Took them 5 films to cosmetically change the formula.
The main plot starts just after Rocky IV. Drago beat the crap out of Rocky and he has brain damage. Paulie fucked up again and lost all their money again. Rocky and family move back to the ‘hood, and he meets a homeless guy like him that wants to be trained by the master. Rocky doesn’t think he can, but he channels Mickey and gets Tommy in a winning streak.
Tommy gets greedy and defects to the promoter that kept haggling Rocky to fight. When Tommy wins a fixed match for the title, nobody cares, proving Rocky’s point. He then fights Rocky right on the streets.
The main addition is Rocky’s son (played by Stallone’s son). He was a baby in the last film, and this is set a few days later, but he turns into a teen so that he could be a character with lines. Nepotism, ho!
He only makes Rocky look dumber. Their chemistry in screen is endearing, even with the requisite ups and downs.
Other than his son, there’s not much else here. Not the reinvention this series needed.