WWE is releasing an Ultimate Warrior DVD set. Two prominent rumors are on the street. One is that the title will be “The Self Destruction of The Ultimate Warrior.” The other is this, supposedly a WWE insider’s anonymous post put up at Warrior Central:
I know there is a great deal of BS and lies on the
internet, so I understand if you do not believe me
during this post, but I will go ahead anyway. I do not
want to disclose my name, as I know the company
monitors the internet quite tight, but I have been
working as an intern at the production department of
Titan Television (WWE's studios). I have been involved
in the making of several DVD projects these past few
months, one of which was the forthcoming Ultimate
Warrior 2 disc set.
While I can't give out too many specifics on the set,
I can tell you a few things that may upset you as
Warrior fans, and would like your feedback which I
will happily return to my supervisor, Mr Chambers.
First off, Vince McMahon and Warrior have actually
spoke several times regarding this DVD. Those of you
who have purchased WWE 'Legends' DVDs will know how
they work...there is a documentary on the wrestler,
and fellow superstars and office staff will talk about
that wrestler - memories, favorite moments, opinions,
backstage stories, etc. We recently released a DVD on
the Road Warriors, which featured Animal tracing the
roots of the characters and giving insights into their
careers as superstars, wrestlers, and men.
Vince wanted Warrior to do the same, and called him at
home. Warrior apparently has his own documentary film
coming soon and said to Vince he would like to do a
deal where they could have flyers inside each DVD to
help advertise the other one. Mr McMahon said he
didn't want to do this, as it wouldn't be a 50-50
beneficial deal(it would benefit Warrior much more
than WWE), and that the shareholders wouldn't like
advertising with a former talent.
Warrior was worried about being seen as a hypocrite if
he appeared on the DVD, and when Vince refused
advertising and a smaller fee than what Warrior
wanted, Warrior refused steadfast to participate in
it. Negotiations ended there on the phone, and I was
told by my supervisor that Vince told Warrior "Well
then, we'll see what happens."
I can reveal to you that this DVD is not going to be
one that fans will want to see. Many talents have
appeared on this disc to talk about Warrior - Bobby
Heenan, Pat Patterson, Paul London, HHH, JR, John
Cena, Batista, Hogan, Eddie, Benoit and others - and
every single one of them has painted him a negative
light. All the comments make fun of Warrior, and talk
about what an idiot, flash in the pan, and lucky guy
There are also two bonus features on disc 2. The first
is "Ultimate Impressions" in which current WWE
superstars do their best impersonation of Warrior. It
is sad to say the least - Benoit foams at the mouth
and yells at the top of his voice...HHH messes his
hair all up and pretends to be Warrior shaking the
ropes, and Batista ties some bootlaces around his arms
and talks to his hands. More insulting, there is a
"Warrior Calamaties" montage of times when Warrior has
made mistakes - slipping over, bloopers during
interviews, botched moves, etc.
Basically, the whole thing is made to have the message
that Warrior was intense and powerful, but also a bit
of an idiot. He is painted in the same light as Doink,
Repo Man and Duke Droese, rather than as a legend next
to Randy Savage, Bret Hart and André. Sad - because
the majority of people who would buy this would be UW
fans from the 80s...and once they know that this is a
giant farce, they will boycott it and the DVD will
fail to sell.
Good business sense Mr McMahon!! It looks like another
desperate attempt to bury UW."
Tellingly, and as is typical, this is a combination of small truths and fat lies. Specific advertising promotions were not discussed, money was not discussed at all -- let alone a proposed smaller fee causing disgruntlement, shareholders wouldn’t like advertising with a former talent? -- ple-e-ase, WWE is practically a f’ing nursing home for former talent, and advertising and bilking it for all its worth all the time; negotiations didn’t end on the phone -- I have more than a handful of voicemails from Kevin Dunn, and other communication, to prove it.
I do believe this was spawned in-house over at WWE, and that the writer was instructed to speciously concoct it and get it out, beginning with placing it at Warrior Central.
I did speak to Vince - one time only, not several times. He did call me at my house and left a message and I called him back. His call to me was prompted by a series of previous phone calls others had. Beginning with some phone calls Andrew Wright, a young man pursuing a film documentary on my life, made on his own to the WWE seeking 1) film footage of UW and 2) WWE personnel participation in the documentary (Vince or Linda preferably), possibly in exchange for my participation in their DVD project. Frankly, I wasn’t high on this last idea. For obvious reasons, all of them vehemently expressed over the years, I would have potentially more to lose than gain even if there was transparent, straightforward, and effective reciprocation of some promotional sort.
