Michael Cavacini

An award-winning arts and culture blog.

Review: Ultimate Warrior WWE A&E Biography

Growing up, the Ultimate Warrior was my favorite pro wrestler. He was colorful, intense, and relentless — a comic book character come to life, with face paint and tassels to boot. Thankfully, I decided to attend WrestleMania XXX in 2014, which wound up being the Ultimate Warrior’s final run with WWE. It was an incredible weekend of events, capped off by his prophetic words on Monday Night RAW. This past Sunday, the latest WWE A&E Biography was all about the life and career of this icon of the squared circle. Did it delve deep or was it simply a puff piece? Read on for my thoughts.

Clocking in at around 90 minutes, minus commercials, these WWE A&E Biography documentaries have been pretty good, if sometimes lacking in consistency when it comes to the level of quality. The Ultimate Warrior Biography exceeded my expectations because it showed the good side and the bad side of the man behind the makeup.

Jim Hellwig, who eventually legally changed his name to Warrior, was a flawed person, as all human beings are. This documentary brought that to the forefront. It made it clear that he dealt with frustration over his relationship with his father and the trajectory of his career, causing him to seek solace in other areas, such as conservative ideology, and, as a result, he made choices that were (no pun intended) self-destructive. I choose not to judge him for these mistakes. Rather, I think it makes the story of Warrior finding peace in life and in his career more compelling and comforting.

During this documentary it was said that after finding peace in life, Warrior’s heart gave out. Those words couldn’t be more true. This documentary provides an excellent overview of the Ultimate Warrior’s career in the WWF/WWE. Unfortunately, it fails to get into his WCW run in any meaningful way. I also appreciate how we’re provided with insight from his widow and daughters, allowing us to see how they’ve grown and adapted since Warrior’s passing in 2014. It shows that despite any of the negatives in his life, Warrior was a good father and husband in the end.

This Thursday is Dark Side of the Ring’s documentary about the Ultimate Warrior, so you could say it’s “Warrior Week” on TV. WWE and A&E purposefully moved up their documentary to air before the Dark Side of the Ring episode. Whether or not one is superior to the other remains to be seen. However, the way I see it is this: one documentary is an officially licensed piece that, of course, is shaped to favor WWE, while the other is, more than likely, going to be a raw, gritty take on the less flattering side of the man behind the mask. All I can hope is that each one balances out the other, providing us fans with a deeper understanding and appreciation for the man known as the Ultimate Warrior.

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