DVD Review: Ultimate Warrior – “The Ultimate Collection”

Ultimate Warrior - The Ultimate Collection Cover Art

 

 

(Editor’s Note: I watched this DVD last week leading up to WrestleMania XXX and of course, the Ultimate Warrior’s WWE Hall Of Fame induction. I don’t have the words yet to describe how Warrior’s sudden death is effecting anyone who’s ever been a wrestling fan. I’m not going to lie and say I grew up an Ultimate Warrior fan. I was more interested in the Intercontinental title and Mr. Perfect, Bret Hart, Roddy Piper and Shawn Michaels, to name a few. They were the guys I could relate to since I wasn’t a 6 ft 2, 275 lb body builder and I never would be. But I saw the appeal of Warrior. He was flashy, highly energized and would plow over the competition. He was Goldberg before Goldberg ever thought about wrestling (and with a more colorful ensemble.) I found it odd that the Warrior chose now to mend fences with the WWE. First it was the video game. Then the DVD. The Hall of Fame. And finally him announcing he signed a new contract with the WWE. All of this was in a 12 month span. I don’t know if Warrior or his family knew something everyone else didn’t and I don’t care to speculate on it. What I will say is that in the past three days and especially on this DVD, Warrior appeared to be a man who had made peace with himself, God and did all he could to mend fences with past adversaries. It’s devastating that his family lost a husband and a father and we all lost one of the biggest characters in wrestling history. The only irony or maybe divine intervention is that he made it through this past week and definitely left us on a high note. Rest in peace, Jim Hellwig.) 

Not being a big Ultimate Warrior fan, I wasn’t too sure how I was going to enjoy watching this documentary. Most, if not all, wrestling fans have seen or heard of the “Self-Destruction of The Ultimate Warrior” DVD & I was curious to see what this documentary showed. I think it’s safe to say that we’ll never get a truly unbiased version of the Ultimate Warrior’s career. But this is his side of the story.

Warrior (yes, the man is billed as “Warrior” instead of the past Jim Hellwig) opens up the DVD speaking directly to the audience about how in the past two decades, “they” have tried to erase the memory of the Warrior. Say that the Ultimate Warrior never had any good matches. But his recent access to the WWE video library proves otherwise. This was definitely an interesting/captivating way to open the DVD and obviously, completely the opposite of how the “Self-Destruction of The Ultimate Warrior” DVD opened.

The documentary begins where the Warrior begins, in the UWF with Sting as part of the Bladerunners. Warrior admits plainly that he always wanted to be a bodybuilder but eventually made his way into the ring. Warrior talks about how the Road Warriors really influenced their look and ring style & while Sting and he didn’t get along too well, they made it work for the time being.

“We split because me and Steve had two different personalities. Steve wanted to be told what to do where I had a mind of my own. I headed to WCCW where the Dingo Warrior began.”

The quality of the UWF footage is incredibly clear, on the Blu-Ray version at least. The DVD format is similar to recent releases with matches worked into the documentary. I honestly prefer to have the matches on a separate disk and watch the documentary as a whole but that’s just my preference.

An interesting note is that only the Warrior is interviewed for this DVD so it’s only his opinion of his career. I’m sure this is the WWE’s way of making amends by allowing him to tell his own side of the story but it’s strange to watch a career retrospective where the star featured is the only one interviewed. Then again, the WWE recently did the same thing with the “Mr. WrestleMania/Shawn Michaels” retrospective and I wasn’t a fan of that either. Yes we get to hear great stories from the men featured but I would love to hear from the opponents that are also featured in the documentary.

A treat for me (and probably any other old school fans) were Warrior’s first two WWE matches featuring him against the ever-lovable jobbers Barry Horowitz and The Brooklyn Brawler. Warrior is very complementary about how the jobbers really made the superstars of that era and how many older veterans helped him along. He didn’t name the veterans specifically except for Harley Race.

Getting into the Warrior’s “real” WWF run is when the documentary picked up. This was the era of taped Madison Square Garden and Boston Garden matches & it’s been awhile since I’ve seen any footage of the Ultimate Warrior’s matches in these two venues. There was a highlight of a match at Boston Garden between the Ultimate Warrior as the Intercontinental Champion and “Macho Man” Randy Savage as the WWF Champion when Savage was in the middle of the Hulk Hogan/Miss Elizabeth love triangle. It was a nice look at the chemistry between the two athletes before their most famous match at WrestleMania 7.

A comment that Warrior made that really stuck with me was when he compared himself to Bret “The Hitman” Hart in that he (Warrior) never cared about if he had a championship or not but Hart was really into it because of the way he was raised. Warrior said that he had no problem with that or with people who thought that way but it did seem like a backhanded compliment.

