Honestly, after re-reading the promo I seriously was wondering if he'd committed suicide ... it definitely did seem like he was foretelling his own imminent demise. Someone else posted that he just fell dead while walking to his car, though, so it wasn't that. It probably was a heart attack from long-term steroid use, and it was likely exacerbated by the excitement of those last 3 days. What a way to go though. Joining the HoF, seeing Wrestlemania 30, cutting one last epic Warrior promo ... then on to whatever lies beyond. Pass easy through the Veil, warrior spirit.
I was sitting here at the computer when I got a text from Jeff telling me the news. Completely unbelievable. I mean, it would be shocking either way, but the timing of it is almost impossible.
Warrior was one of my favourite wrestlers as a kid. I don't know if I've ever been so excited for wrestling as I was when Warrior beat Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania VI. I was hollering, beating my chest, pressing stuff over my head like Warrior, the whole deal (very light stuff, as I was and am a fat weak lump, but still.) And I remember being so tense for the Savage/Warrior retirement match the next year.
"MEANS MUCH MORE THAN THIS"
At the same time, the internet pulled back the curtain and I found it hard to reconcile my childhood favourite character with some of the things the real person said - "queering doesn't make the world work" and the like. People aren't always like what you'd want them to be.
But then you see him at the Hall of Fame with his wife and daughters and the whole thing just seems so sad. I hope he actually made peace with some people over the weekend.
I was there at the Smoothie King Arena and it almost looked like he over exerted himself shaking the ropes. He limped up very slowly up the Raw ramp. So shocking. Just saw him at HoF, Wrestlemania, and Raw.
I have no words right now. Musicians die, politicians die, important people who have had more of an impact on society as a whole have died, but this really gets me. Especially after the weekend he just had with the Hall of Fame induction and validation he received by WWE in 2014.
I was just saying how his promo last night gave closure to his WWE career, by being allowed to go into the ring in front of everyone after everything that had happened it's just surreal for it to have happened so soon.
Warrior was the guy that brought me into wrestling. I liked Hulk Hogan and all, but I was never really a fan because he never lost. Meanwhile, there was this really cool insane heavy metal guy who painted his face named the Ultimate Warrior who really appealed to me. It was like, who could beat Hogan? Then, it turned out WARRIOR, the Intercontinental Champion, the supposed-second best champion, beat Hogan and holy shit, that was inspiring. That's what got me into wrestling.
The next year, he had his feuds with Savage and Undertaker, and I was hooked. Both were incredible feuds that produced unforgettable moments like the career ending match at WrestleMania 7, which is still one of my favorite matches of all time, and occasionally today I pass by the LA Sports Arena knowing that match happened there, and being stuffed into the casket by the Undertaker which really blew my mind at the time.
Unfortunately, as a fan of his, he'd constantly leave and come back like a dead beat dad, but the moments he produced were incredible. It became progressively un-cool throughout the 90's to be a fan of his with the rise of guys like Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels and workrate becoming more of a priority in the post-Hogan era. I'd defend Warrior every chance I got, but was just overwhelmed with people talking about his shitty workrate and how he wasn't as big of a draw as Hogan.
But, time proved Warrior fans right. His impact was undeniable. His gimmick and wrestling style was appropriate for the character. He wasn't supposed to be technically sound. He was supposed to be Conan the Barbarian, right out of a Frazetta painting, kicking ass with heavy metal music and looking more awesome than any other wrestler that ever walked through the curtain. That's what he was, and progressively over the last decade, time validated him. He was never Ric Flair, and he never had to be. He was the Ultimate Warrior.
He didn't have the longevity of Hulk Hogan, but for one brief moment in 1990, he was right up there, like an eclipse that happens rarely, and for one night, he was better. That shit never happened to anyone.
In November 2012, I got to meet him. I had to pay, and wait in line for an hour, but when I got there, the guy couldn't have been any nicer. Me and my friend took over five minutes with him which, if you've ever been to a wrestler autograph signing, they usually just want to move you down the line and get you the hell out of there. Not Warrior. He wanted to make sure we were completely satisfied with our experience.
