In Defense Of… The Ultimate Warrior

Bringing the truth to the wrestling fan!

A version of this article originally appeared on 411mania.com and was updated for the book IN DEFENSE OF… EXONERATING PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING’S MOST HATED. Learn more at https://www.jpprag.com

Certain people, events, organizations, and storylines in wrestling history have gotten a bum rap. Some writers have presented overtly critical comments and outright lies as fact, and others have followed suit. Well no more! “In Defense of…” has one reason: to bring the truth to the wrestling fan!

Intro

Some dame walked into my office and said…

First up I heard from Casey Trowbridge who said:

I’m sure you’ve gotten this one a lot, especially with the DVD hitting shelves yesterday but the Ultimate Warrior would be an interesting case to defend. Not that I have a great fondness for the guy necessarily but it would be a really compelling case I think.

And then Rick Cobos joined the fun when he gave many ideas, including this one:

[T]he Ultimate Warrior’s unprofessional conduct during his WWF tenures in 1991 and 1996[.]

Of course, Matthew Leisten was not to be outdone. Here are his partial thoughts (the rest are for me and me alone!):

I [definitely] think that the Ultimate Warrior deserves a defense. I’ve never seen a wrestler as despised by his [colleagues] as he is. The guy is a little weird, and I cannot defend his remarks about Turban wearers, but otherwise he’s just come across to me as a very intelligent person who just doesn’t fit in.

Strangely, Migueal Sardalla sent this in two months ago:

[C]an’t wait to see you defend the Ultimate Warrior.

Have you been peeking at my files?! Well one man who wasn’t looking was Cam, who really laid it out best:

Defend the Ultimate One! Oh yes this would be the ultimate (sorry about the play on words) test. But there is hope in anyone who’s ever had 4*+ main event matches[,] isn’t there[?]

Well I have laid the gauntlet sir, will you accept my ultimate challenge?

Oh yes, I will take…

THE ULTIMATE CHALLENGE!!!

Why this?

Have you ever heard a rumor about yourself? Have you ever happen to overhear someone talking bad about you?

How did that make you feel? How did you want to react?

We all have had experiences like this, where someone says something not true, or an exaggeration, or a misunderstanding about you.

And then they use it viciously against you.

Their motives may be numerous, but the point is made. You are the bad guy. You are wrong.

What if one day you discovered not only were people saying bad things about you, but your former colleagues decided to put together a documentary to reshape history and make you look like a complete chump?

After everything you did for them, after everything that you’ve accomplished, out of everything beyond your control, is seems that your legacy will be this:

You self-destructed.

This is what happened to our client Warrior. Eccentric? Yes. Misunderstood? No doubt. A destructive force in this industry?

I don’t think so.

We will explore the Warrior in many ways, debunking the “Self Destruction” DVD along the way. We will delve deeper into his past, the motivations of others that are fighting against him, and just for a few moments at least try to understand where he is coming from.

The important question throughout this case will be simple: What is the legacy of the Warrior? Is he some flash in the pan nut job or he is a lasting testament to wrestling greatness, though eccentric and misunderstood?

I’ll have to ask you to have patience as my points may not be clear right away. But the picture will form overall, and as always, I invite your feedback as we progress and delve deeper and deeper into……… Parts Unknown…….

History Part 1 — Who is Jim Hellwig?

The year was 1959. The month was June. The day… it was the 16th.

And in the real world, the place was Williamsport, IN, and a man was born with the name Brian James Hellwig. OK, maybe he wasn’t born with that name; it was the name given to him shortly after he was born, but that’s beside the point.

The point is, he was born. And then he started to grow up — but not much. From Warrior Wilderness:

Warrior was a [self-described] “skinny little 135lbs kid with no ass”…

He also had a fairly strained relationship with his father, to say the least. Due to being a lanky, skinny kid with parental issues (his dad split when he was twelve and provided no support; his mom was domineering, but he thinks that is a good thing), he became a recluse and outsider. His friends were limited and he was mostly by himself.

Then, one day, an odd thing occurred. During his High School days, he stumbled upon the weight room of his school (I assume Junior/Senior High School) and decided to give it a try. From Warrior Wilderness:

[H]e became good friends with an old, rusty Universal weight machine, nothing fancy, it was oldschool. He started lifting and enjoyed seeing the benefits it had on his body, both in strength, looks and the discipline it gave him to push himself and his body to the limit, physically and mentally.

And thus Warrior pushed himself. Who else was there to push him? This was the type of support he got (from Warrior Wilderness):

Growing up, he wanted to become a Doctor of Chiropractics. This led to a meeting with the high school [councilor], he had a meeting because he wanted to discuss Further Education. Sadly, his reputation as a kid who was always in the wrong place at the wrong time reared its ugly head and the school [councilor] didn’t want to know, let alone listen. Not giving him a chance, she immediately told him “This summer, you need to go down to the factory…” (In Indiana, where the a young Jim Hellwig grew up, many people worked in the factories there)… she continued “and put an application in, and you work there this summer. That way, when you get out of school next year, you will have a full time job.”

Young Mr. Hellwig left that office that day, continually questioning how that lady could make that life decision for him, without even giving the impressionable young man a chance to talk to her about his aspirations for HIS future. He questioned how not once in his 12 years of school, how nobody had ever stopped him and told him they didn’t think what he had what it took to learn what they were teaching, how could she come to the conclusion he was a lost cause.

Through his weight training, Warrior had grown an appreciation for physical and medical arts and wanted to pursue that further. But there was no help for him. His father was not his friend, his high school had turned against him, and he had no one else to turn to in all of Indiana.

But he would not let that stop him. He began his schooling, but life would give him a twist in the road. From the Warrior’s own mouth in an interview with Dan Flynn:

Out of that [his work out discipline] I set an educational goal for myself to become a chiropractor. I turned my hobby of working out into a successful bodybuilding career. At the tail end of my schooling, the school being in Atlanta and it being a hotbed for pro-wrestling, my bodybuilding success created an opportunity to get into the business of wrestling.

You see, Warrior was not a big guy when he left school. He still had not finished growing and at that point was about 5’ 10” and 155 lbs. Compare that to his average size while wrestling: 6’ 3” and 260 lbs. So while going to school, Warrior continued to grow, but there was much to learn. From Warrior Wilderness:

During his third or fourth year of college, he went to California and saw all the bodybuilders like Robby Robinson pumping up. He was smart enough to realize that if these guys looked this way from repping out with weights and pumping up with strict form and not tossing heavy weights around, that was the way to do it. There was nothing to question. That was just the way they worked out and they all had the best physiques. Right then, Jim realized that working out with correct form and letting the muscle decide how heavy a weight to use was the way to go.

Seeing those guys gave the Warrior a goal. He was always a goal orientated person, thus so long as he had something to set his sights on he was willing to work for it. And so he built up his body, physique, and style and started to compete. Living between Florida and Georgia, he moved up in the ranks. He started off by placing 5th in a gym contest, but that was just the beginning. As time went on, he won the Junior Atlanta contest, he placed in the Collegiate Nationals, and moved on to the Junior USA. By 1984, his professional competing days were coming to their end. From Warrior Wilderness:

In his final contest, he took fourth in the Heavyweights the year Ron Love won the Overall. He weighed 257 and was 253 the year he went to the Nationals. In his own words he says “I never seemed to get it together on the day of a contest.”

You see, the Warrior’s training regimen put him off-cycle with the major competitions, and he found that it was not the direction for him. Although he enjoyed working out and keeping in good shape, there was too much back and forth weight changes to feel good. And besides, another offer came along.

History Part 2 — And then there was…

Our story begins in 1985. From Warrior Central:

Jim Hellwig began wrestling in November 1985. He started [training] with [Rick] Bassman for a spot as one of a quartet of bodybuilders known as Powerteam USA. The members of the team were Jim “Justice” Hellwig, Steve “Flash” Borden, Mark “Commando” Miller and Garland “Glory” Donnoho.

Warrior went into greater detail in his interview with Dan Flynn:

I was going to chiropractic school and competing in bodybuilding. In 1984, I won the Mr. Georgia competition. From that, I went to the Mr. America competition that year in New Orleans. And there, there was a guy by the name of Ed Connors, who was one of three guys who bought the Gold’s Gym that Joe Gold founded, and the three set out and turned into the worldwide franchise operation that it is today. Every year, back at that time, in the ’80s, they would take two amateur bodybuilders they thought had potential to make it big, and bring the two out to California and put them up while they trained at “The Mecca” for a Junior National or National level contest. I was one of the guys in ’84 or ’85. I went out there and I trained for a Junior Mr. USA contest, took fifth in my class, if I remember right. Anyway, things didn’t, in the contest, really go the way we expected them to go. The opportunity was still there. I was like one of the biggest, by bodyweight, bodybuilders at the time, got great reviews with [Joe] Weider and all the other top bodybuilders, just didn’t hit my mark for that show. So, I decided to get back to Atlanta and finish the small amount of school I had left, mostly clinical requirements.

Just as I got back to Atlanta, Ed called and told me there was a guy out there in California who’s putting together a team of four guys to become pro-wrestlers, and he asked me if I’d be interested. I didn’t follow the sport at all. Atlanta, of course, was a hotbed of wrestling at the time and I had crossed paths with a few of the guys — the Road Warriors, Paul Orndoff, Dusty Rhodes, Tony Atlas — but I didn’t know them personally. But after some minor investigation, and the fact that I could use all the hard work I’d done in bodybuilding to capitalize off it — make some money, come back to the chiropractic later… I decided to go for it.

