At the conclusion of last year’s “Ultimate Warrior: The Ultimate Collection” DVD, the Warrior promised that it wasn’t the end and his story – the true story would soon be told.
Sadly, as I’m sure you are aware; his story went from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows when Warrior passed away just hours after his WWE homecoming.
Just over a week after his tragic passing, the WWE Network put together an incredible one hour documentary special – “Warrior: Ultimate Legend”, telling the story of his career, controversies and of course his return to the WWE family.
Now, a year after the Warrior’s passing, we mark his life and career with Always Believe.
Despite what we first heard, Always Believe is not a new presentation, but rather an extended and re-cut version of the WWE Network special. However, from the off, do not let this fact put you off.
Unlike the recent “Destruction of The Shield” DVD/Blu-ray which simply had extended scenes worked in, Always Believe has completely new scenes and interviews added into a whole new cut of the Ultimate Legend documentary. Always Believe has a run time of 1 hour and 38 minutes, which is 40 minutes (or 69%) longer than Ultimate Legend.
Throughout the course of the DVD documentary you will find the vast majority of scenes from the Network documentary; however they are in a different order on the DVD and are complimented with new scenes and interviews with Dana, Mattigan and Indiana Warrior (the “Warrior Girls”).
Always Believe opens with scenes regarding the Warriors’ passing and a very emotional Dana Warrior discussing her and her daughters return to New Orleans and the Smoothie King Center in January 2015 (site of the 2014 Hall of Fame ceremony and the post WrestleMania XXX RAW) for the first time since the Warrior’s death. Dana also discusses her gratitude and the support they have received from WWE and the ‘WWE Universe’ as a whole in the past year.
From here the documentary moves on to discussing the Warriors’ passing and his final promo from Monday Night RAW – these scenes are taken from the original documentary. Next, the documentary moves on to the original open from Ultimate Legend with Warrior returning to WWE HQ and discussion of his early career. Notable by its absence here is the Royal Rumble poster complete with Post-it note. The majority of the discussion about Warrior’s early career in Mid-South, Memphis and World Class remains largely the same between the two versions. The only exception is that here on Always Believe we have some added scenes and interviews, specifically a “Freedom Fighters” interview with Lance Russell from Memphis and extended discussion of Warrior’s time in WCCW.
The documentary flips between scenes discussing Warrior’s career, covering all of his major career milestones alongside his return to WWE over WrestleMania XXX weekend. Perhaps some topics which could have been covered in greater detail were his WWE departures in 91, 92 and 96. His departures were topics Warrior faced great criticism over in the 2005 Self Destruction DVD; this did surprise me as this documentary didn’t dispel all these criticisms, as was promised at the end of last year’s DVD.
From the perspective of a “DVD guy”, one of the most intriguing topics covered is the Self Destruction DVD and Warrior’s feelings on the DVD. To me at least it’s really cool that we’ve had a handful of DVD sets which have affected the course of wrestling history – Self Destruction, Rise and Fall of ECW and to a slightly lesser degree the Bret Hart DVD. I have a feeling that we might very well be on the precipice of another ‘universe’ shattering DVD project, but that’s another subject for another day. 😉
The addition of the Warrior Girls add a whole new perspective to the DVD, understandably they weren’t involved with the initial Network documentary, however it is really awesome to see them all so heavily involved here. Dana, Mattigan and Indiana add insight into the Ultimate Warrior behind the face paint and insight into the man, the husband and the father.
The Warrior Girls also discuss the kindness they have received from the WWE Superstars, staff and fans – especially the WWE Divas. Natalya provided the family with a great deal of support in particular. The Divas have also inspired Mattigan to follow in her fathers’ footsteps and possibly become a WWE Diva herself. We are also given some clips of Natalya working out in the ring with Mattigan (you can find the match in full as a Blu-ray exclusive) which was filmed when the Warrior Girls were presented with the Warrior’s Slammy Award in January 2015.
In a really emotional closing scene, the Warrior Girls read letters they have written for The Warrior. The closing video montage features classic Warrior clips, videos of fans thanking the Warrior and concludes with the Warrior Girls releasing three neon colored balloons into the sky in memory of the Warrior.
The twenty one matches occupy DVD disc two (or the second half of Blu-ray disc one) and have a run time of 2 hours, 47 minutes. The Blu-ray also features five additional exclusive matches which run for approximately an hour. The matches which have been chosen for Always Believe are really a cool, almost “B side” collection to last year’s Ultimate Collection.
