Thursday, April 24, 2014

RIP The Ultimate Warrior

James Brian Hellwig
June 16, 1959 – April 8, 2014

I used the first of these ads as a punchline earlier (note: when your topic is Fabio, no punchline is needed), but now circumstances sadly dictate that I celebrate the professional wrestler touted in these ads (who just a couple of weeks earlier, I heard described as enjoying the same decorating scheme as a little girl's bicycle) in memorial. I'm a couple of weeks late, but that's par for the course in this low-blog-activity slump. The world of video games is a weird kind of convergence nexus, so you end up finding significance in obituaries from all sorts of circles: math, AI, computing science, literature, music, film, and sports. And, well, professional wrestling. Here's the first of two ads I have featuring the slab of beefcake prominently, this one for 1991's WWF Superstars for the Game Boy:

THE ULTIMATE GAME BOY GAME.

INCREDIBLE WRESTLING ACTION!
Take on your favorite WWF Superstars with the piledriver, suplex, headbutt, clothesline, dropkick and more!

TV INTERVIEWS
Anybody want to take on these 24" Pythons?

OUT-OF-THE-RING MAYHEM!
Watch out for a powerslam!

TURNBUCKLE TURMOIL!
Unleash a devastating flying leap on your opponent!

Step into the ring with Ultimate Warrior, Hulk Hogan, Mr. Prefect, Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase and Macho King Randy Savage!

Everything looks pretty straightforward here, but wait -- was "Macho Man" Randy Savage secretly royalty or did the sport's twisting plotlines briefly upgrade him to a king when I wasn't paying attention? (Oh wait... yes, it did. Thank you, Wikipedia, for keeping tabs on all the notable bits we didn't keep up with.) The curious stuff to me is in the very bottom, where Hulk Hogan, who plays a minimal role in this ad, gets a full array of trademarks asserted as being the property of the Marvel Comics Group, including Hulkamania and Hulkster. Maybe he was licensed to Marvel for a comics deal in this time period? (Nope: truth is stranger than fiction -- Hulk's stage name was seen as derivative of Marvel's The Incredible Hulk, and amazingly for much of his career in the ring -- barring the "Hollywood Hogan" years -- he simply licensed use of "Hulk" and derivatives from Marvel.)

Now, here's one from 1990's WWF WrestleMania Challenge for the NES:

WWF
WRESTLEMANIA
CHALLENGE

ONLY THE
STRONGEST SURVIVE...

* HEAD-TO-HEAD SINGLES AND TAG TEAM ACTION.
*MAYHEM BOTH IN AND OUTSIDE THE RING.
* THE 3-ON-3 SURVIVOR SERIES.
* THE ATOMIC DROP, THE WARRIOR WALLOP, THE HULKSTER SPLASH, AND MORE.

IT'S SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST ON YOUR NES!

[SCREENSHOT]
Double-teaming may lead to victory -- or disqualification.
[SCREENSHOT]
Choose from 8 WWF Superstars or enter the ring as "yourself".
[SCREENSHOT]
Unleash a Flying Atomic Drop -- outside the ring.

I gather at this point in the sport, Hulk and the Warrior had a rivalry going on, and the out-of-ring side of the sport was gaining prominence. I have a vivid imagination, but I can't turn off my speculation regarding what the special move "the Hulkster Splash" might consist of -- maybe explaining that yellow stuff splattering the ad's backdrop? I don't know if I would risk double-teaming an opponent if a potential consequence would be disqualification on a coin-toss. I like the quotation marks when they say "or enter the ring as 'yourself'." Legal department stuff. Finally -- maybe the out-of-the-ring business really was worth stressing twice, but was the presence of the Atomic Drop really such a selling point?

So many questions that will never be answered. In conclusion... in nipply memoriam: