I met The Ultimate Warrior.
If you're familiar with the wrestling scene, The Warrior was, and is, as big as if not bigger than Hulk Hogan. He's a legend. I told several friends of mine that I was interviewing him about his role in the upcoming WWE 24, and the jealousy that gripped them was more powerful than a powerful wrestling move involving some manner of powerful grip.
So no, I don't know anything about professional wrestling. Which sort of makes me an interesting candidate for a sit-down with such a renowned personality, but hey, I was in New York to cover the preview session of the game, and BOOM. EVERYONE'S HERO AND ME. JUST CHATTING.
We thanked him, he thanked us, we exchanged brilliant handshakes (The Warrior shakes hands like a friendly, assertive giant, for the record).
First, we got a hands-on session with the title. As we've established, I'm not a wrestling guy, which meant I was spectacularly awful at the game. I took turns playing as The Rock and The Ultimate Warrior respectively, and eventually, I figured out how to counter and clothesline with relative ease. The one thing I'll say about what I played is this: the wrestlers move pretty realistically. Their phsycality, movements and idle animations combined with realistic skin and face textures meant the whole experience felt like a pretty convincing match. Also, seeing The Ultimate Warrior stomp The Rock in the nuts was a first for me.
Then, I headed into a large baord room, where The Warrior — he's had his name legally changed to just that — sat with his young daughter. Off to one side, several suits, presumably highly placed in the WWE executive hierarchy, sat warily. I was, after all, dressed like an absolute fop, and my questions did little to fill them with confidence.
My first was "how did you get started in wrestling?" "Well", Warrior began, "I started as a bodybuilder, training down in California with three others; we didn't really get how the industry worked, and I was working on the side to start a practice as a chiropractor. Then we got scouted, and we assumed it was... well, we'd seen other wrestlers come through, and they had money, and fancy cars... only later did we find out they'd basically mortgaged themselves up to the eyeballs for all that, but we dove in, just assuming it'd be easy money because, you know. Screentime. Then we spent about seven or eight months in a kind of holding pattern".
I asked him how he crafted the Warrior persona, and he talked through how he began simple. "In the beginning, we did facepaint because we figured, hey. They're looking for big, imposing guys. And they're looking for something visually distinct. So we'd use facepaint and eyeliner to create the basic, single color face motif, then eventually, I added the strings, the hair, and I ended up with a stencil. It got pretty detailed, and eventually we had the logo. All of it was very, very distinct."
We chatted for a few more minutes, and things were pretty straight until I asked him how he felt about doing him the grave dishonour of losing with his playable character five times consecutively. This had him laughing a fair bit, which, frankly, felt amazing; you could tell he was exhausted after a day of non-stop interviews, and the remaining few minutes were pretty much relaxed riffing between the two of us. We thanked him, he thanked us, we exchanged brilliant handshakes (The Warrior shakes hands like a friendly, assertive giant, for the record), and parted ways.
So how can you play as The Warrior? Well, here's the kicker: you have to pre-order the game to do so. I'm sure he'll come out as a paid DLC character before long, but based on what I played, and based on the man himself, I'd preorder ASAP.