I recently picked up a copy of the new WWE book, Ultimate Warrior: A Life Lived Forever. Below are my thoughts on it and whether or not it’s worth your time and money.
Earlier this year I saw Mick Foley’s one-man show at Helium Comedy Club in Philadelphia and it exceeded my expectations. After the show my friend Brian and I stuck around to meet Mick, get his autograph and get a photo with him. I also asked Mick if he was open to doing an interview with me, primarily focused on his work as an author, and he obliged. Several months later the interview came to fruition, and once again, Mick exceeded my expectations.
Today I received my WrestleMania XXX travel package, including tickets to the event itself, as well as tickets to the Hall of Fame ceremony, the following night’s Raw, and tickets to Axxess – the weekend-long event where fans can meet the wrestlers, see memorabilia and engage in a variety of fun activities. I also have VIP tickets to meet and get professional photos taken with two of my all-time favorite wrestlers: Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair. This will be my first WrestleMania and my first time in New Orleans. Stay tuned for all the great stories, photos and videos I’m sure to gather during what will be a fantastic weekend.
WWE, the iconic sports entertainment company that made professional wrestlers like The Rock, Hulk Hogan and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin household names, just announced WWE Network. This 24/7 streaming network, launching February 24, will provide subscribers with access to all 12 live WWE pay-per-views, including WrestleMania, as well as “original programming, reality shows, documentaries, classic matches and more than 1,500 hours of video on demand at launch.” The best part is subscribers only have to pay $9.99 a month for all this content, and it can be streamed through the WWE app on nearly every device you can think of (i.e., desktop/laptop computers, iOS and Android devices, Kindle Fire tablets, Roku, Xbox 360/Xbox One, Playstation 3/4, etc.).
What has me most excited about this news isn’t that I’ll be able to access every WWE, WCW and ECW pay-per-view ever – although that is awesome – it’s that this service doesn’t require me to have an existing relationship with a cable provider like HBO GO does. WWE is the first cable content provider to cut out the middle man and provide its product directly to consumers through a paid streaming service. And unlike Netflix and Hulu Plus, WWE doesn’t need to pay movie studios large amounts of money to lease this content because they already own it. For WWE, this will be a huge revenue stream for the company and a smart way to provide pay-per-view content to fans at an extremely attractive price.
Needless to say, I’m very impressed by this announcement and excited to try out WWE Network on February 24. Check out the videos below for a taste of what’s to come.
Growing up I’d watch wrestling incessantly. Nowadays I don’t have that luxury. With WrestleMania 29 quickly approaching, I want to share with you my all-time favorite match from the “grandest stage of them all.”
If you asked asked me who my two favorite wrestlers of all time were, I’d tell you Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior. Hogan personified the American spirit, had awesome ring entrance music and knew how to pump up the crowd. Ultimate Warrior was a face-paint-clad, larger-than-life superhero. With colorful attire, mysteriously confusing promos and a ridiculous physique, he captured the attention and support of millions of fans in the early 1990s, including me.
At WrestleMania VI in 1990, Hulk Hogan was the WWF (now WWE) Champion and Ultimate Warrior was the WWF Intercontinental Champion. The main event was these two titans going head to head, title for title – a first in wrestling up to that point. Having two babyfaces (i.e., good guys) go against each other was also a first for WrestleMania and it tore the crowd in two. Half of them wanted Hogan to win, while the other half was cheering for Warrior to reign supreme. Another element that gave it a big-match feel was the terrific commentary by Gorrila Monsoon and Jesse “The Body” Ventura. These legendary commentators had a wonderful chemistry that made the spectacle even more entertaining. It was a fantastic main event that is required viewing for wrestling fans, which is why I’ve included it below. It tells a great story that I still enjoy to this day.
I’ve been a fan of pro wrestling since I was a child. When executed effectively, this amalgam of theater and athleticism can suspend my disbelief and take me on a thrilling adventure – similar to other art forms. Unfortunately, pro wrestling doesn’t always get the credit it deserves. There are many uneducated people who approach wrestling fans and say asinine things such as, “You know it’s fake, right?” What these Neanderthals fail to realize is that wrestling fans are fully aware of the fact that it’s an intricately planned form of entertainment; so are television shows, movies and novels, but you don’t see these same myopic buffoons accosting fans of True Blood or Lord of the Rings saying, “You know vampires and hobbits aren’t real, right?”
Rather than dismissing it because you don’t understand it, I challenge those of you unfamiliar with pro wrestling to watch the match below. It’s arguably the greatest match in the history of pro wrestling. It features Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker at WrestleMania 25. What makes it special is it tells a story from start to finish. From the opening video package to the match itself, there is a great deal to be learned from these two grizzled veterans. Like any skillful storyteller, they set a great pace, insert several calamities and end with a thrilling, and satisfying, conclusion.
Yes, there are plenty of terrible wrestling matches, the same way there are a multitude of dreadful television shows, films and novels. But the great ones are a spectacle to behold and, as writers, we can learn from them. We can learn that it’s important to know your audience and give them what they want, while at the same time keeping things unpredictable and fun. None of us want to produce something that is forgettable; we want to be known for drawing in our readers, having them fully invested in our characters and anxiously turning pages. Wrestling is the same. Companies like WWE seek to create compelling characters, insert them in precarious situations and let the drama unfold.
For authors, there is much to be learned from pro wrestling. Give the match below a shot and you’ll see what I mean. There are stories being told all around us; some are good, and some are bad. But if we aren’t open to experiencing all of the different mediums through which they are told (e.g., TV, movies, plays, books, music, pro wrestling, video games, etc.), then, as storytellers, we’re doing ourselves a disservice. There is a great deal to be learned, but only if we expand our horizons.