Remember The Ultimate Warrior's 'Director of Communications' who hassled Something Awful? He was real.
|David Bixenspan||Jun 24, 2019||8|
Image: Collage by David Bixenspan using photos by Megan Elice Meadows (under Creative Commons license) and a screenshot of public domain federal court records.
Since my Deadspin piece about WWE’s weird attempt to gaslight the public into embracing The Ultimate Warrior as a gay pride mascot dropped a week ago, I have, unsurprisingly, seen plenty of references to the greatest hits of the Warrior canon. And there are few bits of Warrior ridiculousness more prized by the internet at large then the legal threats that Warrior’s company, Ultimate Creations, sent SomethingAwful.com after they profiled his “Warrior Web” website in their “Awful Link of the Day” feature on April 8, 2005.
The “Awful Link of the Day” post—which no longer exists on Something Awful proper, just Wayback Machine copies of the site—is actually significantly more charitable to Warrior than its reputation would suggest. Yes, Zack Parsons refers to him as “a crazy Republican with iron determination” and “the crazy racist Ultimate Warrior,” but the latter is in the context of his being surprised by the nuance of Warrior’s take the Terri Schiavo legal battle. (As in Warrior was siding with Schiavo’s husband/effective widower, Michael Schiavo, who was looking to discontinue care because his wife had long been effectively braindead, and not her parents, who were trying to keep her body alive with Republican backing.)
Regardless, Warrior was not happy, and so Richard “Lowtax” Kryanka, the owner of Something Awful, received an email from a man claiming to be Chris Lewis, “Director of Communications for Ultimate Creations, Inc.” The email stated that referring to Warrior as a “racist” was “not true, and is clearly libelous,” also adding that “Ultimate Creations, Inc. has never authorized you or anyone affiliated with your website to use the image or likeness of Ultimate Warrior.”
(The only use of said “image or likeness” was a cropped photo that appears to not just be perfectly within fair use guidelines, but also originate from the November 1988 issue of WWF Magazine. In other words, no, it’s not his. Thanks, TinEye!)
Anyway, with Lowtax 1. Giving the threat the weight it deserved (very little) and 2. Seemingly not completely buying that Lewis wasn’t The Ultimate Warrior pretending he was Important Enough to have a staff in the first place, the emails quickly, predictably devolved. Well, the “how” of it wasn’t so predictable, as it amounted to “Lewis bragging about doing public record searches, finding information about Lowtax’s wife and parents, and…calling his dad!?!?!” Anyway, the whole thing is well worth reading, both if it’s new to you or you need a refresher. Regardless, a lot of Something Awful readers have come away in the past 14+ years from that legendary article thinking that Chris Lewis was, in fact, not real.
I’m here to tell you that he is.
See, Lewis was deposed in Warrior’s final lawsuit against WWE, the one he filed over the release of the Self-Destruction of The Ultimate Warrior DVD. with excerpts filed publicly in court as an exhibit to WWE’s May 15, 2009 motion for summary judgment. And he had some pretty interesting information to share!
Because the whole idea of if Warrior was difficult to work with was at issue, Lewis was asked if, in addition to some attempted deals they had discussed earlier, he could recall discussing such a “difficult to work with” reputation. “Yes. Yes,” he testified. “In my opinion, the key thing that prohibited Warrior from having a comeback either with New Japan Pro Wrestling or Total Nonstop Action Wrestling was the fact that—well, I remember Dave Marquez with New Japan and Jerry Jarrett with TNA said that the reputation that Warrior has for being extraordinarily difficult to work with and things of that nature is the prime reason that we can't offer him the kind of money that he wants to come back.” Lewis made sure to stress that it wasn’t an issue of Warrior’s “Q value” or mainstream star power, so much as a lack of trust. Which says a lot when you consider that, in late 1985, Jarrett was the first promoter to book Warrior and then-tag team partner Sting, with the latter showing a fierce loyalty to him.
Jerry said it's not that we don't know Warrior has Q value, probably more Q value than anyone on the roster at that point in time, but the truth is—and I remember he said very specifically, made this point very specifically, we can't afford to pay him the kind—he said that it's not that we can't afford to pay him the money he wants. It's that we can't afford to pay him the kind of money he wants and risk that he'll hold us up for more money at Slammiversary.
I remember Jerry used Slammiversary—which is kind of TNA's version of WrestleMania. It's their annual big wrestling event. He said we could not take the risk that Warrior would show up the night before Slammiversary and try to hold us up the way he did Vince in order to get more money and tank the show. We can't take that kind of financial risk.
He said so we can pay him a decent amount of money to come on board, and after three or six months of producing and showing that, you know, he's not going to hold us up, he's not going to be a terrible pain to work with, then we can come back and renegotiate a long-term contract that would pay him more along the lines of what he expects.
For the purposes of the lawsuit, WWE’s lawyers then made sure to get on the record that this all took place before the release of The Self-Destruction of The Ultimate Warrior. And that’s the end of Chris Lewis, actual dude in the public record of that case.