Yet, Andrew is free, as the producer of the documentary, to make all the phone calls and have all the conversations he wants, so I told him he to go ahead and explore any possibility, but I would ultimately have final say so. I would make no promises. My initial thoughts, knowing I would have to contemplate the idea much more seriously, were simply that my well-known beefs with WWE diminishes none of the reverence and appreciation I have for the specialness of the Ultimate Warrior persona and unique quality of my career creating and performing him while I was there. The fans of the character who’ve followed my other pursuits over the years see it the same way, and they are able to differentiate between the respect and interest they find in my views today, including my anti-WWE views, and the wonderful, exciting time while I performed Ultimate Warrior in the WWF. I was told that the DVD projects were ostensibly reminiscences of the persona’s career and I thought that if there was a way to positively participate in that, for the sake of Ultimate Warrior fans as well as achieve other business goals, then I would, at the very least, be open to exploring it.
Somewhere in the middle of Andrew’s own going back and forth with underlings at WWE, WWE’s Kevin Dunn called and left me a message informing me of the DVD project and that they were interested in having me participate in it with commentary. I called him back, thinking his call was directly prompted by discussions Andrew had instigated at WWE. Kevin denied this and said he had no idea of the documentary project, which wasn’t true of course, but I went ahead to fill him in, telling him, again without any promises, that there might be a simple, conditional way to collaborate this one time here and “bury one hatchet,” all the while realizing I had still had some very serious thinking to do before reaching a final decision.
Vince and I spoke about a week later -- for that one time only. The phone call lasted about 15 minutes. It was cordial and I got right into the reason for our talking to one another. All the details aren’t necessary and I will save telling any of them to wait and see if any more little white lies are attempted on WWE’s part. He did tell me that there would be others on the DVD who had criticisms. I didn’t have a problem with that. In fact, my idea for my own documentary was to do a controversial point/counterpoint with either him or Linda. But he said absolutely nothing about how vengeful the criticism was or anything about the ridiculing spoofs, nor did he reveal any such title for the project as has been recently made public. We simply concluded the conversation agreeing that he would instruct Kevin Dunn to follow up with me to do all they could on their end to make my involvement happen.
Four or five days later Kevin called. He began the conversation pitching a whole “Legends” thing WWE was now doing. I told him that Vince mentioned it, but not in any great detail for me to entertain it intelligibly, and I urged him to stay focused on the DVD project alone.
He told me he would fax me the basic, to-start agreement, and I placed specific, conditional inquires I would need satisfactory answers to, particularly 1) I would get to see what had been done thus far, because I was not interested in watching it and responding in commentary extemporaneously, 2) the meat of my commentary would be left unedited, 3) WWE would provide royalties on all the copyright film ventures they intended to do throughout the future, not just this DVD project, 4) I could use all my own commentary in my own documentary project.
He spoke confidently that he foresaw no difficulty in fulfilling these requests, but that he would have to check to be sure and would get back with me with concrete answers asap. In the meantime, he would go ahead and fax over the basic agreement for my immediate review.
Two or three more days passed and no fax had yet arrived of the basic agreement that I needed to review. At about that same two or three day mark Kevin called, leaving me a message saying, oddly, he could fax me the agreement if I was interested in doing the commentary on the project, acting as if he never told me he would send it right over when we first spoke. He also stressed concern that they were now working against the clock; and he left no answers to the inquires I had made. I attempted to call him at the two numbers I had. He has no office voicemail and his cell phone voicemail was always full. I reached his assistant at the office on one work day only, she attempted to call his cell and reached the same dead end, but told me that he would be in later that day. He called again, not that day, but two days later. Still no fax, still no answers -- but with a hyper warning that time was running out. I tried to call him back, with no result. A couple days later he called and said time had run out and he needed to know my decision by day’s end. All these years building a big corporate identity, and here it was all over again, typical, old-school WWF headgames. I called Beth Zazza, Vince’s secretary, and got her email address and sent this correspondence over within 24 hours:
“I am just writing to update Vince on follow up with Kevin Dunn on DVD issues. Please forward this to him. Thank you.
