The Ultimate Warrior's untimely passing on April 8th, 2014, came as a huge shock to the world of wrestling. Not 24 hours earlier, Warrior had been in a WWE ring, addressing the crowd on Monday Night RAW as one of the newest inductees to the WWE Hall of Fame. It was something fans and wrestlers alike had never dreamed would happen, the gulf between Warrior and the WWE seemingly too great to ever be bridged, but what came to pass was a celebration of Ultimate Warrior's life and career and, ultimately, a fitting tribute to a man who exemplified intensity, passion and destructicity. Now, a year on from that fateful night after RAW, WWE Home Video presents 'Ultimate Warrior: Always Believe', a three disc DVD set that charts the life and career of The Ultimate Warrior, as well as paying tribute to the man behind the facepaint and the life he led.
Disc one contains the documentary portion of the set, beginning with Warrior himself telling the story of how he got his start in the wrestling business with promotions like Mid-South and World Class Championship Wrestling. As with many of the WWE documentaries, this is a well produced feature with an abundance of clips from Warrior's career as well as a good selection of talking heads providing further insight and, in some cases, other sides to the story. Observations from current WWE superstars are kept to the action in-ring, leaving the weightier comments to those who played a role in Warrior's journey, such as Sting, Hulk Hogan and the McMahons. When it's time to address the troubles that caused the rift between the Ultimate Warrior and WWF, both sides give a frank and candid appraisal of the situation, rather than attempt to gloss over their respective mistakes. A similar approach is taken to the infamous WWE DVD release 'The Self-Destruction of The Ultimate Warrior' and the ensuing legal battle that followed, which was refreshing to see.
The latter stage of the documentary takes a good look at Warrior's personal life, with interviews from his wife and two daughters as they accompany Warrior to WrestleMania weekend and the Hall of Fame ceremony. We get some great scenes as Warrior revels in being back and involved once again in the world of wrestling and as he connects with friends old and new in the WWE, including a touching moment as Warrior presents Vince with an unexpected gift. The overall feeling is one of redemption and resolution, as we follow Warrior onto the stage at the Hall of Fame ceremony and he delivers his message of motivation and perverseness, the ethos by which he lived his life. Understandably, things becomes somewhat maudlin as the story travels through the events of Warrior's sudden demise and beyond. But, while we see his family struggling to deal with Warrior's death and everything the WWE did to take care of them in such a trying time, it never comes across as exploitative or self-promoting. The overall tone is one of tribute and, as the documentary comes to a close, you might feel that it's intended for Warrior's family as much as it is for his fans.
Disc two concerns itself with Warrior's in-ring career, with twenty one matches spanning the breadth of Warrior's WWF tenure (and two from his early days in WCCW). These aren't the usual Ultimate Warrior matches, however, but rather a collection of more obscure matches that provide a good companion to the 'Ultimate Collection' DVD set released last year. Included amongst the twenty plus matches is an early 1986 example of Warrior working as a bad guy (with the legendary Gary Hart in his corner, barking orders), Warrior's first ever appearance at Madison Square Garden from 1987, Honky Tonk Man's title rematch after losing the Intercontinental Championship to Ultimate Warrior in 1988 and a great match with Ravishing Rick Rude from 1989. There's also notable bouts such as a match with Andre the Giant from Maple Leaf Wrestling, or Warrior as the new World Heavyweight Title defending his title against the dangerous Haku. Plus, Warrior's last ever match on WWF television, facing off against Owen Hart on Monday Night RAW in 1996.
The final disc of the set is dedicated to Ultimate Warrior's always colourful and very intense promo style, with over forty interviews spanning the length and breadth of his career. We get to see the Warrior persona as it's developed and grown, from the early days as Dingo Warrior to his first title run with the Intercontinental Championship. With highly memorable moments such as Warrior's legendary promos for his feud with Hulk Hogan, Warrior scaring the wits out of Sensational Sherri on the Brother Love Show and Warrior ranting at length about the likes of The Macho King, Rick Rude, or Papa Shango, this is a good collection of over an hour and a half of classic Ultimate Warrior promos. Also included are Warrior's appearances in WCW, his entire Hall of Fame induction speech and his final ever appearance on Monday Night RAW, mere hours before his passing. Overall, this is a well constructed set. While the match selection may disappoint people expecting to see the best of the Ultimate Warrior, when paired with the 'Ultimate Collection' set released last year the two releases form a comprehensive look at the life and career of Warrior, one that's sure to please his fans. I thought the documentary was particularly well done and provides a fitting tribute to a man who took the wrestling world by storm.
'Ultimate Warrior: Always Believe' is available to purchase on DVD or BluRay now from http://www.wwedvd.co.uk/