WWE stalwart Bruce Prichard has seen it all during his time in professional wrestling, including the the underwhelming 1996 return of The Ultimate Warrior.
After a hugely successful run with WWE which began in 1987, The Ultimate Warrior left the company in 1992 under a cloud of steroid use, missed dates and reports that he tried to hold up Vince McMahon for over half a million dollars to appear at SummerSlam 1991.
However, during his time with the company Warrior won the both the Intercontinental and World title’s becoming one of the biggest stars in the wrestling world.
So when Warrior looked to be on his way back to WWE in early 1996, his name value if nothing else, meant he was worth a shot. Instead, old issues quickly resurfaced and Warrior’s second act with the company underwhelming and ultimately disappointing.
Reflecting on Warrior’s comeback on his Something To Wrestle With podcast, available via Ad Free Shows, Bruce Prichard says that he thought Warrior could have made a great heel, before adding that there was no real plan for him after his WrestleMania XII return and win over Triple H.
“No, I think Warrior would’ve been a hell of a heel,” Prichard said. “He was [a heel] backstage and I think you could take that, put that on camera and easily [dislike him]. Easy, easy to hate.”
“From WrestleMania on, I just didn’t see how it was going to work,” Prichard said. “It didn’t have that panache of ‘Oh boy, it’s Warrior again, can’t wait to see him.’ It was more of, ‘oh god, what the hell are we going to do with this again?’
“There was trepidation, it wasn’t a mesh, it wasn’t a good feeling. You could have people that are difficult to deal with and you learn how to deal with them and you’ll deal with it because of the results. There were no results and it was just difficult to deal with.”
Prichard continued, reflecting on the events which lead to Warrior leaving WWE a handful of months later.
“We had Warrior booked all across the country at live events and he wasn’t showing up, wasn’t answering phone calls,” Prichard said. “When he finally [answered], he talked about his dad, whom he did not have a relationship with or at least an estranged relationship at best, that his dad was dying and then his dad died and I’ve got empathy for that.”
The man formerly known as Brother Love, explained further that the rift between the two sides wasn’t helped by Warrior’s insistence that WWE brought a large amount of his comics to sell on. Prichard concludes that ultimately Warrior’s demands were wholly unrealistic.
“You want to believe him but there were too many things that didn’t add up, like demanding we purchase a bunch of his comic books every month. An astronomical amount of money and an astronomical ask for the number of pieces that I don’t think Superman or Spiderman or any other comic book in the world was selling the number of comic books Warrior was demanding we buy to sell. There were ulterior motives and Jim may have extended himself a little bit on the comic book side of things, it was a cool comic book. It was his project and I think he saw that as soon as I get back on WWE TV, I’m going to sell millions of these things. That just wasn’t the case. He looked at it like he’s getting screwed because he should be selling all these comic books because he’s the Ultimate Warrior, the audience felt different.”
Speaking on his own Grilling JR podcast, WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross also reflected on Warrior’s return, saying that he wasn’t a good enough worker to know how to lose.
Ultimate Warrior eventually signed for WCW in 1998, where he enjoyed a similarly underwhelming spell. The former WWE Champion retired from wrestling later that same year, eventually being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2014, before he passed away a matter of days later.
H/t to Wrestling Inc for the transcription.