If one were to create a list of the most polarizing figures in wrestling history, Warrior would be near the top of the list. He’s always been an eccentric personality figure (yes, his legal name is now Warrior), and while many of his matches weren’t great, he was capable of putting together a few classics. His controversial nature led to the release of The Self-Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior on DVD a number of years ago from WWE, which painted Warrior in a pretty negative light. While he responded to the documentary in different “shoot style” interview forums, he never worked with WWE to share his side of the story. Now, we finally get that story, in a new match compilation that more clearly celebrates the career of the Ultimate Warrior, a 2014 Hall of Famer. Disc 1 of the DVD runs 2 hours, 10 minutes, Disc 2 runs a bit under 2 hours, and Disc 3 runs a bit over 3 hours. Fortunately, Jesse Ventura’s commentary is included, and the only notable edits are a few cutaways to crowd shots during moments in which Warrior chokes an opponent with one of his tassles.
The Format & Interview:
I think most would agree that the biggest selling point for this DVD is finally getting an interview with Warrior himself on a WWE DVD. I know he has done a number of interviews over the years, but this is the first time I’ve really heard an interview with him. We’ve all seen his crazy speeches, and I was nervous that this interview was just going to be him acting like a lunatic. Fortunately, that is not the Warrior that we get in this interview. Quite frankly, he comes across as a level-headed, smart guy, which is about as far from his reputation as you can get. Fortunately, we get the interview segments quite frequently throughout the 3 discs. He appears before almost every match, with the rare exception being matches grouped together that feature Warrior against the same opponent. This is the way WWE should be doing all match compilations, and hopefully this will continue to be the trend moving forward.
Overall, I found the interview segments fairly informative since I knew so little about Warrior. I will acknowledge that if you know much about this career, you aren’t going to get anything all that revelatory. At the beginning of the DVD, we get a brief intro segment, in which Warrior claims we are finally getting “the true story”. However, at the end of the DVD, Warrior acknowledges that this is only his side of the truth, and the full story is still to come. I’m glad this was brought to our attention at the end of the DVD. I do believe that Warrior is telling his version of the truth; he just seems to be omitting a few of the more “controversial” stories from his time in the industry. It’s clear that we are only given one side of the story here, and this ends up being the biggest problem with the interview segments.
His side of the story is still interesting, though. You get a great sense of how Warrior viewed the wrestling industry, and how he kept getting pulled back even when he wanted to move onto other endeavors. It’s nice to hear him reflect on his various opponents, as well as his runs with the different championships he held. The most notable absense is much of any discussion of the various times Warrior left WWE. He doesn’t say much more than he “took some time off”, but anyone who has seen Self-Destruction knows that this is only a very small part of the story. This is where a full documentary would have been nice. We could have heard interviews with Vince or others backstage give their side of the story, and we would have gotten a lot closer to the full story Warrior alludes to at the end of the DVD.
In addition to the interview and a slew of matches, we are also treated to a pretty good number of promos from Warrior’s time in WWE and WCW. I was thrilled to see so many promos included. The absence of bonus segments and promos has been one of the bigger problems with some of the recent superstar features from WWE (I’m thinking For All Mankind in particular). This was particularly important in the case of Warrior, since he may be remembered more for his crazy promos than for the majority of his matches. Of course, some classic moments are included, such as the promo leading up to the WrestleMania VI, and the segment in which Undertaker & Paul Bearer lock Warrior in a casket. We are given a good number of lesser seen promos in addition, which I enjoyed seeing for the first time. Many of the matches included have brief backstage interviews from both combatants as well. The “Ultimate Maniacs” promos were easily my favorites.
Much like the Goldberg DVD from last October, I don’t feel that the best way to look at the matches on this DVD is from a match-by-match standpoint. Many of the matches here are very similar, and often very short. In general, the three discs can be broken down to “Pre-WWE Title run”, “WWE Title run”, and “Post-WWE Title run”. The biggest challenge in getting through this DVD was how repetitive the matches were, which made watching multiple matches in one sitting pretty boring. Disc 1 is made up almost entirely of squash matches or short showcase matches, with the one exception being the Title Vs. Title match between Warrior and Savage. These two had excellent chemistry and put on a number of good matches, a clear highlight of the set. For what they are, I also enjoyed seeing Warrior take on Andre the Giant. The matches are very short, but it is cool to see the two icons going head-to-head. Unfortunately, a number of these house show matches have commentary with Lord Alfred Hayes; for all those of you who complain about today’s announce teams, Hayes makes them look like announcing icons.
Disc 2 is really more of the same. While none of the matches are bad, very few stand out as anything special. Wrestlers like Mr. Perfect and Ted DiBiase were perfectly good opponents for Warrior, but the matches always follow very similar beats. Of course, the big exception on this disc is the match with Hogan from WrestleMania VI. For two guys who are not looked at as “in ring technicians”, they blended their styles perfectly to put on a very memorable match. It’s always going to be weird for be to think “Hogan/Warrior, yea, that’s at least a 4 star match”, but I don’t think many people would argue with that claim.
Being that it is mostly the end of Warrior’s career, Disc 3 does not feature too many quality. It does start off, though, with a look at his 1991 feud with Randy Savage, leading to their match at WrestleMania VII. Fortunately, all the pre- and post-match material is included. This is one of the greatest Mania matches of all time, and easily the highlight of Warrior’s career. After this, Warrior’s career continued to stop and start, and he never really could get into a high profile feud again. The match with Undertaker on the DVD is very early in Taker’s career, and is very slowly paced. I had high hopes for the tag match featuring The Ultimate Maniacs, but this match never really got going either. If there was any match here that disappointed me, this would easily be the one. We end the DVD with mostly promos, and matches included are all quite short. It’s always fun to revisit Warrior destroying Triple H, but after one viewing that gets pretty old.
Unlike a few recent releases (WCW PPV Matches Vol. 1, for example), WWE clearly put a lot of effort into this DVD release. If you wanted an Ultimate Warrior DVD, you aren’t going to be disappointed by this release. Almost all of his classic matches and promos are included. I think most fans are well aware of the in-ring quality of most of Warrior’s matches, and this DVD backs those ideas up. There are two classic Mania matches, but the rest of the matches are nothing special. I expected this in regards to the matches, though. The only thing that was a disappointment was the omitted information from the interview I addressed earlier. Hopefully at some point we will get the real story, which comes somewhere in between the story told here and the story told on Self-Destruction of Ultimate Warrior.
For the novelty of the interview alone, I would recommend the DVD. The matches aren’t all great, and I certainly wouldn’t recommend watching all the matches in a small number of sittings. They will get very repetitive. The promos will help keep you entertained in between the matches, though. Even though I didn’t love it, I did end up enjoying this more than I expected.