Some of the biggest news in the wrestling world as of late is the Ultimate Warrior’s promotion of the upcoming WWE 2K14 video game. I suppose the Warrior is a forgiving man, or else he was afraid of what would happen if he refused the endorsement.
That’s because, allegedly, the last time the Ultimate Warrior was offered an opportunity to work with WWE, on a retrospective DVD about his career, he turned it down and ended up paying for it. Either that, or the chairman decided one day in 2005 to tear down the legacy of a former draw just for the hell of it. Simply put, Vince McMahon can’t stand wrestlers who won’t play ball (although I hear Sid used to tick him off, too) and, for all the hype we hear about him being a great businessman, he will often go out of his way to humiliate former employees who have fallen out of favor with the company. How else do you explain, “The Self-Destruction of The Ultimate Warrior”?
That’s a pretty bold claim to include in a DVD title to begin with. The commercial for the video calls Warrior, “the man who self-destructed under the pressure of superstardom, never to be seen again.” “Never to be seen again?”Was he abducted by aliens or something? (I’m not denying this, but if so, the aliens returned him to Earth soon after to film his own workout video)
And don’t tell me no one in WWE has heard of his speaking gigs! Talk about queer things to gloss over.
Right off the bat, someone at WWE has confused “not cooperating with WWE in exchange for money and attention” with “self-destruction” and falling off the face of the earth.
The way the “star” is discussed on this disc makes it sounds like the Warrior is dead and the participants on this DVD are delivering the world’s worst eulogy. They are so overwhelmingly negative about the man and so eager to distance WWE from him that, combined with the fact that he’s never shown in the present day and is referred to almost exclusively in the past tense, a non-wrestling fan could be forgiven for confusing the Ultimate Warrior with Chris Benoit.
Actually, Edge, Christian, and Chris Jericho, all WWF fans when the Warrior made his mark, share a few good memories of the wrestler, but everyone on the DVD whose livelihood no longer depends on in-ring work but on being on Vince’s good side treats the Warrior like the wrestling equivalent of penile cancer. Here are a few basic facts about the Ultimate Warrior that are hammered home throughout the documentary:
First, pretty much everything anyone ever liked about him was due to someone else’s work.
- His facepaint? Rip-off of the Road Warriors.
- His electrifying entrance? That was all because of Jim Johnston’s music.
- The name “Ultimate Warrior”? Bruce Prichard says that was all Vince, thank you very much.
- His ability to pop a crowd? One wrestler implies that Warrior merely took advantage of the huge crowds that had already been drawn to the arenas by Hulk Hogan (Care to guess which wrestler that was, dude?).
His popularity in general? That was just due to the general “rebellious spirit” of the 1980s, where an over-the-top raving lunatic would be accepted en masse. I mean, between Ronald Reagan and Clara “Where’s the Beef?” Peller, it was just a crazy, tumultuous time.
(“Mean” Gene Okerlund offers up his own explanation for Warrior’s popularity: his package. Thanks, Gene, but I prefer to keep Warrior’s parts unknown.)
Oh, but anything wrong with the Warrior was Hellwig’s own fault, like his nonsensical promos. It’s not like Vince could have ever put his foot down and instructed Warrior to change his style if he thought there was something wrong with it at the time.
Second, he never appreciated anything anyone ever did for him and had no respect for the wrestling business. Want proof? He sued the company in 1996 for the rights to his name and character, much to the shock and chagrin of the wrestling personalities now on Vince’s payroll. The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase, who in 1996 left for WCW to portray “Trillionaire Ted,” was particularly appalled at Warrior’s disrespect for intellectual property.
Likewise, Ric Flair, who brought the NWA world title belt onto WWF television, lost a lot of respect for Warrior for trying to promote himself with an image created by the wrestling promotion that made him famous. At least, he thinks he lost respect for him, but he can’t be sure because he literally had not heard the story he’s providing insight into until he got to the studio for the interview. Kudos to WWE for getting the inside scoops from the experts!
