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A fond look back at the Warrior...,
This review is from: WWE: Ultimate Warrior - The Ultimate Collection [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Watching this in the days after the tragic news of The Ultimate Warrior’s death was in itself an eerie experience It’s not uncommon to sit down and watch the career highlights of a dead wrestler on a format like this, but rarely is the gap between release date and tragedy so painfully short. It’s therefore hard to be totally impartial about this collection. After the WWE’s inflammatory “Self-Destruction” DVD many years ago it was hard to ever imagine a day when Warrior stepped foot in a WWE ring, never mind the day that we saw a “sympathetic” release like this dedicated to him. But if there is one thing we’ve learned in the past few decades, time can heal a lot of wounds in the wrestling business. Thankfully these wounds were healed whilst Warrior was still with us.
Warrior always did spilt opinion, and few will be coming to this collection for two/three discs of five-star classic wrestling action, but it does do a good job of capturing the energy and excitement that the Warrior could bring. The set is a series of what the man himself calls “Warrior Moments”, interspersed with a sit down interview with the man himself. Warrior is candid, as you might expect, but it would also be very fair to say that there are a number of things he doesn’t really get into, such as the real reasons behind his departures from the WWE.
Other than the two opening matches, a very short Bladerunners squash from UWF and a Dingo Warrior match from WCCW, all bouts on here are from his WWE stint. Of course the first highlights Warrior’s team with the man now known as Sting so its an interesting thing to watch. Moving onto WWE. Squash matches with familiar faces Barry Horrowitz and Steve Lombardi are followed by an interesting bout with Harley Race. Warrior is as complimentary to the “jobbers” as he is to Race. Far from being the “ungrateful” star you might have been led to believe he was, Warrior is more than willing to give credit where credit is due.
Then it’s arguably the greatest squash match of all time from SummerSlam 1988, as Warrior relieved Honky Tonk Man of the Intercontinental Title. Simple, but effective. And boy, was Warrior over. We get a sneak-peek at what was to come opposite Randy Savage in a February 1989 World Vs IC Champ battle, before another stellar battle with Rick Rude from SummerSlam 1989. That Warrior had to be “carried” is perhaps inarguable but he still has to get credit for hanging in with the likes of Savage and Rude when he worked with them. And without his genuine connection with the crowds, none of it would have been possible. Warrior says that he had great times wrestling both of them and tells some funny stories about the “intensity” of Savage throughout this collection.
From there we get a look at his feud with Andre The Giant. Again if you believe Bobby Heenan from the “Self-Destruction” DVD, Andre hated Warrior. Here Warrior suggests that the two got on well and notes that if Andre DIDN’T like you, you know about it pretty quickly. Then we move to his World Title reign. Seeing the “Crash The Plane” promo is always great fun and for two supposedly “limited” workers, the WrestleMania VI main event against Hulk Hogan is an entertaining spectacle, even today. We don’t get his good Steel Cage match from SummerSlam 1990 against Rude, but we do get other matches against Rick Rude and the likes of Ted DiBiase and Sgt. Slaughter before getting to WrestleMania VII, where The Ultimate Warrior “retires” Macho King Randy Savage in an excellent bout.
Warrior is then seen on the Funeral Parlour and in a subsequent bout with The Undertaker before we touch on the Ultimate Maniacs team of Warrior and Savage, complete with a match against Money Inc. The 1996 return is covered with his squash match victory over HHH from WrestleMania XII and a terrible King of The Ring 1996 bout with Jerry Lawler. We finish with a brief look at his WCW run, with his debut promo being shown. Warrior admits that once he got there he felt “disgusted” that he had basically gone there for a pay-cheque and soon realised that the only reason he’d been brought in was for Hogan to get his win back. He ends with another eerie speech, telling us that this is not the end of the story and that there would be more to tell in the future.
Even if you are a “work-rate” fan it would be difficult to dismiss the sheer popularity and excitement that the Warrior could generate in his prime. Whilst this match misses out some of his finest moments, (such as the SummerSlam 1992 match versus Savage) it’s a comprehensive enough look at the man and the character to make the experience very worth while. And whilst it is indeed terribly sad that he has passed away so soon after recording this, there’s also the pleasure of at least knowing he got to tell his story the way he wanted to tell it before he passed.
The BluRay extras add five more bouts dating from 1986 to 1996, including a match from WCCW and a six man where he teams with The British Bulldogs to take on Demolition and Mr Fuji. There’s also contract signing segments for WrestleMania VI and VIII as well. As normal with WWE releases, the extras are probably worth the extra few pounds if you have the technology.