The SmarK Rant for The Self-Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior

The SmarK Rant for the Self Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior

(Time for 2019 Scott Sez action!  And then we’ll finish off Warrior Week or whatever this is later this morning.) 

Well, you knew this was coming one day.

I should preface this by noting that I was long a fan of the Warrior, not because of his in-ring work, but because he had a weird charisma and attitude that appealed to me as a fan. Sure, once he went nuts in the 90s and turned into a self-parody the thrill was gone, but I was with him up until about 1992 or so. Maybe it was just nice to have someone besides Hogan booked like a superman, I dunno.

– Jim Ross starts out by talking about the earlier era of overly-muscled guys in the 80s, as though it was a long-lost time where that sort of thing doesn’t happen anymore.

– We quickly get a trip from UWF to World Class via Jim Ross’s narration. We get some rare footage of Warrior wrestling in the Boston Garden as Dingo Warrior early in his WWF run, but Vince quips “What kind of warrior is a DINGO Warrior?” and thus they change him into their own character — he was more than the Road Warriors or the Modern-Day Warrior, and thus he was the Ultimate Warrior.

– Of course, Steve Lombardi has to comment, because that’s his only job these days. They could probably make a DVD about Frank Gotch and have him on there commenting.

– Jim Johnston talks about writing the music for the Warrior, back when all his music wasn’t generic crap. Although to be fair, it sounded almost exactly like the music given to the Rockers just a year later.

– Ted Dibiase and Bobby Heenan both say that Warrior was all entrance and no meat in the ring. Well, duh. (Really going for the deep and insightful takes with this one.)  Guys like Jericho and Edge are much quicker to forgive that, because they were fans at the time.

– JR and Dibiase completely bury the Hercules-Warrior feud, noting that they were booked short so they didn’t stink up the house.  (Didn’t work.  Also, perhaps it’s the job of the agents to find opponents that can CARRY Warrior and not completely expose him?  Just a thought.)  This leads to a discussion of the matches with Bobby Heenan where Bobby would get stuffed into the weasel suit.

– The newer guys have a funny discussion about the whereabouts of Parts Unknown. Oh come on, it’s not like Warrior was the first guy to be introduced from there. Heenan notes that he was just too stupid to know where he was from. Ouch.  (Warrior got an even more epic burn on Bobby later on when he responded to the quips on the DVD by noting that he was happy Bobby got cancer.) 

– Onto Honky Tonk Man, and his epic classic against Warrior at Summerslam 88. This was probably one of the few perfectly booked and executed storylines that the WWF ever produced. After 18 months of Honky escaping with his title, Warrior did the equivalent of cutting the Gordian Knot by simply ignoring the previous game plans of everyone else who overthought the problem.

– Everyone talks about the cartoonish nature of the Warrior character and how he symbolized the excess of the 80s. This leads to a discussion of his crazed, rambling promos. JR notes that they needed subtitles. Hey, it’s not like Hogan didn’t cut a zillion nonsensical promos about coming down from the mountain and saving humanity with the power of Hulkamania or whatever. (See also:  Randy Savage, who would ramble incoherently as much as he would cut classic promos.)  And time has shown that Warrior is a smart guy when he wants to be. Jericho’s “His interviews left me quizzical” is pretty funny. Although again, he notes that they didn’t mean anything, but they sounded cool, so it worked. In fact, I’d put some of them as ringtones on my cell phone. Warrior’s hilarious promo about Hogan at Wrestlemania VI is recited word-for-word by Christian, although sadly they don’t show Hogan’s equally bizarre and rambling response.  (Of course not, because that might give this DVD a hint of objectivity.) 

– So onto Wrestlemania V, as Rick Rude breaks through from undercard joke to legitimate threat by beating Warrior for the first time. Most people credit Rude for bringing Warrior up to a working level where he could at least hang with the people at the same level of popularity he was enjoying.

