Derek Burgan reviews The Ultimate Warrior Shoot Interview
To steal a line from Monday Night Raw’s Good Ol’ J.R., the business of wrestling shoot DVDs is about to pick up. Ring of Honor entered the shoot interview market last year and has produced many high quality shoots, including my personal favorites
Out of nowhere came the Ultimate Insiders series from Big Vision Entertainment, whose production values and tough questioning set a new standard for shoot interviews.
Another company, Ringside Collectibles, has entered into the cutthroat shoot interview battle with the release of a shoot DVD with none other than the Ultimate Warrior. Ringside hit the jackpot on their first time out as Warrior has never done a shoot with anyone. As an added bonus, each DVD is personally signed by Warrior himself. You might remember Warrior making the news earlier this year after his speech at the University of Connecticut campus and seemed to almost cause a riot thanks to his non-politically correct thoughts on Arabs and homosexuals. Most of us remember the Ultimate Warrior from his near-incomprehensible promos during his legendary WWE run during the 1990’s, but over the years Warrior has turned himself into a guest speaker who is so conservative that he makes Pat Buchanan look like a weak kneed liberal. Because this is the first time Warrior has done a shoot interview, and it should be interesting to hear his take on many subjects, because this is a guy who was in World Class with the Von Erichs, the WWE during its most controversial era (at least outside the ring), and WCW when the WWE began their historic come back during the Monday Night Wars.
On to the shoot!
DVD Main Screen
Warrior grew up in Indiana and professed to never following professional wrestling before getting into the business. In fact, Warrior told a story of how his step dad would quickly change the channel if Warrior caught him watching it on TV. I know how Warrior’s step dad felt, as I’m not ashamed of watching wrestling, but if I’m watching it on TV and my girlfriend or any of my friends who aren’t into wrestling walk into the room, I just change the channel so I don’t have to deal with it. There’s only so many times you can answer the question, “Don’t you know it’s fake?” before you want to bust open the person’s head with a ghetto fork. Anyhoo, Warrior loved bodybuilding and began to enter contests while studying to be a chiropractor. Warrior won the 1984 Mr. Georgia and competed in many other bodybuilding tournaments. Considering these guys are nearly naked and covered in baby oil, I think the winners should wear a sash just like the female Miss Anything pageants so they can look even more gay.
Warrior eventually hooked up with a guy in California named Rick Bassman, who had an idea for putting together four huge bodybuilders and selling the gimmick of “Powerteam U.S.A.” to Vince McMahon. This idea did not work out. Warrior criticized not only Bassman, but himself and the rest of Powerteam U.S.A., including new friend Steve “Sting” Borden, as being woefully ignorant on how the wrestling business really worked. Warrior still felt there was a lot of money to be made in the sport, so he “took a break” from school, figuring he would go back after making some scratch. Shane Douglas is still waiting to go back to medical school as well. After committing to his new career, Warrior quickly understood how disorganized wrestling was, not to mention low paying, as he was going days on just peanut butter sandwiches. Dear Lord, I remember Sting talking about making a shake out of tuna fish and orange juice in his movie, the Moment of Truth, and it still makes me want to gag.
"We were all ignorant."
- Warrior on Powerteam U.S.A.
Sting and Warrior figured they had enough of California and traveled down to Jerry Jarrett’s Memphis territory, figuring they would make a lot of money there. I’m sure there’s a lot of people who just read that sentence and laughed their asses off. The $25-$50 payoffs quickly smartened both men up to the real world. Warrior recalled going to Jarrett’s mansion and being impressed by the largesse of it all, including an all marble dancing floor, which made having to take the low payoffs hard to swallow considering it wasn’t enough to even cover the gas his car used on the long trips. Warrior talked a lot about the politics in Memphis at that time and brought up how he asked another wrestler, journeyman Rip Morgan, when he’ll know he’s getting f---ed on his payoffs. Rip’s reply? “You’ll know when you’re getting f---ed, but then the question is, what do you do about it?”
