The big news to come out of the last week is that The Ultimate Warrior is the first entrant into the 2014 WWE Hall of Fame class. Is the Warrior deserving? By their criteria, certainly. He was one of the hottest names in wrestling in the late 80s and early 90s. He is a two-time Intercontinental Champion and he headlined WrestleMania VI against Hulk Hogan.
The man formerly known as Jim Hellwig is now known legally as Warrior Warrior. Why? He reasoned that WWE couldn’t own the trademark to his real name. It was a messy legal issue between the two sides in the mid 90s. Details of the suit haven’t really been released. All we knew at the time were two things: 1) the former Hellwig was allowed to go to WCW as “The Warrior” and 2) the relationship between Warrior and WWE was ruined forever.
By the mid 2000s, WWE realized they needed to better monetize their video library and began releasing a series of documentaries. Some of the early ones were okay. Most weren’t. They were one-sided affairs that showcased WWE’s version of what happened. It was an issue that really didn’t get fixed until around 2010.
In 2005, WWE decided to release a documentary on the Warrior’s career, specifically focusing on his WWE run. It had a salacious, “sexy” title – “The Self Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior.” The trailer promised all sort of scandal and whatnot. I watched it in 2005 and occasionally through the years. I last watched it a few months ago when I was bored and had nothing else to do.
The one word people use to describe this DVD is “burial.” Some will break out the “hatchet job” adjective. The biggest issue, of course, is that Warrior was not interviewed for the documentary. Word is that WWE reached out to him, but he declined. I won’t call it a burial, per se. Yes, it tells a negative story. But, honestly, that’s because it is a negative story.
From all accounts, Warrior was a guy who saw wrestling as a quick way to make money. He was not skilled in a technical aspect, but was full of charisma and connected with audiences in a big way. The people interviewed talk about that. Most try to focus on the good parts – people like Gene Okerlund and Steve Lombardi – but there are a few who border on hyperbole and nonsense. If you remove Vince McMahon and Bobby Heenan from the documentary, it is no longer a burial and instead an honest look at a wrestler who quickly flamed out after achieving success. Ted Dibiase and Jerry Lawler, in particular, are two of the better veteran voices included.
The “younger generation” (who are all now in their 40s) that are interviewed – Chris Jericho, Edge, Christian – all put Warrior over in a big way. They weren’t involved in the business at the time of Warrior’s rise and thus they only focus on the good. Jericho is the most complimentary, throwing out that Warrior was underrated as an actual wrestler and could pull out a good match when he needed to. While Bruce Pritchard and Sgt. Slaughter make fun of his nonsensical promos, the Canadian three I just mentioned make fun of them as well, but also give him credit for being entertaining.
And, keep your eyes and ears open during the 2014 WWE Hall of Fame ceremony which takes place April 5. Warrior will have an open microphone and will say whatever he wants. Should be fun.