Editor note: Please take the opportunity to check out our tribute piece to The Ultimate Warrior.
Ah, The Ultimate Warrior. As someone in their late 20s that grew up watching the WWF towards the end of the 80s and start of the 90s The Ultimate Warrior was one of the stand out guys. Even now, looking back, it’s difficult to argue that he wasn’t a stand out character. Here you had a near 300 pound jakked up guy with crazy face paint and crazier promos squashing all comers in a meteoric rise to the top of the WWF.
Despite having a moves repertoire comparable to that of Kevin Nash, Vince saw The Ultimate Warrior as the man who could eventually replace Hulk Hogan as the company’s main guy and we saw the torch being passed in the ‘Ultimate Challenge’ main event at Wrestlemania 6. Of course, as we know now and would see in later years, Hogan was irreplaceable and was eventually brought back.
The Warrior eventually left the WWF after Summerslam 1991 – he was fired after the show after demanding an increase in money paid to him. He returned briefly in 1992, running to the aid of Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania 8 and engaging in a feud with Papa Shango before facing Randy Savage for the WWF title at Summerslam 92. He was then scheduled to team with Savage against Razor Ramon and Ric Flair at Survivor Series 1992 but was again fired. You’d expect that to be the last we’d see of him on WWF television, right? Well, not quite.
In March 1996 both Scott ‘Razor Ramon’ Hall and Kevin ‘Diesel’ Nash announced plans to leave the WWF leaving quite a noticeable gap in the upper echelons of the WWF roster. Desperate times call for desperate measures and The Ultimate Warrior, by now having legally changed his name to ‘Warrior’, after 3 and a bit years off of mainstream television, returned to the WWF fold.
So what did Warrior’s return wield? In terms of in-ring action, not all that much. His first match upon his return was a 1 minute 40 second squash of Hunter Hearst Helmsley at Wrestlemania 12 before making his Raw debut in April of that year.
The interruption by Goldust here to the predictably rambling and incoherent promo would set up their match, for Goldust’s Intercontinental Championship, at that month’s ‘In Your House 7: Good Friends, Better Enemies’ which the Warrior would win by count-out, thus not winning the title.
During his return he did manage to defeat Isaac Yankem and Owen Hart on Raw as well as Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler at King of the Ring 1996 in an undercard match – despite him appearing on the actual poster for the event. The Warrior was then scheduled to team with Shawn Michaels and Ahmed Johnson against Vader, Owen Hart and The British Bulldog at ‘In Your House 9: International Incident’ but problems were right around the corner.
In July of 1996 the WWF suspended The Ultimate Warrior after he missed advertised appearances at Indianapolis, Detroit, and Pittsburgh and refused to post a bond to guarantee his appearance at events he was scheduled for. His position at ‘IYH9’ was taken by Sycho Sid and The Ultimate Warrior never appeared on WWF/E television again. In addition, he was on the receiving end of a hatchet job DVD titled ‘The Self-Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior’. The DVD featured clips of many his more notable feuds and matches along with commentary from WWE stars past and present – of which many were unflattering and resulted in him filling a libel action against the WWE which was later dismissed.
Every single one of The Ultimate Warrior’s stints with the WWF ended with him being suspended, quitting, or being fired due to behind the scenes problems, more often than not attributed to demands for his compensation to be increased and his schedule decreased.
The relationship between the WWF and The Ultimate Warrior was rarely plain sailing and hit its first major bump the day after SummerSlam ’91 when he was suspended for 90 days from the WWF for “unprofessional conduct.” In reality, of course, he was fired but this suspension meant that he was unable to immediately jump ship and join the WCW. It has transpired that he had been making attempts to rework his contract in order to make his pay and scheduled dates comparable to those of Hulk Hogan. It got to the point where he held up the WWF backstage the day of the pay-per-view and Vince only relented in order for that PPV to go ahead and fired Warrior immediately afterwards. Rumours have abounded that Hogan and Sgt Slaughter both offered to deal with him.
He returned a few months later in a surprise return, saving Hogan from a two-on-one attack by Sid and Papa Shango at Wrestlemania VIII and went on to headline SummerSlam ’92 against Randy Savage, but a few weeks before his scheduled appearance at the Survivor Series, the WWF fired him after he again made more last minute demands for more money. At this point the WWF decided that it was better to release him than deal with his unrelenting demands at times when he had the most leverage.