Definitive Rocky Movie Rankings

During one of the worst crisis’ in the history of the world, I thought it would be a good idea to answer the most important question facing civilization today: Which Rocky Balboa movie is the best?

I polled my friends at the Fight Game Media Facebook group, my personal Facebook, The Combat Republic Twitter account, and the R/Movies Reddit page and calculated the average ranking using an excel spreadsheet. The voting was all over the place. 3 different movies had number one votes. 4 different ones had last place votes. To be fair, there were a couple voters that abstained from ranking the Creed movies, but about 98% of the voters applied a proper ranking to them, so their averages were calculated without their votes.

This may get revisited at some point as new members are likely to want to chime in and if they are important enough, ill add them in. Hopefully a third Creed movie will come out and at which time, much like Florida in the 2000 election, we will have to do a recount.

Number 8: Rocky 5 (1990) avg rating 7.3

Coming in dead last with 66% of its votes having a last place ranking and not getting past 4th place on any ballot was Rocky V. Some people did not even want to acknowledge the existence of this movie. Despite being CLEARLY the worst of the series, its actually still a fun watch. They tried to create a new star in heavyweight boxer Tommy Morrison, who played Tommy “The Machine Gunn” in the movie, and while his boxing career did pick up a little, he ended up spiraling out of control. The ESPN 30 for 30 about him is incredible.

The ending fight scene was arguably good to great. It was unique in the sense that Rocky fought his cocky former pretege Tommy in a street fight. Sly pretty much phoned in his performance but despite all that there were some fun and heartwarming moments. Side note: Twitter user Sean Farrell educated me on a Rocky V directors cut that everyone should check out.

Number 7: Creed 2 (2018) avg rating 5.6

This ranking was surprising to me as I thought it was a fantastic movie that played off of the popularity of Rocky IV. When I heard that this was going to be Adonis Creed getting revenge for his father against the son of Ivan Drago I was immediately sold. Lundgren’s return to the Rocky franchise came off well and this was the perfect compliment to IV.

As far as acting and production, this movie blows Rocky IV away in my opinion. The father-son dynamic of this movie really cemented this for me as an all time great in the series. Unfortunately there is an inherent bias against anything new, as some people find it difficult to say that something that came out today is better than something you grew up watching. 3 people abstained from voting for this movie. Its highest ranking was 2. Creed 2 was ranked last on 13% of the ballots and ranked 7 on 26% of the ballots.

Number 6: Rocky Balboa (2006) avg rating 5.14

With its highest ranking at 2 and its lowest at 8, The 2005 release featuring Rocky’s return to the ring in his 60’s to take on Mason “The Line” Dixon (Antonio Tarver). This movie was overall really good but had its ups and downs. One of the major highlights was Rocky’s legendary speech to his son (see below)

Another great moment was the highly emotional scene where Rocky is speaking his wife Adrian’s graveside whom he lost to cancer. The downside was the eye rolling idea of how the fight comes about, based off of a video simulation of Rocky beating Dixon. Honestly if anyone ever tried to put the heavyweight champion of the world in with a man in his 60’s they would probably be put in jail. Even with its highly unbeliveable premise, Stallone eased back in to his role of the loveable Rocky and did an excellent job in the movie.

Number 5: Rocky III (1982) 4.38

Considering my audience was made up of a lot of wrestling fans, I predicted this movie to be ranked a little higher, as it featured the debut of a young Hulk Hogan as “Thunderlips” as well as his Wrestlemania I tag team partner and the star of the A Team, Mr. T.

This was the movie that launched both their careers in the main stream and really propelled Hulk to being the top draw in all of wrestling for a very long time. This movie also encapsulated the entire decade of the 80’s. With big roles for Hogan and T, Rocky’s hair, and the music.

III’s highest ranking was number 1 and its lowest was number 7. In fact this movie was very polarizing as it had votes at 1-7 with 32% of its votes coming in at 6.

Number 4: Creed (2015) avg rating 4.36

Just edging out Rocky III was Creed. I honestly was skeptical of this movie before it came out because after Rocky Balboa ended, I was ready for the story to be finished. But I could not be happier to be more wrong about something. This movie was a classic. Adonis Creed fighting the uphill battle of being Apollo Creeds illegitimate son and following in his footsteps was a beautiful story. Rocky getting cancer and fighting that battle stole the show.

