On Saturday night Jim Hellwig—better known as The Ultimate Warrior and legally known simply as "Warrior"—was inducted into the WWE Hall Of Fame, a momentous occasion considering the storied bad blood between himself and the company that made him famous. On Sunday he was in attendance at WrestleMania XXX. On Monday he addressed the WWE Universe at Raw for the first time in 18 years, giving an impassioned speech—in character—about his legacy and how the spirit of the Ultimate Warrior would live on. On Tuesday, he died.
WWE is shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the passing of one of the most iconic WWE Superstars ever, The Ultimate Warrior.
Warrior began his WWE career in 1987 and quickly went on to become one of the biggest stars in WWE history. Warrior became WWE Champion at WrestleMania VI, defeating Hulk Hogan in an epic encounter.
We are grateful that just days ago, Warrior had the opportunity to take his rightful place in the WWE Hall of Fame and was also able to appear at WrestleMania 30 and Monday Night Raw to address his legions of fans.
WWE sends its sincere condolences to Warrior’s family, friends and fans. Warrior was 54 and is survived by his wife Dana and his two daughters.
My brain is still spinning over the news, and I'm trying my best to process the information. Warrior was seemingly in good health. It's being reported that early that day he was in good spirits, taking pictures with any fan that requested one. At the Hall Of Fame he walked onto stage with his two beautiful little girls, and blew kisses to his loyal and loving wife in the audience. He seemed genuinely touched and moved by the fans and the honors that were bestowed upon him. The mind reels over how random and strange the universe can be.
The Warrior's career is one that's full of ups and downs. He's done things that have earned him much deserved scorn (publicly stating that "Queering doesn't make the world work" and his reaction to Heath Ledger's death come to mind) but there are a lot of things that don't. Ignorant views on human sexuality and people suffering from addiction aside, he seemed like a decent dude. SB Nation's Bill Hanstock met the Warrior last Thursday and said "so hey, it turns out the ultimate warrior is nice as hell". Similar claims from fans came in all weekend. Warrior was nothing but gracious with fans, and seemed like the consummate family man. Sure he was an opinionated jerk at times that lacked a filter when tact and courtesy would be preferred, but it seemed like he had the important things in his life in order: family, faith, and legacy.
The biggest undeserved slam I believe he ever suffered was The Self-Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior DVD, which was a grossly biased and unfair account of the Warrior's career. I bring it up because it's something that clearly affected him in a deep way. He brought it up at the Hall Of Fame several times, and rightly so. It's not easy to sit and watch a bunch of people that you thought you shared a mutual respect with run your name through the dirt. A lot of guys would probably just shrug it off and move on because ego can be blinding, but for Warrior it was a slap in the face that he never got over. It hurt him to his core.
Warrior was never the greatest in-ring technician, but he was better than most are willing to give him credit for. In a world where Hulk Hogan can be considered one of the greatest of all time with the limited ability he had, there's no reason Warrior shouldn't be remembered in the same breath. Neither of them were Randy Savage. Objectively, Hogan and Warrior were about the same skill level. But, they were A+ entertainers, and were capable of having great and memorable matches when it counted.
Whether you were a fan of him or not, it's a heartbreaking situation. He had two daughters and a wife that he adored. They are now without a father and husband, respectively. The fans—many of whom were either discovering or rediscovering him after years of indifference—have been robbed of more memorable moments from a man we were just starting to really understand. If we can take anything from this its the solace in knowing that Warrior spent his last days burying several hatchets and being honored in a way that was fitting of a man that left a lasting impression on so many.
Rest in peace, Ultimate Warrior. You will not be forgotten.
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