But things were not so rosy. You see, Rick Bassman (who put the team together) knew nothing of the wrestling business and had no connections to anyone. After a very short time the team with no resources was quickly disbanded. But despite this, Warrior chose to continue his wrestling path. He wasn’t indebted to the business, he wasn’t without options, but he had found another goal to shoot for. Was he hoping for money? You bet! Why is that such a bad goal? Not everyone has to love the business to be a part of it. We’ll get back to that shortly. For now, Warrior had this to say while speaking with Dan Flynn:

Turned out, within a couple weeks, that the guy who had the idea didn’t have the money to float the beginning phases and the bottom fell out. We lost our place to live, had just enough to eat peanut butter, and do midnight snack runs at local grocery stores, eating in the aisles, funny stuff. To top it off, as Steve [Sting] and I later found out, this guy didn’t know jack about how the business operated on the inside. Even if he’d had the money to feed us and get us fully trained, his big plan still would have failed.

Steve [Sting] and I stayed positive about it all, and really our ignorance about things was a blessing. We sent pictures out to everybody on a list of wrestling organizations we had. We only had ten to fifteen hours of training. And that was basically just lifting each other over our heads and dropping one another on the floor — on the basic gymnastic mats.

Oh, did I forget to mention that the other person to continue wrestling was fellow bodybuilder turned wrestler Steve “Sting” Borden? Well, it was. Sting, who is regarded quite differently from Warrior, yet had the same training. I’ll get back to this in a minute, as well.

In the meanwhile, their story began. Warrior and Sting began to tag team together and send their pictures to promotions around the country. One finally bit. From Warrior Central:

But the wrestling seed was sown so Hellwig and Borden decided to tag together. They sent flyers out to every wrestling promotion in the country but only Jerry Jarrett was ballsy enough to take a chance on the two green but eager stars in the making. They wrestled in Memphis for Jerry Jarrett promotions as the Freedom Fighters. From there they moved on to Bill Watts’ UWF (Universal Wrestling Federation). There they turned heel and renamed themselves The Bladerunners in which Hellwig changed his name to Rock and Borden changed his name to the more familiar Sting. They wrestled together in the Universal Wrestling Federation until after a contract [dispute] and his take no shit attitude not going down too well with Watts, Hellwig left the promotion.

So it seemed like things were just turning out completely rosy for the Warrior. He was getting everything he wanted without the work. Or was he? From the Flynn interview:

FLYNN: What kind of money did a wrestler make back then?

WARRIOR: We were making $25 to $50 a night.

FLYNN: Were you rooming with Sting?

WARRIOR: We did everything together. Laundry, gym, groceries — always together. We had the one car. I’d sold mine so we could eat in California. We drove to the towns together. Sometimes 4–5 hours one way and with 4–5 guys in the car just to cover the cost of gas. Slept in a fleabag hotel until we got an apartment then we slept on the floor. Ate tuna fish out the can. Had to call Ed Connors to send us some money. It was really rough, but we stayed positive as we could. I thought a lot about going back to school, but didn’t even have the money to get back to Georgia, let alone re-enroll. And we knew there was nothing we could do about it. It was about paying dues. One week we got a check for the whole seven days of working for like $150-$200. Beat all to hell, bummed out and all, we ask one of the boys, Rip Morgan, a guy from New Zealand, “How do you know when you are getting screwed (euphemism)?” He said, “Oh, don’t worry about that mate, you’ll know when you are getting screwed. The question then becomes ‘What can you do about it?’” He was right. There was nothing we could do about it.

May I repeat one line for you?

It was about paying dues.

Did you read everything Warrior went through? Anyone who says the Warrior was just handed the world does not know what they are talking about. Warrior had to work for it, he did pay his dues. Sure, he did not do it for five years like some guys did. But that should be a testament of his dedication and unique connection to the audience, not used against him. It’s a shame that some guys who were not good enough to hack it that quickly (or at all) feel the need to take it out on someone else who got a break.

Besides, it was not like Warrior did not have years of previous sacrifice. In the Warrior’s words in his interview with Flynn:

I’d also busted my ass in painful ways they never had — years of training in the gym, self-discipline in working out and dieting. If they want to criticize anybody they should criticize the promoters who were, in effect, telling them, your little bag of fancy wrestling moves don’t sell tickets t-shirts, posters, dolls, etc. — so leave them and your tears at home, instead show up with some muscle and some energy.

What, am I supposed to apologize I did what it took, at that time, and they didn’t?

Just because Warrior had not spent half a dozen years on the circuit did not mean that he had not paid his dues in other ways. The training and work he did in the bodybuilding circuit was very similar. He was on the road, he had no money, he was stretched to his physical and mental limits, he was eating whatever he could find. How does any of this, coupled with his wrestling experience, not count as paying dues?

Back in Memphis, Jerry Lawler complained on the Self-Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior DVD that when Warrior came in he was green.

Really? What a shock! A man with a few weeks of training was green? Who’d a thunk it?

Lawler complained that he did not know what he was doing. Well how was he supposed to learn? You have to teach someone, you have to give them a chance to get better. That would be like Goldman-Sachs hiring a kid out of college and then handing him a billion-dollar account without training. Yes, you need young fresh blood, but you do have to train them and bring them up to your level, not fight against them.

And so Warrior and Sting (before either had those names) went on with their tag team, but the split had to come. From Wrestling Digest in December 2003:

While Sting stayed in the Mid-South, Warrior headed to the Texas-based World Class Championship Wrestling in 1986. Working as the Dingo Warrior, he entered the promotion as a heel but soon became a popular babyface. He went on to hold the WCWA Texas heavyweight title for four months.

That was the quickie version because the most important part comes next.

History Part 3 — The Ultimate Journey Begins

In mid-1987 interest in the Warrior was high, and not just from the then WWF. Although Vince and company would like to have us believe that they brought Warrior in and made him, the Warrior was making his own name and had a buzz of his own. From Warrior Central:

Several promotions had taken notice of Dingo Warrior and approached Hellwig with offers. Antonio Inoki and New Japan Pro Wrestling outlined details of a new monster [character] they wanted Hellwig to portray in their promotion. Hellwig of course turned them down in favour of the World Wrestling Federation.

Warrior could have gone to Japan and made good money with New Japan, but he knew that the bigger place was the WWF. If he could make it to the top there, then he would truly have made it and proved himself… to himself.

So the WWF career of the Warrior began. From Warrior Central:

In 1987 The Dingo Warrior made his debut in The World Wrestling Federation. He impressed on his television debut in a 20 man Battle Royal which was eventually won by Bam Bam Bigalow. “Dingo” was soon dropped by Hellwig in favour of the more marketable “Ultimate” and he was given a guitar heavy [entrance] theme. His running entrance and the insane shaking of the ropes quickly made The Ultimate Warrior a crowd favourite and he took the WWF by storm. After taking care of jobbers in his early days he began feuding with another powerfully built wrestler, Hercules Hernandez. The feud began when[,] before a scheduled bout[,] Hercules challenged Warrior to a tug of war. Warrior accepted and ended up pulling on the steel chain so hard that it snapped! Their feud ended at WrestleMania IV with The Warrior emerging victorious in under 5 minutes. The Warrior was now an established WWF superstar but this was just the beginning.

And it continues:

The Warrior became WWF Intercontinental Champion on 29/08/1988 when as a stand in for the injured Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake, he disposed of The Honky Tonk Man in just 31 seconds, the shortest Intercontinental Title match in history. Warrior defeated all challengers for his title and began a feud with “Ravishing” Rick Rude. He took part in a posedown with Rude at the 1989 Royal Rumble. Rude attacked Warrior setting the stage for a title match at WrestleMania V on 02/04/1989 in which Rude won the IC title with assistance from his manager Bobby “The Brain” Heenan. Rude’s title reign was short lived though as The Warrior regained his title at that [year’s] Summerslam on 28/08/1989. He entered a feud with Andre the Giant, most of which went on at house shows. Warrior [regularly] beat the Giant in under a minute and sometimes in only 10 seconds! A feature of this feud was Warrior’s effortless bodyslamming of the 520 pound Giant!

In the Royal Rumble of 1990 Warrior was eliminated by WWF World Champion Hulk Hogan. This set up their huge match at WrestleMania VI on 01/04/1990. It was the first time the top two babyfaces had squared off against one another. Title vs Title. WWF World Champion vs WWF Intercontinental Champion. Hulk Hogan vs The Ultimate Warrior. Before 65,000 ecstatic fans in Toronto Ontario, Canada The Ultimate Warrior defeated The Hulkster and became WWF World Champion. The rules in WWF at the time stated nobody could hold both titles at one time so Warrior had to give up his [I]ntercontinental title.

And in the Self-Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior DVD, the complaints rolled in. Again, the Warrior was too green for his spot. Again, he did not have the great wrestling skills. We’ll cover the latter point in a bit, but let’s return to the first point: GREEN!

If the Warrior was so green, then why would you put him in a main event spot? If his wrestling ability and interview skills were not to your wanted level, then why reward him?

This revisionist history is sickening. The Warrior worked hard, was on the road and doing what he did best: entertaining the fans. Whose fault is it if he wins the biggest title in the land with the only clean pinfall over the industry’s biggest icon? Is that the Warrior’s fault or the promoters behind him?

I’ll answer that for you: it’s the promoters. If Vince and the rest of his cronies really believed that Warrior was not capable of leading the company into the next generation, then they would not have given him this once in a lifetime opportunity. We’ll spend a lot more time with this Hogan match later, but the important thing to take away is that Warrior was ready for the spot. If he wasn’t, that fault belonged to the people who put him there, not anyone else.

And there is even more to this. From Wrestling Digest in December 2003:

Three months after Warrior defeated Hogan, his former partner, Sting beat Ric Flair to win the NWA world title. The two wrestlers who five years earlier were passed on by every promotion except one regional group were now world champions of their respective companies after defeating two of the greatest legends of all time.

Sting won his first world title at the same time as the Warrior, yet we rarely hear complaints that he was too green or it was too soon. Why is that? What is the real difference between Sting and Warrior?

It’s their relationship with the boys in back. We’ll get a lot more into this as well, but nobody is going to attack Sting for the way and time he won his championship as they would Warrior. Yet, it was the exact same story.

