Who’s really being destructive on this DVD?

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 3, 2005

Remember when life was simple for pro wrestling fans?

Remember the times when we were young enough not to be able to tell the difference between a good match and a bad one? When every match could be summed up in three seconds by spouting &uot;I’m glad he won, he’s awesome!&uot; or &uot;I can’t believe he won, I HATE him!&uot; When words and phrases like workrate and kayfabe and selling and &uot;getting a push&uot; and &uot;putting someone over&uot; didn’t mean anything? When we thought that wrestlers were above human beings, who could never get hurt?

And those people that enjoyed poking holes in our enjoyment by telling us it was fake? They didn’t know anything!

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Man, life sure was pumpkin pie for squared circle nuts back then, wasn’t it? Today, it’s changed.

Today, fans know about contract disputes and backstage squabbles and spot protecting and everything else that brings the business side of the business to the table. It’s not uncommon to hear elementary school age children saying things like, &uot;That didn’t look good, he’s selling the wrong arm!&uot; and &uot;He’ll lose that title soon, because his contract’s almost up.&uot; Personally, I think far too much independent thought goes into a business that’s built entirely on fakery.

Is it better that way? Well, maybe for some. And the World Wrestling Entertainment’s newest DVD release, &uot;The Self-Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior,&uot; brings both sides together with a thunderclap.

Hailing from Parts Unknown (a typical hangout for wrestlers back in the 80s), the mega-mesamorph would charge to the ring with guitars and drums blaring with strings tied around his biceps and a makeup design that looking like a sideways letter-E on his face. He’d often lift his opponents over his head for seconds at a time, and his interviews were often high-volume rants about myths and monsters. He won the WWE Intercontinental title at Summerslam 1988 in a 30-second match with the Honky Tonk Man that’s become a cult classic, and headlined Wrestlemania 6 against Hulk Hogan in one of the most highly-regarded matches in history. Away from the ring, he was Jim Hellwig, and we’ll go more into that shortly.

From the start of the DVD, there’s an anti-Warrior vibe coming off with the thickness of molten lava. While the film’s still going over the Warrior’s first entry into the WWE, people are bad-mouthing him. Former &uot;Million Dollar Man&uot; Ted Dibiase calls his first matches &uot;The blind leading the blind.&uot; Longtime managing great Bobby &uot;The Brain&uot; Heenan talks about how tough Warrior was to work with (&uot;He knew nothing!&uot; claims the Brain).

Several current WWE superstars like Edge and Christian (who does a HILARIOUS Warrior impression) talk about how Warrior’s entrance of running to the ring left him out of breath before the match even began, or how his interviews didn’t make sense.

There’s a certain amount of legitimacy there; those who in the know of wrestling’s &uot;inside&uot; world know that Warrior (Hellwig changed his full legal name to Warrior in the late 1990s) was a steroid user and sued the WWE in the late 1990s for contract breach reasons.

And be fair, on Warrior’s part, he’s done quite a bit on his own to propagate the Warrior’s legend, as he’s become a common sight on the politically-conservative speech circuit, often peppering his speeches with clips of his wrestling career. On his Web site, he often speaks against the WWE, and fills his posts with rants that aren’t entirely unlike his interviews, giving the impression that the Ultimate Warrior was a bit more than a character.

The DVD talks about Warrior’s alleged demanding of extra money to work Summerslam 1991 – which ended the first of his three tenures with the organization – how he couldn’t work, and how he was basically selfish all the time. But, first of all, he’s not on the DVD (which might have been by his choice), so we don’t get his side of the story, which makes it seem like this entire DVD was made because someone up top (like, say, WWE president Vince McMahon) had a personal issue with the guy and wanted to do something to make him look bad.

And considering that wrestling fans are known for their short memories and the Warrior’s been out of the wrestling world since 1999, there’s no real reason – from a fan’s perspective – to make him look like an idiot.

With a bit of independent thought, it seems like the DVD’s saying, &uot;No, the guy couldn’t wrestle. No, his interviews didn’t make sense. Yes, he was a jerk as a person. But hey, we still gave him boatloads of money and pushed him to the top of the wrestling world for years!&uot;

Ask yourself: who does THAT make look bad?

But maybe this is just the first part of the plan. Maybe Warrior’s got his own trick up his sleeve, and perhaps he’s up McMahon’s as well. Maybe this is all part of a plan to pull a fast one on wrestling fans around the world. If we click on &uot;Smackdown&uot; in a few weeks and see Warrior and McMahon hugging and laughing at us, will we really be surprised?

Of course, that might be just a little too REAL for fans like us!