For every Wrestler of the Week, there are performers who came before or after them that either learned from their work or influenced it. As a recurring bit of the festivities, we’ll be looking at some of those performers and how their work fares relative to our Wrestler of the Week. This week, it’s Batista, Warlord and the Ultimate Warrior.
Now, the Warlord has rarely had the word “good” attached to his name, but the truth is while he was mostly a big lumbering goof, he was not entirely without merit. A serviceable tag team partner and remarkable physical specimen, he, like Batista so looked the part that his in-ring ability wasn’t just secondary, but almost irrelevant.
However, unlike Warlord, Batista could actually “go”. While his work was never going to put a butt in a seat by itself, he could at least play the part enough that his ability to look the part did that for him. Warlord was not so lucky, however. That’s not to say he was hopeless in the ring, like, let’s say, Nathan Jones, he only has one truly “standout” match: his WrestleMania VII clash with Davey Boy Smith.
To NO ONE’s surprise, it’s not exactly a wrestling clinic, and the promo that Warlord cuts tells you all you need to know about why he never competed for any significant titles or worked any major programs with any major stars, but the match itself shows you why he had a job for as long as he did.
While Batista was a significantly better wrestler and talker than the Ultimate Warrior, he never quite reached the levels that Warrior did (which we’ll get to momentarily) in individual matches. He still doesn’t really have a “great” match on his resume. His has been a career build out of great stories, not great matches, and it’s only when he got to the level where his character reached the perfect balance that he’s been able to produce even particularly memorable matches, and not just “blowoffs to memorable feuds”.
While, again, not technical masterpieces, the series of matches he had with John Cena were at the very least highly memorable:
Hopefully, this continues in his final run, and he’ll reach where the Warrior would eventually get to.
While quite possibly the worst worker of the three, and definitely the least coherent on the mic, the Ultimate Warrior’s performances on the biggest stages were justifiably legendary. His match against Hogan is either the best or second best of Hogan’s initial run at the top, and his match with Savage was perhaps the first truly epic match in the history of the company. While Hogan vs. Andre match felt epic, that was largely a function of the stage and the cache of the participants.
Savage and Warrior, had the stage, the cache of the participants, the actual skills of the participants (okay, mostly Macho) and even higher stakes than Andre’s undefeated streak or Hogan’s run with the title, as their careers were on the line with the loser being forced to retire.
This lead to what would eventually become essentially standard fare for “epic” WrestleMania matches: multiple finishers, heightened theatrics (in this case, Warrior looking to the heavens for guidance after when he can’t keep Savage down) and even pathos for the previously reviled Savage when he is reunited with his former manager/love interest Elizabeth at the end of the match. This match has everything, and although he’s not the reason for the match itself being so enjoyable to watch, his presence is the reason it’s so undeniably memorable.