Thursday, 12 July 2007

The Self Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior - DVD Review

If you’ve been reading my columns for a while now, you’ll know that I am a huge mark for the Ultimate Warrior. He was one of the reasons I got back into wrestling in 1989, and I still consider his bout with Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania VI as one of the best ever.

So now you’re thinking that an Ultimate Warrior mark, with a copy of The Self Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior, is going to criticise it from top to bottom, and that he’ll defend the man no matter what. You couldn’t be more wrong.

This DVD takes a look at a man who was en route to becoming the biggest star in the history of professional wrestling, but let his ego get in the way. Jim Hellwig plied his trade under various names until making his way to the WWF in 1987, making a few appearances using his World Class name, the Dingo Warrior. But Vince McMahon didn’t know what a dingo was, and the Ultimate Warrior was born.

By the way, for those who don’t know, a dingo is some type of Australian wild dog.

If you’re looking for a DVD filled with the Warrior’s contemporaries praising the man to the heavens, then you’re looking in the wrong place. Here’ you’ll get the likes of Bruce Prichard, Gene Okerlund, Bobby Heenan, and wrestlers who worked with him, such as Jerry Lawler, Steve Lombardi and Ted Dibiase, telling stories of just how hard it was to work with him, and criticising other things, including his wrestling ability, and his non-sensical interviews.

But those deficiencies didn’t stop the WWF pushing him to the moon, to two Intercontinental and one WWF title, until  August 1991.

Vince McMahon tells the story of how, just moments before Summerslam’s main event, the Warrior demanded more money, or he wouldn’t perform. McMahon gave him the money to save his show, but fired him as soon as the match finished, and apparently took great pleasure in doing so.

There’s also stories from the Warrior’s two other runs with the WWF, and his firing on each occasion. Then there’s the Warrior’s disastrous run in WCW in 1998, how, on his first appearance, he more or less killed off the hype for his re-match with Hogan, and how their long awaited encounter was nothing short of a disaster, although all credit to Hogan for taking some of the blame for this.

Eric Bischoff then tells the story of his meeting with the Warrior after that match, to discuss contracts and other business opportunities. Even though he had Ted Turner’s financial might behind him, there wasn’t any way he could or would meet the Warrior’s demands.

This ended the professional wrestling career of the Ultimate Warrior, and the previous commentators on this DVD wondered how the Warrior was now making a living on the lecture circuit, given his problems with public speaking in the past.

In short, this is nothing more than a hatchet job by World Wrestling Entertainment, and a final attempt to make some money off a man they invested a great deal of time and money in, a man who they hoped to turn into the biggest star in the world, but whose ego prevented him from achieving this.

But even though he never took part in any aspect of this release, Jim Hellwig did have the last laugh here. Having gained the rights to his in-ring name after taking the WWE to court, the last thing you’ll see on screen is this; “Ultimate Warrior is a trademark owned by Ultimate Creations Inc.”

The extras section features five full matches from the Warrior’s WWF career, including his television debut on Wrestling Challenge, his title victory of Hulk Hogan, and his retirement match with Randy Savage. Sadly, his re-match with Hogan in 1998 isn’t here, which is a shame. I’ve never seen this bout, but I would like to see just how bad it really is.

So even this Warrior mark found this hatchet job compelling viewing, definitely one you should add to your DVD collection.

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