-by Joey Figgiani, freelance writer, artist, musician and former childhood wrestling fan
After watching the documentary about your supposed self-destruction in the wrestling world, I feel your legacy was given a raw deal. As a man, scholar, artist and enlightened individual, you have gone beyond the ignorant ring announcers, brown-nosing and jealous has-beens and rednecks who fit and perpetuate an unfortunate stereotype of the worst and sometimes “typical” wrestling fan. The ignorance and contradictions from guys like Jerry Lawler, Gene Okerlund, and mostly Bobby Heenan revealed them (not you) as the very thing they accused the Warrior of: flashes in the pan. The incredible build, the intensity in and out of the ring, the color, the flair, the intentional other-worldly rants and interviews all cemented The Ultimate Warrior as one of the most memorable wrestlers in the history of the sport.
For most of the film I don’t, however, see Hogan saying much negative about you in his interviews. His commentary is mostly very positive, as he reminisced about you in calm and professional way. But toward the end, his accusation that you just didn’t care anymore, agreeing with others who accused you of being unprofessional and unappreciative of what McMahon, Hogan and the WWE did “for” you is absurd.
Flair particularly looked like a total ass, whose lackluster career doesn’t come close to what you accomplished in less time. The biggest blunder of all, Bobby Heenan-a guy whose nickname of “The Brain” is a total contradiction of what he states at the closing of the film, that “nobody liked the [Ultimate Warrior].” Earlier in the film, Hogan clearly says “I like the guy; I like Jim.” McMahon, Slaughter, and particularly the younger guys all gave props to you, making Heenan, Lawler and the like look even more ridiculous and their words irrelevant. If they all found you so difficult and unprofessional to work with, why did they keep showing up: money, Baby. But you were above and beyond that.
It is, as you point out, a shame that these bozos don’t get the bigger picture of what you achieved, first as The Warrior, but more importantly as an ambitious young athlete who grew into an intelligent, talented speaker, artist and thoughtful man. They miss how you as a wrestler exploded onto the scene, tore up the sport, conquered all hurdles and rose to the top. They stupidly claim they didn’t get what you were saying in your interviews, missing totally the purposeful calamity and mystical quality you were fostering for your character. The original and sometimes indecipherable outbursts you exhibited in and out of the ring were ingenious and intentional and only fueled the appeal of The Ultimate Warrior.
Who are these critics to say you should have remained imprisoned by your career, limited to the WWE as a tool, unable able to move on and flourish in new ways that would utilize all your talents, skills and passions. If you eventually lost interest in remaining with the sport and all its trappings, that’s your business as an entrepreneurial, free and intelligent person. Good for you, Brother. I support and admire your tenacity in the work you’re doing now.
The most irritating thing about the documentary is, while these men slowly tear through your integrity and try to diminish what will always be your enduring legacy, how they never wavered to play their role with total support and enthusiasm during matches, interviews and any and everything that would assure them their own payday. Hypocrites will falter. Warrior lives on… I have to buy an Ultimate Warrior t-shirt soon, and will wear it proudly.
Staten Island, NY
If you don’t mind, I am posting this letter on my blog: