Something to Wrestle With: Episode 4 – “The Ultimate Warrior”
Show Length: 1 hour 6 minutes
Recap by: Andrew Soucek, PWPodcasts.com Editor
Release Date: August 26, 2016 (recap date: September 23, 2017)
-Warrior vs. Hunter at WrestleMania was never designed to be a squash match.
-Bobby Heenan (among many others) hated working with Warrior.
-Warrior was incredibly emotional after winning the WWF Title.
-At one point, “Sheik” Tugboat was scheduled to main event WrestleMania VII.
It’s just another day in paradise for Bruce. Today’s topic is The Ultimate Warrior. But first, a commercial break.
1:37 – Commercial. Prowrestlingtees.com
3:08: – What Happened When they decided to strap a rocket to the Ultimate Warrior? Bruce briefly runs down Warrior spending time in Mid-South until Bill Watts chased him off with a baseball bat. Conrad asks him to elaborate on that story. Warrior was in the Blade Runners with Sting at the time. Watts liked to carry a baseball bat and cattle prod around with him backstage. Eventually the team left the territory. Damn. Let down of a story!
Warrior came up to the WWF and Vince McMahon was enamored with his physique. Warrior had started doing some dark matches and was on the “C-Towns” (small venues) to start. At the first Survivor Series, it’s Thanksgiving day, there’s a huge dinner for the talent in catering. Warrior is going through the line and loading up his plate like nobody’s business. Hulk Hogan is watching and said, “if that big bastard can do that, I can do it!” Hogan ate until he was stuffed and wondered how Warrior could eat that much and still work. Warrior responded “Oh, I’m not working.”
So what were they doing to call the man who was known as “The Dingo Warrior” at that time? Vince said they needed a new name. He didn’t know what the Dingo Warrior meant. With The Road Warriors and “The Modern Day Warrior” Kerry Von Erich on the scene, how many “Warriors” did they need? Blackjack Lanza said, “this guy can still be a warrior. He can be the ULTIMATE Warrior!” Vince liked it.
10:02 – Warrior working with Bobby Heenan. Bobby hated it! Jim (Warrior’s real name) didn’t listen. He was also reckless. Was it because he was green or because he didn’t care? Bruce thought he was reckless. Warrior took liberties with Bobby, but it did give Warrior a boost and was entertaining.
11:52 – Warrior beats Honky Tonk Man at SummerSlam, ending the record Intercontinental Title reign. Any pushback from this? No.
How much success of Warrior’s can be attributed to his theme song, which was made by Jim Johnston? The hosts think quite a bit of it was. It fit him perfectly.
Bruce moves into a story about Rick Rude spraying Warrior in the face with tanning oil. Warrior is so hyped him he forgets to sell it. They then touch on the Andre the Giant house show matches. This was done to give Warrior a rub. Andre was willing to put him over and help make him. They had a series of incredibly fast matches that didn’t go over well. The idea was “What if?” Warrior destroyed someone in 30 seconds. Instead of making Warrior seem like a huge star, it pissed off the crowd. (I once met a former wrestling fan who as a kid saved up for months to see a WWF show live. The most hyped match on the card was Warrior vs. Andre, which he had been eagerly anticipating. He was then so upset with the quick match it killed his fandom forever.)
Andre loved the 30 second matches. In longer bouts, he would try to get Warrior to slow down and relax. Andre had his way of dealing with things at the time. He once punched Warrior in the nose in a match. He basically just held his fist out there and Warrior ran into it. Warrior then learned to slow down a bit.
20:05 – Warrior as “The Guy.” Bruce doesn’t recall when the idea came up for Warrior to beat Hogan. A lot of the agents and veterans felt Warrior didn’t have the right attitude to be champ. He didn’t love the business, he was rough around the edges, he had a sh***y attitude. He gave the impression that he was better than other people.
Did they need someone to beat Hogan so they could “keep the train on the tracks?” Vince was looking for the next Hogan. They needed something new. Was there any hesitation from Hogan for dropping the belt? Bruce doesn’t think so.
On the DVD, Hogan said he knew Warrior wasn’t the guy to drop the belt to. Bruce said the idea for the DVD came about and WWE wanted Warrior to be a part of it. After they started shooting the interviews, they realized that people didn’t have positive things to say about him. That’s what became the story. Conrad asked if the people were then coached to say negative things. Bruce says no. He was interviewed for it and wasn’t told what to say.
29:09 – The night of WrestleMania VI. In the past, Warrior claimed he refused to ride the cart to the ring. Bruce says that’s not true. The plan was for him and Hogan to be the only two to walk to the ring.
Conrad brings up a story about Pat Patterson trying to find Warrior after the match. Warrior had hidden in a closet as he was overwhelmed by winning the belt and didn’t want anyone to see it.
Did Hogan have a favorite referee to work with? Probably Earl or Dave Hebner.
What does Bruce attribute the quality of the match to? Patterson. The three of them were able to get together ahead of time and lay things out, it helped to tell the story.
32:03 – Warrior’s Promos: Was he given bullet points? They basically just told him how long he’d have to cut a promo. How many takes would Warrior usually need? Just one.
Did Bruce equate Warrior’s gimmick to being an Indian? “What?” Conrad says some people think that. Bruce never thought that way. First he’s ever heard of it.
Back to the storyline. Warrior and Rick Rude are set up as opponents. What did Rude think about working with Warrior? Rick was a great character in and out of the ring to program Warrior with. They had history during their Intercontinental Title feud. Rude had been gone for awhile and had returned. It was a good fit.