– Onto the feud with Andre, which turns him into a main eventer by putting him over quickly and convincingly. The guys speculate that Andre wasn’t a big fan of Warrior and thus wanted quick matches so he could get out of there faster. Heenan tells a story about Warrior screwing up Andre’s standard clothesline-into-the-ropes spot, and thus earning a shot in the face from Andre. That’s pretty funny. Then we get a weird clip where Warrior slams him, and Andre basically no-sells the splash by swatting him away. Dibiase just buries him, talking about how he didn’t appreciate anything he was given. Yeah, like that couldn’t apply to LOTS of guys who were pushed just as hard. Sid, anyone?  (Lex Luger as well.  That attitude has become even more pervasive today, where guys are supposed to be so happy to be employed by the almighty WWE that no one has any drive or leverage any longer.  Say what you will about Warrior, but he made his money and then got out.) 

– Onto Royal Rumble 90, with the historic collision of Hogan and Warrior that was sadly glossed over here. That was HUGE, man. When they hit the ring against each other, people were freaking out, because no one was even vaguely expecting that they’d go there. So the title v. title match at Wrestlemania VI is set up. Everyone talks about how no one knew what the final result would be, which made it all the more dramatic when Warrior won. Everyone then buries the guy, saying that the match was better than expected because he took instruction well. And Hogan back then buried him as well, stealing his spotlight on the night of his biggest move up the card.

– So Warrior was now supposed to lead the company into the next century, but that of course didn’t happen. Instead of the beginning, it proved to be the peak of Warrior’s career. Steve Lombardi defends him, saying that he improved hugely after winning the title and drew well.

– Dibiase gives him a backhanded compliment, noting that he never had any problem with him in the ring and they had the best matches they could have had. This feud is paid off with a match on The Main Event against Dibiase, where Randy Savage attacks Warrior and begins the downfall of Warrior’s career. This leads to a promo from Savage where you have to ask how they could criticize the Warrior’s bizarre promos while including one of Savage’s. Thankfully Jerry Lawler points out the dueling insanity of their pre-match promos.

– Hogan notes that Savage was a detail freak who mapped out every situation, and thus made it easy to have matches with him. No wonder the Savage-DDP feud produced good matches so often. This of course leads to Warrior beating Savage in the best match of Warrior’s career at Wrestlemania VII. Then we jump back a bit, with Slaughter talking about his match at Rumble 91, where he won the WWF title.

– So we move onto Summerslam 91, as Warrior teams up with Hogan against Slaughter and Sheik, and Warrior holds up Vince for some amount of money before he’ll go out there. Hogan apparently tells Sheik to break his leg, but Vince calls him off. So Vince agrees to pay him, because his responsibility is to present what he advertises. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Now there’s the best unintentional comedy line of the year. Anyway, Warrior chases the heels back to the dressing room, and Vince fires him as soon as he gets back there. This whole discussion about professionalism and not holding up people for more money is so funny when HULK FREAKIN HOGAN is held up as the symbol of selflessness in that regard. Needless to say, everyone is disgusted, because moral standards in the WWF were so high.  (Just reading this stuff back again is amazing.  It almost reads like a parody of WWE DVD documentaries.) 

– So Warrior returns at Wrestlemania VIII, shocking the hell out of everyone. Including the guys backstage. So this leads to discussions of Warrior’s supposed death and replacement with a new Ultimate Warrior. This was one of the big running rumors in the early days of RSPW, by the way.

– So this leads us to the epic Papa Shango feud, leading to Warrior vomiting up his lunch and bleeding black. JR casually notes that the feud wasn’t “an artistic success.” To say the least. Well, at least Papa Shango recovered and gained his dignity back by becoming a pimp.