Warrior would then have a turbulent relationship with the WWF, leaving the company in August 1991. He would return in 1992 for seven months before leaving again for four years. He would reappear in 1994 for another four months before leaving the WWF yet again for what seemed like it would be the last time. However:

[H]e returned for WM 12 in 1996 and squashed HHH, he no showed a tag team match involving himself, Ahmed Johnson and Shawn Michaels. His stand in was Sid. 1996 was the last year that the Ultimate warrior was in the WWF(E)

Joseph Puopolo

In 1998 he premiered in WCW for a short feud with Hogan before leaving wrestling for good. There’s a great deal of detail to go over about each of these points in time, but that is for later.

After leaving wrestling, Warrior found he had a lot of excess energy. From his interview with Dan Flynn:

Being off the road and still having incredible energy and discipline and intensity, I began to want to do new things. I began a lot of self-study, including beginning a [self-learning] journey reading the Great Books of the Western world, and the study of American history and came to see and call the Founding people and times the absolute heroic models. This was special for me, having done what I did as heroic role model for young minds, and never before in my life able to point to any one identity as a role model.

This is something that really bothers me. Here in the IWC elite we like to think we are so well versed, so self-discovered and aware that it makes us better than other people. Maybe it does, though I do not believe it. But here is something:

The Warrior began his journey of self-discovery in his later 30’s, early 40’s. Yes, most people who go through a process of self-discovery do it somewhere between 13 and 29. Yes, the Warrior began his discovery of history and knowledge and self-meaning at a later point in his life. So what? That is something we are to hold against him.

Or do we hold against him the answers he found for himself, and the answers he has taken on the road on his speaking tour?

What really happened?

As we went through the history of the Warrior, there were a lot of controversial points to go over. Now we will delve into the Warrior’s wrestling history (we’ll get to the speeches in a later section), and take a look at the other side of the coin that the “Self-Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior” refused to look at.

Unprofessional

There are several examples of Warrior being “unprofessional” in the Self-Destruction DVD, yet none are delved into or explained in any terms outside of those affected. Take for instance in 1996 when the Ultimate Warrior returned to the WWF and squashed Triple H at WrestleMania in just a few minutes. Triple H says that Warrior was the most unprofessional person he has ever worked with. One problem: he doesn’t say what was so unprofessional about the Warrior. We are just supposed to believe at face value that Triple H, a man who was being punished and de-pushed, could criticize someone for being unprofessional? With no reasoning whatsoever?

Might it be that Triple H did not like having to job to a returning star? Might he be upset that he was embarrassed because he takes himself too seriously and never can get that win back? Might he be perturbed that a so-called non-wrestler was given another chance? Might he be upset that someone with much less in-ring talent than him drew a boatload more money? Just perhaps.

Another story I’d like to debunk is one where Bobby Heenan said Andre hated the Ultimate Warrior and had nothing to do with him. From the Warrior’s interview with Dan Flynn:

Andre was at the end of his career. He was happy and wealthy… I had a great run with Andre and became good friends with him, really. I would even make the case Andre did more for the Ultimate Warrior than he ever did for Hogan. And that’s saying a lot because Andre did not ever do what he did not want to. Ask Randy Savage.

Randy Savage was not available for comment.

Although Andre and Warrior were never probably great friends, they were not the bitter enemies that Heenan (or the editing) made them out to be. Andre would not work with anyone he did not want to, and would not job for someone he did not think had a future. Yes, he probably did rough up the Warrior a few times for being green and not paying enough attention, but the Warrior learned from those mistakes and Andre was happier for it. It’s much the same as Hardcore Holly or the Undertaker — an old school mentality to be rough to young guys to teach them the business, but it is not a sign of a lack of respect.

Contract Problems

These comments about Warrior’s so-called unprofessional conduct led the DVD to use it as the reasoning around how the Warrior left the WWF under varying circumstances.

The first such instance came at SummerSlam 1991. Warrior was in a tag match with Hogan against Sgt. Slaughter, Gen. Adnan, and Col. Mustafa. Before the main event, Warrior went to Vince and said he would not go on unless Vince paid him some additional money. Vince, on the DVD, goes into a tirade against the Warrior saying you work out these things in the back before the event, you don’t hold someone up. Hogan also went on the attack, saying that is just not how you do business. But why would Warrior do such a thing? From Warrior Wilderness:

Vince still owed Warrior his WrestleMania VII payoff, and after skirting around the issue time and time again, the Warrior gave Vince an ultimatum: He either paid Warrior what he owed him, or Warrior [wasn’t] going to go to the ring that night. Vince paid up, and when Warrior returned to the locker room after the match, Vince suspended him, or fired him, or Warrior walked out, depending on who you ask.

Do the math. We are talking five months after the fact that Vince was refusing the pay the Warrior. Warrior had done what Vince wanted, for months! He had tried to talk to him in the back, and Vince said he was going to pay him. But he completely lied to Warrior and did not give him his back pay. No offense to Hogan, but he was always paid for his events and had already been paid. This was not a negotiation for a raise, but for the money Warrior was owed for his performance and sales. Warrior only had one bit of leverage: himself. If he did not stand up to Vince, then Vince would continue to run over him for years to come.

As it was, Vince quickly realized he was better off with the Warrior and brought him back just seven months later. This quickly fell apart as well (for reasons we will get to in a minute), and Warrior was gone from the WWF until 1996.

By the way, the Warrior did not just sit around for four years. Aside from beginning his mental journey, he also worked a handful of independent dates and became the WWS Champion in Germany. He also spent some time in Hollywood and filmed the movie FirePower. It was during this time that he opened up his own gym and the short-lived Warrior University. The point being, he kept busy.

Vince needed a pick-me-up for the business. The WWF was down — way down — and the WCW was picking up steam quicker than ever. Vince McMahon, for all of his love of saying he creates stars, really does not. He chances upon stars who make themselves. Thinking that he could recapture the magic of the Warrior, he had Linda work out a contract with him. From the interview with Dan Flynn:

Vince called me at the end of 1995 — I’d been out since 1992 — and wanted me to come back to wrestling because the business needed a lift, and I guess, he had had the time to reconsider how he’d wronged me in 1992, using me and Davey Boy Smith as scapegoats to take the heat off his back when he was federally prosecuted over the steroid stuff.

When he called I was already up to my neck in my own entrepreneurial projects using the Warrior intellectual property. Basically, I just told him no, especially if it was to be under a generic contract. There was no way I could do that after all the investments I’d made since leaving the ring. Linda called me, his wife. Of course, I knew Linda because I had met her before out at their house, at Titan. I don’t know really how much she did business wise before, my business was handled with Vince really. But somewhere in the 1990s, she took a more active role, then eventually became CEO.

She called me and said, “Can I meet with you?” So she came out to Phoenix and I just got the impression that it would really be different this time. So I said, “Look, I can’t come back under a generic contract. I need a special contract. I got all these other projects going on. I got my gym, which is becoming a private facility — maybe to train guys who want to get in the business. I got my big comic book project I want to turn [into] an animated movie, got my mail order business, etc. I can’t just up and leave these things.” I said, “This is what I’ll do. I’ll come back. I’ll be the wrestler. You can sell the t-shirts, the posters, you can make the money from the ticket sales. You give me a price for that. But I get to plug into your merchandising and networking with my other Warrior projects. And there’s got to be a distinction between my new intellectual properties that I’ve developed, and those that represent who the wrestler is. So, we had our distinct agreement and four months after I came back they just started violating it. They didn’t give a shit. And it turns out they never were going to live up to it. Screwing me again was premeditated.

Lots of points to take away:

(1) In 1992, Warrior was used a scapegoat for the steroid trial (we’ll get back to this momentarily [I know I keep saying this, but hang in there!])

(2) Warrior had been spending the past several years investing into the “Warrior” brand. You remember that the basis for the WWE’s lawsuit against Brock Lesner is that they invested the money into creating Brock Lesner and therefore owned his wrestling rights. Well, Warrior had spent years investing his own money into “Warrior”, a brand he felt was beyond wrestling. Therefore, the WWF had no claim to it, and the Warrior owned the outputs.

(3) Warrior would not accept the regular wrestling contract and Vince and the WWF, under good faith, agreed to the conditions that the Warrior outlined because they were desperate to have him back.

(4) As part of the agreement, the WWF was to use their vast marketing and distribution networks to promote and sell Warrior branded merchandise that did not directly benefit the WWF.

That said, the WWF refused to live up to their agreements. How do I know this? Because Warrior sued and won. Back to the interview:

FLYNN: So did you sue them, or did they sue you?

WARRIOR: I sued them.

FLYNN: So what happened in the suit?

WARRIOR: The short answer is that I prevailed. Beyond that, I learned a lot about myself and life and my own integrity. I found out a lot I do not like about other people, especially the professional, expert suits in the world who get unchecked approval just because of who they are. I am more skeptical and cynical of others. I matured much, became a better man and came to know how I would define being one. I found out that it is never wrong to fight for what is right — never. In ways, having the experience has set me on the path I am now.

FLYNN: And when was the date of that?

WARRIOR: March, 2000, and then I fought my own lawyers for over a year, because they did an unbelievably corrupt turn and tried to screw me out of rightful settlement. I hung in there and beat them too. It was a rough five years.

FLYNN: So now, you have the right to “Warrior,” “Ultimate Warrior”?

WARRIOR: Yeah, I have all the intellectual property rights and everything to it. I always did, the lawsuit was necessary to prove it, to put to rest Titan’s fallacious claim that they did. Although just one aspect of the litigation, it was important from the stand point — a standpoint many don’t want to understand — that I had worked hard to create it and make it what it was and wanted to be able to, should be able to, use it to do other business things outside of the ring — down the road at a different time in my life. Christ, what was I supposed to do: just lay down and give over all the work, sweat, toil, and value? Critics are so narrow-minded, like, “Yeah, he fought for it just so he could always have it as a [memento] of his wrestling days.” The intellectual property is worth more than the memory of my career there. That chapter in my life signifies something about the whole of my life, what my life and the way I think about it and live it means to me. Of course, too, my full legal name is the one name of Warrior, and my family has it as their surname. It signifies the philosophy of life I live by.

