The Self-Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior
I’m not sure if a DVD like this has ever been produced. A DVD made for the sole purpose of burying a single wrestler ten feet underground. I remarked to PWTorch ROH news guy Sean Radican over this summer that I didn’t understand exactly what market the WWE was trying to reach with this release. Fans of the Ultimate Warrior certainly wouldn’t want to buy a DVD to watch their favorite guy get emasculated, would they? And fans who hated Warrior with a passion wouldn’t bother with the DVD at all.
Once again I was wrong.
Self-Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior, even with it’s absurdly short run time of under two hours, is one of WWE’s most fun DVDs to watch. I challenge anyone, Warrior fans included, to sit through this release without laughing. Not only is it a great trip down memory lane, much like Rise + Fall of ECW, but it makes Jim Hellwig (a/k/a the Ultimate Warrior) out to be such a nut job that you can’t help but enjoy yourself. This is what happens when the winners write the history books and also why Bret Hart swallowed his disgust of the company to go back and work solely on his DVD. I wonder if McMahon will have the cajones to do a hatchet job on Bruno Sammartino down the line? I guess time will tell.
On to the DVD!
The DVD does an incredible job of tracing Warrior's career, going back to his days as Blade Runner Rock and the Dingo Warrior, complete with short clips and photos.
Warrior’s own Shoot Interview DVD had two full matches from his days in World Class wrestling as a bonus feature and, to be frank, he was beyond horrible back then. Jim Ross said that the UWF was "too intense" for Warrior, so he left for World Class. Bruce Pritchard (a/k/a Brother Love) said that Warrior called up the WWE looking for work and was put on the "third cards" so that he wasn't "exposed on television." Pritchard also talked about how WWE didn't want to have another "Warrior" since there were already the Road Warriors and the Modern Day Warrior Kerry Von Erich. This is the company that made Lance Cade change his name to Garrison Cade so as to not to confuse him with Lance Storm, so I can believe that one. Pritchard then did a great Vince McMahon impersonation as he explained how Vince came up with the name Ultimate Warrior. Forget
Being John Malkovich, I would given anything to get a portal to be inside Vince McMahon’s mind for just five minutes. The Brooklyn Brawler, whose contract apparently states that he must be included on every single WWE DVD release, said he had at least three concussions from his matches with Warrior. There was a constant theme throughout the DVD of proving how bad Warrior was as a worker, as if everyone didn’t know that already.
Somehow the WWE even found a way to bury Warrior's ring entrance, which if I remember was pretty damn fantastic for it’s time. My memory is validated by the fact that every time they would show a clip of Warrior’s entrance, the crowd would be going ape-shit. I understand how it’s kinda goofy that Warrior was the only one to run to the ring and went absolutely wild with the ring ropes, but it was certainly memorable. The hardest thing to do in wrestling is to make yourself stand out from the crowd, something which Warrior succeeded at in every imaginable way. They even interviewed WWE music guru Jim Johnston for this segment. Not for nothing, but as good as WWE’s themes used to be, they mostly just suck ass now. Compare Mr. Perfect, Goldust, and Stone Cold's theme to just about any wrestler’s theme today. One of the interesting traits of the DVD is that it would have the more old school guys (Lawler, Pritchard, etc) bury Warrior’s entrance by saying he would get blown up, but you would have the new school guys (Chris Jericho, Edge) talk about how great the ring entrances were.
As weird as burying Warrior’s ring entrance was, the disc then went on to completely trash Warrior’s hometown of "Parts Unknown." Thankfully Jerry Lawler was the voice of reason, pointing out that Warrior being announced as from a normal city (say Albuquerque) would just humanize the guy and hurt the character. I guess it was kinda goofy that Warrior would do promos using "Parts Unknown" in the way a person would talk about a particular city though. Vince McMahon said "if someone could come from another planet and arrive here on this planet, it would be Jim." All of a sudden the DVD cut to a shot of planet Earth as a cartoon Warrior spaceship hovered around it, with Plan 9 From Outer Space music in the background. That alone made this DVD worth buying.
