Whatever Happened to Zeus’s Wrestling Career?
Tommy ‘Tiny’ Lister Jr. is an actor you might’ve seen in such flicks as Runaway Train, Beverly Hills Cop 2, Universal Soldier, Friday, Don Juan DeMarco, Barb Wire, The Fifth Element, Jackie Brown, Little Nicky, Austin Powers in Goldmember, and The Dark Knight. You might’ve also heard his voice in Zootopia. If not, you might’ve seen him in episodes of Fresh Prince, Walker, Texas Ranger, and Matlock or the music videos for Remember the Time, Santeria, and Ridin’. He was never an actor who was going to be an A-list Movie Star. The only chance that might’ve ever happened would be if he had auditioned for and/or booked the role of John Coffey in The Green Mile. However, there was a brief period in the late 80’s when he might have become a famous wrestler. Whatever happened to that?
In the late 80’s, Lister was cast as the evil wrestler Zeus in the Hulk Hogan vehicle, No Holds Barred. To promote the movie, Vince McMahon thought it would be a great idea to make Zeus an actual wrestler, in spite of the fact that Lister had no actual training in wrestling.
At first, Lister wasn’t interested in becoming a wrestler. That is until he heard how much it was going to pay. According to him, “Vince McMahon was a great negotiator. He would already wire the money into my account before he even started negotiating. Who’s going to say no? You’re going to take $56,000 out of your checking account?”
In the ring, he not only pretended to be Zeus but accused Hulk Hogan of only having won the match at the end of the film because, not kidding here, “he was billed first”. In the matches, he teamed up with Macho Man Randy Savage against Hogan and Brutus Beefcake. All of those matches had Hulk winning the match.
Most of the matches had him going against Hulk Hogan. However, he occasionally fought other wrestlers. Those matches didn’t end well.
He made it to the Survivor series, where he teamed up with The Million Dollar Team, including Ted DiBiase and The Powers of Pain. Again, Hulk won.
He then re-teamed with Savage against Hulk and Brutus in a “No Holds Barred Pay Per View Event”.
This ended up being his last match and, for about 6 years, he went back to acting. In 1996, he did return in the WCW as Z-Gangsta but it didn’t last long.
So what happened to Zeus/Tiny’s wrestling career? It’s simple: the guy just wasn’t a wrestler. Lister had never dreamed of becoming a wrestler and was more focused on being an actor. This could be seen in that he had been acting since 1984, five years before No Holds Barred came out. In addition, he only agreed to do it for the money, not for any actual love of the sport. But, because he had no training in wrestling, it showed, as it turned out that, while he’s an okay actor, he’s a pretty lousy wrestler. As a result, the gimmick got old quickly and he stuck to being an actor, which he was better at. Though, it was a terrible idea to bring an actor with no knowledge or training of the sport in to begin with. I mean, imagine if other movies tried that? What if, for example, the cast of A League of Our Own played with The Mets or The Yankees? It wouldn’t end well, I can tell you that!
That all being said, while he might have sucked at wrestling, he is one of the better things about the movie itself, which is a mixed bag to say the least. When it’s him, Hulk Hogan, and Kurt Fuller outhamming each other, the movie is unintentionally hilarious. When it’s Hulk Hogan dealing with his boring girlfriend and boring friends, the movie gets boring really quickly. Yet, while he might’ve been entertaining in the movie, it doesn’t mean he should’ve been in the ring in real life.