This is the exact spot that I had Creed in. Honestly someone who did not grow up with the Rocky series that watched the movies without bias may have this movie a little higher. Michael B. Jordan was fantastic in the movie however, Stallone put in the performance of a lifetime. In fact Sly was nominated for an Acaemy Award for best supporting actor, which is unheard of for what would typically be labeled as an action/sports movie. In time, as us old codgers get out of the way, the younger generation of Rocky fans will have this and Creed 2 much higher especially considering just how rewatchable they are. Every time they come up on Paramount network I find myself getting in to them, just like I did growing up watching the original series. Creed had 0 first place votes and 0 last place votes. Its highest ranking was number 2 and lowest was number 7. It was ranked 5 on 25% of the ballots.

Number 3: Rocky IV (1985) avg rating 3.7

Perhaps the most memeable, quotable, and giffable movie in the series, comes in at Number 3. Rocky IV is every patriotic Americans favorite movie as it depicts the conquering American hero Balboa, venturing in to Russia to vanquish an evil roided out Russian and his demonic blonde/extremely tall wife in a quest to avenge the death of his friend and former foe, Apollo Creed. The story is perfect. What helped this movie in the voting is that some people that I know feel like if they do not say Rocky IV, where Rocky defends the country against a nasty roided out Russian, that they are somehow less patriotic.

Much like III this also encapsulates the Ronald Reagan 80’s with its style and plays on our Cold War phobias and our desires to beat the communists. It also launched the careers of Bridgitte Neilsen (maybe a bad thing?) and Dolph Lundgren. Much of the acting is hokey, but damn if the training montages and fight scenes arent perfect. Rocky turning babyface to the Russians was a cheesy yet beautiful moment. This, ahead of III, was the most polarizing movie of the series at it recieved votes at every single level. What helped bring it to number 3, was recieving 25% of first place votes. People either loved or hated this movie as it also recieved rankings below number 5 on 32% of the ballots. Me personally I had it at number 2.

Number 2: Rocky II (1979) avg rating 3.03

My first pick, and the first pick on 22% of the ballots, with its lowest ranking coming in at number 7, was Rocky II. This movie was amazing as it follows Rocky’s journey in to retirement, stardom, being a husband, and ultimately a father, and then coming out of retirement.

My favorite scene in any Rocky movie is when Rocky is sitting bedside with Adrian just moments after she comes out of a coma, which was caused by complications during childbirth, and she looks at Rocky after he tells her that he backed out of the Creed rematch, and she says I want you to do something for me…..”WIN” Then Mic yells “What are we waitin fer!!!”, and then that gong goes off as they kick in to the montage. Goosebumps. I’m glad it made it to number 2

The rematch between Rocky and Apollo was a much better fight scene and told a completely different story than the first. It was clear that Apollo was technically a better fighter but Rocky’s improved skill, his cardio, heart and determination were too much for Apollo. The ending sequence has been mimicked by pro wrestling matches for the last 40 + years.

Number 1: Rocky (1976) avg rating 1.79

With 50% of the first place votes and no vote lower than number 4, the clear winner was the one that started it all, Rocky. As far as a cinematic movie, this had all the elements that movie critics love. Great writing, great acting, a loveable and endearing leading man with a heartfelt love story, that happens to be one of the most iconic underdogs ever created.

Rocky is an American institution and this movie is loved by women, men, and critics alike. Critics loved it so much that it received 10 Academy award nominations and winning three including Best Picture. It was the slowest of the movies as it took time to get our favorite characters established, but once they do you absolutely fall in love with them. The classic fight scene that closed it out with Rocky, despite being outmatched by Apollo, hanging tough and giving Creed all he could handle.

Round 14 of this fight scene can literally change your life. Listen to former Navy Seal and Air Force TACP member David Goggins explain why and try your best not to take on the entire world. Shoutout to my buddy Lance Schwartz for turning me on to David Goggins and sending me the video.

This was a very fun project and I hope everyone enjoys it. If you get a chance check out Garrett Gonzales look at the Top 10 Greatest Rocky Moments as a companion piece

1 Comment

  1. Swing Rocky 4 so high surprises me and I can only think it is next of nostalgia. It’s actually a poor movie and more about the era it was made. It flies by and does not carry much emotion resonance other than Apollo’s passing.


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