The Ledger – June 22, 1988
By Diane Lacey Allen
The big voice boomed over the phone line. It was hoarse, breathy, athletic. And it was apologetic.
Nobody could have made up this touching reason for being two hours late for an interview. Certainly not someone with a reputation for crushing opponents with the well-defined biceps of a Mr. Universe.
Out pours a hurried, jumbled story about “my dog” and “wasps.”
“His face was twice its size,” he explains as if still caught up in the mismatch between canine and nature.
The animal was a black German shepherd. The owner was the Ultimate Warrior of the World Wrestling Federation. A lazy day off at home in Dallas had turned into a rush to the veterinarian, with a shot and some antibiotics for the pup and a sigh of relief for the wrestler.
Blade Runner – “gave him the name and it stuck” – was now resting comfortably and the focus was back on wrestling’s lunatic Warrior.
For those unfamiliar with the WWF’s closest thing to a man who acts like he has been stung by hornets, the Ultimate Warrior is a good guy who can act bad.
He likes children (but doesn’t have any yet), animals (see above excuse), is expected to pose with friends of relatives (although he doesn’t necessarily like it) and appreciates everything good about America (especially merchandising since he has a new T-shirt out).
His body is shaved so each sculptured muscle glistens with perspiration and shines through a painted-on mask. His hair is dirty blond and makes you wonder if the ragged edges were self-inflicted with a hunting knife.
He paces like a lion, shaking with enough energy to fire the McIntosh Power Plant across town from where he will perform Thursday night at the Lakeland Civic Center.
“What makes me different than the rest…,” he says, “I think I have one of the best bodies in pro wrestling. The paint on my face. The fire and the energy.”
“I run to the ring, full force. I shake the ropes. I act like an idiot inside the ring. I dance, more or less,” he continues. “I show a lot of body language.”
Now we are talking. Bodies. Yes, this man knows something about basic anatomy.
He went from a chiropractor who fixed backs to one who breaks them. In between, he honed his own bod to perfection and decided it would be a waste to hide it in a white coat.
“It’s sort of a long story,” he says. “… I spend so much time working out and being in the gym, I really wanted to do something physical – but not construction.”
“All that time I put into building my body, I wanted to do something with it.”
He entered the wrestling ring and worked his way to the WWF.
Now he portrays a WWF character surrounded by a storyline that would like you to believe he started from above and worked his way down as the ultimate challenger for opponents on Earth.
Thursday the “natural” matchup, as the Warrior puts it, is between him and the equally musclebound Hercules at the Lakeland Civic Center.
The Ultimate Warrior’s venture from bodybuilding to professional wrestling was no accident. In fact, it coincides with the sport’s trend toward lean and mean competitors.
“The business is going that way,” says the Warrior. “It is more physical. Used to be 10 years ago it was bigger and fatter… (now it is) people spending the time in the gym exercising and working out. People want to see that type of thing.
The Ultimate Warrior is all body, sometimes more energy than charisma and definitely not your typical boy-next-door “Ozzie and Harriet” good guy.
“I don’t fit into any category,” he explains. “They want somebody who can be good and has good intentions…”
“Hercules, he’s bad and mean. They look at me and know I can become more evil or more mean or bad so I can overcome him.”
He uses his body as a tool in a market that flourishes on the oldest of gimmicks – good versus evil. He flexes muscles in a world where his identity is protected by the WWF the way Walt Disney World keeps the name of the person in the Mickey Mouse suit quiet.
With up to 20 different colors used in his trademark mask, the Ultimate Warrior is moving up on the WWF ladder on a scale measured by releases of clothing and posters.
He likes the idea of the good guy winning, giving children a product where being bad doesn’t always pay and you know where everyone stands.