The Interviews: This is another one of those segments that basically pay for the DVD by itself. There was a great montage of Warrior's promos, each one more incoherent than the last, while WWE Superstars rip him a new one on commentary. Again though, everyone remembers these promos, so while it may be fashionable to goof on them in hindsight, they undoubtedly put a lot of money in WWE's coffers. Also, while watching this DVD I forgot that seemingly all of WWE's promos used to be shot in a studio, with only a relatively few shot in front of a live crowd. They should probably go back to this format because it doesn't matter what the crowd thinks, it's what the company wants and needs to get across.
The disc went on to cover Warrior’s feuds during in his first run in WWE, including guys like Hercules Hernandez, Honky Tonk Man, and even Bobby the Brain Heenan. That’s right, they even included the timeless "Weasel Suit" feud, in which Warrior would beat up Heenan and stuff Bobby into a Weasel Suit to win the match. Heenan said he bought the suit for a feud with Greg Gagne in the AWA and decided it would make a good run in WWE. One of the best things about WWE owning the entire library of so many companies is that when Heenan talked about the AWA we got to see a clip of his match against Greg Gagne. That crowd was rabid! Of all the people interviewed for the DVD, Heenan probably buried Warrior the most, so there is no love lost there.
Who could forget the epic feud with "Ravishing Rick Rude"? Jim Ross said that "Rude had the patience of Job" to describe how awful Warrior continued to be when it came to workrate in the ring. Heenan once again brought up how careless Warrior was, describing a press slam given to him by Warrior at WrestleMania V that ended up dropping Heenan right on his face. The feud with Andre the Giant followed and the DVD actually had Bobby Heenan talking about Warrior botching the same spot several nights in a row until Andre taught him a lesson he would never forget. It was a fantastic story, but it was bizarre to watch the DVD so casually dismiss kayfabe. I'm surprised that when talking about the WrestleMania VI match against Hulk Hogan they didn't just bring up how Hogan and Warrior practiced that match, with booker Pat Patterson, for a full month before hand.
Speaking of The Ultimate Challenge, no less than Hulk Hogan himself is around to talk about Warrior's biggest match ever. The DVD covered everything that led up to Hogan versus Warrior, starting with that year's Royal Rumble. I remember going crazy when Warrior and Hogan were alone in the ring together during that match. Hogan said that after he lost to Warrior in SkyDome that all "68,000" fans were watching him leave rather than giving their attention to the new champ, implying that no one gave a crap about Warrior. Hogan trumped that by adding, "I don't want to say I told you so" afterward. There's a lot of things I like about Hulk Hogan, but man, that guy can be completely delusional at times. Hogan didn’t talk about how he walked around with the belt before giving it to Warrior and totally tried to take the spotlight away from Warrior, just like he did to Rock years later at WrestleMania X8. The Brooklyn Brawler said that Warrior's win over Hogan gave Warrior more confidence, and in fact Warrior became a better worker afterwards. WTF?!
Warrior's feuds with The Million Dollar Man Ted Diabiase and Randy "the Macho Man" Savage came next. Dibiase said that he never had a problem personally with Warrior, but that didn't stop him from running down Warrior throughout the DVD. I'm sure that's what God wanted Ted to do though and at least Dibiase’s comments were usually valid. Lawler talked about the dueling promos between Savage and Warrior in which no one understood a single thing either man was talking about. Sergeant Slaughter discussed his series of matches with Warrior, during a time when the Sarge was playing an Iraqi Sympathizer gimmick. This led to Sarge talking about SummerSlam '90, in which he teamed with General Adnon and the Iron Sheik to go against Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior in "the match made in Hell." This was the match in which Warrior held up Vince McMahon for more money right before the match took place.
This was just classic as Vince was in shock that a human being could act so vile. It was, "so unprofessional. You just don't do that!" said McMahon. Keep in mind that this is the same guy who fired a pregnant Dawn Marie one month after telling her he'd take care of her. Hogan was disgusted as well with Warrior's demands. That's a shock. And, Yes, that's the same Hulk Hogan that leaves every few months so he can come back to the big crowd pop. McMahon said he "reluctantly agreed" to Warrior's putting a gun to his head, but fired Warrior after the match. Vince said it gave him "great pleasure" to fire Warrior, but made sure to add that he lived up to his word and paid Warrior the money he promised when "obviously I didn't have to."
