I’m gonna give you a little window into my day to day life…in the morning, I usually get up at about 5:45 to get my son up, fed, dressed & ready to go to the baby sitter’s house. My wife is usually getting herself ready while I’m doing all this, and then once she’s out the door with him, it’s time for me to get myself ready. While I’m feeding him, I typically put the news on to see what’s going on in the world, to see how warm it’s supposed to be today and to see if there are any traffic reports that impact my ride in to NYC in the morning.
This morning was no different. So once he was ready, I started to get ready & she left with him. The TV tends to stay on usually until I’m ready to walk out the door, so the news continues while I’m in the shower, getting dressed, etc. So when I was finally out of the bathroom & heading in to the bedroom to figure out what I was going to wear today, I caught a news story about the Ultimate Warrior passing away last night. My morning just stopped. I thought for sure that maybe the news messed up, so I immediately went to my phone and pulled up PWInsider.com to see if they had reported it, because if it happens in the world of professional wrestling, they’re always going to report what actually happened. And there, at the top of the page are two stories: Ultimate Warrior Passes Away and More Information On The Sad Passing Of The Ultimate Warrior.
Turns out that while walking to his car with his wife from a hotel in Arizona, he collapsed and was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital. After that, I went to Facebook. A couple of friends had already heard the news & had posted in my wrestling group and I commented on it. I also posted to twitter and responded to those posts. This weekend was such a great weekend for Ultimate Warrior’s fans and I’m willing to bet Ultimate Warrior himself that to have this past weekend be followed up by this it just so unbelievably sad.
I’m going to give a little bit of background here and throw in some of my own thoughts & views…now I’m no wrestling journalist and I don’t pretend to be either, so if I leave some stuff out, please don’t hold it against me. I generally created this site to be a creative outlet for myself, to get my own thoughts on a variety of subjects out there in the formatting that I liked, but I didn’t really expect to have to write one of these.
The Ultimate Warrior was a unique individual to say the least. He was a larger than life personality who maybe didn’t have the greatest wrestling-centric matches, he was a way over-the-top personality who the fans took to almost immediately. When that music started, you knew the shit was on and whoever was in the ring against him was about to be decimated in short order. He went on to win the Intercontinental Championship in record time from The Honky Tonk Man and eventually went on to defend that title in a title for title match at WrestleMania VI against Hulk Hogan and winning the WWF Championship that night.
He would go on to defend the title against Macho Man Randy Savage and hold the title until Sgt. Slaughter would take it from him with help from Savage. Warrior would never win the WWF title again, but he did stick around awhile longer, tagging with Hogan, facing Savage, Papa Shango and others. Then he would disappear. And wouldn’t be heard from again until 1996, when he would return to promote his professional wrestling school, Warrior University. He would go on to decimate Hunter Hearst Helmsley at WrestleMania XII and then again he would disappear.
He would resurface in WCW to face Hollywood Hulk Hogan in an awful match for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship at Halloween Havoc 1998. He formed his One Warrior Nation to take on Hollywood Hogan & the nWo, and was a part of some truly horribly bad backstage segments where he would appear in a mirror to Hogan & the audience watching at home, but Eric Bischoff & others standing by Hogan could not see him. In the end, the storylines in WCW were some of the worst that Warrior had ever been associated with & you had to wonder why he agreed to go work with this company. Following the abysmal WCW run, Warrior would disappear – this time, seemingly for good.
Somewhere along the line, Jim Hellwig who had portrayed the Ultimate Warrior character would take his character so seriously that he legally changed his name to Warrior. And after numerous years of legal battles with WWE for a number of reasons, WWE decided to out of the blue take out some frustration and put out a DVD called “The Self Destruction Of The Ultimate Warrior” in which their contracted talent badmouthed Warrior, picking apart the character, ring entrance & the man, basically telling the public that “this guy was a piece of crap”. Warrior would go to court with WWE over the release of this DVD, stating defamation of character among other charges.
Warrior also had put out videos on the internet, talking about a number of different topics. He would use big vocabulary words and metaphors to get his point across while probably confusing most of his viewers. He also did a lot of promotional speaking in his retirement from the ring. In my experience in watching some of these videos, I never really knew what he was trying to convey, but it was obvious that he felt very passionately about what he thought he was talking about.
We hadn’t really heard from Ultimate Warrior in a number of years, but the speculation was always there that WWE would hopefully someday induct him into their Hall of Fame. After all, he was a character who WWE fans loved to cheer. His entrance music was so high-energy that when it hit, you got excited. He was very much like Bill Goldberg…not a great wrestler, but he looked good, had a good entrance and his matches were so short that you really didn’t realize he didn’t have it in the ring.
So after all the speculation on a Hall of Fame induction, WWE finally patched things up — rather, Triple H patched things up with Warrior, just as he did the previous year with Bruno Sammartino. For being a “cancer” in professional wrestling, Triple H sure does have a knack for making peace with personalities that Vince McMahon & WWE have pissed off and sent away over the years. I mean Triple H is responsible for making good with Bruno Sammartino, Bob Backlund, Hulk Hogan, Ultimate Warrior…the list goes on.
Anyway, Warrior was inducted to the Hall of Fame this past weekend and gave probably the greatest speech I’ve ever heard from the man. Gone were the big vocabulary words & metaphors, and what we got was a very passionate man, who told the fans how he felt about the whole situation, that he was proud of his legacy and proud of his fanbase who stuck by him through thick and thin. It was obvious that the DVD WWE had released a number of years ago had hurt him, not only professionally, but also personally. But they let bygones be bygones & were ready to move forward with a deal where he would be an ambassador for WWE, he had signed a legends deal with the company and was going to be celebrated for what he had accomplished in his dashed career.
He was going to be one of the guys they send off for media days, autograph sessions and to meet the WWE Universe. He came out on Monday Night Raw and cut one of his nonsensical Warrior-esque promos. I’m not sure what he said or what points he was trying to get across, but the Warrior was back and he was here to stay.
And that’s really what makes today’s news that much sadder. After all the legal garbage and the spewed hatred between WWE and Warrior, he’s now gone. That’s it. He said one thing during his HOF speech that really hit me…he said how with everything cool that he had done before his girls were born, the coolest thing he’d done in his life was being father to them. That’s pretty special. I’m just glad he was able to make peace with WWE and was able to have the weekend he did before his time came.
Rest In Peace Warrior, I wish we could have seen more of this recent turn of events for you. Thank you for all of the entertaining promos and high energy matches and intense promos. You sure left us wanting more.
Special thanks to Steve Wright, Jr. for the use of this awesome shot from the Hall of Fame!