Warrior proved that it was his investment into the Warrior name, and that the WWF had not lived up to its agreements at all. He was right all along, yet that is not what the WWE would admit in its Self-Destruction DVD. Instead they intended to make Warrior look insane and out of line for doing so. Yet the courts would say otherwise.

At the end of the day, Warrior made a stand few would make. From the interview:

In 2000, the day our trial was to begin and all was settled, he came up to me in the courtroom before the day got underway with his hand out and stared with his trademark, “Hey pal.” I refused to shake his hand and told him, “I’ve been insulted enough and we have nothing to be pals about.” Truly probably the only time Vince has had that done to him. Try it some time. Refuse to shake the hand of a person you don’t respect when they have their hand extended. It’s very hard to do. But man does it build your character and tell you something about yourself. Ever since that day, my handshake means something and I don’t give it as if it does not.

Crazy Angles

And with all that, Warrior was involved in some crazy angles. But was he the one responsible? From his interview with Dan Flynn:

FLYNN: One thing that I remember, and I asked a guy today if I were dreaming or something like that — one of the gimmicks that Vince had you do which was probably the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen on professional wrestling…

WARRIOR: With the Papa Shango thing?

FLYNN: Yeah, you know exactly what I’m talking about. So, he had some guy put a voodoo curse on you and you [were] throwing up or something. Could you say to Vince, “Hey Vince, this is a bad idea?”

WARRIOR: I did. But it did little good once he had his mind set on something. The big problem was that every three weeks you showed up at a television taping and they had it all laid out already. They got that one evening to tape three different television programs — whatever they were at the time. So, they can’t modify things that much. You — the talent — have been on the road and you’re worn down anyway, so it depends how much fight or how much creativity you have in you to make the case for doing something differently.

FLYNN: If you tried to say to him, “Look, this isn’t such a good idea.” Is he the type a guy that takes criticism in stride?

WARRIOR: Yeah, Vince was always good about hearing good ideas out. In fact, back then it was really up to the top talent to come up with their own creative ideas to make an angle work. But you had to come up with another idea really quick because they are going from one thing to the next. Papa Shango was a voodoo type of character anyway. So, in some way the office was already convinced that people were buying the voodoo thing. So taking it up a notch and having Warrior leak ooze or puke pea-soup wasn’t, so they thought, wasn’t going to make less believable the angle.

Warrior was not really in charge of his angles unless he could come up with something better on the spot. And even then, his ideas could be rejected. But like a professional, he went through the angle and tried his best to make it entertaining. But in the end, Warrior cannot be held responsible for his crazy angles, that again belongs to someone else. Yet once more, his peers have held this against him.

Why would his peers, who were in the same situation, hold Warrior to a different standard? Well, there is the other side of the coin. Not just who Warrior was away from the ring, but who he was in the back.

F • R • I • E • N • D • S

I touched on this briefly earlier, but the question remains: what is the main difference between Sting and Warrior? The answer is friendship. Sting immersed himself in the locker room while Warrior distanced himself.

On the DVD, several people (including Heenan) said everyone hated Warrior. But on the same DVD, Hogan said everyone liked Warrior, just thought he was eccentric. To make it even more confusing, Vince said that most people were not friends with him, but nobody disliked him, and that if they got to know him better that that they would realize what a charming, funny man he was. How confusing!

So where is the truth in all this? Well, the first question to ask is if, and why, the Warrior distanced himself from the boys. From our overused interview:

Look, I’m cut from a different mold. Most of the guys have this loyalty to the business that I don’t have. Even when it ruins their lives, breaks their character as a human being, or, worse, kills them. If things would not have gone sour with the McMahons, maybe I’d be more inclined. I mean, many of the old timers still work for Titan behind the scenes, as agents, gophers, real jobbers. It’s their job. They’ve made the business their life.

When I was having my success, you have to understand something: I’d been in the business a few years. Other guys had been in it 10 to 12 years and they never had the success I did. There was a ton of envy. I knew and was also smart enough to navigate the shark infested waters. I was despised in a lot of ways. I knew I had to be a loner to succeed — do my own thing. And I beat them at their own game — their own “work.” I got out on my own terms. They didn’t get to abuse the character or me.

They want to think in some ways — the pundits at least — that they were instrumental in making you what you were. And they also want to write the obituary for you. They want to be the ones to ridicule you on your way out: “Don’t let the door hit you in the ass.” It pisses a lot of people off that I have gotten on responsibly with my life. Like I’ve said numerous times, if I had ended up a pitiful, drugged bum I’d be better appreciated for what I did in the business. If I OD’ed in a Budget hotel room doing dirty little street drugs, my wife and kids at home, I’d be a real superstar. It also bothers a lot of people in the industry that I don’t have a problem defending the legitimacy of my career, using my mind to do so instead of muscle.

Warrior laid it out pretty simply. Yes, he did intentionally distance himself from the boys, but that was only because wrestling was not his life; it was his job. He felt he had enough interaction with them seeing them every day. Someone can work in an office with four other people they see each and every day but still not feel the need to hang out with them after work all the time or always talk to them. It’s a job, not a life. Warrior thought the same way.

But because he was not their friend, and definitely not one of the good ‘ol boys, they feel the need to badmouth him when he left. Hogan, being of a similar mode as Warrior, was more inclined to paint him in a better picture. But those who could not reach the success Warrior had, and had no strong connection to him, felt more of a need to speak harshly of him because they had nothing else to base it on.

Warrior has another point. Great wrestlers in the industry like Curt Henning who died dishonorable deaths due to drug overdoses will always be more revered than him, a man who has been able to hold his life together. And like I said, we’ll get more into the drugs shortly, no need to worry.

Drugs are only one of the controversial issues we will touch. But this is the first taste of what the Warrior is reviled for. And then there is a bigger story.

To have wrestling ability, or not to have, that is the question

Throughout the “Self-Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior” DVD and around the internet for years, Warrior has been called green, sloppy, and just a poor wrestler. Unlike many of our past cases (Nash, Undertaker, Sid, New Jack), Warrior did not have previous extensive training that he chose to ignore. Instead, he chose not to continue to develop his training.

And I know many of you are screaming right there. How could someone choose to stop developing? Isn’t that the point of being a professional wrestler?

Yes, if all you want is to wrestle. We keep forgetting that those were not Warrior’s goals. His goals were to entertain, be the best he could be, and make some good money along the way. He did not need all of the Dynamite Kid’s abilities to achieve what he did. As a matter of fact, they would have been a detriment. From the Warrior’s interview with Dan Flynn:

Not being a technical wrestler is kind of a silly bad wrap I get all the time from guys like Bret Hart and industry pundits. My response is, look, you guys were in the business for a dozen years before I even got there. A dozen years and you never figured it out that wrestling skills per se were not where it was at. It was about being a gimmick. I got there and in two years I figured it out…

It wasn’t part of my gimmick — it wouldn’t fit Ultimate Warrior — to keep doing the wrestling stuff. I was smart enough to know that. Making that decision is up to the talent. In other words, whatever a wrestler decides to portray himself as in the wrestling ring character-wise, he’s the one who develops that.

I have to agree with the Warrior. He did in a few short years what it took others decades to achieve, or never at all. Watching the DVD, guys like Ted DiBiase come off as bitter and angry. Now DiBiase is one of my all-time favorite wrestlers, but him never winning the championship while someone like Warrior did has dealt him a deep blow. And what about people like Steve Lombardi, aka the Brooklyn Brawler? How in the hell can Lombardi criticize anyone’s wrestling ability when he spent twenty years doing kick, punch, lay on back? Not that Lombardi did not have any additional skills, but again he had no use for them as the “Brawler”. I turn it over to 411mania’s own Joe Boo:

Another time Jim Ross shows his hypocrisy colors is about why the title was put on the Warrior. Ross gets some help from the Million Dollar Man Teddy D. on this one. They both say that it was a bad idea because the Warrior had to be carried to a good match by his opponent and that the matches had to be short or it would stink up the joint. First off, I am not a huge fan of having a wrestler comment on another wrestler’s in ring prowess especially when they wrestled in the same generation. It is in bad taste to do so and might just show envy, which is something that has been revealed about Teddy D. Somewhere it was said that Teddy D. was always bitter about not having a WWF Championship title run. He was a good solid wrestler but didn’t realize that his potential was reached as a great heel and nothing more. Now back to Jim Ross is getting a superior roast by yours truly (thank you, thank you).

Jim Ross praises champions like JBL and Batista and even Cena as the future. News flash Jimbo…. they have been keeping there matches short for a reason…. they all blow ass in the ring.

Sorry to say, you don’t need to be a five-star competitor to be a champion. If anything, it probably hurts you to the average wrestling fan. You need to be a character larger than life that people want to get behind (or run over), and that is what the Ultimate Warrior was. No doubt was he a sub-par in ring competitor. But wrestling, especially in the WWF/E, is not about in-ring prowess. It’s about being able to drive emotion beyond where anyone will care what you do in the ring. One punch from the Warrior would send more ripples around the arena then an entire cruiserweight battle royal. People cared about the Warrior, people bought into the Warrior, and the Warrior became the epitome of wrestling — what everyone outside of the industry recognized as wrestling. The people who pay and the people who make the press don’t recognize a reverse flying congitoro, they recognize a man who is beyond the ring.

Love of the business

Throughout it all, there has been a question of whether Warrior really cared for the wrestling business at all. All those guys questioning his dedication seem to have retroactively forgotten what the Warrior was about.

First of all, yes, the Warrior was not a fan of professional wrestling growing up. His step-father used to sometimes watch it, and would embarrassingly change the channel when the Warrior came home with some friends. So what? Hulk Hogan rarely watched wrestling as a kid, and he’s the biggest icon in wrestling.