Warrior gave his thoughts on several guys in the Memphis territory at that time, including Jerry Lawler, Dutch Mantell, Bill Dundee and the Fantastics, before moving on to his time in Bill Watts’ Universal Wrestling Federation (UWF). At the time, Sting was hurt and Memphis didn’t have any guys that were Sting and Warrior’s size to work with, so they traveled down to Watts’ promotion to get some work. Watts assigned Eddie Gilbert to the men, and Warrior felt that Gilbert was a “company man” who would stooge wrestlers out to Watts. Warrior believed that Sting enjoyed being told what to do and when to do it, but it drove Warrior nuts. Warrior told a story about how one day Bill Watts told him to get on his hands and knees so that Watts could show Warrior a move. Apparently, the wrestlers knew that this was a rib done by Watts, and after the wrestler got down on the floor Watts would legit kick them as hard as he could in their ribs. Basically, Warrior told Watts to make him get on the floor, which ended up stopping everything cold and causing Eddie Gilbert to remark, “they’ll never make it.” Sting did not have Warrior’s back throughout that entire exchange, which probably ended up doing irreparable damage to their friendship.
Von Erichs - Warrior quit the UWF shortly thereafter, and claimed to never have heard the TV shows in which Watts and UWF announcer Jim Ross buried Warrior on his way out. Warrior realized that’s just how the business is though, and no one should be surprised. Warrior also felt that Sting was probably relieved that Warrior quit, as now he could be one of the boys. While Sting stayed in the UWF, Warrior traveled down to Texas and joined Fritz Von Erich’s World Class Championship Wrestling (WCCW). This is where the evolution of Warrior took place as he started to paint his face and add tassels onto his ring gear to give himself a unique look. Warrior enjoyed World Class because it was easier and friendlier than any company he had worked at previously. Around this part of the DVD I started to realize how odd it was for Warrior to talk about his character “the Warrior” in the third person. It’s hard to explain, but it is definitely odd and reminded me of that classic Seinfeld episode in which Jimmy always talked about himself in the third person as well. “Jimmy’s sweet on you!” Anyhoo, Warrior put over some of the guys he liked down in World Class, but also had no problem talking about the people he didn’t like at all, to the point of calling Matt Bourne “a real dickhead.” Warrior didn’t have any good words to say about Buzz Sawyer (a nut case) or Bruiser Brody (a conniver), and said he would go into further detail once he finishes writing a book on his career. Keep checking Barnes and Noble for Harry Potter and the Power of Destrucity.
Warrior told some Von Erich stories as well as talked about his manager in World Class, Gary Hart. Warrior said that Hart had a reputation as being a smart guy, but wanted to know why he never got out of Texas if he was so good. OH! Although I’m pretty sure Gary Hart was in WCW back in ’89. Warrior then took a long pause after being asked if there were any misconceptions about Kerry Von Erich before saying that he wasn’t sure there were any. On many questions throughout this interview, Warrior would take a while before answering a question. In many cases, if someone else did this I would just assume they were trying to give the most politically correct answer or think of some bullshit story, but Warrior came across as if he really wanted to put thought behind his answers rather than fire off the first thing that came to mind. Warrior went completely off on all the Von Erichs who chose suicide to end their lives. Warrior addressed the rumor of New Japan considering him for the character of Big Van Vader at the time, and all I could picture was Warrior wearing that gigantic elephant mask with steam shooting out. What a surreal sight that would have been.
The WWE Meat Grinder - As much as Warrior liked living comfortably in World Class, he went to Fritz for more of a guarantee and was turned down flat. About this time, George Scott (longtime booker for the WWE) made his way down to World Class as a favor to Fritz. Warrior found out Scott was talking him up to the WWE (not unlike Mick Foley heavily promoting ROH’s C.M. Punk and Samoa Joe recently) and as soon as negotiations were heating up between Warrior and New Japan, he got a call from the WWE. Warrior did dark matches to start off his WWE career, and was kept in the “C” towns to see how the fans would take to his character. Can you imagine that at the time the WWE was running a full schedule with basically THREE rosters? You had the “A” show headlined by Hulk Hogan, the “B” show headlined by a top guy like Randy Savage, and a “C” show to send to all the smaller markets. Just insane, especially when you consider how the travel department was so screwed up back then that shows would take place all across the country with no discernable rhyme nor reason compared to today’s schedule of a show taking place in New York, with the next night in New Jersey to save time and expenses. Later Warrior would talk about how the schedule got even crazier once he was given “the strap” as he would be on the road 25 or 26 days a month, and have to go to Stamford to shoot promos when he wasn’t wrestling. And to think some wrestlers today bitch about being on the road four days a week.
