#WF068 – Ultimate Warrior

Arnold Furious: Unfortunately, this tape is hosted by the Ultimate Warrior himself, which means incoherent segues galore. Warrior running down the contents of his own tape in character, without breathing in, is borderline insane.

 

The Ultimate Warrior vs. Hercules
27th January 1988, from Wrestling Challenge. Vince McMahon virtually ejaculates on commentary for Warrior’s arrival. Herc was under the tutelage of Bobby Heenan at the time, so this is the beginning of Warrior’s feud with the Heenan Family. This is the angle where Warrior and Herc have a tug-o-war over Hercules’ chain, which breaks. And that’s the whole angle, there’s no match. The breaking chain would set up a match at WrestleMania IV. Essentially this was Warrior’s first WWF feud, so him snapping the chain was a big deal. It was his first display of power.

 

WWF Intercontinental Championship
Honky Tonk Man (c) vs. The Ultimate Warrior
From SummerSlam ’88. Warrior’s now famous mangling of the longest reigning Intercontinental champion of all time. The previous angle helped to establish Warrior as a star, but this match absolutely cemented him as a top tier guy. It’s perhaps the best squash match, ever. Honky Tonk Man had the longest ever IC title reign at 14 months, but it’s coming to an end. Mainly because Vince wanted to see how a new babyface would do with the belt in an attempt to build another main event star. The Ultimate Warrior answers the call and the crowd is HOT because of how HTM has used hook and crook to keep that IC title. Warrior destroys HTM and splashes him to win the title in 30 seconds flat. Until the actual pinfall went down, the crowd must have suspected shenanigans. Especially considering Honky’s record of retaining the belt. But the brilliance in the booking here is that Warrior pinned HTM so quickly that he couldn’t get himself disqualified or counted out. Vince McMahon must surely have thought Warrior would be the Hulk Hogan of the 1990s. It didn’t pan out that way, but at the time he seemed like a sure thing.
Final Rating: SQUASH (Not rated)

 

WWF Intercontinental Championship
The Ultimate Warrior (c) vs. Honky Tonk Man
A re-match for the title, aired on Saturday Night’s Main Event in January 1989. Jesse Ventura makes a good point that HTM has had time to prepare for Warrior. His original out was Warrior surprising him at SummerSlam. Which is why it was such a good angle to begin with. HTM and Jimmy Hart both realise that Warrior needs people to sell for him and bump around like crazy. Warrior still doesn’t know what he’s doing on offence and he’s all over the place. Weight of numbers sees Warrior take the megaphone to the ribs. Honky is smart enough to know when to cut off Warrior’s comebacks, but Warrior at the time was ALL comebacks. So its not easy. Honky gives up and does a silly bump off his own clothesline, before Warrior finishes with a shoulderblock. Honky’s star fell pretty quickly once he lost the IC strap and it was evident here, as Warrior treated him like a jobber.
Final Rating: **

 

WWF Intercontinental Championship
The Ultimate Warrior (c) vs. Greg Valentine
This is from the Main Event II, which was headlined by the Mega Powers against the Twin Towers, where Savage turned heel. Valentine is a former IC champion but not since 1985. This was during his run with the Heartbreaker, his shinguard that made the Figure Four DEVASTATING. Hammer is a bit too slow to realistically counter the things Warrior wants to do, like dodging an elbow drop. He has to get up so early to escape it that Warrior looks like an idiot for still dropping it. Of course, if Warrior was smarter he’d be able to work around it instead of just running the same old shit. Hammer gives up on him pretty early in the match and stands around taking a beating. Jimmy Hart attempts shenanigans with the Heartbreaker, but Warrior takes it off him and waffles Hammer for the win. Valentine looked terrible in there but that wasn’t helped by Warrior’s inability to do anything useful.
Final Rating: ½*

 

WWF Intercontinental Championship
The Ultimate Warrior (c) vs. King Haku
This is from the previous month, as the WWF just wants to get over that Warrior was on a tear as IC champ. Haku is faster than Hammer so it’s immediately a better match-up for the champ. They run that same elbow spot with Haku moving with Warrior on his way down, which is a huge improvement in timing. Haku’s style is a lot closer; a ‘smashmouth’ approach. Warrior doesn’t quite follow a few of the moves and nearly lands on his head off a shoulderbreaker. Luckily for him, Haku is really strong. Putting Warrior’s matches together like this exposes how many crutches he has. How many moves he uses repeatedly. Not just offensive moves like clotheslines, but opponent counters he has pre-planned. It makes his matches cookie cutter and he isn’t Ric Flair or anything, so that’s not a good thing. At least when he does the knees up on the splash spot, they recycle it and have Haku do the same move later in the match. Haku gets in some nice counters when Warrior starts calling for the finish. It’s not often you see people avoid the press slam once, let alone twice. Warrior finishes with a suplex and a splash instead. It was a wee bit sloppy but they planned out a few nice counters.
Final Rating: **¼

 