Did the Warrior get into wrestling for money? Sure he did! But, as we noted earlier, that did not mean he did not pay his dues and scrapped by on nothing for years. Also, that does not mean he did not grow to love and respect the business. I turn it over to regular reader Doug Bernard who sent this in:

During Wresltemania All Day back in 2000 when they were going through the 15 WrestleManias up until that point they were discussing the Ultimate Challenge. Pat Paterson was being interviewed and began to tell [a] story of the Warrior after the match. He said he walked into the locker room to [congratulate] Warrior only to find the Warrior sitting down in tears saying he couldn’t believe this had happened and how grateful he was for it all. Now-a-days you would never hear this mentioned but back then it was still OK to view the Warrior in a good light every once in a while.

You see, even just a few years ago the WWF was willing to let the truth of the Warrior slip out, that he was grateful for everything he received in the wrestling business. The Warrior himself continues in his interview with Dan Flynn:

My match against Hogan, that was… I had a lot of great moments, but I would probably say that was the pinnacle of my wrestling career and one of the best matches of all time. I’m proud of it. It was significant for, as I’ve said throughout the years, many things.

One, I’d reached the goal I set for myself. Many people don’t understand, many in the industry just don’t want to hear it. But when I got in the business, I got in it to pursue success. If after a certain amount of time that would not have happened, I sure as hell wasn’t going to stick with it just so I could be professional wrestler, like so many others in the business do. And when I got in it, Hogan was the guy. The facts are I set a goal and achieved it. Did the work, turned the eyes of those who mattered, and made it happen. And like I’d done my whole life up till then, once I had reached a goal, I began setting others. In some ways, having that match with Hogan was anti-climatic. And I would say, now, after greater life experience and looking back, that the way I was about setting new goals, having the confidence to and not having any doubts I could achieve them, likely, underneath everything else that went on between Vince and I, contributed somewhat to the fallouts we had.

That match was also very significant from this point: Hogan was the superstar and had been for a long time the only superstar. Doing the match the way it was done, having the big baby faces face-off was a huge statement about how popular The Ultimate Warrior character was. I mean, Hogan was popular, there was no doubt about that. In fact, buildups to previous WrestleManias were done by taking one of Hogan’s buddies and having that buddy stab him in the back, turn the second hottest baby face heel. That’s how they built WrestleManias. But Ultimate Warrior was selling merchandise at the same pace or better than Hogan. If they’d done that, turned The Ultimate Warrior heel, they’d have been cutting their own wrists. So they had to do the match the way they did. I know on a deeper level what that meant and I am proud of what I accomplished to make that happen. It meant something to beat Hogan then…

Warrior was very cognizant of the meaning of that match and his win, and he was thankful for it. At the same time, he had set a goal for himself and achieved it. Is that a bad thing? He achieved a goal and wanted to set a new one?

Also, who is to say that just because he did not love the industry as, oh, let’s say Chris Benoit or Christopher Daniels does, means that he is not the best person for the industry? Some people become doctors because they want the money and prestige, not because they want to save lives. But that does not mean they are not damn good doctors.

If you needed brain surgery to remove a tumor, would you rather have the extremely skilled surgeon with an excellent track record who got into the medical business for money or the guy at the clinic who just wants to save lives but has no track record to speak of?

If you wanted someone to headline your WrestleMania, would you want the guy selling as much merchandise as your top face but is only in it for the money, or do you want the guy that can put on a wrestling clinic but couldn’t draw a dime?

These super technical wrestlers may very well be the best in the world, but they are wrong about Warrior. He did not need to love the business as they did. He had the only tool he ever needed to succeed: the audience in the palm of his hand.

One last time out to bat

In the fall of 1998, WCW finally finished contract negotiations with Warrior and brought him in for a six-month deal with the intention of working out a longer deal if things were going well. Right from the beginning there was criticism, like why he was called “Warrior” and not “Ultimate”. Said Warrior to Dan Flynn:

[Eric] Bischoff called me about coming to work there. I think Hogan called me too. I guess they were surprised the Renegade fiasco didn’t drive me to make that mad dash to the ring they expected it to. Titan got wind of them contacting me about a return and rushed into the court and filed a brief making even wilder and broader claims about negotiations than even I knew myself, in an attempt to prevent it. In their brief they made the claim that I, Warrior, didn’t own the Ultimate Warrior — that they did, that they owned the intellectual property.

So we had to file a response to it. What happened out of those two briefs being filed was that I came forward and proved through photos and footage — copyrighted footage I owned of the Dingo Warrior — that Dingo Warrior was really just a nascent version of the Ultimate Warrior; that I all along owned it, even before I went up to Titan. The judge said look, there’s no question that Warrior owns the character “Warrior” — all the trademark indicia, all the mannerisms, and everything else — he had indisputably created it and was performing the Warrior persona before he even came up to Titan. Vince though had a couple of his cronies file affidavits telling a contrived story that they came up with and provided “Ultimate.” So the judge decided that as the trial played itself out, what the truth about that specific matter would be determined then. So that’s why when I went to WCW in 1998, it was only under “Warrior.”

So you see, Vince and company were immediately threatened by the fact that Warrior was willing to go work for the competition and tried to sabotage him again, despite the fact that they had signed a contract giving Warrior complete intellectual control over his name and properties (a case that would take another two years from that date to finally be settled). But Warrior took it in stride and decided to make it happen anyway. He then appeared on an episode of Nitro to confront Hogan and Bischoff in the ring.

The initial response was huge. The crowd was so happy to see Warrior back, and had found yet another person to beat the evil Hogan. But his speech was long and convoluted, and Hogan and Bischoff just stood there listening.

All right, there are very few times I will attack Eric Bischoff, but this is one of them. Why was Warrior not given an outline and timeframe? Why didn’t the director tell him to wrap it up? The Warrior’s promo style was not unknown in the industry. It was a lot of energy with a lot of poetic metaphors, something that works in a taped promo leading to a match. An in-ring confrontation is a different animal, yet Bischoff decided to have Warrior go on. Yes, it was Warrior’s words and his promo, so that gives him some fault, but it is Bischoff’s job as the head of the organization to control the talent and the content. If an actor in a movie writes their own script and the director does not tell them where to stand and how to position the cameras, can the actor be given the blame for making a bad movie? This is what happened here.

But that is not even the crux of this discussion. On the “Self-Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior” DVD, Hogan claims that Warrior committed a cardinal sin and saying that he had defeated Hogan before, and now nobody would be interested in the match. Sorry to say, Hulkster, but that’s not how it works. Everyone knew the history between Hulk and Warrior, and knew the outcome. But it was eight years beforehand! One match… eight years ago! All he was saying was “I beat you before, and I can beat you again.” The fans thought that would be great idea because Hogan was a heel and that is what they wanted. How else was Warrior supposed to put himself over? Hogan’s argument makes no sense, and he and Bischoff blame Warrior’s promo and that comment for killing the momentum of their feud.

What they fail to mention is some of the ridiculous things they did to “further” the storyline. For instance, Hogan saw Warrior’s shadow reflection in a mirror while he wasn’t there, and we at home saw it, too. That’s like going into Randy Orton’s head and seeing his father dripping in blood. Moments like that did more to kill the momentum of the Warrior/Hogan feud.

Still, Hogan and Warrior’s match at Halloween Havoc 1998 would go on to draw a 0.78 PPV buyrate, higher than the previous month’s Fall Brawl (0.70) and the proceeding month’s World War III (0.75). Not exceptionally high, not WrestleMania levels, but still decent for a one-match show. The match itself was not up to most critic’s standards, and it’s hard to argue that point. But let’s look at it this way:

This was Warrior’s third match in three months, and those matches were his first in two years. To say he had ring rust would be an understatement. Also, on the DVD Hogan admits that his timing was off and he was missing all the spots, as well, so it was not just Warrior. Also, Hogan mentioned how he tried to set a fireball off in Warrior’s face, and it ended up backfiring on him and burning his eyebrows off. Why was Hogan even trying to do that, I cannot even fathom. But what Hogan neglects to mention is that the fireball did end up scorching Warrior’s arm, and he was working injured throughout the match.

What they also fail to mention is that Warrior lost, with little complaint. He had also lost one of his previous matches as well, and the only match he won was by DQ. And did Warrior complain about that? Did he say he would refuse to job and not do certain things? No, he went along with everything and let Hogan get his win back from eight years prior.

At the end of the program, Warrior tried to find out what the plans were for him. There were none, and WCW seemed to be disinterested in having a further relationship with the Warrior. They got what they wanted out of him, and then it was time to just let his contract run out. This would be Warrior’s last time on the grand stage of wrestling.

What’d he say?

Of course, while on the grand stage of wrestling, Warrior often cut long, fairly incomprehensible promos. To that I say: so what?

First off, Warrior’s character was to come out of left field and be from “Parts Unknown”. Sure, nobody had ever incorporated “Parts Unknown” into their character quite like Warrior did, but that does not make it uninteresting or irrelevant. Macho Man Randy Savage is fairly incomprehensible. I find Ric Flair incomprehensible a lot of time (especially when he starts wooing, saying things quickly into a mic, and then dropping elbows on his jacket). The point is these guys get over with the emotion of their speech, not the words.

You could have Chris Jericho write a speech for Chris Benoit and have Benoit read it perfectly with Jericho as director, and it would still not have the same impact. Jericho has a skill Benoit does not: timing and charisma. Benoit, for all his skill, will fail to make the same type of impact in front of the camera that Jericho does. Likewise, Benoit will win over the crowd with his match alone (especially if it goes longer) while Warrior could lose a crowd just based on matches. Wrestling is not all about Wrestling, nor all about speaking lines. It’s about the connection with the audience and getting them to care whether you are beating someone or they are beating you. A punch can be more devastating than any super flippy move if done by the right person. And super flippy move can look horrible and out of place if done by the wrong person.