"How did I cope with it? You just cope with it."
- Warrior, on the insane WWE travel schedule
At Warrior’s first TV taping, Vince McMahon said they liked the Warrior part of his name, but he needed to drop the Dingo part he had been using in World Class. Warrior said he did a promo in which he shouted he wasn’t “this Warrior or that Warrior but the Ultimate Warrior.” At that time, Warrior said that the WWE front office trusted the wrestlers more when doing their characters, so he had a lot of leeway in his promos and look. Warrior got very angry when asked a question about rumors of him getting blown up while doing his ring entrance. One thing I enjoyed on this DVD was the almost adversarial relationship Warrior had with his interviewer. Warrior at times could be a total dick, almost like the recent TODAY show with Matt Laurer interviewing Tom Cruise. At times he belittles the interviewer for asking what he felt were stupid questions and it is just something you don’t see in many shoot interviews. Anway, Warrior felt that he got a bad rap for only knowing “clothesline, press slam, splash” and claimed to give 100% in each match, saying that if he wasn’t blown up by the end of the match he felt he had let the fans down.
Warrior was asked about Dynamite Kid writing in his book Pure Dynamite that a wrestler needed drugs to survive the insane WWE schedule. Warrior said this was incorrect, and that he did what he had to do to personally but never abused anything. I’m not sure if that is the same as Kevin Von Erich telling the crowd at WrestleReunion that his brother Kerry was never a drug addict either. The subject of steroids was brought up and Warrior said that a lot of wrestlers took them, but it was all done privately and you didn’t see guys sticking needles in the ass in the locker room or anything like that. This was a touchy subject for Warrior and he justified his abuse of steroids as a “sacrifice” he made to be the best and said that he didn’t abuse anything else like smoking, drinking or staying up late. I wonder if “not staying up late” is part of that Straight Edge lifestyle promoted by C.M. Punk?
Warrior talked about his first meeting with Vince McMahon and discussed his first TV match against Hercules Hernandez as well. Warrior talked about several WWE personalities at the time including Owen Hart, Andre the Giant and Bobby “the Brain” Heenan. Warrior was asked about when he found out about winning the strap at WrestleMania VI and said he was told “three or four months ahead.” Can you imagine?!! Warrior felt that his match at WrestleMania against Hogan was the best match of his career and he felt awesome about it afterwards. Warrior was asked about how the WWE set up that match by teasing Hogan and Warrior at Royal Rumble, and Warrior went into one of his wonderful tirades against the interviewer. Warrior said that the questions were “getting redundant” and that he doesn’t remember insignificant stuff in his career. This stuff was just great and reminded me of those rare 60 Minutes episodes where it seems Mike Wallace and his subject are about to have a fist fight. I’ve only seen this in one other shoot, and that was one minute during the Straight Shootin’ with Ken Patera DVD when Patera went berserk on Gabe Sapolsky for asking a question that brought up Patera’s arrest after breaking into a McDonalds. Warrior straight out laughed at a question about him “carrying the company” and said that many people were involved making the WWE what it was and you couldn’t single one person out.
Back to wrestling. Warrior said that his WrestleMania VI match was “magic” and talked about the section in Hulk Hogan’s book in which Hogan said he dropped the title to Warrior only because he knew he was going to come back and win it from him. “Hogan’s whole life is a work” was Warrior’s response and I couldn’t agree more. Warrior then talked about more WWE guys back during his first run including Mr. Perfect, Randy Savage and the Road Warriors. Believe it or not, Warrior enjoyed being in the six man matches when it was himself and the Road Warriors versus all three members of Demolition. Warrior had no problem dropping the belt to Sgt. Slaughter at the following Royal Rumble because at the time the WWE would always have another program ready and that year he had a feud with Randy Savage ready to go. Warrior also can’t remember anyone being that upset with Sgt. Slaughter portraying an Iraqi sympathizer. Warrior was asked about his thoughts on the retirement match with Randy Savage at WrestleMania VII and he laughed it off while saying, “You and your memories!” Just great stuff.
