DVD and Book Reviews

January 25, 2006

The Self Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior:

As Iíve mentioned here a time or two, I am not a huge Ultimate Warrior fan. I met him once on a show in Hanover Germany and would not describe that one meeting as a good experience. That being said I have to admit I was a fan of his when I was a fan and he had his first run in the WWF. Letís face it, he had a great look, was exciting, and was pushed very strong.

On the whole I found the DVD (I only watched the Interview portions not the matches) very interesting. I likely found it more interesting than the casual fan, as Iíve heard other sides to these stories and it is fun to compare the different versions of the Ďtruthí. The DVD wasnít as bad of a burial as I expected it to be. After everything I had read on the net I thought it was going to be 3 straight hours of open season on James Hellwig, it wasnít. Bobby Heenan certainly went out of his way to bury the guy, and others had unfavourable things to say but it wasnít as bad as I was led to believe.

They certainly went out of their way to give as much credit to everyone and anyone else they could, involved in Warriorís success, and then dumped as much blame as they could on him for anything that went bad. There were a few real cheap shots too, which for me came off real petty. They made a big deal out of him being announced from Ďparts unknowní, making fun of him for the absurdity of it. Truth be told that wasnít that uncommon back then, and he certainly wasnít the first person to do it. Hell for all we know he did it at the request of the office. Itís not like being billed from Atlanta was Benoitís idea.

One thing I did find funny was in the segment where they made fun of his promos, Edge and Christian did impersonations of a promo Warrior did for his Mania 6 match with Hulk Hogan. They had it almost word for word, and these interviews are done without preparation. They were recalling a 16-year-old promo almost verbatim. Iím sorry I donít care how bad a promo is if you can recall it 16 years later it made an impression and did itís job. As for his promos not making sense, well that is very true but I vaguely remember a Hulk Hogan promo from the SNME days where he talked about ďHanging and Banging on the Titanic for 40 days and 40 nights, brotherÖĒ

In fairness the DVD made some valid point, but it was also off the mark as often as not. Hereís my take on The Ultimate Warriorís career. He was a big jacked up guy with charisma, a great look, and limited in ring ability, which WWE got behind and pushed hard (not exactly uncharted waters). He got over huge and was a big deal for a short period of time. He deserves his place in Wrestling History because he was a legitimate Superstar in his day. He headlined WrestleMania 6 in front of 67,000 fans and had what, at the time, was considered a great match. In the eyes of fans, at that time, he was an equal (perhaps even a successor) to Hulk Hogan, the biggest star of that era. He may have been difficult to deal with (I donít know) and he certainly wasnít a great worker, but I can list a half dozen World Champions that that can be said about.

The Bret Hart Story:

This DVD I actually bought (I borrowed the Warrior one). I havenít watched all of the matches yet but I watched the interview DVD and a few of the older matches. I absolutely loved this DVD. Itís no secret that Iím a big Bret Hart fan. He was one of the guys I watched as a kid, it was his style of work that turned me into a wrestling fan. (Sorry if that makes you feel old Bret (LOL)). I was worried the DVD might feel like it had an agenda, either Bretís or Vinceís, but it didnít seem to, to me. I was also curious to see how Bret was looking physically; Iíd only seen Bret once briefly since his Stroke, at Stuís funeral, and I was happy to see him looking so well. I thought Bret came off very honest and comfortable with himself and his career. So often, retired veterans come off as bitter and self-promoting, Bret did not. He is a man who is proud of what he accomplished and wanted his career and contributions to this business remembered, and I think this DVD accomplished that.

So far the matches that Iíve watched have been entertaining, although I had forgotten how loose the ropes were back in the day, and how few clean finish there were. The industry sure has changed. There was one comment on the DVD from Piper where he talked about adjusting to actually having his shoulders pinned to the mat at WrestleMania 8. He claimed it was the first time in 17 years. At first I thought that comment ridiculous as everyone gets pinned on house shows now a days, but I guess back then non-finishes were so common, it may have been the case.

If you were a Bret Hart fan at all, you really need to see this DVD. The interview disc alone is worth the price, and I canít wait to see the rest of the matches.

Scooter, by Mick Foley

As you are probably aware this is Mick Foleyís second novel. His first novel was Taitum Brown, a book I went on the record as not liking much at all. Foley and I actually did Byte This to discuss the book and it was very strange discussing a book written by someone you consider a friend and for the most part burying it right to his face. The discussing never got heated, or nasty, and Mick to the criticism very well. I even gave them the heads up that I didnít like the book and Mick was big enough to still have me on the show. It became a bit of a running rib between Mick and I and every time our paths crossed he would rib me about not liking his book.

During the time Mick was writing the new book, we would often discuss it back stage and several times he promised me I would like this one. At ECWís ONS he told me the release date and once again assured me I would like this one. I had a hard time finding a copy but fortunately my Mom tracked it down and I got my copy for Xmas. I finished Scooter a couple weeks ago and I have to admit, Mick held up his promise, I liked this one. Scooter isnít going to jump to the top of my favourite novel list but that is more because it isnít really my genre of choice. I think my take on Foleyís writing can best be summed up like this: I love the way Mick writes, Iím just not a huge fan of what he writes about. Scooter, like Taitum Brown is a Ďcoming of ageí type novel, the story of a kid growing up. Iím more of an Ďaction thrillerí, Ďmysteryí fan. There wasnít the big suspenseful hook to keep you turning the pages. I found once I started reading I got into the book and it read quite well, but once I put it down I didnít have that big suspense hanging over me to make me rush to pick it back up. To make it worse Scooter has a strong baseball theme through out andÖwellÖitís called Americaís favourite past time for a reason, Iím Canadian, and thus not really a baseball fan.

That being said in the end I really did enjoy this book. The characters seemed very real and there was genuine emotion through out the book. He even managed to explain baseballs appeal to me somewhat. With Scooter Mick managed to get me to care about Scooter and root for him in the end, and he managed to avoid the overly dark pitfalls, which I felt ruined Taitum Brown. If the next one is as much of an improvement on this one as this one was on the last, you are well on your way to becoming a damn fine novelist.

If any of you guys out there are interested in making this a Book Marks selection and reading it for my book club drop me an email and let me know. Iím sure I could convince Mick into taking part.

Thatís all for now,
Lance Storm