wrestling / Video Reviews

The Name on the Marquee: Ultimate Warrior (1989)

February 9, 2013 | Posted by Adam Nedeff

-We start with an anti-smoking PSA; Warrior crumbles up cigarettes and tells us he has “a lot of bad habits, but only ones that help me survive!” Apparently, bad habits can help you survive. So don’t be put off when I tell you that I don’t wipe properly or wash my hands after masturbation; I’m just thinking about my long-term health, after all.

-A trailer for No Holds Barred; I saw this movie for the first time in the “The Match/The Movie” pay-per-view special right after I turned seven years old, and completely freaked out when I saw the ad in WWF Magazine the following day and realized the movie was rated PG-13. I honestly had it in my head that some sort of film authority or possibly my older brother would tell my parents, and I genuinely freaked out about it for a while. Why are people nostalgic for childhood when 90% of it is spent trying to deal with totally unjustified, self-generated terror?

-And a Slim Jim commercial! Awesome!

-Finally, feature presentation, hosted by one Mr. U. Warrior himself, who tells us to…uh…strap ourselves in and not to fear as we hang onto his body parts. Well, at lease he said “in” and not “on,” there.

ULTIMATE WARRIOR vs HERCULES
-Aired the day after “The Main Event” in 1988. They compare physiques and Hercules demands a tug of war instead of a wrestling match. He offers his chain instead of a rope, and Warrior goes along. He comes close to winning, so Hercules boots him in the gut, and Warrior retaliates by yanking the chain so hard that it snaps in half. Hercules panics and chokes Warrior out with the remnants of the chain. Crowd instinctively turns to the curtain and waits to for somebody to make the save, but the army of jobbers is no match for a citadel of steroids, and Hercules lets go when he feels like letting go. 1 for 1. Test-of-strength angles have been the same since the beginning of time, but I like this one because the snapping chain was a nice twist and more importantly, they didn’t take forever. A predictable angle doesn’t need twenty-three minutes of build-up.

INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE: HONKY TONK MAN (Champion, with Jimmy Hart) vs. ULTIMATE WARRIOR
-Uh…okay, hope you weren’t holding your breath for a payoff to that whole Hercules thing. Anyway, you know this match, it’s from Summerslam ’88. Honky has held onto the belt for 14 months and Warrior just mauls him in 30 seconds and captures the title to a pop that lasts through the entrance, the entire match, and the post-match celebration. The crowd nearly riots out of happiness. 2 for 2. Almost not even a match, but a great moment. Demerits to Honky for shifting his body in a hilariously blatant way for Warrior’s splash. Just take the splash at a weird angle, it might not kill you.

INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE: ULTIMATE WARRIOR (Champion) vs. HONKY TONK MAN (with Jimmy Hart)
-Copy-pasted from SNME…This feud did NOT work. It was instigated with Honky willingly declaring that he would defend his title belt and didn’t even care to learn who his opponent was. It was the Warrior, who then beat Honky cleanly and decisively in less than one minute. And if that’s how you START the feud, then where do you go with it?

-Weirdness of the night: Jimmy, Vince McMahon, and Jesse Ventura all mention that if Honky wins, he’ll become the first two-time Intercontinental Champion. Honky tries to stall, but Warrior just attacks him on the floor and press slams him into the ring. Warrior does a leapfrog and barely clears the hunched-over Honky, showing why he didn’t do that move often. Jimmy Hart takes a bump for good measure.

-Warrior keeps wailing on Honky with punches and charging. Honky dodges a charge and sneaks in a series of shots with the megaphone while Jimmy works his ref-distracting magic. Honky follows with stomps and punches. Warrior makes a mini-comeback, but Honky gets lucky and avoids an elbow. That keeps going, with Warrior making little comebacks but Honky dodging high-impact stuff. Flying tackle connects out of nowhere, though, and Warrior gets three to retain and end the feud. 2 for 3. Honestly, I would have liked it if the match had gone longer, because they stumbled into a nice bit of storytelling in the final two minutes and then got the go-home signal.

INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE: ULTIMATE WARRIOR (Champion) vs. GREG “The Hammer” VALENTINE (with Jimmy Hart)
-An unaired match from the “Main Event” where Randy Savage turned heel.

-Warrior stupidly starts by chasing Jimmy Hart, and of course Valentine attacks from behind. Warrior no-sells it and Jimmy distracts the referee long enough for Valentine to attack Warrior from behind with the Heartbreaker, his loaded shin guard. Warrior kicks out with authority anyway and Valentine clubs and pounds away at the Warrior.

-Valentine comes off the top rope with another forearm, but Warrior fights back with a faceplant and a series of punches. Shoulderblock by Warrior and Jimmy Hart heads into the ring and tries another shin guard attack, but gets press slammed onto Valentine and Warrior uses the shin guard himself to KO Valentine, getting the pin and retaining the gold. 2 for 4. Warrior absolutely would not let Valentine get any extended heat and you could sense the crowd becoming bored with it as it went along.

INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE: ULTIMATE WARRIOR (Champion) vs. KING HAKU
-Haku attacks before the bell, but takes a faceful of boot and a bodypress for his efforts. Haku tries going to the eyes, but Warrior shakes it off and drops him. Warrior misses an elbow…but then so does Haku. Warrior misses a charge and crashes to the mat and that looks like it’s going to be Haku’s chance to get some offense…and Haku goes for a nerve hold. We’re two minutes in.