Warrior talked about some of the legendary angles he had in the WWE, joking that the time he was nailed into Undertaker’s coffin was the most rest he had gotten in a long time. Warrior thought Jake “the Snake” Roberts was a liar, a leech and a loser, but that seems to be the common consensus. Warrior went off on Ric Flair, saying that he doesn’t think Flair’s continuing to wrestle is admirable, it is in fact embarrassing and pathetic. Warrior even talked about one of my all time favorite wrestling gimmicks, Nailz, and talked about the reaction in the locker room when Nailz legit choked Vince McMahon. Just hearing Nailz talked about on a shoot interview has just about made my year. Warrior left the WWE before Survivor Series in 1992 because Vince was being looked at under a microscope because of the steroid trial and needed a scapegoat. Warrior said that he and Davey Boy Smith took the fall.
"Bobby himself is a two faced bastard.
Always has been." - Warrior, on Bobby The Brain Heenan
After the WWE, Warrior did a few indie appearances, but claimed that most people who contacted him were full of crap. Well, it’s nice to see some things don’t change in wrestling. Warrior talked about the events leading up to the National Wrestling Council event, which took place in Las Vegas in 1995. By then Warrior had converted his gym into a training facility and was looking to take it to the next level. Warrior wanted to create his own wrestling school because he saw that guys like Buzz Sawyer were just taking kid’s money and stretching them. Warrior University was created, and soon Warrior was contacted by a guy named “T.C.” to wrestle the Honky Tonk Man at the NWC event. Everything went well, but when the second show came around, T.C. didn’t come through with what was promised, so Warrior left Las Vegas without getting into the ring.
Warrior then discussed his other outside projects at the time, including a workout tape and a comic book. Warrior said there was a strong crossover potential between fans of comic books and fans of wrestling. I would go further and say that most forms of entertainment that appeal almost exclusively to undersexed men have a lot in common. Comic books, sci-fi, wrestling, speed metal, porn, collectable card games…the list goes on and on. By this time the heat was off the WWE and they wanted him back, but Warrior wouldn’t sign a standard WWE contract and wanted a special one. Linda McMahon personally met with Warrior and he felt that this time it would be different. Warrior agreed to come back to the WWE and have his merchandise plugged into the WWE machine. Warrior talked about there being two brands of Warrior merchandise, some under the motto “always believe” and the others, wrestling related, under the motto “feel the power.” Basically, they were supposed to be kept completely separate.
***If there are any
insane kind readers out there who actually have copies of the Warrior comic they would like to donate in order for us to provide a review, not unlike our recent review of Kevin Nash’s comic book, it would be greatly appreciated. Think of the thousands of people who thankfully never got a chance to see this work of art. Send an email to derek@GumGod.com if you can help.
Warrior talked about his surprise WrestleMania return match against Triple H. Warrior had no idea who Hunter was at the time and considered him a “B” team player. Warrior felt that if he was going to come back, it would have to be strong and the squash match had nothing personally to do with Hunter. Triple H originally agreed with Warrior, but then went and got McMahon stooge Gerald Briscoe to approach Warrior with new ideas. Warrior told Hunter to nut up or shut up. Warrior felt that, in some way, this actually made Hunter more of a man and helped guide him to where he is today. Warrior said that the WWE hadn’t changed much since he left, just that the Kliq (Shawn Michaels, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and Sean Waltman) were a bunch of scumbags who would play games and damage other wrestler’s careers. Warrior talked about Davey Boy Smith, who was also back by this time, and the entire Hart family, even giving his thoughts on the whole Montreal Screw Job, and the film which covered it, Wrestling With Shadows. While he doesn’t come out and say it was a work, Warrior feels that the “camera was in the right place too often in that documentary.”
Four months later, Warrior felt the WWE had not once tried to live up to their end of his contract. Warrior then was told not to go to a licensee convention, which he found odd, so he showed up and found out the WWE booth was plastered with his motto of “always believe” but didn’t have one picture of the Ultimate Warrior anywhere. This made Warrior want to puke. Warrior got the run around from the company when he asked what the hell was going on. Vince McMahon said “shit happens.” Warrior said he had been lied to for four months and McMahon’s response to that was, “people lie to me every day.” Only in wrestling.
