I’ll be honest. I’m sad. I was a kindergartner, but I remember Wrestlemania VI. It’s the favorite of my brother and me. We’d rent the VHS in the years that followed and re-enact every move of The Rockers, Earthquake, Rick Martel, and especially The Ultimate Warrior and Hulk Hogan.
Warrior, aka Jim Hellwig, died late Tuesday night in Arizona at age 54. Less than 24 hours before he suddenly collapsed, he appeared on WWE Monday Night Raw to celebrate his induction into the WWE Hall of Fame the previous day.
Nobody knew that this would be the last time we saw The Ultimate Warrior. I was so excited that he was “back” in the business after so many years of anger and bitter separation from the company. I never thought the WWE was fair to him. They tried to erase his legacy — more so they tried to discredit it with an at-best inaccurate, at-worst horribly libelous DVD in 2005.
This was it, though! He’s back. He has years to reconnect with the WWE Universe. We’d see him every few months and be reminded of the old glory. He’d put over young stars. He’d shake the ropes. It was an enormously positive feeling.
Then it was gone.
Instead of giving a preview of things to come, Warrior was giving his own eulogy. And it was a hell of a eulogy:
Speak to me, Warriors! As I thought about what I was going to say this evening, it’s been hard for me to find the words. [Puts on mask.] Well then, you shut up Warrior, and let me do the talking.
No WWE talent becomes a legend on their own. Every man’s heart one day beats its final beat. His lungs breathe a final breath. And if what that man did in his life makes the blood pulse through the body of others, and makes them bleed deeper, and something 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.
You, you, you, you, you, you are the legend-makers of Ultimate Warrior. In the back, I see many potential legends, some of them with warrior spirits. And you will do the same for them. You will decide if they lived with the passion and intensity. So much so that you will tell your stories and you will make them legends, as well. I am Ultimate Warrior. You are the Ultimate Warrior fans. And the spirit of Ultimate Warrior will run forever!
Rest in peace, Warrior.