-Thankfully it doesn’t last, and Haku goes into the turnbuckles ten times. Haku fights back with an inverted atomic drop (“reverse piledriver,” according to Rod Trongard) and chops away at Warrior. And what the hell, another nerve hold. Warrior makes it back to his feet, slams Haku down, and tries to finish with a splash, but Haku raises the knees.

-Stomping and choking by Haku, and a goddamn nerve hold. Okay everyone, make a note of what I’m about to say because it’s not something you type every day in a wrestling review…Ultimate Warrior is carrying this match.

-Haku slams Warrior down and tries his own splash, and this time, Warrior raises his knees, which is a nice callback. Faceplant and a series of clotheslines by Warrior. Haku tries to make one last comback, but Warrior reverses a suplex and finally hits the splash to get a three-count and retain. 3 for 5. Actually a pretty hot little match.

TITLE FOR TITLE: “Macho Man” RANDY SAVAGE (WWF Champion) vs. ULTIMATE WARRIOR (Intercontinental Champion)
-Dark match from a TV taping, very shortly after Savage’s heel turn. Savage attacks from behind to establish his newfound heelness, but Warrior shoulderblocks him right out to the floor and press slams him back in. Back in, Savage gets one offensive move in and bolts to the top rope, desperate to get this overwith as fast as he can, but Warrior catches him and hangs him in the corner to beat on him a little more.

-Warrior misses a charge and this time, Savage knocks him out of the ring. He heads up top and connects with the axehandle. Back in, he chokes out the Warrior and clamps on the chinlock. Warrior fights it, so Savage tries a clothesline and a double axehandle, but Warrior won’t stay down. Savage tries a suplex, but Warrior reverses for two.

-And Rick Rude shows up to give his Wrestlemania V opponent the ol’ stinkeye. Warrior doesn’t even seem to notice, even as Rude taunts him with a series of poses. Warrior tries to finish with a splash, but Savage raises the knees and gets two. Warrior gets his second wind and clotheslines Savage, then heads outside and gives chase. Rude can’t get away, and Warrior lays a beating on him until Savage sneaks up to the top rope and connects with the axehandle, knocking out the Warrior just long enough for the referee to give him a ten-count. Savage retains the gold but doesn’t win the Intercontinental Title. Post-match, Rude offers a handshake in the ring and Savage hesitates a little bit before making a show of returning the handshake, as if forming some sort of hideously evil anti-Mega Powers. 4 for 6. I dug it.

SUPER POSEDOWN
-From the Royal Rumble; Rude poses, crowd boos. Warrior poses, crowd cheers, Rude attacks. The recap of this segment used fewer words than this segment used hours. 4 for 7.

INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE: ULTIMATE WARRIOR (Champion) vs. RAVISHING RICK RUDE (with Bobby Heenan)
-Joined in progress from Wrestlemania V, a show I really need to get around to reviewing.

-Warrior bites Rude and backdrops hm, he goes for a splash, but Rude raises his knees, I guess because he watched this tape to plan strategy. Piledriver by Rude, but he hesitates before going for the pin and only gets two. Rude tries to swivel the hips, but he’s in too much pain.

-Clothesline by Rude gets two. Russian legsweep gets another two. Rude tries the lazy version of the surfboard, where he just stays in a standing position and you’re forced to ask why Warrior wouldn’t just stand up or lay down. Warrior makes the ropes, which is actually the most energy-draining thing he could have done in that situation, and makes his comeback. Warrior tries to do two backbreakers in rapid succession and almost barrel-rolls himself out of the ring in the process.

-Rude tries the Rude Awakening, but Warrior manages to break the hold. Clothesline sends Rude out to the floor and Warrior tries to suplex him back inside, but Heenan yanks the leg and Rude lands on top of Warrior, and Bobby hangs onto the ankle long enough to get a three-count. 5 for 8. Good even in truncated form. Bobby takes an asskicking post-match.

INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE: RAVISHING RICK RUDE (Champion) vs. ULTIMATE WARRIOR (with Bobby Heenan)
-Warrior goes fucknuts on Rude to start. He sends Rude over he top and follows him outside to lay more of a beating on him. Crowd is STOKED, too. Heenan tries to interfere and Warrior retaliates by stomping on his hand, and some super-alert employee of the Boston Garden lights up the word “OUCH” on the scoreboard.

-Slams and choking by Warrior and he follows by rubbing his nuts all over Rude’s back in a fast thrusting motion, which Tony Schiavone calls “choking.” I’d have trouble calling that move, too.

-And we jump forward to another house show match, this time from the Meadlowlands. Warrior comes off the top rope with an axehandle. Bearhug by the Ultimate one. Hard Irish whip by Warrior; Rude manages to move the ring on impact…so they do it again. Goddamn, no wonder this guy’s back was shot five years later.

…And we just awkwardly end the tape right there, with Warrior saying some final words about beasts and laughter and poisonous injections.

The 411: You know what? This was actually a pretty good tape. The weird editing at the end kinda threw me off (Wrestlemania V was its own tape, they could have just left that out and given us a complete house show match) but other than that, I got no beefs. Well, I got beefs with the matches I didn't give points to, but...the point is, this kept me mostly entertained. Recommended, especially for Warrior fans. They put together a pretty good comp tape for him.
 
Final Score:  7.1   [ Good ]  legend

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Adam Nedeff

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