But I digress, on the Self-Destruction DVD, they cut up a bunch of Warrior’s promos and interlaced them with music and graphics. Of course he is going to look horrible if you do that! You have to look at each event in context. Perhaps one of those promos was two minutes, and got over a match with Rick Rude. Perhaps another one was long and just for character development. So long as they worked on that show, on that night, is all that mattered. I can string together a twenty minute highlight reel of Rey Mysterio and Kurt Angle blowing spots set to Charlie Chaplin music, and you would think they were the worst wrestlers in the world. But if you say that they hit 99% of everything else in a high impact fashion, then the context makes all the difference.

When it comes to Warrior, the important thing to remember is that in those moments, he captured the audience. They did not care what the words were (pick up a Kidz Bop CD to see what I mean about people not caring what the words are and just pay attention to the tune and emotion), they cared about their emotional involvement. And that kept them sitting in front of their TV and buying tickets to the arena.

Take for instance the aforementioned promo with Hogan in WCW. Now that was completely buried on the DVD, but Derek Burgan did a little research for me that proves my point (not that I wouldn’t have made the same point, it just sounds better from a source):

Gene Okerlund said that “ratings sunk like a rock” during Warrior’s promo, which most certainly [cannot] be true. After a little research, I found out Warrior’s segment on Nitro did a 6.4 to Raw’s 3.1. Now that I think about it, Okerlund might have been even harsher on this DVD to Warrior than Heenan. The difference being that Okerlund often comes across as totally clueless when he opens his mouth.

Warrior has been right all along. His promos, although incomprehensible to most, are enthralling. People like to watch and listen to him. They are into Warrior, no matter what he’s doing.

Shoot ’em if you got ‘em

Despite being an enthralling character, Warrior also had a physique unique to the time. We have already gone into great detail about Warrior’s gym prowess, but the accusations of steroid abuse run high. So, was Warrior gassed up?

From Mike Tenay’s(!) interview with the Warrior on “The Wrestling Insider” radio show on March 20, 1994:

Caller: In the WWF, was The Ultimate Warrior always you? There seemed to be a great weight loss. Did they bring somebody else in to be you?

JH: There were a lot of rumors about that. I died quite a few times, too. From about every disease you could think of. Number one, there’s always been steroid abuse and I’ve never denied taking steroids. The weight loss, yes, when I took time off in 1991 after the SummerSlam event after me and Hulk and the Iranian guys at Madison Square Garden. I went to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and lived in the woods for eight months. I had been [on] the road real hard, real strong, every day, cross country, international. So I decided to take a break, and when I came back, I hadn’t been using the steroids. I was still training as hard as I could and doing all of the things I had to do, but yeah, steroids do work no matter what people lead you to believe. They are taken by people. They are taken by all kinds of people for different reasons, maybe not the right reasons. But when you’re in a position and you’re pilling down the money and making money and establishing security for yourself later in life, you do what you have to do. You do what you have to do to be number one to get there. Once you get there, sometimes the price is even more and you have to decide whether you want to pay that price.

Let’s pause. Did you read that up above? Warrior said he never denied taking steroids! He did it. Well, think back to the Lex Luger case: steroids were not listed as a class three controlled substance until 1992, so Warrior was legally using them with a prescription. And again, all of the side effects were not known at the time; it was just what bodybuilders and wrestlers did. But why was he taking them? The interview continues:

MT: Vince McMahon, Jr., was recently indicted on anabolic steroid-related charges. Have you followed the news of the indictments? And what’s your opinion overall of the situation?

JH: I haven’t really followed it that closely. I really haven’t followed wrestling that closely. When I was doing it, I was so involved in thinking in The Ultimate Warrior character, that was the important thing. That the people get their money’s worth from that character. Yeah, I’ve been following it. The New York Post and other people have called to ask me my opinion or what I thought. As Vince took the WWF banner and made that thing grow into the entity that it did, he made a lot of enemies. There used to be territories where people wouldn’t bring your talent here or if we do we’ll do a mutual thing. I think somebody wanted to see him fall. Based on the indictments and the time and the money that I know they spent bringing those charges against Vince, it’s my opinion that it’s a bum rap. Vince never told me to take steroids. There’s not a wrestling fan out there who’s gonna deny or say, if [we’re] going to make a list of the wrestlers you think were taking steroids, The Ultimate Warrior was one of them. If I can say that, and I was part of the inner circle, so to speak, and made it to the WWF, who’s a better testimonial of whether Vince did that or not.

MT: Did you feel any pressure to maintain a certain look or find yourself out of the limelight?

JH: I put that pressure on myself, and deservingly so. People bought the character for one reason. The guys used to tell me not to run to the ring, not to shake the ropes, don’t do those things. I was at a point in the beginning where I was wondering if they were telling the truth or not. I finally said, “The people are going nuts over it, so let’s do it.” Those are things that made or established or created the mold of The Ultimate Warrior, if I was to back off on any one of them, he wouldn’t be The Ultimate Warrior. The body and the physique was one part of it. I credit it to training. I went to the gym every day, no matter what time of day. I went to the gym after the matches at 2 or 3 in the morning. I went to the tanning beds every day. I worked deals with hotels and gyms. I had drivers who would find this and find that. I wanted to keep that up. It’s much more than taking steroids. It has to do with discipline and making a decision that you’re going to do it. If I neglected any one part of the mold that we had created, he wouldn’t have been The Ultimate Warrior and I wouldn’t have had the limelight.

You see, there is no blame passing here, there is no crying about it. Warrior freely admits to what he was doing, and admits it was his decision overall. Sure, he felt the pressure to look a certain way, but that was still his decision. It would take years of reflection for him to realize what he was doing to himself. From our interview with Dan Flynn:

FLYNN: I’ve noticed that many wrestlers live a paradoxical lifestyle. So, on the surface they seem a paragon of health. But when you go beyond the surface, on the inside their bodies…

WARRIOR: They’re rotting.

FLYNN: …are filled with drugs. They’re rotting. They’re battling inner demons…

WARRIOR: Hey, when we are young it’s built into us to think we’ll never die. That you’re invincible. And truth is you, your body, can get away with behavior when you are younger that later in your life you and, again, your body can’t take. There are ways other than hard work, diet, and discipline to achieve a healthy look on the outside, yet be messed up and damaged on the inside. This is what definitely happened to some of the guys I worked with who have since died. They get some juice and keep taking it and continue, as they always have, to practice unhealthy dietary habits. None of them really exercised hard. When they were young they could [get away] with it. At 40–50 years of age, you throw in a bit of slimy street drugs and the fact you haven’t consistently practiced healthy exercise and diet habits and BAM! — the body says, “No more.”

Also, in the business it’s easy to get scripts for potent pain-pills and the like. In every arena that they go to there is a doctor there that’s a big fan willing to write scripts for whatever the talent may ask for. Add to it street drugs and booze and fatigue and eventually there’s a wall one is going to hit and hit hard. And, you are right, the inner demons. It takes quite bit of level headedness to put celebrity and life on the road into perspective. You have to be grounded in solid, genuine ways.

FLYNN: You wrestled with several of these guys who are obviously no longer with us — Rick Rude, Curt Hennig, Kerry von Erich. Do you think there is something about the lifestyle that leads to self-destruction?

WARRIOR: Ultimately each individual is solely responsible for destroying their own life. I think there are always tell-tale signs one gets warning them that “Hey, you better take a hard look at what you are doing.” Typically, self-destruction happens in stages and each person is given ample opportunity to get their act together. You can’t keep tempting fate without there eventually being a serious, negative consequence.

Shit, the autopsies came back and a lot of those guys died from street drugs. Hennig died from a coke overdose. Rick Rude died from [liquid] ecstasy. Davey Boy Smith was doing cocaine and ungodly amounts of growth hormone and all kinds of different steroids.

Look, these guys who have died over the last few years didn’t just have that vision of death at that final moment of their life. The further and further out there they got with destructive behavior they knew inside themselves, many, many times along the line, that there was a price they were going to pay. They were doing the drugs to run from something. Something they didn’t like about themselves, their lives, the way things had turned out. The more drugs they did the greater the escape from the reality they didn’t like. Unfortunately, there are no success stories down that road. None. Not one. You don’t drug yourself into a reality you would like better. You have to fix the one you are living. Too bad that fact isn’t enough to have people snap out of it and get their life act together before it is too late.

People have criticized me about what I wrote in some posts when some of those guys died — like I didn’t have any sympathy. Anybody who wants to can read them. Frankly, I’m sick of all the sympathetic praise we throw around adults who screw up their lives. Life is about finding the strength day in and day out to make it work. Most people do. I’d rather praise them than people who don’t. We are a society, today, where we pathetically place praise of vice above praise of virtue and, as an adult, I’m not okay with it. My kids, if no one else, deserve better out of me, deserve better out of the world they will have to grow up in.

Warrior understands now what he was doing to himself, but he did not understand as much back then. But on the same token, he does not have patience for the type of recreational drugs that other wrestlers have died from. He was never using steroids for recreation, he was using it for his career. And yet, that is what would do him in. Or so Vince would have us believe.

Flunking a steroids test was apparently the reason Warrior was fired from the WWF in 1992. Or was it? Back to the interview with Mike Tenay:

MT: Back in November 1992 when you left the World Wrestling Federation, I guess basically it was contractual differences with Vince McMahon, Jr. What exactly were those differences?

JH: I wanted to go out and do other things. I knew things from the entertainment that came across Vince McMahon’s offices were shoved aside because Vince McMahon wanted to have you on the road and drawing and producing out there so you could make money. That’s totally understandable, but I wanted to reach a point where I could work with people out there as my representatives doing things like that. He agreed to it verbally, and when I presented him with papers, he terminated me.

And there is more to this in the Dan Flynn interview:

WARRIOR: The business has always had its highs and lows, but you are talking about the time when the crap hit the fan with the Dr. Zahorian steroid stuff, causing Vince and some of the talent, Hogan and Piper, to be implicated, eventually Vince being prosecuted.