Vince, I spoke with Kevin 4-5 days after we talked. The conversation digressed somewhat into a whole "Legends" program type of thing, which I told him you did not bring up in any real detail and I would have to know much, much more about before I could address it intelligently as a businessman.
Getting back on track, I made a couple of specific inquires about the DVD project to help me decide whether or not I would participate in this project alone and also gave him my fax number to immediately forward potential agreement info for my review. He said he'd fax it over (last week), and get answers to my inquires. I've received neither the fax or the answers. He's called about every third day since then, but left no other message than to call him back. When I do, he has no office voicemail and his cell phone voicemail box is always full. Time concerns have been stressed, but neither of us can to do this if there isn't an agreement in place. That's not being difficult, it's being prudent and practical. I'm just writing to let you know that my own schedule, now, will make me unavailable for the next few weeks, and that, since you and I spoke, I've done all I can on my end to explore the possibility of involvement. At the end of the day, I may have ultimately decided not to be involved. I'm not sure, but I never got the info or answers I needed. Therefore, I must pass.
It's funny, I remember when you told me a long time ago that "Ultimate Warrior is a legend only in your mind, no one else's." Back then, you were probably more right than you were wrong. Today, though, all these years later, the negative, whiny criticism of others, like those to be on this DVD, only expands the legendary status of the Ultimate Warrior in millions of other minds. The proof of this is abundant everywhere. Similar enduring interest is not sustained about any other character. I'm confident, Vince, that even when all the others on the DVD talk, the viewer will still be impacted most by the guy who was Ultimate Warrior. After all, the Ultimate Warrior set his own standard, one others are still trying to shoot for whether they would admit it or not, and the persona doesn't really need anybody to say anything more for him than he says very intensely all by himself. He was definitely a classic, and will always be a legend -- in a class all his own.
Beth responded only to tell me she forwarded my email to Vince. My email was sent July 15th.
Now, about this anonymous post and other info coming out, I’m a little skeptical about the information regarding the extreme negative content of the DVD. First, if it is accurate, then I guess it is the content I would have seen if I had gotten involved -- and, what, WWE expected me to just take it all in with a grain of salt and a Grand Canyon size dose of humor when I viewed it myself to respond with my own commentary? I mean, I realize there are many who don’t want to ‘get it’ about who I really am outside the distinct impression Ultimate Warrior left, and can’t seem to grasp what I have bluntly said for many years, but did they really expect I would just forget who I am, what I’ve said, how aggressively and capably I am unafraid to say it -- that I would just leave all of the REAL ME at home when I showed up to speak for myself? No, of course not, I never expected the absence of any criticism. I knew there would be some. Please. But this recent info about the extreme negative content seems dramatically overdone.
Second, like I told a trusted acquaintance, I can’t imagine WWE would do this, I mean, the damn reality doesn't square with the radical fantasy they’d be putting forth that my personal life is in shambles, I am genuinely a kook and Ultimate Warrior's WWF career was illegitimate and worthless. In addition to that, whenever you spend that kind of time, effort and money to disparage and ridicule someone or something, you, by default, only reveal how great you truly believe it is. I mean, attempting to paint the Ultimate Warrior persona in the same light as a Doink or Repo Man or one of these meaningless characters is a desperate stretch even for a company run by liars depending on the “work.” My friend’s response, though, was spot on: “I am very very surprised, on one hand, that Vince and his company have (if is true) taken the UW DVD project and turned it into a complete farce. And on the other hand, I'm not. Vince, to me, seems like a man who doesn't always put good business sense over his own ego and stupid ideas. He is like a child who throws his toys when he doesn't get his own way, and is very malicious and vindictive. I mean, why would you throw away money you could earn from the millions of Warrior fans by turning the DVD into a joke? It seems Vince is going to make this DVD laughable so he can say ‘See, UW doesn't draw, he doesn't sell!”
About the end goal my friend believes WWE possibly intends to achieve, I’m not so sure I agree. But about Vince’s approach to things, I had to admit, he was right. Hell, I should be the first not to forget that. When you view it that way -- that it is so unimaginable -- it becomes exactly why, in Vince’s World, it is imaginable. Vince a has long standing reputation dealing with consequences after the fact, instead of thinking them through beforehand. The whole crew up there, taking their lead from Vince, moves on shitty ideas even before seeing if they stick even slightly to the wall.
