Fear the Ultimate Warrior

Posted on January 19, 2011


I was floating around Deadspin the other day (effectively Jezebel or Gawker, but for sports) and noticed a curious feature:  Dead Wrestler of the Week.  How could my 11 year old self (trapped somewhere inside me) resist?  So I read a very excellent article about Ravishing Rick Rude.  Check it out.  Did you know he was dead?  He was.  And still is.  Rest In Peace.

Ah, the homophobia is so thick you can cut it with this guy's abs

Then I saw a link to a similar piece about the Ultimate Warrior.  I thought “NO!!  not him too!  first Rick Rude and now him?!  Life is so unfair”.  But take heart, he was only included because of the pervasive belief amongst wrestling fans (odd since as a group they are so very unlikely to believe things that aren’t true) that he had died in the early 90s and been replaced by a different wrestler.  Not so.  No one on earth could replace this guy…

INTENSE

SKULL DISTORTING INTENSITY

Let’s take a step back, for the benefit of the uninitiated (i.e. women, people with lives).  Professional wrestling is completely and utterly insane.  Every little bit of it is certifiable, but for whatever reason it has some kind of captivating effect.  There are the easy explanations:  it’s a soap opera for men, it pits good against evil, it’s violent.  Sure, those are all part of the explanatory cocktail, but the thing is just so damned weird from top to bottom that it defies simple explanation.  Essentially large, oily men engage in a sport / spectacle which consists of feuding and fighting.  The narrative arc of every wrestling tale goes like this:

  • Wrestler A aggrieves wrestler B (interferes in match, steals girlfriend, assaults manager, talks trash at, and so on).  Most of the time this occurs for no real reason, and the wrestlers have no motivation whatsoever for hating each other, but oh do they HATE each other.  Sometimes the feud is the result of a mistake (wrestler A hits wrestler B only because he missed while trying to hit wrestler C), this NEVER lessens the intensity of the hatred in any way.
  • (optional) Wrestler B retaliates against wrestler A (interferes in match, impregnates girlfriend, brutally beats manager to within inch of his life, criminally slanders, and so on).
  • Continue ad infinitum until wrestlers A & B collide in a match where one wrestler defeats the other, ending the feud.  Sometimes the wrestlers must fight several times to settle things.

That’s it.  It’s always like that.  Now if you were naive you would assume that most of these things happen in the context of wrestling matches.  Ha!  You couldn’t be more wrong.  Most of the action leading up to the match takes place in the form of interviews and other stunts that have nothing to with matches per se.  Especially back in the 1980s wrestlers would communicate with each other primarily through promos, extremely long-winded interviews or monologues (two minutes of some guy yelling is a really, really long time) where a wrestler would talk junk at his enemies and espouse his own virtues.  Now whatever you think about wrestlers, the really good ones are really good at one thing above all else:  talking junk, and they deserve our respect for this skill.  Far more so than ring ability, this is what sets the greats apart from the also-rans, something which would likely surprise those new to the format.  The main job of a wrestler is to project swagger or charisma and inspire something (love or hate) in the fans, and this is primarily effected through their persona / interviews, moreso than their actual wrestling.

There have been many wrestlers quite able with a mic in hand, but I think we would be hard pressed to find anyone so singularly… bizarre as The Ultimate Warrior (bringing things back to where we started – see that?).  In reading the Deadspin article I saw a link to a YouTube video, and my mind was destroyed by the Warrior’s “interviews”.  Check this out!!

Please, please watch the whole thing.  It just gets funnier and funnier (in fact repeated viewings yield only increasing returns).  The Ultimate Warrior’s promo style is essentially to scream as loud as possible for the entire time, and to rant about:

  • the gods above
  • the warriors
  • the power of the warrior
  • loading the spaceship with rocket fuel

without ever making any sense.  I just can’t get over how he consistently begins and continues at absolute maximum intensity, so much so that it seems like his entire body could explode at any moment.  I love it!  Now you’re probably thinking:  what is this guy supposed to be?  Exactly!  It’s impossible to tell!  Every wrestler is a character, say a smooth talking gigolo, or an earnest everyman, or a southern charlatan, or a voodoo priest, or whatever.  But The Ultimate Warrior?  It is impossible to tell.  He is just a ranting mouth breather, hopped up on steroids and huge amounts of cocaine, and other than that?  Uh, your guess is as good as mine.  The only adjective you could really use is “intense”.  And the best part?  This maniac is supposed to be a good guy.