The matches here on this set are some of the more rare and unique bouts from the Warrior’s career. Examples of these unique and honestly eclectic matches include a slew of interesting tag team matches in which the Warrior joins forces with such partners as: Jim Duggan, Randy Savage, Undertaker and The Road Warriors. Some of these matches were the highlights of this set for me. The Ultimate Warrior (at least in my opinion) will be most remembered as a singles superstar, so any time he is put into a tag team match, it made for a unique spectacle.
Always Believe doesn’t just have unique tag matches, but also some historic matches such as: the Warrior’s very first Madison Square Garden outing versus Frenchy Martin and his final WWE match against Owen Hart – where the commentary discusses the match being Warrior’s final WWE match — as this was one of the taped RAWs with live commentary (FYI).
Other cool matches are the random 1990’s TV main events against Rick Martel, Smash and Skinner and of course the inclusion of Iron Mike Sharpe (who finally makes his singles debut on a WWE DVD!) and Conquistador #1.
The other nice inclusion is the “arena camera” version of The Ultimate Challenge from WrestleMania VI. Like Hulk vs. Andre from the History of WWE DVD a couple of years ago, the match is shot exclusively from the hard camera and doesn’t feature commentary. In fact Always Believe doesn’t feature any color commentary from Jesse Ventura, as on the very few matches where Jesse did provide commentary, he is muted.
Unlike 2014’s Ultimate Collection, Always Believe is jam packed with more than 2 and ¾ hours of classic Ultimate Warrior promos, from his early days in World Class Championship Wrestling right up to his Hall of Fame induction and his return to Monday Night RAW. The promos were also an excellent addition, I felt. Of course, ‘The Ultimate Warrior’ character wasn’t all about ring work, a huge reason Warrior became so ‘over’ was due to his character development of which his promos were a tremendous part.
However, I honestly feel that possibly 2 hours and 41 minutes of promos was maybe a tad too much. While some of the promos were really fun to relive, especially his ones with Brother Love and Sherri Martel, others are very, very short TV (“update”) promos and in all honestly I’m not too sure those were worthy of inclusion here. Personally, I would have preferred to sacrifice some promos so that we could have at least one, one-on-one match with Randy Savage (as there are still a handful of unreleased Savage/Warrior matches, especially as Warrior spoke very highly of his work with the Macho Man in the documentary).
While I covered the Blu-ray exclusive matches earlier, the Blu-ray also features 25 minutes of additional stories, mainly from the Warrior Girls. These were really fun and are always a high point of these sets for me. Here on Always Believe we have a number of topics discussed, including the Warrior’s love of Disney World and its roller-coaster’s, a rather competitive bike ride, WrestleMania VI “Movie Night” and a touching story about how Warrior wanted to reach out to Vince McMahon when his daughter Indiana was born in 2000.
Other than the segments with the Warrior Girls, there is also a really cool scene with the Warrior backstage at Monday Night RAW discussing the origins and back-story behind his famed “crash the plane” promo from the build to WrestleMania VI.
The Shield set simply had added scenes and felt very much the same as the Network version, however Always Believe with the re-cut and the brand new scenes and interviews make Always Believe feel like a brand new documentary. Of course you still have the majority of the scenes from the Network documentary, but it really does feel like a brand new presentation.
The timing of the initial Network documentary made it feel very poignant and moving, a year later and just when it might have lost a little its poignancy, WWE comes at us with “Always Believe” which by adding in the Warrior Girls takes you right back and makes it all feel very ‘raw’ again, especially with its release so close to the first anniversary of Warrior’s passing.
The great documentary, unique match selection and even the promos make this set a really nice piece of business. While I can’t see another Warrior DVD; at least in the near future, with Always Believe and the Ultimate Collection you really do have the complete Ultimate Warrior story. So this makes Always Believe an incredibly easy recommendation and I hope you guys and girls love it as much as I did. Plus, with this and the Ultimate Collection, the spirit of The Ultimate Warrior will be able to run in our hearts and minds FOREVER!!
Pick up your copy of WWE “Ultimate Warrior: Always Believe” DVD & Blu-ray now…
– USA: TOMORROW! Pre-order now here on Amazon.com.
– UK/Europe: Next Monday! Pre-order now from WWEDVD.co.uk.
– Australia: May 5th. Pre-order now via WWEDVD.com.au.