I spent a quiet evening at home a while back watching the 1987 Sylvester Stallone arm wrestling movie, “Over the Top.” Don’t be jealous—it’s not a good look for you. Anyway, it is utterly ridiculous that this film is the only living document of the Sylvester Stallone arm wrestling craze that swept America in 1987, possibly as a reaction to Reaganomics. The story, performances, dialogue, and arm wrestling action deliver the high-octane adequacy one might expect from the title. The important thing to know, however, is that a screenwriter christened Stallone’s character with the almsot flamboyantly butch name, Lincoln Hawk, and everybody involved got on board. “That is a perfectly natural name for a human. Mazel Tov.” Drag kings have tried to convey masculinity more subtly.
The name, Rocky Balboa, is not very naturalistic either. In fact, the more I began to think about it, the more I realized that Sylvester Stallone characters always have names that try way too hard to telegraph just who the character is. For instance, in “Cobra”, Stallone plays Marion Cobretti, a police officer who got saddled with the handle, Cobra, when, during a fourth grade field trip, he crapped himself in the zoo’s snake terrarium (I think). Since the name also aptly suits a cop who does NOT play by the rules, it served the character well, and it let the movie’s audience know what they were in for.
The suspicions aroused by this collection of names spurred me to check out IMDB to see whether the trend of preposterous monikers bore out over the rest of Stallone’s career. Turns out our boy has a fine back catalog of on-the-nose character names dating back to his very first role as ‘Stud’ in something called ‘Party at Kitty and Stud’s’. So many great names! They tend to be quirky Italian (Cosmo Carboni, Deke DaSilva) or they contain a noun or a verb somewhere (Ray Tango, Ray Quick, John Spartan, Jerry Savage). One of the names is actually a complete sentence (Angelo “Snaps” Provolone).
Because I am very much a caring, generous individual, I have decided to save any aspiring screenwriters out there some time on coming up with names that personify the essence of Stallonity. This blog is now going to be totally devoted to generating character names for the many, many as-yet-unwritten Sylvester Stallone movies still to come. This is what the world needs now. So, I will get the ball rolling myself with some suggestions, but please feel free to weigh in. Together we can make a difference:
Ralph “The” Hammer
Rudolph “Red Eye” Al Dente
“Cincinnatti” Sydney Sinful