Vince McMahon: HUMANITARIAN OF THE YEAR!
As we all known, Vince McMahon believes in second chances, so Warrior came back as a surprise during WrestleMania VIII to save Hogan from a beatdown from Papa Shango and Psycho Sid. Warrior came back MUCH SMALLER and McMahon said that was because Warrior wasn't hitting the gym as religiously as before. Oh man, Jason Giambi should have used that line in the Spring. They even brought up the oft-repeated rumor of the Warrior dying at this point by saying people were confused since the "new" Warrior was so much smaller than the old one. The DVD even had a shot of Warrior’s new singlet, which had airbrushed muscles and abs on it. Surprisingly, years later that look didn't work for Giant Gonzalez either.
The DVD covered Warrior's entire feud with Shango, including the vomiting angle and that great interview in which black liquid poured down from his scalp. This is the greatest DVD in the history of DVDs. Jim Ross said that, basically, the feud between Papa Shango and Warrior was putrid. I think most would agree as it is a WrestleCrap staple. Thankfully most of it was done with goofy angles and less in-ring stuff because the matches were the worst part of all. This is from the Paul Heyman "hide the negatives, accentuate the positives" booking style. Around this time it was speculated that Warrior was beginning to totally lose his mind, as he would travel alone and dress by himself at the arenas. Apparently there was speculation at the time that Warrior quit WWE because he wouldn't feud with Nailz, but Bruce Pritchard said that rumor was false and that Warrior was bounced from the company because he failed a drug test. They never said what Warrior was caught using, although it is pretty much known to be Human Growth Hormone, something God knows how many guys are taking today.
Out of nowhere the DVD cuts straight to 1996 and Warrior's return to the Federation. Warrior was once again HUGE, so that "stringent drug policy" that McMahon said that Warrior failed must have been changed. The DVD had his match at WrestleMania XII against, of all people, Hunter Hearst Helmsley, in which he destroyed Triple H in about a minute. "Probably one of the most unprofessional guys I've ever stepped into the ring with" said Triple H. One of the reasons Warrior came back was because WWE agreed to plug his comic book on Monday Night Raw. Jerry Lawler then talked about a great angle he had planned for himself and Warrior to lead towards King of the Ring. Lawler did a drawing of Warrior that he had framed and was going to bust the frame over Warrior's head. Warrior came to the ring wearing a baseball cap (with his comic book logo on it) and a ponytail, causing Lawler's jaw to pretty much hit the floor. Just a classic scene which the DVD covers completely. I totally forgot about this angle and it was hilarious to see now, especially knowing how Lawler felt when it happened.
Okay, I've reviewed the Kevin Nash comic book and now MUST review the Warrior comics. Who has 'em?! Send me an
Outraged Vince returned, pissed off that Warrior had the temerity to miss several house shows. Vince said that Warrior's excuse was valid, that Warrior's dad died, but added that Warrior hadn't talked to his dad in over ten years. "You can not refuse to show up when you are advertised," said McMahon. Vince pretty much said that no-showing an event is pretty much the worst sin you can commit. That's funny considering all of the stories I have read over the years of WWE advertising wrestlers on shows the company knew full well they weren't going to be on. I remember that on Warrior's shoot DVD, he explained that this story wasn't nearly as black and white as WWE tries to make it appear. They even had a couple shots of some of the advertisements back then, including a show that was to be headlined with Warrior versus BIG VAN VADER! Anyhoo, this all led to those whacky "appearance bond" skits with WWE President Jack Tunney. Warrior was fired once again, "for good," Vince added. Warrior then sued McMahon for the rights to the Warrior character. A bunch of guys buried the lawsuit, including Ric Flair saying he lost all respect for Warrior just hearing about the case, but I think, and I had to re-watch the DVD about five times, Jim Ross says that Warrior actually won the case.