Conrad said he read that Rude left the WWF due in part because of not getting the title and having to put Warrior over. Bruce doesn’t recall this. He remembered Rick being excited in the role, though, he may have been frustrated due to having to teach Warrior so much.
Conrad brings up the cage match between Warrior and Rude and talks about the big blue cage they used. What was up with that? Bruce HATED the cage. He thought it was ugly. It was unforgiving as hell. The concept behind it was for Bruno Sammartino and The Sheik, so they could climb over it easily. Back in the day a cage match was a blowoff. It was the finale. Then in the Northeast part of the country, cage matches evolved into the winner being the one who escaped first. That made no sense to Bruce (me neither!). But it goes back to Bruno and Sheik. It was easier to climb and you didn’t have to have a finish.
40:05 – At Royal Rumble, Warrior took on Sgt. Slaughter. “Macho Man” cost Warrior the belt. Why was this title switch done before ‘Mania? As the Sarge, American traitor, angle went on, it was a natural progression to have him win the belt and challenge the “Real American” Hulk Hogan.
The original idea for WrestleMania VII at The Coliseum in Los Angeles was for Tugboat to turn on Hogan and become the Iraqi sympathizer as Sheik Tugboat. Sarge then came into the company and they decided to go that direction instead. Going Warrior vs. Savage with a retirement stipulation was still a big deal for the former champ.
Why did the retirement stipulation come into play? Randy wanted some time off. He’d been going for years non-stop and needed a break. Was he comfortable working with Warrior? He had no problem at all. Savage and Elizabeth reunited at the end of the match, did they know they were headed towards a wedding? Randy lived the gimmick and their separation on-air was tough on them. Bruce doesn’t recall, though, if the wedding was already in mind at that point.
47:04 – Warrior and Undertaker feud. Sadly, Prichard was not in the company for the room of snakes.
Warrior kicked some snakes during the shoot. Could they get away with that today? Absolutely not. Bruce didn’t care for how the angle was shot. He was there for when Warrior was locked in a casket during a Funeral Parlor segment.
Bruce thought the angle was great. He went to buy the casket and took Road Warrior Hawk with because he was about the same size as Warrior. Paul Bearer had set up the meeting. Everyone who was there got into the casket. Bruce said it was incredibly uncomfortable. There’s a picture of Vince McMahon in it.
50:15 – WrestleMania VIII, Warrior has returned to the company. What was the talk backstage when Warrior “held up” Vince for money? Vince agreed with everything to get Warrior in the ring. Then he fired him right after. Warrior goes home. The steroid troubles with the company really started to begin and Warrior returned months later looking much smaller. “It looked like Warrior’s little brother,” chimed Bruce.
Why did Warrior leave so soon again? There were issues that Bruce can’t discuss. Legal issues. Did it have anything to do with drugs? Bruce can’t talk about it. Conrad asks him why, since he no longer works there. Bruce said it’s out of respect for Vince.
53:23 – Warrior is on his own and doing Warrior University, making up words, and working on the infamous comic book. Jim Cornette was in the company at the time and they were headed out to WrestleMania 12. They stopped by Warrior University to visit Warrior and talk about future plans. “Destrucity” comes up. Bruce has no idea what the hell it is. No one did.
How many copies did the company buy of the comic book? “Too many.” They didn’t sell barely at all. Once again, Warrior became very difficult to work with. He was demanding.
Who’s idea was it to have Warrior squash Triple H? The match was designed to be completely different and Warrior changed it right before they went out. Hunter was a pro and did the job. It was never, ever intended to be a squash. It was supposed to go around 12 minutes. Any heat on Triple H for going along with Warrior’s match concept? No. He was put in a horrible spot. He did what he had to do.
Warrior stopped showing up for live events and didn’t return phone calls. He then claimed he was upset because his father had passed. Until that point, though, he would talk about not having a relationship with him and didn’t care about him.
1:00:10 – Warrior shows up in WCW a couple years later. Did they know he signed the deal before he debuted? Bruce doesn’t recall. He thinks they probably didn’t know. They knew he was a pain in the ass and didn’t see it as a big loss.
Conrad goes back to talking about the DVD released on Warrior. Bruce says he was honest in his feelings during this episode. Warrior didn’t treat Bruce well. He was rude to him. They never clicked and neither man tried to make it work. Conrad said he was a huge fan as a kid and Bruce said had he approached Warrior for an autograph at that age his entire world would have been shattered.
Even though Bruce and Warrior never saw eye-to-eye, he was a brother in the business. He felt for his family after he passed. Bruce was happy when Warrior came back to the company. At the end of the day, it was a happy ending that he reunited with Vince McMahon.
What’s Warrior’s importance from 1988-1992. Very important. He was the second biggest act in the company next to Hogan.
What was here on this episode was quite good. Unfortunately, there was just too much left out to really be considered an in-depth retrospective on Warrior’s career. The main issue is that the show jumped from one subject to the next way too fast. For example, The Honky Tonk Man match at SummerSlam was a defining moment in Warrior’s career, but besides seeing if there was any pushback from Honky Tonk, they dove right into Warrior’s theme song. What?
They also didn’t touch off on the horrifying racist, vile, and homophobic things Warrior said during his post-career. If you go into this episode with the idea of learning a few tidbits of Warrior, you’ll be fine. If you expect much more you’ll probably be disappointed. Entertaining for what it was, but a far cry from the excellent retrospectives that are yet to come. How about a do-over?
10:02 – Warrior working with Bobby Heenan
20:05 – Warrior as “The Guy”
29:09 – The night of WrestleMania VI
47:04 – Warrior and Undertaker feud
53:23 – Warrior on his own
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