Rick Bassman Talks About Discovering The Ultimate Warrior Through A Photo

Sep 2, 2019 - by James Walsh

In an interview with The Payoff Pod (via Wrestling Inc), former UPW owner/founder Rick Bassman spoke about discovering The Ultimate Warrior through just seeing a photo of him, as well as starting his own wrestling school. Here are highlights:

On Ultimate Pro Wrestling: “So I wanted to start a school and I started a school. It was called Ultimate University and started a promotion that was attended to that was called Ultimate Pro-Wrestling, or UPW. Not long thereafter, I signed my first development deal with WWF. I had two different contractual periods with them under UPW, and in that period of time I discovered, trained and delivered. When I said trained, I did a little bit of it myself. I’m not a worker; I trained promo class. I think I’m pretty good at that… I did a little bit of psychology work and in-ring training, but I had great trainers. When I say I, I never mean I. It’s we, us, our, it was a whole collective effort. Let’s say through the UPW system, which I ran point on, through the years there were 43 guys and girls that went on to WWF and in WWE through me in my system. That’s a record that’ll never be equaled again… But some of the guys and girls were Victoria, who became WWE women’s champion, of course. Nathan Jones, John Heidenrich, Chris Masters, The Miz, John Cena. These are all people that I started with. There are also a whole bunch of others that came to us, guys like Paul London and Brian Kendrick. They were already well, well into their training and working days but they would relocate, from their case from Texas, all the way to California to be part of my system because they believe they can best be seen through UPW then take the next leap.”

On the Ultimate Warrior: “A new friend at that time was Ed Connors who was one of the founders and was the operating partner of Gold’s Gym, worldwide, including in Venice where he was headquartered. I told him we were looking [for aspiring wrestlers]. He goes, ‘I think I might have a perfect guy for you.’ He shows me this photo of Jim Hellwig [The Ultimate Warrior] in his bodybuilding prime, and I looked at that photo, I’m like, ‘Holy sh*t!’ Physique-wise, face-wise – I mean, this guy just – the hair…He looked absolutely amazing. So Ed said, ‘Can I set up a phone call?’ Anyway, impression one was the visual, just the photographic image. Two was Ed asked if I wanted to set a call. Of course I took him up on it. Got on the phone with Jim, and my initial impressions were extremely intelligent, extremely articulate and pretty introspective. Businesslike for sure, but I thought for sure when I got off that first call that I had my guy.”

On the match between Warrior and Hogan not getting the credit it deserves: “Whatever the lack of high-flying, incredible five-star match or whatever…we watched these matches. Obviously, we’re watching them on mute so I’ve been paying more attention to crowd reaction than I ever probably did prior to this. I look at the fans, I mean, they went nuts. They loved it. It was significant to them. Therefore, you can’t really say that it wasn’t a home run of a match. Obviously, it’s something that lives on all these years later.”

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