Years later, Sylvester Stallone explained why he agreed to appear in this movie, saying, "Menahem Golan kept offering me more and more money, until I finally thought, 'What the hell - no one will see it!'"
Sylvester Stallone was reportedly unhappy with the final film. In an interview with the Ain't It Cool News website, he said that if he had directed the film he would have made it with a darker tone - changing the setting to an urban environment, using scored music instead of rock songs, and making the Las Vegas finale more ominous.
John Wetton, lead singer of the rock group Asia, sang "Winner Takes It All" for the movie, but after performing the song, it was felt that his voice wasn't "mean" enough, so the song was offered to Sammy Hagar, whose version ended up being the one on the soundtrack.
Rick Zumwalt, who played Bull Hurley, was actually the studio's third choice for Sylvester Stallone's rival. They originally wanted Arm Wrestling Champion Cleve Dean, but he was too massive as compared to Stallone that it wouldn't have looked believable, so they went with Professional Wrestler Ox Baker. When Baker didn't pan out, the role went to Zumwalt.
In one of the final matches Sylvester Stallone goes up against Mad Dog Maddison, played by Randy Raney. Interestingly, they would come up against each other again in Rambo III (1988). Rainey played the Russian Special Forces soldier who perished in the final scenes with a snapped neck and then blown to bits.
David Engelbach was appalled at the changes made to his script. He remarked that his original draft wasn't nearly as dumb as the final film and that it was more about truck driving and arm-wrestling than it should have been. He recalled having tears in his eyes upon seeing the film.
Professional wrestlers Manny Fernandez and Sione Vailahi (a.k.a. The Barbarian) were flown to the set by the production company, but ended up not being used in the film. The wrestlers were given some money from the production staff and told they could go eat and drink. The wrestlers headed to a bar for drinks. According to Fernandez, Barbarian got so drunk that, after being insulted by a patron, Barbarian smashed his and Manny's mugs of beer over Barbarian's own forehead. Barbarian then laughed as blood poured down over his face. Even though Sione did not assault anybody else, the patrons were shocked and scared by Sione's actions, so they called the police, who arrested Sione and put in him jail overnight. Manny called Sione's wife Seini to tell her about Sione's ordeal, so she came to the jail to bail him out and fly him home. Sione later told Manny of how Seini had cooked him a nice big Tongan meal when they got home. When Sione started eating, Seini blindsided him with a skillet, chastising him for his actions, and yelling at him not to get drunk again. Sione said, "Brother, I crawled on all fours, and she kept hitting me."
"Over The Top" was the name of an actual arm-wrestling tournament that came about once the movie was approved for production. Organizers worked closely with producers at Cannon Films in hosting the tournament while the film was getting made. The contest was described as "the biggest event in armwrestling history." Beginning with the first qualifier in Beverly Hills in August 1985, the competition lasted a year throughout North America and included qualifying events in Europe, Israel and Japan. The finale took place on July 26th, 1986, with an 18-hour marathon tournament at the Las Vegas Hilton. The movie featured many real-life armwrestlers and footage from the Vegas finals. The only exceptions were the scenes that featured Sylvester Stallone, whose matches were filmed the day after the real finals. However, the same location was used, and the extras who made up the audience in those scenes were the same fans who had filled the venue the day before.
John Brzenk, the real-life armwrestler who inspired the Lincoln Hawk character, won in the Truckers Class of the actual "Over the Top" tournament and won the Volvo White Truck and Trail-mobile Trailer that was the grand prize in the movie. It was worth about 250,000 USD. Brzenk took the truck on tour across the country to promote the film. He later sold it and bought a 1987 Corvette with some of the money.