Warrior goes on to talk about his feud with the late Andre the Giant and on how very highly he thought of him. He said Andre helped the Ultimate Warrior character look stronger and more dangerous by the things Andre allowed in the match because “if Andre didn’t want to do something, you didn’t do it.” He continued by saying that Andre really enjoyed the business and was a pleasure to be around as long as you love the business as well. He didn’t have much patience for people who were just in it for the money or fame and didn’t enjoy what they were doing. This lead into a great match between Andre and Warrior at MSG for the IC title. This is the awesome moment where Andre gets caught calling the Warrior crazy and mocks him by shaking the ropes. Warrior enters and hits a clothesline a bunch of times, hits him with the big splash and wins before the Warrior’s music stops playing. Andre gets on the mic and berates the referee about how the bell never rung. It truly is a gem of a match if you love Andre the Giant. Of course, a more competitive match followed this on the DVD where the two-faced off again for the IC championship on Saturday Night’s Main Event in a stellar match.

Before they move to Hulk Hogan versus the Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania 6, included is another MSG diamond in the rough where the Ultimate Warrior ends Mr. Perfect’s undefeated streak; a piece a trivia I don’t think I knew.

OK, it’s WrestleMania 6 time and with it comes the Ultimate Warrior’s infamous “Hulk Ho-Gan” promo & beginning the journey to WrestleMania 6. When out of character, he makes an interesting point by saying that Hogan’s past WrestleMania feuds were with former friends turned heel while the Ultimate Warrior would be remaining a babyface. It might have been only WrestleMania 6 but that is still novel today.

Following the match with Hogan, Warrior admits to not being able to relish the moment but always thinking about what was going to be next. He was never complacent in one role, even if that role was as the WWF Champion. This led to a probably never before seen match between Warrior and Ted DiBiase in Tokyo. It was interesting to see how a Japanese crowd reacted to the Warrior’s energy compared the usual rabid reaction from the fans.

Disc 1 ends right near the end of his WWF title reign and with the first match in his feud with the heel Sargent Slaughter while disc 2 opens with Warrior explaining that the story going forward would be for Randy Savage to cause him to drop the title to Slaughter at the Royal Rumble and this would lead to the Savage/Warrior retirement match at WrestleMania 7. Unfortunately the Slaughter/Warrior match is only shown in highlight form but included is a MSG cage match between the Ultimate Warrior and Randy Savage with Sensational Sherri only a few days after the Warrior dropped the belt.

After his match at WrestleMania 7, Warrior really liked the idea of being one of the first to work with The Undertaker and loved working with him. The ignition of the feud was the Funeral Parlor segment where The Undertaker locked The Ultimate Warrior in a casket. They stayed with the segment as officials tried to pry open the casket. Once open, they showed officials performing CPR on Warrior as Vince McMahon, Roddy Piper and Randy Savage are on commentary questioning if Warrior is still alive. You’d never see that on today’s WWE TV and it would probably be even a little edgy for the Attitude Era.

There wasn’t much discussion about why or how Warrior left the WWF except for his reasoning of just being worn out and how he wanted to try out some other things that didn’t include wrestling. It was a very short and superficial segment of the documentary that I think a lot of people would have liked to learn much more about.

Upon his return at WrestleMania 8, Warrior goes in-depth about the “Ultimate Manics” of he and Randy Savage & how they were supposed to face Razor Ramon and Ric Flair at Survivor Series expect Warrior left before the match happened and Mr. Perfect took his place. Again Warrior never lets on why he left again except for the same reasons as before.

Obviously the shortest part of the documentary was Warrior’s brief WCW run and how Hogan was instrumental into bringing him in for a short-term deal to work only with Hogan. Though they had a great beginning of the feud & debut, the creative team had too many things going on and “Warrior couldn’t do it all by himself.”

“They used Turner’s checkbook to buy me to come back and lose a match to Hogan… If I would have known, I never would have come back.”

The DVD runs well over 8 hours long. I would suggest picking up the Blu-Ray version where there are exclusive features like bonus matches such as Ultimate Warrior vs Sgt Slaughter in the Tokyo Dome and segments like the WrestleMania 6 & 7 contract signings. If you were an Ultimate Warrior fan or just want to hear his side of his story, this collection will satisfy. Even for the casual fan, this collection truly allows Warrior to repute the statements made by many on the “Self-Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior” DVD and he does so eloquently & without malice. I definitely recommend picking this title up if you’re into the classics.

 

Warrior RIP

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