So I have this theory that the quality of the Rocky movie depends entirely on Rocky's financial well-being.
Rocky: Down-and-out young boxer looking for his final shot. He falls in love with the girl next door because they can see the true value in each other and he achieves existential triumph not by beating Apollo Creed, but by going the distance. Verdict: Awesome Rocky movie.
Rocky II: Still pretty down-and-out, but with the added financial burden of a young wife and child, as well as dealing with having zero financial skills which winds him in serious debt. With his wife in a coma, he achieves an actual victory against Apollo Creed. Verdict: Awesome Rocky movie.
Rocky III: Rocky is super rich and successful. Philadelphia gives him a statue. Mr. T makes some inappropriate comments toward Adrian. Rocky mostly fights bourgeoisie ennui. Verdict: So-so Rocky movie.
Rocky IV: Rocky is super rich still, but he has to avenge Apollo Creed and his America boxers by fighting the Russian and teaching us all a valuable lesson about how the human spirit crosses political lines. Plus he pulls a wagon in the snow. Verdict: Pretty good Rocky movie.
Rocky V: Rocky is still super rich and is training someone so they too can be super rich. Also his bratty son is jealous. Verdict: Not-so-great Rocky movie.
Rocky Balboa: Rocky is a normal middle-class guy who runs a restaurant and lives in a teeny-tiny house. He adopts dogs from homeless shelters, employs single mothers as well as Spider Rico, and mentors at-risk teenagers. Rocky battles his own loneliness and grief and brings us full circle by once again achieving an existential victory against the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Verdict: Awesome Rocky movie.