Warrior left the WWE and this was when Gorilla Monsoon went on TV and talked about the “appearance bond” that Warrior would have to post before the WWE would let him wrestle for the company again. Bring on the lawsuits! The WWE was demanding outrageous things in its lawsuit, which should surprise no one who has been keeping track of the current situation with Brock Lesnar. Warrior left the WWE and went to Hollywood, where he figured he would be a natural for action movies. Warrior got sick of “the phonieness” in Hollywood after about six months and went back to his home in Arizona.
The Kayfabulator 5000 blew up trying to decipher that line. When Warrior’s lawsuits finally went to trial, Warrior felt betrayed by his lawyers and ended up suing them as well. Warrior said his last conversation with Vince McMahon was the night they settled their lawsuit. McMahon went to shake Warrior’s hand and Warrior refused, saying that he was tired of being disrespected. Warrior said that McMahon no sold the refusal, but that he was probably the first person ever to do that to Vinny Mac. What, no questions about Papa Shango and that bizarre-even-for-Warrior angle of Warrior oozing a black liquid while puking some green pea-like vomit? SCANDALOUS!
WCW - Warrior was asked what he thought of the character Renegade, which was so laughably an Ultimate Warrior rip-off that it was laughable. For God’s sake even the music was a rip off. Warrior said that he believes WCW honestly thought he would be so upset at the Renegade character that he would show up at their next TV taping with his gear in hand to avenge this injustice. Hulk Hogan called Warrior back in 1997, saying that he could basically sign any check in WCW, but Warrior said he would take a pretty big check to get him there. Later, Eric Bischoff ended up signing Warrior, just to give Hulk Hogan his win back from WrestleMania VI. “Isn’t that sick?” Yes. Yes, it is. Warrior compared Bischoff to McMahon by saying that McMahon was a true leader, who believed in planning whereas Bischoff stuck by spontaneity. Warrior believed that Bischoff’s lack of planning was “lunacy” and gave several examples that proved his point, including one time where he was sent a plane ticket to a show in Kansas City, but when he got there they had nothing for him to do.
Warrior thought that the OWN (One Warrior Nation) was a “great concept,” and felt that his now infamous fifteen minute promo that he shot on the rafters went over like gangbusters. I remember that Nitro, in which the Warrior symbol flashed around the arena like the Bat symbol only to be followed by a un-listenable promo by Warrior. Clearly Warrior and I were watching two different shows. Warrior said that after his promo, he walked to the back and everyone said he was great, but he never heard a word from Bischoff or Hogan. A week later Hogan called Warrior and said, “Brutha, you went over our heads.”
Warrior talked about the trap door that WCW installed in the ring so that he could “magically” appear in a cloud of smoke. This was at Fall Brawl 1998, one of the worst PPV's of all time according to yours truly; featuring a great Saturn versus Raven match, Jericho’s debut of “Ralphus”, and of course the horrible War Games match. Warrior said that Davey Boy Smith was “gone before he ever took that bump.” If you watch that match, Warrior claims that Davey Boy couldn’t even walk straight before falling onto the trap door. Did Warrior get to bond with his former friend Sting in WCW? No. The two never really spent any time together other than a brief conversation when Warrior first started with the company. Warrior said the Stinger was friendly and courteous, while adding that the matches they had together in the company were thrown together at the last minute so they didn’t mean anything to either guy.
Warrior talked about Goldberg and the head games that he felt Scott Hall and Kevin Nash were playing with him at the time. Warrior went on to say that Hall and Nash were nothing but “shit stirrers and back stabbers” who spent more time and energy on destroying others as they did on improving their own skills. Warrior was asked where the NWO versus OWN feud was going and Warrior replied, “in the toilet.” Okay, that was good. Warrior added that they needed a good discussion to plan it out, but the good versus evil storyline would have had a lot of legs. In what I felt might have been the line of the DVD, Warrior said the following about all his OWN stuff: “I’m my own best self critic, but I was great.”
You read that right. According to Warrior, the OWN stuff in WCW (with the Disciple/Brutus Beefcake against the NWO B-team) was “great.” Oh Warrior, ”You and your memories!