WCW: The Monday Nitro era was covered next, including WCW's blatant Ultimate Warrior rip-off character, The Renegade. There’s even a goofy Renegade promo included. Eric Bischoff himself said, "at no time was Renegade anything other than a blatant attempt to recreate the Warrior." Hogan said the Renegade gimmick was his idea and that it was a "scam." Again, in Warrior's shoot DVD, he said that WCW created the character to bait Warrior into coming to WCW to defend his gimmick, but Bischoff denies this. WCW finally brought Warrior into the company, allowing Hogan to say that Warrior committed the "ultimate no-no in this business" when Warrior brought up that he had already defeated Hogan. The Hulkster said that now fans had no reason to see the two lock up again. The Hulkster was making way, Way, WAY too much of a big deal out of this. Hogan also said that during Warrior's promo he had to stop himself from shooting on the Warrior because he was so angry. I swear to God Hogan actually said that.
Gene Okerlund said that "ratings sunk like a rock" during Warrior's promo, which most certainly can not be true. After a little research, I found out Warrior’s segment on Nitro did a 6.4 to Raw’s 3.1. Now that I think about it, Okerlund might have been even harsher on this DVD to Warrior than Heenan. The difference being that Okerlund often comes across as totally clueless when he opens his mouth. Bischoff said that Warrior's promo was rambling and that Warrior went into business for himself.
Here, as a GUMGOD BONUS, is a transcript of Warrior’s promo that night. Special thanks to Destrucity Historian Keith Lipinski:
Warrior: "You need to open your eyes and ears, take control of the limited ability you have to understand the words I am about to say. For years, I have watched while this industry, with you as it’s figurehead, try to recreate what is simply unrecreatable. I have heard, listened to all the innuendoes and speculation that something ULTIMATE or WARRIOR may soon re-appear. Welcome to the reappearance! Those things, Hogan, which are irreplaceable, whether they be people, places, or things, are never forgotten. You are witnessing that RIGHT NOW! History tells us, Hogan…(loud “Hogan Sucks!” chant began. Warrior signals it to end) Let’s talk about something he doesn’t know.
History tells us, Hogan, that a man’s legacy is built from the premise that within his life, the moments lived, once lived, become a piece of his history. Somehow, you have conveniently, even eloquently misplaced pieces of your history. In the one time, epical battle between us, Hogan, you were the quintessential influence of what was good, great, and heroic. But different than you may remember, and albeit you may have beaten myths, legends, giants, and other great men, you NEVER, NEVER beat a warrior. AND, CERTAINLY, NOT THE ULTIMATE ONE! As the victor of that one time battle, I defeated what was, until then, undefeatable. I conquered what was then unconquerable. I dominated what was, until then, indomitable. On that day, you were great. I WAS ULTIMATE! Let me introduce myself...to those two fools that stand behind you. Let’s see, this ...dude (the Disciple)...must be your barber. And who are you, little man? Who are you?"
Eric Bischoff: "You know who I am. My name is Eric Bischoff and I run this company and who invited you?"
Warrior: "Different than you wanna make people believe, I never received an invitation. I showed up on my own accord. And let me tell you, Mr. Eric Bischoff, if you stick your nose in my business, you will only very quickly prepare for your own demise. Furthermore, when I get done with my business here, I’m gonna be sending you a bill. I suggest you pay it. I have...waited...patiently. The WARRIORS have waited all too patiently. Now...NOW...the virtue of justice unties my hands so that I can continue to fulfill a destiny set in motion on that memorable day years ago. A destiny at the next level. A destiny beckoning the next superhero. There really is no sadder sight than when a grown man fears the challenges in his life so much that he rationalizes adolescent behavior to the point where he carries out heinous and self-indulgent actions. Your evilness, an evilness you embodied and portray, is intolerable. I am the one that has the power to destroy you. In sorts, Hogan, the truth is inexhaustible. I come here, not to beat you up tonight, Hogan. Beating you means nothing anymore, everybody already has.
No no no no no no no no no, that’s too easy. Because you felt guilty for being who you were. Your mind became weak, and Hulkamania became boring. I come here, Hogan, to tell you—NEXT WEEK—I intend to launch a revolution not even you can control. I ask you to find the courage—check it out. Next week. Same Warrior time. Same Warrior place. Same Warrior channel.
Tony Schiavone: "He has vanished! Ladies and gentlemen, in one of the most mind-boggling and incredible displays that we’ve ever witnessed on this program, the Warrior has literally vaporized before our very eyes."
