t know how to drive, his first purchase is a Pontiac Trans Am.) Now, to be clear, buying a Trans Am does make you awesome, but it is not the epitome of style. On the other hand, eighties Rocky wears finely tailored suits, drives expensive sports cars, and hangs with President Reagan. He embraces the finer things in life like giant talking servant robots. (More on this later.)
Winner: Seventies Rocky. His street-tough outfits are the clear winner, even if there are at least 100 modes of transport more stylish than a Trans Am.

Sense of Humor
This exchange between Rocky and Adrian (Talia Shire) in Rocky II pretty much sums up seventies Rocky’s sense of humor:

Rocky: Yo, Adrian, why do cows wear bells?
Adrian: Why?
Rocky: Because their horns don’t work!

But in the eighties, Rocky develops an well-timed ironic sense of humor. He’s not telling the same killer jokes he did in the seventies, but he did buy Paulie (Burt Young) the giant robot for his birthday, and, frankly, it is hilarious.
Winner: Eighties Rocky, in a landslide. Giant talking robot servants win every time.

Training Methods
The seventies version of Rocky makes you want to work out. His training regimen involves an inordinate number of barnyard animals. If you want to train like seventies Rocky, you will need the following items: a giant side of beef for a punching bag, a chicken to chase around, and roughly 400 children to follow you on your daily run. The benefits of seventies Rocky’s workout are obvious: you will either become a world-class athlete or a farmer. In the eighties, Rocky adopts a slightly different approach to training: the farm animals are eliminated and replaced with Apollo Creed and tons of baby oil. Outside of the Top Gun volleyball scene, Rocky and Apollo frolicking in the surf together in Rocky III is well known as the most unintentionally erotic movie scene of the eighties.
Winner: Seventies Rocky. Unintentional eroticism between two straight males is not a great way to train.

Verdict: A tie. In the end, the story of Rocky has only two true lessons: first, no one Rocky is better than any other Rocky. Rocky is great, period. Second, get punched on a daily basis, and you will become a smarter, wealthier, and more sophisticated person than you are today. So start fighting; you owe it to yourself.

Check out the eighties Rocky in Rocky III and Rocky IV, airing back-to-back starting today, Tue., Jul. 5, at 3:30PM | 2:30C.

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