When Rocky Balboa first came on the scene it’s fair to say that he didn’t look like much since he was kind of a thug and his fighting style involved hitting the other guy and absorbing punches until his opponent couldn’t get up any longer. One of his main sources of pride was that he’d never had his nose broken, and two of his best friends were a pair of turtles. The guy didn’t have any real prospects since the one thing he’d become good at was a dead end at that point. One might watch the movies all the way to Rocky V and wonder how in the hell the guy managed to last long enough to have a wife, a kid, and a life that many would envy, only to lose it all eventually as old age and bad investments took hold. In reality, a guy like Rocky would have a short shelf life, and much of the damage he took throughout the movie would have ended his career in short order. Hell, Drago should have finished the job that Clubber Lang started.
But Rocky pulled through in each movie no matter how badly he was beaten, and there was always one reason why, since the one thing that fired Rocky up the most was when someone believed in him and stood in his corner, metaphorically speaking. It could easily be said that once Apollo challenged him, Rocky had people in his corner continually as Mick came around and took up the responsibility of his training, and even Paulie had a use at times. But there was one individual that could always get through to him as no one else could, and that was Adrian. Whatever was going on, whatever Rocky was feeling, Adrian was there once she broke out of her shell and came to have feelings for him.
Adrian didn’t have the best life either when the movies started, since living with Paulie wasn’t a great existence, but the moment she started opening up to Rocky, things started moving. It wasn’t perfect by any means, since she and Rocky had their down moments along with their triumphs. But if one wants to explain how Rocky managed to get back in the ring a couple of times, then they need to recognize that Adrian was there to push Rocky in her special way. In the first movie, her support is still building, but it’s still enough to get him fired up and ready to go, since having someone in his life meant that he had a reason to fight a little harder. By the second movie the two had been married and were going through their own hardships when Apollo challenged Rocky again. When Adrian fell into a coma following the birth of their child, Rocky was a wreck. Once she woke up and told him to win it was like watching someone supercharging an ‘Italian tank’ as Mick would put it. Her support was unconditional and it was there when Rocky needed it since the third movie showed her support taking on another level.
If anyone remembers, she was at his side when Rocky went to train with Apollo, and she was in his face when he admitted that he was afraid of losing everything. She didn’t flinch, and she didn’t back down, because she’d grown tough enough to tell her husband what she felt, and Adrian made it known that she was always in his corner. In the fourth movie, their path took a hit when Apollo died fighting Drago, as she didn’t want Rocky standing in the ring with the Russian boxer since there was a good chance that he wouldn’t come home alive. But lo and behold, Adrian would return to form and stand by her husband once again, and the supercharge would be seen once again. By part five, a lot of people were losing interest, and it felt as though the movies had gone on long enough. It’s true, part five was kind of lackluster since Rocky was already retired and wasn’t looking for another fight. But Adrian’s support was still there since she reminded Rocky that he stood to lose much more than his ability to fight and the glory that could come from boxing. She made it clear that he was losing his family, and that he needed to come back to them.
Even Adrian’s memory helped out in Rocky Balboa since while fighting Mason Dixon, a much younger fighter, Rocky had to dig deep and remember the old memories, and what had kept him in the ring. Adrian was there, and despite her worry for him, her support was a big factor in allowing him to get back up and keep going. In the long run, Adrian was Rocky’s secret weapon, ingredient, whatever one wants to call it. Without her, he was lost and listless. But with her support, Rocky was unstoppable.