There was that moment, just before meeting him, when he looked right at me and my brain just went "Holy shit, this guy was once staring across the ring at Hulk Hogan, now he's looking at ME" and I was 12 years old again. From there, I gave him an Ultimate Warrior poster to sign. He asked "What do you want me to sign?" and I tried to direct him saying, "Yeah, can you write something about lightning and thunderbolts and--" and he cut me off! He was like, "Yeah, I got this." And then he signed and he wrote the following...
I never got into Ultimate Warrior as a kid. Growing up and reading all the backstage rumors about the "politics" of wrestling I heard about how Warrior was the biggest jerk in the world.
Then Hall of Fame 2014 happens. He was one of many of my favorite moments of the night. Warrior was funny and humble, grateful and emotional. I realized everything I had read about Ultimate Warrior was either a lie, or an outdated characterization of a man who truly loved the business and was hurt that he couldn't do it anymore.
When he cut the promo on Raw where he pulls out the shopzone Warrior mask and goes Full-Warrior I thought it was kinda hokey at first. Then for the first time in my entire life I think I understood what people saw in the character and what he was trying to get across.
Pushing your physical and mental limits because the answers and the power to do better are inside you. Constant positive forward momentum in everything you do, and letting your positive internal energy affect the world around you rather than letting the external world affect you.
I'm reading this about Warrior and I can't help but think about the crowds at HOF yelling "One more match at him" twice and Warrior despondently repeating "No. No more match".
It's weird how wisdom with age works. As a kid I couldn't understand why this very large colorful man bellowing at me on a microphone about the power of the Warrior spirit and making a sacrifice to Warrior was everyone's favorite guy. Now here I am at 31 years reading this unfortunate news about a guy I still didn't now and saying "Yeah, I got him finally".
Rest easy Ultimate Warrior, A whole generation of new Warriors will echo your name for years to come. I got some catching up to do on the WWE Network now.
It is really weird seeing so many people eulogize Warrior and having to draw this line between their childhood love of the guy and how their feelings changed towards him as they got older. I don't blame anyone for that, because I'm one of those people, but it can be hard to get the tone right when you're talking about someone that's lived that kind of life.
I think a lot of people get into wrestling as kids because they're starting to realize their cartoons, comic books and video games aren't real, and just as you're looking to replace that, boom, there's wrestling with real life living breathing superheroes. Warrior was almost tailor made for that audience. Larger than life, colorful and over the top to a level that I think only Hogan and Savage could compete with in that era.
Then you grow up and realize he wasn't a very flawed worker, you hear stories that he wasn't always easy to work with both in and out of the ring, you see the youtube videos where he's saying some pretty harsh things about people.
He had something special though. You don't always need to be great at every element of wrestling to entertain, to be a star, and all the Ultimate Warrior needed to succeed was be the Ultimate Warrior, and he was great at that. Warrior gets the same unfair treatment Hogan and Goldberg get, where some people act like he's completely manufactured by the people running the company he works for, that it could have been anybody if they had been lucky enough to be in that same right place and time. Thing is though, if anyone could have been the Ultimate Warrior, wrestling would've made many more Ultimate Warriors after he left. They didn't, and lord knows they tried.
Tonight I got the same feeling I got when Eddie Guerrero died. That feeling that as unfair as the world can be that a guy with a wife and two young kids can die at such a young age, it is twisting the knife even more by having him pass on right when he seemed to be achieving some really nice things. But just like when I felt that with Eddie, that feeling quickly turned to a kind of appreciation. Warrior got to go out getting accolades and appreciation from fans and fellow wrestlers alike. He got this three nights in a row at three of the biggest worldwide stages possible. He got one last chance, in front of an audience millions of people, to address and shape his legacy, to make amends with some people and get one last jab in at some others. A lot of us never get to do that. As far as final days go, you could do a lot worse.