Bobby Heenan: "Never seen anything like this in my life."
Tony Schiavone: "There’s never been anything like this in our sport!"
Bischoff also denied the rumors that Warrior was brought in just to soothe Hulk Hogan's ego, and allowing the Hulkster to get his WrestleMania VI win back. This all led to the legendarily bad match between Hogan and Warrior at Halloween Havoc, which Bischoff said might actually be the worst wrestling match in history. Well, he hasn't wrestled his match against Cena yet. Hogan admitted it was his hare-brained idea to have the flash paper spot, the same flash paper that ignited early in Hogan's hands, and actually said that because they blew that spot, the match was ruined. As if Warrior getting blinded would have made that match a classic. Bischoff said that he intended to have a long term relationship with Warrior in WCW, but after Warriors initial contract was up, Warrior's demands were outrageous. Okerlund claimed that Warrior bombed in WCW because he was used to being under control in WWE, but was left to do whatever he wanted in WCW and thus became a "wild man." In a way, that describes a lot of people who came from WWE to WCW, including Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, and Vince Russo.
The disc finished up with people giving their thoughts on Warrior's impact in wrestling. Ross said that many old stars either start going on speaking tours or "finding religion" and he was pretty sure that Warrior hadn't found religion. Ross wanted to see one of Warrior's speaking engagements to see if Warrior can actually make sense today. Ross said that a lot of Warrior's actions, including holding people up for money and I-shit-you-not "boo boo facing," were bad for the business. Bischoff said that Warrior would ultimately be regarded as a "flash in the pan." That wouldn't explain this DVD. Ric Flair was asked if Warrior was a flash in the pan and actually got up to leave. "Enough said" the Nature Boy added. Hogan hilariously said that Warrior opened up the doors for guys who only wanted to get into wrestling "for the short term." Thankfully Chris Jericho and Christian were there for a little sanity with Christian closing out the DVD with possibly the truest statement on it, "like it or not, everyone remembers the Ultimate Warrior."
Bonus Features: Another packed WWE disc. There are several full matches included on the DVD, including Warrior's huge Intercontinental Title win against Honky Tonk Man at SummerSlam (with horrid commentary by Superstar Billy Graham) and the retirement match against Randy Savage at WrestleMania V. The epic Hogan match at WrestleMania VI is also added along with a cage match against Rick Rude from SummerSlam. Hard to ask for more than that.
There is also a riotous commercial for WARRIOR UNIVERSITY, along with Vince McMahon completely burying the idea right afterwards. McMahon said that Warrior University had a "several page credo" and that no one actually graduated from the school. Vinny Mac concluded with "I think Warrior University flunked out." In other bonus segments, Christian does an impersonation of Warrior's classic promo before WrestleMania VI, while Jerry Lawler tells of a tale from Memphis when he wrestled a very green Warrior for the first time.
Overall Thoughts: Wow. This DVD was a hell of a lot of fun to watch. It was a trip down memory lane and watching the life and times of one of the wrestlers who used to have me enthralled while growing up. It doesn’t matter if he was a Kurt Angle-like worker or had an awful attitude or anything, as the Warrior has to be one of the most interesting characters in modern wrestling history. This DVD makes the argument that he’s a flash in the pan, but as Christian noted, we still remember him. This is a great DVD for fans of the Warrior, or people that even remember the Warrior, or for fans who never saw the Warrior other than in punchline form. This is a DVD that is literally like no other. WWE needs to do more DVD’s like this, as it will appeal to young and old wrestling fans alike. Were there some things I wished were on the DVD? Sure. The Jake the Snake Roberts/Undertaker versus Warrior feuds were never mentioned. But, at the same time, this could be the greatest historical release since Rise and Fall of ECW. After everything has been said and done, the story of the Ultimate Warrior is a very interesting one full of highs and lows and you're left with the enigma that is Jim Hellwig. You can buy the
Self-Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior by Clicking HERE or going over to Highspots or RFVideo.
Special Thanks to the Puroresu Power Hour's own Keith Lipinski for his help with this review.
Copyright © 2005 Derek Burgan. All rights reserved.