– Everyone chimes in and notes that Warrior loved the fame and money, but not the business. Yeah, pot, kettle, black. Bruce Pritchard notes that Warrior did not leave in 1992 because of a feud with Nailz, it was because of their stringent drug policy. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. This is great stuff.  (Quick related tangent about their drug policy:  Vince was able to recoup the money from the failed WBF PPV a few months earlier, because he did a surprise drug test on everyone in the show about six weeks beforehand, right when they were at the peak of their cycles, and then used the positive drug tests to justify a suspension for everyone so that he wouldn’t have to pay them.  Stringent drug policy indeed.) 

– So now they riff on him changing his name to Warrior legally, which Vince thinks is to get around intellectual property lawsuits. Hey, Rick Rude changed his name legally to “Ravishing Rick Rude,” so again it’s not like this kind of thing is without precedent.

– Four years later, Warrior returns to help a desperate WWF, reeling against WCW. This of course bombs badly, because Warrior was still nuts and the business was changing fast. Fans had also been burned too many times. This allows HHH to call Warrior “unprofessional.” You can’t buy comedy like this.

– Really stretching now, Jerry Lawler complains about Warrior wearing a baseball cap and thus ruining the impact of their match. Uh, yeah.  (I feel like I really undersold the most famous line of bullshit from this bullshit DVD there.) 

– So Warrior is fired again halfway through 1996 for multiple no-shows. I love Vince’s logic here, as he’s like “He told us his dad died. And yeah, that was true, but…”  (Come on now, Vince has a RESPONSIBILITY to present what he advertises!) 

– This leads us to talk about Renegade, who they found doing a Warrior imitation at a high school gym and then was brought into WCW and given a big push. And then when that failed, WCW brought the real thing into the promotion in 1998. Hogan notes that Warrior did the “ultimate no-no” by bringing up Hogan’s loss to the Warrior. Like this is such a horrible thing to do or something. What are they gonna do, say Hogan won the match? Bischoff and Mean Gene bury the initial segment, saying that the ratings dropped during it and the whole thing was horrible. And of course they didn’t bring him in just so Hogan could sooth his own ego. That’s CRAZY talk. Bischoff now agrees that the eventual match was one of the worst in history. It took 7 years of perspective for him to come to that conclusion? Truly this is some insightful shit, man. Hogan jokes about the botched fireball spot and everyone totally buries the match. But it was all Warrior’s fault.

– We finish off with the big burial push, as everyone piles on with the hatred, making fun of his speaking tours. The newer guys bring things up a bit, though.

Man, what a hatchet-job this thing turned into. Although the first half was a pretty fair look at his career with a few good-natured jabs thrown in, the second half was a bunch of hypocritical bullshit, and no wonder Warrior flipped out and posted an angry retort. He was totally buried, almost to the point of slander on a couple of occasions (and in fact I believe he has proved in court that he didn’t fail any drug tests in 1992) and basically given no chance to respond to any of it. I mean, criticizing guys for loving the fame and money of the business instead of giving back? HHH married the owner’s daughter, for pete’s sake! They were literally making up stuff to razz the guy on by the end, because they couldn’t fill 90 minutes otherwise. And I’m not even a FAN of the guy anymore, and I attack his crazy views and commentaries as much as anyone, but this was harsh even by my standards.

I think this is a must-see DVD, not really because of the content so much as because it reveals something about the character of the people who would agree to sink to the level of those attacking Warrior long after pumping millions of dollars into his character. This DVD actually made me feel sorry for the Warrior. This is sour grapes at its worst and a fascinating look at what bitterness and spite can accomplish. Especially since after slagging the guy for loving money for an hour and a half, they produce a DVD specifically intended to make money off the trademarked name of someone who won that name from them in court, fair and square. And of course they don’t mention THAT on the DVD.  (Not to mention they released a DVD to cash in on his death about a week after it happened.) 

I’m not gonna cover the bonus matches, because I’ve reviewed them all before, unless you’re really desperate to know my thoughts on Warrior v. Terry Gibbs from 1987.  (For those wondering, it was the laziest collection of Warrior matches possible, just the usual PPV ones and nothing more.) 

Highly recommended.