Less blatantly sycophantic wrestlers and fans might be more understanding of the Warrior’s lawsuit, considering that he had already created the very similar “Dingo Warrior” character in WCCW and was a local celebrity before joining Vince’s company, but I guess lawsuits over the rights to names and trademarks are a sore spot for the WWF – I mean, WWE.
Third, he sucked at wrestling enough for the interviewees to mention it in every other sentence. No argument here, but why they would ever include bonus matches of a guy they think sucked, let alone dedicate an entire DVD to him, is something only the gods in the heavens above can explain.
Also, he was a wuss. I kid you not, at one point, J.R. mentions in passing that Hellwig left the UWF because “the territory was a little bit too physically intense.” He then started wrestling for World Class, where I can only assume the ring was made of feather pillows.
If The Ultimate Warrior ever gets inducted into the Hall of Fame, which, thanks to his involvement in the new WWE game, is no longer a pipe dream, it’s going to be a wee bit difficult to account for this DVD.
All throughout the “documentary,” while Hellwig is demonized, Vince McMahon is spoken of in the most glowing of terms. Ted DiBiase praises McMahon for giving people second chances, while VKM himself repeatedly states that he always acts in the fans’ best interest, even if it means swallowing his pride (unlike that awful, awful Ultimate Warrior). Why did Vince repeatedly bring back Warrior? Why, “for the audience” of course! I bet he even wanted to give away all the live event tickets and pay-per-views for free just so as many people as possible could enjoy the Warrior, but Federation President Gorilla Monsoon wouldn’t let him!
Don’t worry, though, as it isn’t just Vince who gets gushing praise in this video. No, the other wrestlers get to pat themselves on the back, as well. For instance, Sgt. Slaughter says that it takes a truly talented wrestler to carry the Warrior to a great match, and he was that talented wrestler. Whatever match he’s talking about must have happened on a house show or something.
The one and only thing that Warrior ever gets credit for on this DVD is his physique (and I’m sure if Vince had started shilling for ICO-PRO in the 80s, all the participants in this doc would be heaping praise upon the supplement for transforming a doughy Jim Hellwig into the herculean Ultimate Warrior). Not once is the word “steroids” ever uttered, however, even though it’s a valid criticism of Warrior’s legacy and one based in fact; he has openly admitted to steroid use without even being subpoenaed to appear in federal court. Do you think the total avoidance of the steroid issue has something to do with Hulk Hogan being on board for commentary, or is it a more general white-washing by McMahon of the WWF’s Anabolic Era?
Saint Vince does get to plug his drug-testing policy from the 1990s (without mention of why he was pressured to institute it in the first place), but even then, the dreaded s-word is never mentioned. Instead, Warrior is said to have been released in 1992 after an unspecified drug violation. As much sense as it would make for the Warrior to be fueled by coke and speed (and it would make a lot of sense), I’m pretty sure that would violate one of the Eight Disciplines of Destrucity.
Aside from being a junkie, scamming the generous but naïve McMahon, and being the worst wrestler in history, one of Warrior’s most egregious offenses was ruining Wrestlemania XII for Vince’s now son-in-law. As much as the modern WWE tries to portray this squash as a bad thing, anyone who remembers Triple H’s World title runs from 2002 to 2005 cannot help but smile at seeing the Ultimate Warrior no-sell Hunter Hearst Helmsley’s pedigree. It almost makes up for spoiling Mr. Fuji and Super Ninja’s Thanksgiving.
And speaking of the Warrior’s 1996 return, the documentary blames his relative lack of fan support on his many betrayals of the fans’ faith (even though, given the young age and lack of Internet access of the average Warrior fan, they were more likely to believe that their hero had merely been SUMMONED BY THE GODS ABOVE TO DO COMBAT THROUGHOUT THE GALAXY than to think his leaves of absence had anything to do with drug tests or money disputes).
