The Godfather was released in 1972
The Godfather II was released in 1974
Rocky was released in 1976
In both universes, Joe Spinell plays a member of an organized crime family, either Gazzo, Rocky’s boss and King of the Philadelphia Underworld or Willi Cicci, a hard nosed hitman for the Corleone family. But, there was a bit of a snag when Cicci got caught up in the tri-city war between Michael Corleone, Frank Pentangeli (played by Michael Gazzo… creepy), and Hymen Roth spanning from Las Vegas to Miami to New York City. Unfortunately, the pressure became too much for him and he testified against The Don in GFII, saving himself from some prison time, although not entirely as he was still sentenced to prison.
Or was he?
Is it possible that Cicci was relocated from New York City to Philadelphia in an effort to shield him from Corleone and company? Or, perhaps, was approached by The Don to move to Philly and be safe, run a smaller and less important crew, and perhaps stay out of his hair?
It’s a stretch, but it’s possible. By 1976, Cicci is well disguised as Gazzo (no first name, just Gazzo… interesting, perhaps he couldn’t come up with a first name). He rules the Philly underworld, which either happened due to his brute force and cunning New York attitude, or the fact that Corleone gifted him a major portion of the city.
Now, that leaves the other character/actress who appears in both movies, Talia Shire as Connie Corleone and Adrian Balboa. Now, I’m going to be honest: she’s a little more fleshed out as a character so it’s not very possible that her two worlds mesh as easily. But, if you can forgive some pretty far stretches, she also works. Perhaps Connie gave up her life as a gangster’s sister and stopped asking Michael for money. Instead, she worked out a deal with a local drunk, Paulie, to get them both hooked into a lucrative boxing lifestyle. But, after Rocky I came out and she saw how loyal Rocky was, and how much integrity he had, she immediately fell in love. No Godfather movies were made between Rocky I and Rocky V. So, it’s possible that by Rocky V, Balboa had lost all of his money, and Connie/Adrian woke up from her dream and returned home to be with her real brother Michael. She would have taken Gazzo/Cicci with her. But, unfortunately Joe Spinell died just before The Godfather III was set to film.
So, there you have it. The biggest con in history, all set up by the all-powerful Michael Corleone.