For many wrestling fans of the late eighties and early nineties there is only one neon face painted and decorated man that runs into their mind when they think of the sport and he is The Ultimate Warrior. Flash forward to 2014 and after a long and tumultuous relationship with the WWE he was now simply known as Warrior. He was also finally back in the company that made him, and he helped make. He was even afforded the ultimate honour of being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame that year.
The perfect end to this dark chapter of his very own tale, but alas in something more akin to the end of a Hans Christian Anderson fairytale, several days after his induction and appearance on WWE Monday Raw, this great legend died when he collapsed in a car park in front of his wife following a heart attack. It was a moment so monumental that it attracted news coverage the world over and caused a wave of grief that spanned generations of fans and wrestlers alike.
So what has this history lesson got to do with a DVD/Blu-Ray review you ask? Well shortly after his death the WWE announced that they would be airing a documentary tribute to the superstar on its own subscription product, The WWE Network. Now, nearly a year later, this documentary has finally been released on to home video format with an extra thirty minutes of footage and a whole host of extras.
The documentary itself chronicles the recent homecoming of Warrior to the WWE with a bit of history about how he came to the company and his impact at that time mixed in. Setting the tone for the following ninety minutes, it begins with a statement from his wife recorded early this year. It makes you realise that you will need tissues if you intend to get through this.
The documentary takes viewers on an emotional journey as it mixes in a lot of heartfelt stories and interviews from the people closest to the Warrior, such as his wife, friends, WWE superstars Triple H, Sting, Vince McMahon and to add the emotional knockout punch, his two young daughters Indiana and Mattigan whom he treasured. With interviews shot after his death, this really does help make the documentary unique as rarely, if ever, in WWE history have they shown some of its highest ranking officials this vulnerable. In fact, the scenes featuring the normally strong and tough Vince McMahon welling up will have even the toughest wrestling fans crying along with him.
You are even shown a piece of footage that was shot as Warrior left WWE Monday Night Raw, where he gives what is likely his last ever short WWE interview; a moment that leaves a chill down your spine when you realise this.
As mentioned there is still comment from the man himself, which is is coupled with some footage from not only his family archive, but also footage from the days and months building up to his WWE return. Many have speculated that this footage was to be used as part of a special WWE series looking at his return had he been alive, so its inclusion here helps add a sense of sadness to the piece and at what could have been. It also provides us with a great look at a man finally being able to settle old scores, mend broken fences and as such give him the peace he had long been craving.
This release also has the lovely and heartwarming addition of footage showing the family after his passing and how they are coping, as well as how their WWE family have helped them during their grief.
It is hard not to think that the release of this product is a way of the company making money. But when you consider that the WWE have still honoured the existing contract between them and Warrior so as to take care of his family, you then realise that earnings from this release will in some part be going to his family.
The WWE have done themselves proud when it comes to the extras on the Blu-Ray set. It features a comprehensive collection of Warrior’s legendary and sometimes nonsensical promos and interviews, deleted scenes from the documentary, uncut footage that was used in the documentary, a wide variety of matches from throughout his career and more; so much more. One of the highlights of these extras are a series of interviews with his wife and children about their life together as a family, giving you a rare glimpse into the man he was when away from the ring. It also further helps to hammer home how cruel fate was to take him from the world when it did, as it finally appeared that with his re-connection to the WWE he had everything he had ever wanted. It is safe to say that the content and running time of these extras is actually enough to make it a viable home video release in its own right and worth the extra money to get the Blu-Ray version.
All in all this documentary is a masterpiece (and those are words I do not use often) of storytelling from start to finish and one that takes the viewer on an emotional celebration of this talented pro-wrestler’s life. Looking stunning in HD, it is filmed, edited, scored and constructed brilliantly and as such the viewer is seamlessly guided from emotional moment, to happy moment and back again, without even realising it. It will have you smiling, crying and may even help take you on a voyage of self-discovery through showing the true strength of a person and how it can help you through whatever life throws at you.
This is a release that hands down every fan of WWE past and present should own, and even those who are not fans will find themselves spellbound by it. It is a perfect tribute which shows that the man behind the face paint was a true legend. To quote from this great entertainer’s last televised speech,”What that man did in his life makes the blood pulse through the body of others and makes them believe deeper in something larger than life. Then his essence, his spirit, will be immortalised by the storytellers, by the loyalty, by the memory of those who honour him and make the running the man did live forever.“
Rest in Peace Warrior.
WWE: Ultimate Warrior – Always Believe Blu-Ray is available now priced £22.99 here.