I'm as shocked as everyone else, but honestly, no one could pass with better timing than this. Instead of passing on hated and humiliated, he goes out immediately after the release of the new DVD, the HOF induction, and a moving, almost inconceivably prophetic promo about his legacy and what it means. Very few people get a chance to eulogize themselves, and even fewer do so in as grand a fashion as the Warrior did. RIP, Ultimate Warrior.
I loved Warrior back in the day, even though it was obvious his run to the ring was enough to wear him out. The gimmick was just so well done.
Warrior-Hogan was the high point. I can't remember a match I was more excited about, while at the same time hoping to God those two could actually pull off a watchable match. And maybe I was watching through rose-colored glasses, but I was sucked in hook, line, and sinker.
My Warrior moment came in or around 1990 at the old Duluth Entertainment Convention Center (the DECC). Finkel announced that the airline had lost Warrior's luggage, and out came Jim Hellwig in a sweatshirt and sweatpants making the Warrior run to the ring with his trademark music to wrestle Dino Bravo (IIRC). The guy sitting behind me started shouting "THIS IS BULLSHIT! THAT'S NOT EVEN HIM! THAT'S NOT...at which point Warrior removed the sweatshirt..."Oh, I guess it is him."
I was thinking the same thing. I was watching that card the other day and it was depressing to see everyone who had passed since the show. Off the top of my head, we have the four you mentioned, plus Kerry Von Erich, Dino Bravo, British Bulldog, Big Bossman, Mr. Perfect, Andre the Giant (brief appearance, but still), Hercules and Hawk.
I remember being crushed when Hogan lost to Warrior at WM VI. To me, it doesn't matter what the guy was like behind the curtains, every time he was on the screen, he was entertaining.
After Raw, I stayed up (waaaaaay past my bedtime, I'll be 46 in just over a month), and watched the HOF replay, just to see Warrior's speech. The Ultimate Warrior WAS my favorite character of all time. Macho was a clsoe second. I was the only one in the living room full of friends during WM6 cheering for him, and when he got that pin, I yelled and cheered and whooped, and all friends were so PISSED that Hogan lost. TOLD YOU SO!!!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!! MAN, I was happy he won. If he hadn't we never would have had Amanda Ultimate Warrior. ;-) My love of Warrior never ebbed, even thru all the crap talking and Self-Destruction DVD. He was my wrestling hero. To see Warrior on a WWE show again warmed my heart and brought a huge smile to my face. I was perterbed when only Warrior came out Monday night, not the entire HOF'ers. It's now the last memory we will all have of him, and it was a memory of him being him: The Ultimate Warrior. Yes, he did NOT look good, but just the smile on his face when he came out, and was leaving, is what I will always have as my final memory of him. A friend texted me before I went to bed last night, and it honestly took me a while to get to sleep, thinking about his wife and how their love for each other showed so much, now ripped apart. His daughters, how they looked happy and wonderful on Saturday night. They no longer have their father to hug every day and night and to say I love you to each other. Hellwig's Mother, his inspiration, has now lost her son. To all have gone from such a wonderful high to him passing away walking away from the hotel they just spent the weekend in and not even making it to the car. My deepest, deepest condolences to the entire family.
Thank you for the memories, Ultimate Warrior. R.I.P. in Parts Unknown.
I didn't have the affinity for Warrior that so many others do, and I feel for their loss as a fellow wrestling fan.
But consider this: From his inclusion in the latest WWE video game (and prominence in the advertising) to the induction into the Hall of Fame on Saturday and the adulation of the WrestleMania audience Sunday night and the post-Mania RAW speech, that's a HELLUVA victory lap. He got that. We all got that.
"To be the man, you gotta beat demands." -- The Lovely Mrs. Tracker
Speculation here, knowing his past use of steroids, but given his speech at the HOF and on RAW any chance he had an existing condition (cancer) and knew he only was on borrowed time which could have lead to the HOF induction and one final RAW appearance?