FLYNN: That’s what I want to know. What was it like being in the WWF during that real dark time with the Steroid scandal, and the feds coming down on Vince?

WARRIOR: Well, most of the guys took stuff. Even guys you’d never imagine, just to keep up with the pace of the road, the lifestyle, the hanging out with groupies, and drinking, and whatever else. Of course, steroids were legal. You could get them with a prescription from a doctor. It was just at the time that the government was initiating a [crackdown]. The war on street drugs was a bust, so they focused their attention on steroids. The word came down from the office to either to make sure you had a prescription or get off altogether. I can’t remember exactly without a timeline in front of me. All the documents I have from my litigation with Titan lay it all out to the day, everything. I just know the office did things in stages. Just trying to go off the top of my head here, it [affected] a lot of guys negatively. I wasn’t bothered by it. I never depended on just steroids to maintain my physique and knew I could keep right at what I was doing. In ’92 when I came back you couldn’t use them, and I reached a great physical peak by using the knowledge I had. Hogan, on the other hand, went on The Arsenio Hall Show and lied about having ever taken them, which just made matters worse and created, I recall, real friction between Vince and he. Both had different ideas about how to handle it all. Hogan would always say that Vince was going about dealing with all this the wrong way. But Vince got really scared about it all. I remember very vividly a conversation he had with me. He really thought he was going to do some time in prison.

Plus, remember what Warrior said about how he came back in 1996:

[Vince McMahon] had had the time to reconsider how he’d wronged me in 1992, using me and Davey Boy Smith as scapegoats to take the heat off his back when he was federally prosecuted over the steroid stuff.

You see, Vince knew he was going to lose Warrior no matter what. Warrior had reached the pinnacle of the sport, and did not have the drive to stay in it just to stay in it (see: Funk, Terry). So instead he let Warrior go and then blamed him to get the heat off himself (admitting his own fears that he might go to jail, a humbling moment we rarely get from McMahon). In 1992, Warrior was clean when he was fired.

And do you think Vince might have held those comments Warrior made in 1994 to Mike Tenay against him? Remember Roddy Piper said basically the same thing on that HBO special a few years back, and Vince fired him immediately. Vince may give many chances, but he never forgets when someone screws him (or what he perceives as screwing), and so therefore has used his media power to re-write history instead of telling the humbling story that really happened.

The first rule of conservation

Warrior has parlayed his experiences in the ring, behind the scenes, on the road, and with his own endeavors into a new career: public speaking. Warrior has found after deep soul searching that he has conservative leanings. OK, leanings would be putting it mildly, but he has found a philosophy he believes in. And so he is trying to create a new career for himself. But he understands that he has to work for it. From the Flynn interview:

I haven’t been doing what I am doing today for twenty years. But I know how far I’ve come in the last five years. I know how much further I’m going to go in ten years. I know how hard I work at it. Everything I’m doing now is a continual work in progress. I’d like to get some gigs writing columns but my pieces are longer and more personal, and it’d take someone spending the time to mentor me about how to tweak them to get that done.

And elsewhere:

I’m pleased with what I’ve done thus far. Keep in mind, Ultimate Warrior started out as Dingo Warrior. It took some time to get to the full blown version. I plan to evolve in like fashion as a speaker.

Warrior realizes that if he wants to be a better speaker and writer, he must work at it. He has to find others who are better than him to teach him, and he has to try new things to see what works and what does not.

Sometimes, though, his views can incite people. I believe the quote is, “Queering doesn’t make the world work.” From the Hartford Advocate:

On April 5 [, 2005], Warrior spoke to a capacity crowd at the Dodd Center on the UConn campus in Storrs. During that speech, many audience members, some intent on disrupting Warrior’s speech, took offense at his comments, causing tempers on both sides to flare and voices to rise. The scene became so intense that a police officer, fearing things could get dangerous, called in reinforcements. A video of the speech and the mayhem that followed, filmed by UConn student Russ Passig (one of Warrior’s most vocal opponents during and after the incident), was obtained by the Advocate.

[Aside] from a kick-ass video introduction, consisting of kick-ass wrestling highlights, the first 44 minutes of Warrior’s presentation were uneventful. He talked of rights and responsibilities, and his definition of conservatism: “preserving traditions that have worked throughout time, beginning with the simple idea that people need to think and provide for themselves.”

Yes, things were fairly calm until Warrior described how liberal thinking has created an “abyss of moral relativity where everything is as legitimate as everything else.

“The broadest and most despicable illustration of this most destructive consequence of moral relativity,” Warrior said, “is that barbarism, today, is as legitimate as civilization.”

I, too, have watched this video, and I have to say this is a pretty fair assessment of what happened. Warrior spoke his views for a good forty minutes with little incident, mostly on being a moral representative of the world, yadda-yadda.

Now, let me preface this by saying I am a liberal-leaning person in many respects. If Warrior and I were to meet in real life, he would call me an idiot who is destroying the very fabric of our society, except with a few more made up seventy-five cent words. And you know what? I’m fine with that. Everyone is entitled to their opinions and beliefs. Warrior happens to believe concrete, ego-centric Christian values are the true morality and everything else is bupkis. Well good, I don’t believe that at all. But likely at least half the world does to some extent, especially if voting patterns can be believed in the United States.

That brings me to my next point. When Warrior made his inflaming comments, three quarters of the room was clapping and cheering. They either agreed with the man or the sentiment. Granted, it was in a room of young college Republicans (no offense, Mike LaFave), but even if they did not agree with the words, they enjoyed the intensity and meaning with which they were spoken.

Why did Warrior speak such words? Well, the Hartford Advocate alludes to it but does not outright say it: Warrior was being heckled. A group of extreme liberals went to the show with the express intention of heckling Warrior. Some were handing out fliers before the event with out-of-context quotes from Warrior to help prove their point that Warrior was no good. Basically, Warrior was antagonized and spoken over (during his own speech, no less!) until he was forced to respond.

Warrior has never hidden the fact that he does not believe in political correctness, and then decided to antagonize the liberals right back. He almost drove them to violence, proving his point, or at least in his own mind.

UConn, though, and the young Republican group chose not to back Warrior after the event and issued a retraction and apology. From Warrior’s website:

Explain for me if you will, young College Republicans, how you square your applause and praise at the event, a 45 minute ride together back to the airport having a mature, engaging discussion, and further praise, handshakes, and appreciation for coming with an absolute denouncement of my appearance and the things I said?

He’s right. Whether they agreed with him or not (and his views were never hidden), the college Republicans betrayed Warrior and lied to his face. There was time before, during, and after the speech in which they completely supported Warrior, and yet turned against him when the PC police got on their case. If you have ever read Warrior’s writings, this is one of the things he absolutely despises, and has criticized even Republican leaders for giving in to such tactics. Whether I agree or not is irrelevant, those are the Warrior’s opinions and he is entitled to them.

As I noted above, other people do agree with Warrior and support him, he is not alone in his thoughts. From Melissa Beecher’s report of Warrior at Bentley College in February 2003:

[“]He exceeded all of my expectations,” said Andy Prunier, co-vice chairman of the Bentley College Republicans, the group that sponsored the event. “He didn’t sugarcoat anything and I appreciated that.”

“What you come to college for is to hear a variety of views, both liberal and conservative, and he really let his views be known,” said junior Matt Revan. “He is direct and gave it to us straight.”

“I really didn’t know what to expect, knowing that the Warrior is a rookie as a speaker. But this really was a great event. We couldn’t be happier,” said Chris DeRose, a freshman co-vice chairman of the Republican group. “He got up there and presented some important issues.”

And from Nicholas Norcia’s report of an appearance at Penn State University in October 2003:

“That was the greatest speech I’ve seen at this school,” said Mike Jozkowski (senior-mathematics). “He emphasized that what makes this country great is self-reliance — the pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps mentality.”

I could go on forever with these, but the point it made. Warrior’s views, taken in sound bites, can be made to look ridiculous. But his whole views, taken all together and in context, can make an argument that a large minority of people would agree with. He is not an insane lone wolf, but a man representing many people, though maybe not you nor me.

And then there is the big question:

Does what Warrior do at speeches take away from (or add to) his accomplishments in wrestling?

The answer is no! One has nothing to do with the other except they are by the same man. Do you judge how well you did on math test by how well you can swim? Do you judge how good your costing analysis was by that time you ate worms when you were three?

We are talking about separate worlds, and when I think of the Warrior in our world of professional wrestling, I want to remember the wrestler above all and his impact and meaning to the industry. What he does in his personal time and his new life are of little concern to me except if it means he will return to wrestling. More on that in a bit.

For now, what do other wrestlers think of the current Warrior? From the Flynn interview:

FLYNN: Firsthand, or secondhand, have you gotten any sort of reaction from any of your old colleagues in wrestling about what you’re doing these days?

WARRIOR: No, well — yes, secondhand. Goes back to what I said earlier. I’m cut from a different mold. Most the guys I worked with are still trying to make a living off the business, in any way they can. They haven’t grown in the ways I have. Of course, they think what I am doing is oddball. Truth is they don’t really know and have never taken the time to find out. Everybody who finds out about what I am doing these days by reading some criticism of me elsewhere, when they take the time to come and find out truly where my head is, they are pleasantly surprised. Many are proud to have been fans of my wrestling career, but even more proud to say they are bigger fans of what I am doing now.

Like I said, Warrior is not Terry Funk, he’s Warrior. He has to cut his own path.

The once and future…

FLYNN: Any chance you’ll ever go back to wrestling?

WARRIOR: I don’t foresee it. There’s no place to go. I can’t split my energies and always have in the back of my mind that I will return. I just keep on keeping on with what I am doing now. I have been able though to use quite advantageously the intellectual property. New dolls are out and they are selling better than all others. I just sold one of my collector’s dolls for more than that has ever been paid for a wrestling figure. And I am in Akklaim’s new “Legends of Wrestling” game. The response about that has been over the top — getting ready to do some promotional appearances for that soon. It’s been, believe it or not, very humbling to see how Ultimate Warrior’s popularity has sustained itself. Of course, I never expected anything less (laughs).

