Tuesday, 7 July 2015

WWE Ultimate Warrior: Always Believe DVD Review

WWE's Ultimate Warrior: Always Believe is out now on DVD, available from www.wwedvd.co.uk. The three disc set features features an extended version of the Warrior: The Ultimate Legend documentary (aired on the WWE Network) as well as twenty one matches and a multitude of promos. The set includes matches opposite the likes of Owen Hart, Isaac Yankem DDS, Rick Rude, "The Eight Wonder of the World" Andre the Giant and "The Model" Rick Martel. 




Disc One


The documentary portion of this set takes up the first disc and runs for just over an hour and a half. The main bulk of the documentary comes from the Warrior: The Ultimate Legend feature that aired on the WWE Network shortly following his death, with about fourty minutes of extra content added in. Whilst some of the ground, regarding Warrior's career, that was covered on the Ultimate Warrior: The Ultimate Collection (2014), is gone over again here, it's in the human moments that the feature captures that this release really shines. There's some personal moments captured here, that give a real picture of who Warrior was as a person, as well as how much he meant to his family and those close to him. The coverage of The Self-Destruction of The Ultimate Warrior DVD (2005) is handled extremely well, with not only Warrior and his wife, Dana, talking candidly about how the release effected him, but also a number of those who appeared in the derogatory film discussing their part in it's production.

It would be safe to say that at points the documentary is hard to watch, even for those with the stiffest of upper lips. The closing stages had me in absolute fits of tears in Gordano Service Station in Bristol, and there were a number of points throughout were I was very close to the same. It's a credit to Warrior's family that they allowed this footage to be filmed and were able to hold it together just enough to produce an incredibly moving piece of film. Even if you weren't a huge fan of The Ultimate Warrior as a performer, one would like to think that this documentary would make you a fan of Warrior, the human being.

Disc Two


The second disc is a match compilation spanning Warrior's career in both WCCW and the WWF from June 1986 to July 1996. Fans may notice straight away when looking at the match listing that all of Warrior's most famous matches are missing. There's no Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania VI, no Randy Savage from WrestleMania VII or SummerSlam 1992, no Rick Rude from SummerSlam 1989 and no Ted DiBiase from The Main Event IV. All of these matches are either housed on The Self-Destruction of The Ultimate Warrior or Ultimate Warrior: The Ultimate Collection. 

The disc begins with a handicap match against Perry Jackson and Chico Cabello, under the Dingo Warrior gimmick with Gary Hart managing Warrior. It's notable for Warrior working as heel, and for the elimination gimmick that ambushes you out of nowhere. "Big Bear" Collie is the next to fall to Dingo Warrior in an extended squash that more than out stays it's welcome. Having Fritz von Erich on commentary does present some moments of interest however. 

As Warrior becomes Ultimate and makes the trip to WWF, Frency Martin is little test, as he seems to suffer a legitimate injury, cutting the WWF on MSG Network match pretty short. The commentary from Bobby "The Brain" Heenan and Gorilla Monsoon is the only highlight of a piss poor match with Brian Costello from The Wrestling Challenge. The first of the squashes that really caught my attention was a match with "Iron" Mike Sharpe from WWF on PRISM Network, which see's Sharpe really heel it up opposite Warrior which produces a much more interesting match. The match might be a little longer than it needed to be, but it seems that Sharpe was really trying to help Warrior get over. The last of this bunch of squash matches is another from The Wrestling Challenge, this time against The Conquistador, which features some of the funniest selling one could hope to find.

Lord Alfred Hayes does his best to make a WWF on NESN bout against The Honky Tonk Man (accompanied by "The Mouth of the South" Jimmy Hart) utterly unwatchable with some of the worst commentary there has ever been (an on-running theme in any match that features Hayes on commentary). The bout itself is clearly a set-up for a rematch between the two, with plenty of antics to close things. A match with Rick Rude (managed by Heenan) from WWF on MSG Network is the strongest on offer, producing some quick and slick action, with a red hot crowd that really help things along. The closing stages produce a very house show finish and it's not as strong as their SummerSlam 1989, but it's still a decent slice of late 80's action. Rude returns, alongside Andre the Giant (both managed by Heenan) for a tag match that see's Warrior teams with King Duggan in a bizarrely formed bout that had me scratching my head for a good while. It does feature some nice comedy from all four men, with Giant especially showing a side that many may not have seen before.