Here’s a quote from one of the videos above, designed (ostensibly) to intimidate opponents and endear himself to the fans:

I look above to the Gods and when you fall below the skeletons of the warriors past, the power of the warriors will become the eighth wonder of the worrrrrrrld!!!!!

What the hell?  It’s just so good.  Who wouldn’t get behind this guy?

So then I poked around a bit and discovered some other interesting things.  Somewhere along the way Jim Hellwig – the man beneath the facepaint – began to slip away.  As his career progressed he seemed to identify progressively with the Ultimate Warrior identity and in 1993 he legally changed his name to simply Warrior.  He engaged in disputes with the WWF, getting fired and banned for steroids, and eventually suing the company for the right to use the Ultimate Warrior character (a battle he won, which is an interesting piece of copyright law, though it didn’t cause undue disruption to the wrestling business, primarily because Vince McMahon so thoroughly crushed his competitors, leaving his employees few alternative places to ply their trade).  Jim Hellwig is long gone.  Now there is only Warrior.

He maintains a website, correction a CRAZY website, which may be worth an extensive review or may be not worth four seconds.  Live vicariously through me, good people.  First there is a rambling biography, which tells us very little.  The mind behind those wild interviews is clearly at work here.  He tags his bio with this sign off line:  “I Am Your Founding Father of Ring Intensity”.  What we learn from this is that he is very, very intense.  He also speaks of the Ultimate Warrior in the third person, while speaking of himself in the first person, while talking about what he learned from the Ultimate Warrior, as though he really is not himself.  Whoa.

Next we have the blog, entitled Warrior’s Machete.  Warrior is selling some gym equipment (a whole gym).  He also takes advantage of the date to rail against Martin Luther King Junior day.  Great idea!  Here are his views:

I like my heroes real and hardcore. Frederick Douglass was both.  Frederick Douglass had a dream, too. It didn’t have anything to do with making life for White people in the United States a racial nightmare.

I am Canadian, and have spent next to no time in the US of America, so maybe I’m wrong, but the notion of white Americans’ lives as a “racial nightmare” is totally hilarious.  What is a racial nightmare?  I want to experience one.  If you have any suggestions please leave them in the comments.

But Warrior isn’t done there!  Ohhh no!  He also paints.  Need to know more?  How about this introduction?

My name is Warrior. I am a self -taught artist. I use oils and my only tool is a knife.

INTENSE.  He provides an extensive, self-aggrandizing description of his coming to art, and has a gallery of various paintings that he has for sale.  In truth, some of his works are not terrible, from a technical perspective.  It seems that he also churns out (and attempts to sell for $100) small pieces called Weapons of Warrior Wisdom, every damned day!  Here, check this one out:

WHEN YOU FALL BELOW THE SKELETONS OF THE WARRIORS PAST

Like it?  There are scores more.  If you work in an office which has any sort of motivational posters up anywhere I strongly suggest that you rip them into shreds and burn them, and then replace them with this, and its ilk.  YOUR WORKPLACE WILL BE 1000% MORE INTENSE.

There you go.  I suspect most of the four people who read this blog knew nothing about 1980s wrestling, and now you do.  You are so very welcome.  I should also specify that I have not watched wrestling in at least fifteen years.  At least!  Honest.  Wrestling lost its innocence in the mid 1990s.  It became too crass, too tawdry.  One of the wrestlers was a supposed porn star (with the hilarious name Val Venis, which is clever because it kind of resembles the word penis).  They had blood all the time.  A major catch phrase of the era was “suck it” whereupon the wrestlers uttering the phrase would cross their hands in an X over their groins.  Here’s the wrestler X Pac (??) demonstrating.  Cool eh?  Xtreme.  Totally.

Amazingly this idiot is even dumber than you think

The good guys all became bad guys, and there was effectively no one to root for, except the bad guy with the most “attitude” – read beer swilling louts who uttered the word “ass” as much as possible.  Andre the Giant was dead.  It was never the same somehow.

Rest In Peanut - the greatest of all time

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Posted in: The Obscure