The Halloween Havoc match with Warrior versus Hogan was discussed, and Warrior claimed that Hogan didn’t want to put any time into the match at all. Warrior called this one of the worst matches of his career (imagine what that is saying) and that it proved that the plan all along was for him to put over Hulk Hogan. Yes, this shoot is filled with about two dozen “welcome to wrestling!” stories. After all of that nonsense, Warrior does not regret his WCW run, even though he earlier called it “brutal.” I guess those checks were pretty damn big after all.
ECW - Warrior debunked rumors that he ever considered going to ECW and said that the stories started from Paul Heyman making it up on his Hardcore Hotline. At the time ECW was about to start on TNN and apparently were looking to start a buzz. Warrior said he wasn’t all that familiar with the company, but thought they were wild from the tapes that Bob Ryder had sent him.
TNA - Vince Russo called up Warrior and said that the Jarrett’s were starting a new promotion and that Warrior should get in touch with them. Warrior believes that most people are like Russo, calling him up thinking that he has his face painted up and his gear packed up ready to go. Jerry Jarrett eventually called up Warrior, but Warrior claimed that Jarrett just didn’t “get it.” Warrior’s account of his conversations were quite different than Jarrett’s recollection in his book, and I gotta tell you, I believe Warrior more than I do Jarrett. Warrior was given some unflattering quotes from Jarrett’s book and said they were all lies.
Warrior believes he could get back into ring shape and still have a good five or six years in the business if the money was right. He still trains like a maniac, but doesn’t go overboard as he doesn’t need to be the biggest guy in the gym wearing a tank top anymore. Warrior again brought up how embarrassing it was that many wrestlers stay in wrestling for way too long, but even worse were the guys who never grew up and are now dead. Warrior than went off on a rant on all the guys who let the business destroy them. Shockingly, Warrior said that he doesn’t keep in touch with anyone in wrestling, but after his outburst at UCONN, I bet he has a lot in common with JBL. Warrior thinks that the biggest misconception about him is that he doesn’t fulfill his contracts when in fact it is the companies that he works for that screw him. Warrior closed the DVD by thanking his fans for being there for his entire career and that he has never forgotten them.
Bonus Features: As a pleasant surprise, the DVD comes pretty loaded with two matches from World Class and a Warrior Q&A session with fans that lasted a little over a half hour.
(1) Dingo & Matt Borne (w/Gary Hart) beat The U.S. Express (Brad & Bart Batton) at 4:05. When I think “U.S. Express” I think Barry Windham and Mike Rotunda, not these two clowns. It was quite a trip seeing the old World Class footage though, and I marked out for Mark Lawrence doing the ring introductions (including Mark mentioning official Bronco Louvich). This brought me right back to the ‘80’s when I would watch World Class after school on ESPN. Borne spent the first three minutes of the match in the ring until finally making a hot tag to Warrior (who was called simply “Dingo”). Warrior’s offense was this: chop, chop, choke, clothesline, press slam, tag out. Borne hit a quick elbow drop and got the win. Warrior then hit the world’s worst clothesline after the match. Borne would later go on to much bigger fame in the WWE as Doink the Clown.
Gary Hart and the Dingo Warrior
Warrior flexing for the crowd.
(2) Dingo Warrior (w/Gary Hart) beat Perry Jackson & Chico Cabello in a handicap match at 3:30. Total squash.
I'm relatively sure this guy isn't on the gas.
Warrior with a camel clutch?! OH!!
Warrior speaks during a Ringside Q&A.
Overall Thoughts: Who would have thought that wrestling’s resident whacko would make so much sense? When you strip aside Warrior’s insane conservative thoughts, he can present very intelligent discussion on a subject he knows a lot about, wrestling. The guy has been in many of wrestling’s hottest promotions and has never had a problem voicing his opinion. Warrior’s reaction to some of the questions asked are almost as good as his answers themselves. It reminded me of that episode of the Simpson’s where Homer and the voice cast of the Itchy and Scratchy cartoon answered questions from their fans. In the end, it’s an invaluable insight into the world of wrestling during a time in which many wrestlers never made it out of. Warrior’s frank discussion on the WWE, WCW and his overall career is interesting to listen to, and answers a lot of questions. I personally remember watching WWE TV back in the day and seeing Gorilla Monsoon on TV talking about those goofy “appearance bonds” and knowing there must be a story I wasn’t hearing.
You can purchase the Ultimate Warrior Shoot Interview on DVD by clicking here.
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