Still, I don’t know. My gut tells me this. Vince got my rejection, picked up the phone and screamed an order to release this info to see how I would react, see if I would reveal any emotional concern or bother that the project was going to be a hit piece, as the info relays, and conceivably drive me to reach back out pressing hard to involve myself, thereby getting in exchange WWE’s assurance that they would produce a more positive piece. As far as I know, and would not find hard to believe, they have two versions in the can -- one negative, one positive. And they have simply waited to get one or the other promotional word out until they found out whether I would be involved or not. Now on notice that I have passed, they release this press telling that the project will be negative figuring it might cause me to crawl on my knees and agree to involvement on their lopsided terms, to prevent the dark portrayal they are threatening without my involvement.
Ah, the headgames, Vince, you can’t go without playing. It seems that you are maybe sitting on the fence. ‘If Warrior agrees to be involved, we will do this -- if not, we will do that.’ You know, whenever I sit on the fence my balls hurt. You, Vince, used to brag, back in your more independent and more creative days, that you were a guy with three balls. After all these years, though, it’s really disappointing to see that you’ve only become more juvenile and childlike. It’s quite obvious, shrivel by shrivel, you’ve lost your balls altogether. So I know you can’t be in any pain straddling that fence. But maybe you do have some anxiety about what to do here. Let me make your decision easier for you.
I think you should, Vince, how do you say it, bring it on. Frankly, for all the “push” Ultimate Warrior got in sports entertainment, the constant negative criticism and ridicule, by you and the parasites in the industry who only survive by sucking your blood, has been an even bigger “push” for everything I’ve gone on to do outside the ring. It’s promotion I could never afford -- and for it, I thank you. Eventually people find their way to the truth. It’s sorta how life, for it to be effective, really works -- find the truth and follow it. I don’t know why you and your sidekicks, Vince, continue to perpetuate the falsehoods about me and my life -- it hasn’t worked and it won’t. Maybe, it's just because you are always doing a "work" and can no longer separate reality from fantasy. Of course, you benefit from the fact that we are living in times where truth and reality don’t matter much. But eventually everyone is subject to reality checks, and once they have the truth here, the lies you spread about me say more about the malicious and vindictive kook you are than they do about any personal flaws I may have. For those who fall for the bullshit, there are just as many who don’t. You, your sycophants and the audience you cater to right now, Vince, maybe don’t want to get it about me and who I am today -- but plenty of others do. And I’ve been proving this for quite some time. Whoever is doing your investigative work is doing a very sloppy job. You believe the fantasies you want, Vince, but it’s been a really long time since I subsidized my living using any of the dimes I earned working for you. I’m certainly an advocate of having a strong ego, but this idea of yours that I am somehow indebted to you or need you to ‘do my life’ is way over the top.
You, Vince, are the one living in a bubble and I simply don’t have one you can pop. There are almost 300 million people just in United States, hundreds of millions more in the world. Every week your TV draws in, what, 5-6 million viewers? Just how many millions, scratch that, thousands, hundreds, do you think I need to get it about who I am and what I am about today outside the ring for me to provide a substantive and prosperous life for myself, be productive and happy in what I do? Your game, Vince, even for me who succeeded wildly at it, isn’t the only game in town. What is so difficult to understand about my getting on doing other things happily and successfully? You think a negative, destructive portrayal will sever my lifeline, or that I will be traumatized by it in a way that I won’t be able to go on and have to come crawling back to you to rescue me, like everyone else has done? You are wrong, Vince. Your head is really up your ass. Mine has long been on my shoulders.
You want to title the Ultimate Warrior DVD “The Self Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior”? Great idea. Whoever came up with it deserves a promotion. The way I see it, a way that your sycophants obviously do not, if thinking for yourself, being independent and self-sufficient, discovering celebrity and materiality, just for their own sake, are success defined in the shallowest, most indecent and self-loathing terms; standing up for yourself, refusing to tolerate unethical, unprofessional treatment by the ones you work with; fighting to right wrongs done to you; having the confidence, courage, discipline and self-respect to move on and evolve into something more mature and greater at each successive stage of your life; being unashamed to be proud of new accomplishments beyond even what you’ve previously done that were great and successful -- if all these actions are self destructive in your book, then, I think, being labeled self-destructive by you is is a badge of honor and I wear it with pride. Frankly, the world would be a much safer, saner place if more people were brave enough to pursue like-destructive courses.
