Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Thoughts On Warrior Week (& That Documentary)

The WWE Network ('World Wrestling Entertainment Network' sounds odd to type and read out aloud, doesn't it?) aired a special week dedicated to The Ultimate Warrior last week. As I watched all four specials, I thought I would dedicate a post to writing about each one individually.

Early last week, I purchased the Ultimate Warrior blu-ray that came out over here a day before he passed away. I haven't really got around to watching it all the way through yet so, as soon as I turned on the first part of Warrior week, I noticed that this episode had quite a few matches and inserts of Warrior talking that had been taken from the DVD/Blu-ray.

As I wanted to sit through the Blu-ray, I decided to fast forward through the matches on the Tuesday special and just listen to the additional comments that were left by some of the former and current stars of wrestling.

They all seemed nice to Warrior talking about his career. What did stand out was that some of these videos were done from a few of the wrestlers' homes with Skype or something.

The one person who shared a few minutes of his time was Sting. Yes, Steve Borden made his first appearance on WWE television via Skype! Quite incredible when you think about it. 

The following day, the company did one of the WrestleMania Rewind shows centred on the build-up to and the main event of WrestleMania VI when the Ultimate Warrior took on Hulk Hogan in a title versus title match.

Warrior was the Intercontinental champion at the time whilst Hulk Hogan was on top as WWF champ. As with all of these WrestleMania Rewind films on the WWE Network, you have to have your bullshit detector on full. 

With that said, it was okay. The match was included in full.

A day later, the company aired a documentary on Warrior's final few days. I'll write about this later.

On Friday, a special Legends of Wrestling panel discussed the life and times of the Ultimate Warrior.

Josh Matthews hosted with Booker T, Sgt. Slaughter and Ted Dibiase as the panelists. As soon as I saw Dibiase on the panel I thought to myself  'Oh boy, this guy is going to come across like a hypocrite'.

The reason why I jumped to that conclusion is because Dibiase had not been shy about his dislike for Warrior in any interview he has done in the past. I ended up thinking Dibiase came off the best in this show because right from the start he prefaced that he had issues with Warrior in the past but noted how he had lost his own father to a heart attack when he was a child so he knew what Warrior's daughters were going through. 

All in all, the discussion remained okay. 

The highlight of the entire week of specials was the aforementioned Thursday documentary

I have written about WWE documentaries or any wrestling-themed documentaries in the past and have praised the ones worth credit and have been critical of those that were abysmal.

What I saw on Friday morning was one of the best things I have seen produced. And when I write that, I mean by any filmmaker, not just World Wrestling Entertainment.

It's hard to say this without sounding crass but WWE had the good fortune of getting a film crew to follow Warrior, and his family, around New Orleans for his entire final weekend on this earth. If they hadn't, this piece would not have been worth anything.

The crew caught Warrior as he prepared for his Hall of Fame speech, his backstage mingling at WrestleMania XXX and as he got ready to give what ended up being his final address on WWE Monday Night Raw.

The piece also filmed him at WWE's headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut not long after he had agreed to return to the company after eighteen years. I believe this must have been a number of months ago.

There was just so much in this that fell into the documentary filmmakers hands.

- They told the story of Warriors tumultuous relationship with the McMahon family. The film shows how he and Vince McMahon got back together on the day of the Hall of Fame with Warrior talking about how Vince had noted how he was like 'The Little Engine That Could' - a children's story with a message about hard work and perseverance. The film captures Warrior signing a copy of the book, thanking Vince McMahon for making him achieve and then handing his former boss the book right before he walked onto the stage to make his speech.

- The heat between he and Hulk Hogan was also addressed. The film captured Hogan coming up to Warrior at WrestleMania (Triple H had asked Hogan not to talk to Warrior until after the Hall of Fame because, as Hunter put it 'Warrior (was) in a good place' and he didn't want anything to ruin it for him). Warrior and Hogan did shake hands in it. Yes, I know you cannot trust Hulk Hogan because he has stabbed a lot of people in the back and will do it until the end of time. Still, to catch that and to make a story of Warrior's final weekend was something else.

The entire thing was just superb but extremely sad at the same time.

You can just see how adored he was by his wife and two daughters. It hit me so hard even more so than than I had been when I rewatched his Hall of Fame speech a few hours after learning that he had passed away.

Warrior's final weekend is something that will haunt me in a good and bad way for quite a while. It haunts me because I cannot believe how fate dealt such a hand just twenty-four hours removed from what was one of the high points of the guy's career.

The good part of the story shows that he seemed happy that entire weekend as he mended all those fences. Triple H put it correctly when he said it seemed all the angst that the wrestler had been carrying for the past eighteen years, and longer, seemed to be shedding away as the week wore on.

You don't really need Triple H to point it out as I saw it in his Hall of Fame speech and his interview on Raw. However, you see it even more clearly in the documentary.

It truly is one of the best things the company has ever produced. I hope they decide to release it on Blu-ray or DVD because I'll snap it up as soon as it's out.

Forget watching live pay-per-views for $10 a month. The film alone was worth half of my six month commitment to the Network.

If that.

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