It's squashy McSquash time for John Weiss on an episode The Wrestling Challenge, with Warrior's feud with Andre the Giant continuing to be the main focus thanks to a bizarre in-vision promo from Giant. A match between the two is then featured, an whilst the novelty of seeing two of the biggest names in the game face off is there, it wears off quickly. Things aren't helped by footage that seems to have been filmed on stone, making the match looking much much older than it is. Just a few weeks before winning the WWF World Heavyweight Championship, Warrior is back in squashing action against The Brooklyn Brawler as part of the build for Warrior's match with Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania VI. 

Warrior's first TV title defense is a nice inclusion, as he faces Haku (with Heenan) on Saturday Night's Main Event. The match is a decent watch, added to because of the historical significance, even if it's pretty much an extended squash for a competent Haku. Another Saturday Night's Main Event bout with Sgt. Slaugher (with General Adnan and Colonel Mustafa) is enjoyable, until things go a bit mental with The Undertaker, Paul Bearer and Hulk Hogan all getting involved, as well as Randy Savage on commentary. The interaction between Warrior and The Undertaker is a great watch however, that the two only ever had one televised match is mind boggling considering the potential. A bout with "The Model" from The Wrestling Challenge is a laboured affair, with Warrior seemingly blown up from even the slightest of movements.

A Superstars collision with Demolition Smash (with Mr. Fuji) isn't a wrestling clinic, but the two make the match completely watchable with their larger than life personas. Warrior seemingly drops some considerable weight before another Superstars bout, this time against Skinner in a complete and utter squash. A character-driven match against Papa Shango had me hooked from start to finish, with both men putting together an interesting match and seemingly knowing exactly how their characters complemented each others. It is a shame to see that Warrior was no longer as over with the crowd as previously on the disc.

Teaming with "Macho Man" Randy Savage against The Nasty Boys (with Jimmy Hart) works as a solid prelude to the pairs match at SummerSlam 1992, with all the focus being on Savage and Warrior, as well as the involvement of Mr. Perfect and Ric Flair. I'm not a huge fan of The Nasty Boys but they also plays their roles well in this one. Warrior's first match on Monday Night RAW see's him face off against Isaac Yankem DDS (whatever became of that guy?), which includes Jerry "The King" Lawler being as annoying as possible on commentary, as the pair feuded. The final match on the disc is Warrior's final televised match with the company, opposite Owen Hart on Monday Night RAW. Things get a little weird due to Vince McMahon running down Warrior on commentary and an in-vision interview with Shawn Michaels and Ahmed Johnson discussing who will be replacing Warrior in an upcoming tag bout. The clash of styles is an interesting one, but things never get the chance to develop into anything special.

The match quality on this DVD is weak and doesn't perhaps do Warrior justice when his best and most popular matches can be found elsewhere. The squash matches get a bit much one after another, and whilst the matches with Rick Rude, Papa Shango and the tag match with Savage all provide some entertainment this disc is a difficult watch and is probably best served by watching in, at least, four or five sittings, or by selecting those matches that particularly interest you. 

Disc Three


A third disc of consisting of promos is also included. These range from short pre-tapes to longer interviews and chat show set-pieces. Whilst there's a range in types of promo, there's also a range in quality, or both ideas and execution. Warrior's captivating style is present throughout and a number of his memorable feuds are highlighted with promos aimed at Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage and Rick Rude. I could have done without multiple edition of The Brother Love Show, as Bruce Pritchard makes me want to remove my liver and throw it at a hungry dog. His time in WCW was also a dark time indeed for everyone involved and it's reflected here in some truly awful pieces of television. The highlights for me here are Warrior's Hall of Fame Induction, which is included in full and his final appearance on Monday Night RAW just hours before he passed away. The final promo may have been some of Warrior's best work and one can only imagine what a rejuvenated Warrior could have done for the WWE if he was still with us today. 

Whilst I have brushed over the third disc (I'm sure no one wanted a promo by promo look here), I couldn't help but thinking that this set would have been better off combining the promo and match discs and having everything appear in chronological order across the two discs. The matches would benefit from not directly following on from one another (especially the shorter squash matches) and would be placed within a greater context because of the promos. An almost three hour disc of promos was also a difficult watch in one go, whilst most were too short to watch on their own merit. 

Finally...


This is a mixed bag of a DVD set, with a strong main feature that is let down by a weak match listing and a bizarre format that see's matches and promos split into two separate discs. A must-have for any Ultimate Warrior fan, most would be better off with Ultimate Warrior: The Ultimate Collection and checking out the shorter documentary on the WWE Network.

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