I know I am not the only one thinking it so I’ll just say it. The WWE’s reaction to the death of former champion Ultimate Warrior is one of the most bizarre things I think I have ever seen in over 30 years as a pro wrestling observer.
[adinserter block=”1″]Vince McMahon has poured his heart out through WWE programming in honoring the late Jim Hellwig. The tributes to the Warrior are unprecedented in company history as the WWE has spent almost two weeks memorializing Warrior through content on their website, television shows, social media, and network. Classy yes, but it makes absolutely no sense at all.
It hasn’t even been a year since Vince McMahon welcomed Warrior back into the WWE family. Warrior returned first through promotion of the WWE 2K14 game and later officially at the Hall of Fame. The return ended close to a 20-year absence from the company. If you followed any of the tributes to the Warrior, you would never know that he and McMahon spent more time fighting outside of the company than he actually did wrestling for the WWE.
I don’t mean this as any disrespect to the Warrior but I can’t figure out why he is being treated as if he had the impact on the WWE and the business that Hulk Hogan, The Rock, Steve Austin, Bruno Sammartino, Superstar Graham, or even Ric Flair had. This is a man that headlined only one WrestleMania (two by his logic), held the WWE title for less than a year at a time when short babyface title reigns wasn’t good business, and had numerous outside of the ring issues with the company. He certainly was a big star and he is unquestionably iconic, but these tributes are painting a picture that just didn’t exist.
If you take a look at Warrior’s WWE timeline in and out of the company you will see that his first and biggest run was only four years with two other runs that lasted under a year each. Yet he spent five years in court on one occasion against the WWE and had several other disagreements along the way. Think about that for a second. He spent more time fighting with Vince McMahon than he did wrestling for him. Granted he had every right to defend himself but hundreds of loyal WWE employees have passed away since the company’s inception with none getting this kind of treatment. It makes no sense.
Either one of two things are going on here. Vince McMahon is older and somehow or another relates to how the Warrior passed away. Vince certainly practiced a similar lifestyle and maybe he is seeing himself in all of this. I am certainly no psychologist but try and give me a better explanation. If Vince has turned into such a softie over the years than why wasn’t Randy Savage given more than a 5-minute video on television? I am sure he has softened a bit but he certainly hasn’t turned into a pushover.
Now the cynic in me thinks otherwise. The WWE recently released numbers on the WWE Network and those numbers were met with the stock absolutely plummeting. I hate to say it and I hope this isn’t the case but maybe Vince is using this as some kind of marketing ploy. All of the attention paid to Warrior would certainly connect with some fans that probably aren’t watching the WWE anymore. A full “Warrior Week” on the network doesn’t come cheap. As much as I would hate to accuse anyone of capitalizing off of someone’s death, quite frankly that is the only thing that makes sense and hey, maybe it isn’t even done intentionally. There is also a brand new Ultimate Warrior DVD to promote (produced and set for release way before his death). This is just how Vince McMahon’s promoter mind works.
[adinserter block=”2″]I don’t know if we will ever truly know the motivation behind these tributes yet unfortunately it will take the deaths of more legends to unravel the real agenda. We’ll see how the WWE pays tribute to the next fallen icon. Does someone like a Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Bruno Sammartino, or Steve Austin get a bigger tribute or is this the standard? I hope we don’t get those answers any time soon but there is now a standard that the WWE has set with the Warrior.
Once again I am not saying it’s wrong because he certainly was an icon and a big star, it’s just strange. Whatever the motivation, I am glad Warrior’s fans, friends, and family have this final opportunity to memorialize their fallen hero. It just may be the weirdest thing I have ever seen and I know I am not the only one thinking it.
[amazon_link id=”B00HRYH7G2″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ] Ultimate Warrior: The Ultimate Collection DVD[/amazon_link]
[amazon_link id=”B0009E32TI” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]WWE: The Greatest Wrestling Stars of the ’80s[/amazon_link]