The greater distance I can create between myself and those other Legend talent you evidently consider having lead constructive courses is exactly what I am looking for. I guess I’m just not cut out to be constructive in the way you define it. Whore out yourself and your family for an unimportant, superficial cheap-ass celebrity long after you’ve had enough; blame drugs, other abuses and addictions and just simple life responsibilities for failing at life time and time again; bring kids into the world and then desert them entirely or raise them to be ‘useful idiots’; frequent rehab visits or OD in a budget hotel room over a vile, sorry-ass bag of dirty street drugs; be an unequivocal hypocrite, be on the record saying one thing but always rationalize doing another; let your body, mind and spirit go to hell; become a born again Christian, hock it until no one buys the con anymore, and then crawl back to you and hypocritically participate in WWE’s debauched, carnal storylines; talk tough but never take a stand and back it up; despise McMahon when you don’t have a contract, lick his ass when you do; know no principles and have no integrity; refuse to behave grown up even when you are; be afraid to challenge yourself to do other things than what you’ve already succeeded at; accept that you are only a pro-wrestler and it’s all you'll ever be able to do, and any success in the business you have is never because of anything you contribute and earn, but only something that McMahon has the power to grant; and finally, most of all, crawl back to you, King McMahon, for a final bout of self-degradation. Hell, Vince, that’s a lot of feebleminded, lazy work to be constructive. I’d just rather do the harder thing. I think the reward is greater. Call me a kook. That’s right, I guess you intend to. Vince, your adulterated brand of approval and respect I cannot find the self-disgust to lower myself to. I make no apologies.
A few years ago you publicly boasted about how you loved confrontation and competition. You do -- but only with those who are intimidated by you to begin with or you already know you can beat. The facade of the company you’ve built says success, but reality is that, today, it’s like all other big, stuffy, overcrowded corporate warehouses -- sluggish, boring and complacent. You piggybacked on the degenerative cultural turn, you didn’t create it. And you rode that jackass hard, but like all that comes and goes in cycles, the provocative and risqué you so depended on has reached its spent end. Literally, there are no more tiny, little adolescent boners to exploit. All the loads have been blown. Enough "soap opera" and "porn" and "gangsta hip-hop and rap" everyone says -- people just want to take a bath, feel decent and have their wrestling be fun again. Yes, cutting edge -- but fun. High spirited and positive. Why does every single storyline in entertainment today have to be about what is the worst in people, like you're taking a 3 am walk in the foulest, most criminal alley on this planet while the sewer system is backed up flooding the streets and human-size rats are pissing and spitting upon you from both sides? You once told great stories, Vince. What happened to you? WWE's creative direction today simply tells people that it is a company filled with perverts and exhibitionists who are derangingly starved for genuine human interaction. Social misfits stimulated and inspired only by ideas they can see through peepholes. The only thing really left to do to push your overmasturbated, seedy creative envelope more open, since you obviously intend to keep beating limp meat, would be for you to actually televise the fucking you’ve been doing to so many over just as many years. Just as you worked so hard to do, you are now surrounded by ass-licking sycophants and mostly slavish, non-thinking, sunken chest talent, but the consequence is that you are burnt out, slow and stuck, have no new ideas and would have a heart attack if true passion, real manliness and legitimate challenge walked into one of the pyrogenic-laden arenas you use to entertain your equally passionless, mindless and sycophantic audiences.
Whether or not you put out a negative portrayal, Vince, the evidence is in -- you failed. I beat you. I broke the silence you’ve been harboring all these years. I drove your insecurities to break out in a rage and reveal to the world your greatest regret and failure.
Your greatest regret, Vince, is that you weren’t secure enough with yourself and your own accomplishments to handle both the Ultimate Warrior, as a gimmick, and Warrior, as the person. It could have been the biggest thing you ever achieved. You knew it years ago and you know it now and it eats away at you day after day. Linda knew it, too, but she couldn’t keep you from screwing it up. Even your son Shane knew it. The best nut you ever got, Vince, was from the Ultimate Warrior character. I know it. You know it. Linda knew that, too -- she wrote notes about it on notes to me all the time in 1996.
