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It is with a heavy heart that I announce the untimely passing of Jim Hellwig, best known to many as Ultimate Warrior. He was only 54.
It’s crazy to think that over the past four days he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, Made an appearance at WrestleMania, cut a passionate promo on Raw and then passed away. Re-watching his promo one phrase stuck out to me; “Every man’s heart one day beats its final beat, his lungs breathe their final breath.” The irony of those words.
As a kid, I was a fan of the Warrior. He stuck out from the pack with his crazy hair, face-paint, big muscles, sprinting to the ring and the insane amount of energy he had. He truly did look like a Warrior and acted like one too! My favourite matches involving the Warrior included his WrestleMania VI clash with Hulk Hogan. It was unique in the sense that not only was it title vs. title (which was a big deal at the time) but also face vs. face. That was unheard of at the time. Being a fan of both guys, I was in a position where I honestly didn’t know who I wanted to win. When Warrior won I was stunned. Hogan rarely lost and when he did, he was either because of outside interference or countout. The other match that I loved was the retirement match against Macho Man Randy Savage. What an emotional rollercoaster that was. When I think about that match now, it’s sad to come to terms with the fact that all four people involved in that match (the others being Elizabeth and Sherri Martel) are no longer with us.
Warrior’s relationship with the WWE was strained at times. He was fired in 1991 after holding up for more money but he returned the following year only to be fired again over failing a drugs test. He made a surprise return in 1996 but again, that didn’t last long either. Warrior, who had actually changed his name to Warrior at this point, joined WCW in late 1998. His brief stint in WCW was forgettable at best. Warrior & WCW couldn’t come to terms with a deal so he left and retired from wrestling the following year. He made a career out of being a public speaker but even that went belly up after his “queering dont make the world go round” comment.
In 2005, WWE released a shoot DVD titled “The shelf destruction of the Ultimate Warrior”. It mocked Warrior and put over how unprofessional he was. Warrior mentions how it broke his heart and has refused to sign it when requested. I don’t blame him for doing so.
Last year, it was announced that Warrior had signed a deal to appear in a new WWE video game and rumours circulated that he had met Vince at SummerSlam. It was announced that a new DVD collected was set to be released. Unlike SDOTUW, this was to pay tribute to the guy and have a collection of his best matches where Warrior will shoot new footage of himself talking about his career. Then we got the announcement that we were all hoping for, the Ultimate Warrior was set to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. He had finally made peace with McMahon and was ready to return “home” to the WWE. His HOF speech was passionate, not exactly “Mr T loves his mother” passionate but passionate none the less.
It still crazy to think that he’s no longer with us anymore after making his return. I’m just glad that he was able to make peace with the WWE, get a proper DVD highlighting his career and take his rightful place in the Hall of Fame. He was a controversial character behind the scenes but he is a legend. You can’t take that away from him.
RIP Warrior. Thank you for the memories.