Former WWE superstar Ultimate Warrior has died at 54, leaving behind legions of fans who know doubt remember him from their childhood in the 80s and 90s. He was a larger-than-life figure, as many wrestling heroes are; with a colorful mask and an even more colorful approach to life in and outside the ring, the Ultimate Warrior was rightfully inducted Sunday night into the WWE Hall of Fame.
The Ultimate Warrior was a storied figure in WWF history and would sprint down the aisles before every match, shaking the ropes vigorously before the bell would ring, psyching both himself and his fans up before every match. His interviews were no less energetic, though they could often leave listeners a little confused. His speeches were often peppered with metaphor and spiritually-oriented language, and while his spirit couldn’t be faulted during these appearances, his fans would often be wondering about Warrior’s ultimate point in addressing his legions of fans.
Born James Hellwig, he legally changed his name to Warrior in 1993, six years after beginning his wrestling career. He became WWF champion after beating Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania VI in Toronto. Children everywhere were enraptured by his energy, his magnetism, and his colorful approach to life in the ring. Unfortunately, while he was a larger than life figure, he was reputed to be a difficult character to work with, though former WWE exec Linda McMahon was effusive in her praise of the character.
The Ultimate Warrior had recently signed a three-year contract to be an ambassador for WWE, and in addition to being inducted into the organization’s Hall of Fame April 5, the star wrestler made an appearance on Raw Monday night and Wrestlemania 30 on Sunday. Warrior acknowledged his fans’ contribution during his appearance on Raw April 7. He had slipped on the mask a final time, telling fans that “if what…man did in his life makes the blood pulse through the body of others and makes them bleed deeper in something that’s larger than life, then his essence, his spirit, will be immortalized by the storytellers — by the loyalty, by the memory of those who honor him, and make the running the man did live forever.”
According to TMZ, Warrior collapsed outside his Arizona hotel Tuesday night, though a cause of death has not yet been released. The Twitterverse came alive within a short time after the news broke of the Ultimate Warrior’s passing. Hulk Hogan, one of Warrior’s first opponents inside the squared circle in his WWF career, offered the Warrior “only love,” and WWE chairman Vince McMahon noted that everyone in the WWE family was very sad over the passing of a wrestling icon.
Even WWE executive vice president Paul Levesque, perhaps better known as Triple H, spoke out about the loss of one of the WWE’s greats. Warrior credited Triple H with repairing a relationship between WWE and Warrior that had been fractured for nearly two decades. Warrior left WWE in 1996 and became a motivational speaker, though with his induction into the WWE Hall of Fame a few days ago and the contract where Warrior would have been ambassador for the WWE brand, it’s clear that the Ultimate Warrior’s name and spirit would have lived on quite capably.
By Christina St-Jean