Ever since the Ultimate Warrior, every talent there has ever been has tried to replicate the one trait that made the Ultimate Warrior the Ultimate Warrior, makes the Ultimate Warrior standout from all other personas even today. A hint? It’s not the wrestling technique and technical ring work, stupid. It’s the real intensity, the obvious inner energy and passion I held personally. Making people feel alive and that giving it your all is worth doing. Even your own son-in-law tried his best to create his own intense image using Ultimate Warrior as a model. Batista doesn't wildly, physically explode and shake the ropes because it is something Batista would do-- he does it because IT IS WHAT ULTIMATE WARRIOR DOES. None of them though, Vince, have captured the professional enduring appeal like The Ultimate Warrior persona or the personal staying power like the person, Warrior. They don’t because their intensity is part-time, only half-ass and skin deep. Whereas mine runs all the way through, right down to the bone -- it never goes off or away. Out of the ring, no gear, no facepaint, entirely out of the business -- it remains the same in everything I do. Even now as I write this -- that intensity, MY INTENSITY, is coming right through the computer screen and the reader feels it.
Ultimate Warrior was simply a gimmick that made me realize Warrior, as a person, wasn't one. The Warrior intensity-for-life element of Ultimate Warrior was real. You got that and it inspired you, it really jacked you up -- until I became more than the young, initially naive kid who first came to work for you. Until my mind started becoming as powerful as my physical presence. Then, both Warriors together became a potential success too intimidating for you to handle. Always on the hunt for challenge, it was the inevitable next level for me. But you, Vince, didn’t have the guts to go there. As big as a man and success you were in some ways, in others that counted so importantly, you simply wanted to stay safe remaining the scared little kid who could throw his toys.
You and your wife Linda have been telling everyone for years that you only give your fans what they want. Why didn’t you then? Tell the fans who pop bigger for Ultimate Warrior than anybody else when he appears on that big monster screen at the arenas, Vince, why you didn’t then? You didn’t because you didn’t have the courage to rise up to the complete Warrior challenge.
The failure that eats away at you the most, Vince? Sadly, it’s not the missed opportunity as it should be. No, it is that you don’t OWN me like you do all the others. That you never emasculated me, turned my balls into squirrel nuts like you’ve done to all the others.
And, Vince -- you never will. This Warrior won’t crawl.
Look, Vince, let me end by telling you that I forgive you. I’m serious. I know you’ll read this and I just want you to know. I am not bitter about how things ended up. My life has moved on, and ultimately it is better and more challenging. What we were as people back then, you and I -- hey, it’s what made it work. So, I would advise you to give your own regret a rest. A lot of time has passed, for one of us a lot of growing has been done. One can’t be gotten back and the other can’t be changed.
I will always appreciate the opportunity WWF provided. I will never forget the experiences I had while I was there (or all the work, sacrifices and effort made). Thank you for those. I mean it.
All of us are bits and pieces of all things good, bad and ugly. Big as both of our egos are, you and I aren’t immune to being a mixture of all three either. Forgetting this makes it really difficult for strong personalities in disagreement to give credit where credit is due. When it comes to our opinions of one another, we both judge harshly. Maybe we should take a moment though to recognize what we forget. I don’t think you can find an instance of me on the record dismissing your company’s contribution. If I have, or if you believe I have, let me be clear right now -- Ultimate Warrior never would have had the incredible existence that he did if it wasn’t that you had your own dream to build the company that you did. But neither, Vince, would HE if there had not been ME.
You and I, Vince, once had too many explosive personality traits in common. It was inevitable that the intensity of those would cause us to one day clash, just like we did. In fact, it is the intensity of the clash that causes both us to likely not hear the unspoken respect for the good things we did together, but only the bad and ugly. We should both be proud of The Ultimate Warrior persona. I am. You should step back and be proud, too.
In this DVD you should just let Ultimate Warrior be what he, in truth, was. Incredibly positive and one of a kind. He captured something unique in people and the bond that was built is unbreakable. Pursuing the negative will never, ever change that. Of course, if this wisdom doesn’t work for you, Vince, we can just stick with you making an ass of yourself, and kissing mine. While you are down there notice, again, the real balls.
Good Bye, Vince