Not mentioned is the years-long “New WWF Generation” campaign by Vince to re-condition fans to accept younger, smaller, more agile wrestlers instead of the musclebound dinosaurs of the past, a dictum McMahon conveniently ignored when the chance for an Ultimate cash-grab arose in 1996. Also ignored is the fact that on the same night that the Ultimate Warrior returned, the WWF hosted a “geriatric match” between spoofs of 80’s “has-beens” Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage. At the end of the match, the pitiful geezers of the bygone era (and contemporaries of the Warrior) both dropped dead. (Luckily, we were spared an “I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up: The Hulk Hogan Story” tape by Coliseum Video). Fans were receiving mixed signals, to say the least.
One of the most frustrating qualities of this DVD is that a lot of aspects of Warrior’s career that are ripe for comedy are squandered. For instance, the wittiest put-down Bruce Prichard has to make about the name “Dingo Warrior” is that “no one knew what a dingo was.” It’s a wild Australian dog, Bruce. Once you know that basic animal fact, the name “Dingo Warrior” starts to be much funnier. On a side note, can you imagine the business they could have done if they had had the Dingo Warrior eat Ricky Steamboat’s baby?
And there were plenty more missed opportunities for Wrestlecrap. For instance, no one mentions the head-scratching “Ultimate Love” segment with Amanda Ultimate Warrior or the Ultimate One’s title defense against Phil Collins. No one brings up the time the Warrior had to contend with the combined forces of Jake Roberts’s cobra and really obvious video editing.
And did you know that The Ultimate Warrior’s feud with Papa Shango had great build-up, but was ruined by the Warrior’s terrible matches? Yes, the consensus among our interviewees is that the voodoo curses, black goo, and projectile vomiting were A-OK, but Jim Hellwig dropped the ball when it came to in-ring work. That’s because, as Vince says, Warrior took shortcuts to fame and didn’t work on his craft. McMahon, who tried to get a new wrestler over by making him a voodoo priest, would never have taken the easy road to success!
No, according to this DVD, the only bad creative decisions ever made relating to the Ultimate Warrior were in that other company. Take, for instance, The Renegade, the Warrior rip-off who had a nearly identical persona, physique, face paint, ring gear, and music, yet ultimately (ha!) flopped, unlike Jim Hellwig. Since this DVD has already explained that there was absolutely nothing special about Hellwig, I can only attribute this wrestler’s failure to WCW’s lack of Vince McMahon (and Sgt. Slaughter).
As for the decision to bring Warrior into WCW just so Hogan could beat him and appease his ego? Just a delusion of Warrior’s Kool-Aid drinkers, says Eric Bischoff, ridiculing the idea that he would waste all that money (of Ted Turner’s) just to make Hogan happy. Ticker-tape parades, the hiring and pushing of Ed Leslie and other Hogan buddies, staging the first Nitro at the Mall of America to promote Hogan’s crappy restaurant? Sure…
…but not deliberately jobbing out the Warrior. That would be a financial blunder on par with holding a yearly pay-per-view at a biker rally with zero live gate just because Eric loves motorcycles.
In the end, this DVD release is so biased and relentlessly negative that it actually makes the viewer feel sorry for a guy who called Darren Drozdov, “the cripple” and laughed at The Renegade’s suicide. Hell, I’ve just spent a whole article tacitly defending the former Jim Hellwig, and I write for a site called Wrestlecrap. What sets this self-serving 93-minute-long burial apart as Wrestlecrap in its own right is the blatant hypocrisy of most everyone involved (e.g. a grown man and near-billionaire dedicated his vast production resources to a revenge piece against a former employee he deemed “unprofessional”), the fact that fans were charged money to view a propaganda film, and the continuance of WWE to take credit for everything good that ever happened in wrestling while blaming all the bad on people who don’t have the platform to defend themselves.
In short, the entire point of the DVD is to show the world (and the Warrior) how great the WWF was for turning a total zero into a star. Vince isn’t even shy about wanting more credit.
Somehow, though, even without appearing in the DVD to tell his side of the story, Warrior manages to get the last laugh on Vince and company with this final screenshot.
The Ultimate Warrior is totally out of (WWE’s) controooooolllll!
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