The Self-Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior(World Wrestling Entertainment, 9.27.2005)
Professional wrestling and self-destructive behaviour go together like two peas in a pod. Steroid-fueled, giant-veined peas in a stretched-out little Speedos pod, but peas in a pod nonetheless. Professional wrestlers die as freakishly often as Saturday Night Live cast members but, in the case of wrestling, it's easier to figure out why. When you put enough drugs into your body on a daily basis to make your entire torso look like Popeye's forearms, it can't be good for your health in the long run. So how then, amongst the long trail of dead WWF wrestlers who passed away before their time, has the poster boy for steroid-induced rage, the Ultimate Warrior, managed to survive this long?
Here we have a wrestler who took so many growth hormones throughout the 1980s and '90s, his character's entire persona had to be built around the psychotic incoherence created by the narcotics flowing through his veins at any given time. Warrior ran to the ring so bloody fast it looked like he should have been dragging an I.V. full of Sanka behind him, while the matches themselves lasted an average of about thirty seconds.
The matches were so short because, if the Warrior calmed down long enough to actually wrestle, he'd probably lose control of his clenched bowels and shit his pants. Despite all this, the Ultimate Warrior became one of the most popular wrestlers in the history of the business, defeating Hulk Hogan for the WWF World Championship at WrestleMania 6.
The character of the Ultimate Warrior doesn't even make any sense. As pointed out on this brilliant DVD, Warrior's back story was a piece meal of insane ramblings by the Warrior himself, having to do with spaceships, distant planets, parts unknown, and a bunch of little Warriors flowing through his veins. It was like the Warrior was trying to out crazy Hulk Hogan, which is no small task.
If Hogan mentioned climbing a mountain during an interview, Warrior would be out there the next week, talking about getting in a plane and flying over mountains. If Hogan said he'd swim across the Atlantic Ocean with the population of America on his back, the Ultimate Warrior would swim through the Sea of Tranquility, with a billion little Warriors surrounding him. What I want to know is, where were my parents when I was watching this shit?
I can't blame people for cheering on the Ultimate Warrior because, by 1990, I too was a little Warrior. Despite spending half a decade losing my mind whenever Hulk Hogan made an appearance on my television set in all his glorious bright yellowness, I jumped so fast from the good ship Hulkamania when the Ultimate Warrior came along, it was as if Hulk Hogan had never existed. Apparently, in the mind of a thirteen year-old, a borderline incoherent surfer with an ungodly George Hamilton tan could only be trumped by a permed Neanderthal capable of just two things: unhealthy emotional outbursts and incoherent rants in pigeon English.
This DVD lays the beats down on Jim Hellwig's career pretty good (Hellwig is the Warrior's real name) with Vince McMahon, Ted Dibiase, Jerry Lawler, Gene Okerlund, Bobby Heenan, Christian, Hogan himself, and several others complaining about how unprofessional and out of control Hellwig was during his multiple stints in the WWF.
The title of the DVD is derived from the collective belief that, as popular as the Warrior character was in his heyday, Hellwig alone caused his professional demise by repeatedly missing bookings without warning, veering off script during planned segments, refusing to get along with anyone around him, and even trying to demand an extra half million dollars from the WWF minutes before a main event match at Summerslam '91.
I'd be more impressed by these accusations -- and by this DVD as a whole -- if it weren't produced by the WWE but, since it is, I suggest that viewers take this one-sided slandering of Hellwig with a grain of salt. I have no doubt that he was a disliked man and that the unsavoury anecdotes are true, but it's important to remember that professional wrestling can be one of the most cut-throat, dishonorable professions around and that every person complaining about Hellwig has likely done something double-crossing and despicable behind-the-scenes of their own careers.
This DVD consists of wrestlers and promoters who are still on the "inside" of the wrestling profession complaining about someone who has been cast to the "outside" of the profession. Such a distinct dichotomy should be remembered while watching this documentary.
In fairness, both Lawler and Hogan come across extremely well. Both men tell stories about Hellwig that add to the general project of deconstructing him as an unappreciative narcissist, but neither Lawler nor Hogan ever get mean, rude or bent out of shape while speaking. At one point, Hogan even stresses how much he liked working with Jim Hellwig.
As a bonus, this disc includes five of the Warrior's key matches, including his legendary main event match against Hogan in 1990, his WWF debut match, his winning the Intercontinental Championship from the Honky Tonk Man, as well as classic matches against Rick Rude and Randy Savage. These matches don't do much to defend the reputation of the Ultimate Warrior as a wrestler, though, as he is consistently slow, graceless, and without technical skill. Only the WrestleMania match against Hogan stands out as particularly memorable, but this may have more to do with the event itself than the wrestling skills on display. -- Jason Woloski