The Ultimate Warrior

May 19, 2008

I was listening to Bryan Alvarez on Wrestling Observer Live last night and they were talking about the Ultimate Warriorís return to wrestling in Spain on June 25th of this year. This wasnít news to me and had their conversation ended there I would not be writing this article. What grabbed my attention was that they then mentioned that TNA might be interested in using The Ultimate Warrior and they briefly debated what this would mean to TNA should it happen. This got me thinking and I thought I would take my own look at what a possible return of the Warrior might mean to TNA, in both the short and long term.

The biggest question in my mind is how many current fans even know who this guy is anymore, and thus care enough about him to significantly affect current business. The Ultimate Warrior started wrestling in 1985, hit his peak when he captured the WWF World Title from Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania VI in 1990, and had his last major run (in WCW) in 1998. Heís been out of Wrestling completely for almost 10 year, with his prime being almost twice that long ago. Current wrestling fans seem to be a lot younger than the 30 to 45 year old demographic that would likely remember fondly the original rise of the Ultimate Warrior. Will older former fans return and tune in based solely on his return; especially if they have stopped following wrestling all together and may not even hear of his return?

There is the possibility that he was a big enough star that young fans would have heard of him, and want to see him for the first time for themselves. The big controversy surrounding WWE releasing The Self Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior DVD, three years ago, could also help the curiosity factor for a potential return. That being said, would his return be more of a onetime nostalgia pop or could he actually play a valuable longer-term role in TNA.

I personally think he would be good for a onetime only nostalgia curiosity pop but very little else. This is of course just my opinion, I could end up being very wrong about this; it wouldnít be the first time. There are a lot of factors working against a business altering Ultimate Warrior return. Warrior will no doubt come with a very high price tag. Thatís one thing Iíve always admired about The Ultimate Warrior, he never became a slave to the business. Warrior made big money and got out on his terms. Heís always come back on his terms and always managed to hold out for the big money. Say what you want about the guy, he does smart business for himself. To justify a huge paycheck Warriorís return is going to have to produce significant increases to ratings and buy rates, over the long term.

To date no one person has produced a long term effect on ratings or buy rates in TNA. Stings initial return produced only a brief spike in ratings, and Kurt Angles big jump from WWE only produced a very short term effect on PPV buy rates. More often than not it is the overall perception of the company that determines TV ratings and PPV buy rates. I seriously doubt Warrior would drastically affect the overall image of the company and suspect like the Angles, Christians and Stings before him would simply produce a short term jump before melding into the established fabric of TNA.

One last aspect I want to touch on before wrapping this up is the steroid issue. Iím always looking for an avenue to go on an anti-steroid rant and I think Warriorís return presents exactly that. A large part of why The Ultimate Warrior got over, back in the day, was his body. Warrior was very much a below average worker with an above average body. He was one of the most jacked up guys in the Industry, at a time when almost everyone was on Steroids. Warrior has admitted many times that he used steroids when he was in WWE and when you compare him to others, also taking steroids, chances are he was on QUITE a lot.

It will be IMPOSSIBLE for a 49-year-old Ultimate Warrior to be in even half the shape he was in his prime without HUGE quantities of drugs. Iím having a hard enough time at 39 staying in comparable shape to what I was at 30, and I was clean that whole time. Bodies donít get better with age, and the body you can have in your 20ís and 30ís with the use of a lot of drugs is completely out of reach as you approach 50 (without huge pharmaceutical assistance). With that in mind let me ask you this. Will the wrestling fan base, support and get behind a much smaller and older Ultimate Warrior? Can he live up to the Ultimate Warrior image without the bulging muscles and physique? Or more importantly, if he returns with an Ultimate Warrioresque build, what does that say about TNAís drug testing policy, and our acceptance of athletes using illegal performing enhancing drugs? If you take away the body, and put 10 years of ring rust on the work rate, are you left with a guy that is going to change your business in the long term?

All things considered, even in the best-case scenario, Iíd rather watch Curry Man!

Lance Storm