WWF Championship
WWF Intercontinental Championship
Randy Savage (c) vs. The Ultimate Warrior (c)
Both belts are on the line, which makes you wonder why this is on Superstars and not a major show. Savage is post heel turn, but this is ahead of WMV. Savage is his usual energetic self but not overtly so. I get the feeling he’s only had about 10 mugs of coffee before this match rather than his big match coffee dosage of five gallons. His blood type is Java. I like that Savage tries to get Warrior counted out as he doesn’t give a shit about winning the IC title back. He’s only interested in retaining his world title. He teases disqualification as well. Warrior has a few weird moments where psychology goes in favour of vanity, like moving Savage’s chinlock around in the ring so he’s facing the hard cam. If it’s that easy to move Savage in the hold, then why isn’t he going for the ropes? Neither man gets into any significant trouble until Rick Rude strolls out and starts posing around ringside. Warrior does the missed ‘knees up on the splash’ spot again. Crutches, I TELLS YA. Warrior goes out to sock Rude in the jaw and Savage wipes him out to win on count out. There were moments when this felt like a trial run for a match, rather than an actual match. Warrior and Savage obviously did better later at WrestleMania VII. Next for Warrior would be an extended run with Rick Rude where he learned to work.
Final Rating: **

 

Super Posedown
The Ultimate Warrior vs. Rick Rude
From Royal Rumble ’89. The segment lasts for a long, long time and is tragically included uncut. This was yet another early Sportz Entertainment bit for the PPV world. Mainly, because they figured they could get Warrior over by doing other masculine things than wrestling. Even with his skills not particularly honed, I’d still rather see Warrior wrestle than pose. They pose in a variety of positions and Rude is better at it, but the fans prefer Warrior, so Rude nails him with his Chest Expander. Warrior takes out his frustrations on innocent officials before running to the back like a moron. They’d end up feuding for most of the year, with Rude improving dramatically and dragging Warrior up with him.

 

WWF Intercontinental Championship
The Ultimate Warrior (c) vs. Rick Rude
This match is from WrestleMania V. Warrior’s massive push was ongoing. His popularity continued to rise and he gets one of the biggest pops of the night. Rude is in the process of becoming the brilliant worker we remember him as. He throws in great little touches like kneeing Warrior when he enters the ring, and injuring his knee on the IC belt. Warrior by comparison doesn’t do much. He doesn’t know how to work a long match, so goes to rest holds almost immediately. Rude gets to land some defensive counters. Some of which cause Gorilla to ride Warrior’s stupidity, which shows you how bad he was. Rude is just a machine when it comes to the selling. He sells the knee throughout and adds the back in for shits and giggles. Rude is able to bump around for Warrior’s moves but not to the degree that Savage would. Warrior powers out of most moves including the Rude Awakening. Warrior is powerful but dumb, which is how he wrestles. Warrior tries to suplex Rude in from the apron but Heenan grabs his leg and holds on to give Rude the pin. That finish has become overdone since, but at the time it was fairly fresh. Rude made the match and walked Warrior through anything complicated. Their ongoing feud improved both men as wrestlers and turned Warrior into a legitimate main event threat.
Final Rating: **

 

WWF Intercontinental Championship
Rick Rude (c) vs. The Ultimate Warrior
1989 was a learning curve for Warrior, and his series of matches with Rick Rude is where he went from clueless to competent in the worker stakes. This is from later in April ’89 at Boston Garden. Rude bumps around like a maniac, but Warrior is remarkably focused and works on the ribs. When he does setup and pre-planned stuff, like Heenan tripping him up, it doesn’t feel pre-planned. It feels organic. When Warrior worked with people who knew what they were doing, the results were incredible. Especially compared to his work with other wrestlers who didn’t particularly care about match quality. Sadly this match only shows selected highlights of Warrior working Rude over, and therefore the video feed ends with him hitting an atomic drop and Rude staggering around the ring selling his groin. Very hard to rate but it had the makings of something special. If this had been a Rick Rude tape we might have gotten to see the finish!  

 

WWF Intercontinental Championship
Rick Rude (c) vs. The Ultimate Warrior
Another clipshow here, this time joined in progress, with Warrior going after the title again. It’s a month later and in Meadowlands. Incidentally all these later matches are called by Tony Schiavone and Alfred Hayes, which is one of the worst commentator pairings the WWF ever dreamed up. Basically the whole match is Warrior kicking Rude around the ring, tying him in the tree of woe and kicking him some more. That’s apparently what passes as acceptable for the conclusion of a WWF tape release in 1989.

 

Summary: When I saw three Rick Rude matches listed for this release, I got very excited. I thought we’d get to see some fun stuff from house shows and solid Rude performances. But in actuality it’s two clipshows and the WMV match, which is arguably their worst meeting. They could have waited until after SummerSlam ’89 to release the tape so they could at least seen Warrior reclaim the gold in their best match. Leaving that match off also gives the tape a weird feel, as the subject ends up as a loser.
Verdict: 37

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