As just seen in the Flynn interview, Warrior had no intention of going back to wrestling. He does not need wrestling like some, although he still has an interest. It was his life for fifteen years. Of course, since I’ve been laying out the case for Warrior, he had to flood the news board. From 411mania(!):

In an interesting commentary on his official website, the Ultimate Warrior (Warrior Warrior) says that if TNA is serious about competing, they need to bring him and Goldberg in and let them have a match together. Below is a portion of the commentary.

“[Sting] also mentioned in the press conference that Ultimate Warrior coming to TNA would be interesting. Yes, I have to agree — it would be very interesting. What would be more interesting is if the TNA execs had the creativity, integrity and balls to entertain it seriously. Frankly, what they should do, if they want to be competitive (there’s that nasty blood, sweat and tears word again), is sell some of those construction materials Daddy Jarrett has laying around, and put up the financing to bring in Goldberg and Ultimate Warrior and let us try to beat the intensity out of one another.

Now there’s an idea — an attention getting one, and a money making one. I mean, instead of always using “warrior” as the adjective to fallaciously describe all those who aren’t — bring a real, and Ultimate, one in. Let the hardcore, natural intensity rip. Let both of us take our mischaracterized heads halfway out of our asses, just enough for us to be businessmen capable of discussing the serious potential success yet not enough to defuse a competitive grudge, and let the serious and creative thinkers at TNA, those without an agenda or envy problem, work out a program.

Put your silly a** fear and prejudice for my strong, bold character away and think SUCCESS. Hell, I’m all for great ideas. But don’t expect me to keep my mouth shut when you don’t come up with any. Of course, as I hinted at, it won’t be inexpensive. Goldberg has an agent and has to give him a cut. I’m my own and I charge even more. The bigger obstacle, and definitely the one that has us both the most hated in the industry, is that we are strong individualists who don’t need, or even necessarily want, to be in the business and can get along having great lives without it. But, what a way it would be for the most envied and despised to shove the final word down the throats of those Nor’Easterners, while TNA capitalizes off the incredible heat of it all.”

Warrior is not hiding anything. I like his last thought: “I’m my own [agent] and I charge even more.” Warrior, as we have noted, is not into wrestling just to be in wrestling. He won’t just accept whatever is being offered just to get back into ring. Wrestling is work to Warrior, not life. From the Flynn interview:

FLYNN: You haven’t wrestled since then. Has anyone approached you to come back since then, like the Jarrett outfit?

WARRIOR: Yeah, when they first started up they did — others too, mostly dreamers. I spoke with both Jeff and his dad. They, the Jarretts and others, always present themselves like they think I’m sitting at home drooling for a chance to charge at the ring and that I should be grateful that they called, like, allowing me an opportunity to do so. Blows me away. Of course, that is how most other guys still working, outside WWE, are. They don’t know anything else, are afraid to go out and attempt anything else and get all their [self-worth] from being in a ring, staying part of the circus of it all. They don’t have any other means of making a living for themselves so when anybody calls and says jump they say how high and when their feet hit they ask about how far to bend over.

This type of attitude they have though, these promoters, like the Jarretts had when they called, creates a problem when it comes to negotiating with me. This has contributed to many mischaracterizations. They get offended when they realize I know how valuable the Ultimate Warrior is and if they want him he isn’t going to come cheaply. They don’t get away without discussing those details with me like they do with others, which is to say they don’t really discuss them in detail at all with others. It’s like, “Hey, we have a ring set up and are going to put your face on TV for a little while, come on down and we’ll figure what we’ll pay you afterwards.” That’s enough for most guys looking for work not doing anything else. That doesn’t work for me.

You see, Warrior is not a wrestler looking for one more day in the spotlight. He only wants to do something if it is going to make an impact and last in history. Is him fighting Goldberg in TNA one of those things? Perhaps it is. We’ll never know until we see it. But Warrior is open to the idea, and honest about what he expects.

In the meantime, Warrior has a lawsuit with the WWE to go through (breach of contract and defamation of character) and many more paths to pursue. Will this be the last gorilla press slam by Warrior? I truly believe not.

While his lawsuit would be dismissed in 2009, Warrior and WWE eventually found a way to work together starting in 2013. On April 5, 2014 he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. The next night at WrestleMania 30 he made an appearance, followed by a speech on RAW on April 7, 2014. It turned out that this would be his last appearance anywhere as he died of an apparent heart attack the very next day at the age of 54.

And so ends the Ultimate Challenge

After reading such a long case, I don’t think you need a summary. But instead, I’ll leave you with a couple of quotes that sum up the basic ideas. First, from Warrior himself:

Gotta run…taking my daughter, Ms. Indiana Marin Warrior, to the Russian Ballet of Sleeping Beauty [tonight]… just another one of those ‘self-destructive’ things I do.

And last, as Derek Burgan so aptly noted in his review of the Self-Destruction DVD:

Christian [closed] out the DVD with possibly the truest statement on it, “like it or not, everyone remembers the Ultimate Warrior.

The defense rests.

After the Trial

Hung Jury

IN THE CASE OF THE IWC VS. THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR, WARRIOR HAS BEEN ACCUSED OF BEING A MENTALLY UNSTABLE, FLASH-IN-THE-PAN WRESTLER WITH AN OVER-INFLATED SENSE OF WORTH AND DESERVED THE BURIAL JOB HE GOT IN THE “SELF-DESTRUCTION OF THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR” DVD.

With 66.3% of the vote, the Ultimate Warrior was found:

NOT GUILTY!

Oh…. Bwa hahahahhahahahahahhaha! Sorry, that was a major release. There were times when “Guilty” was winning by a big enough margin, but then people actually read the case and changed their minds. As further proof, the Ultimate Warrior and Goldberg were my two most voted on cases ever. Perhaps, then, Warrior has a point that a match between the two would be a huge draw?

More people than usual said it was my best case ever. I don’t know, maybe. It was certainly the longest and probably the second-most researched (after Eric Bischoff). There was a lot of other projects going on at the same time, so I do have to appreciate that it came together so well.

Response

First up, I wanted to start with my own response to several people (both ones that voted Guilty and Not Guilty) about using Warrior as his own witness:

I liked using the Warrior as his own witness. Several people wrote in that I did a great job of making Warrior look sane. See, you can make Warrior look like a complete nut job if you take the right quotes out of context and plaster them together. But if you take the correct context and boil down what he is actually saying, he’s actually rather eloquent. I don’t agree with 90% of what he says, but he does make real arguments if you do not shut him out immediately.

There were other questionable or unclear remarks I made that required some clarification as well:

Having been a Christian for nearly 20 years I would have to say that while some of Warrior’s philosophical beliefs intersect with mine (and what I perceive to be Christianity) [his] belief system is not a Christian one. Warrior believes in an abstract creator, a Christian follows God’s will (note capital G) who has definite preferences for our lives and models his/her life after Jesus Christ, my Savior and Lord.

Example: I would not have blasted wrestlers right after they died. Jesus told us to love everyone. What about the families of those wrestlers. He showed zero compassion for them. He could have said the same things after the initial shock and while the families would have been upset it wouldn’t have been rubbing salt in a fresh wound. He has the right to speak his piece (and I agree with some of what he said, death doesn’t make you a saint) but it was too soon.

Christian does not equal Republican or conservative. Too many Christians think so and thus it is understandable why you would describe Warrior’s neoconservative philosophy as Christian (along with other adjectives). But God is neither conservative or liberal. He stands on His own.

Christopher Pineo

To which I responded:

I’m sorry Chris, I didn’t mean to equate Christianity as a whole to right wing politics. I meant that a number of right wing conservatives use Christianity as an excuse for some of their policies, even though (as you say) those values are not true Christian values but a bastardized version of them. That’s all I meant, no disrespect was intended.

Of course, what was even more interesting was having liberal minded people defend Warrior after reading this piece:

Thanks for writing such a fascinating article. I’ve been following your column since it started and I really do think this is your best work yet. Why do I think that? I do because I went into reading the article as a true Warrior-hater. Your article honestly changed my opinion of him and now I actually think the guy is pretty inspirational. Oh, and I am very liberal myself. So, your victory in winning me over is even more impressive.

Good job, man.

A fan,

-Matt Essary

I’ve been waiting a long time for some kind of intelligent, thought out defense of the Ultimate Warrior’s wrestling career. Thank you for providing such. Regardless of my personal views on his current opinions, he made an undeniable impact on professional wrestling, and the Ultimate Challenge at Wrestlemania 6 will always be the match that makes my hair stand up on end through [its] sheer power and epic feeling. It was the closest I believe you can come to seeing two people who seemed more than mere mortals colliding.

Derek Houck

As an aside, sometimes it is just fun to hear little interactions:

I just wanted to add, [I] dealt with Warrior on EBAY, truly a class act to deal with.

Justin Swift

And finally was this little ditty:

Great article. The best complete [review] of [W]arrior I have read………

[W]rite a book!

s_brown

I am writing a book! But it has nothing to do with wrestling. Would you like a wrestling book from me? You aren’t the first one to suggest it. I’ve been thinking about doing a collection of the In Defense Of… series with some additional commentary from me (why I chose the topic, why I placed it where I did, why it was important). Would that actually sell? I’m not so sure.

JP Prag

April 16, 2006

Hopefully I didn’t miss the window…

The original version of this article appeared on 411mania.com and can be found on jpprag.com:

Part 1 — Feb 15, 2006 * Part 2 — Feb 22, 2006 * Part 3 — Mar 1, 2006

IN DEFENSE OF… EXONERATING PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING’S MOST HATED

IN DEFENSE OF…

EXONERATING PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING’S MOST HATED

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