I thought it was going to be a normal Tuesday night. I finished up my column for Wednesday. I just watched the Daniel Bryan Documentary and Countdown show on the WWE Network. I was ready to pack in and go to bed. Then my phone went off and I got this text message from a friend: “Ultimate Warrior Is Dead.”
To say that I was in a state of shock was an understatement. After taking a few moments to regain myself, I went immediately to social media to see if it was true. And indeed it was. I just didn’t know what to say. The Ultimate Warrior was just on TV the night before. He gave a message to all his Warriors who had stuck with him through all the years. He had finally made peace with all of the people he had issues with over the years. He took his place in history by going into the WWE Hall of Fame. And now he is gone.
The Ultimate Warrior’s career was one of many ups and downs. But you can’t deny one thing when looking back on his career: the man definitely had a passion and desire for the wrestling business. He worked his way through a couple promotions during the early part of his careers, including World Class Championship Wresting and the Universal Wrestling Federation.
But of course, Warrior’s big break came once he joined the World Wrestling Federation. After competing as the Dingo Warrior in WCW, Warrior became known as the Ultimate Warrior and was launched into superstardom. Many fans were immediately drawn to him because of his unique look and appearance. He was different from everyone else at the time. Here was a guy that ran to the ring at full speed, shook the ropes and had his face painted. Warrior’s look is one of the most memorable in wrestling history. Not only that, but his entrance music just added to everything. It worked perfectly for Warrior. A fast paced guitar theme with a frantic, energetic sound. It was as good as a package you could ask for.
The Ultimate Warrior had many memorable moments in his career. His first major one came at SummerSlam 1988 when he won the Intercontinental Title from the Honky Tonk Man in a mere 27 seconds. You know the WWE has high hopes for you when you just beat the IC Champion for the last 14 months in that quick of a time frame. Warrior would reach the height of his wrestling career at Wrestlemania 6 when he defeated Hulk Hogan to win the WWF Championship. Many people remember the match because it was the first time they saw the top two good guys in the WWF fight each other for the Title. The moment was considered to be a passing of the torch. Warrior was suppose to lead the WWF into the 1990s. But I often wonder if it didn’t end up hurting Warrior in the long run. A lot of fans went back to cheering Warrior. But some may have still resented him for beating their first hero Hulk Hogan. Warrior was never able to reach the same heights of Hulk Hogan, but I don’t think if anyone would have gotten to that point.
My personal favorite Ultimate Warrior match and moment came from Wrestlemania 7, when he fought the Macho Man Randy Savage. I thought the match told a great story throughout it. Randy Savage was known for laying out his matches before hand and he did a great job with the Warrior here. It’s my favorite Ultimate Warrior match to go back and watch this day.
The rest of the Ultimate Warrior’s career is filled with highs and lows. He had a surprise return at Wrestlemania 8 but was put into a weird feud with Papa Shango, but rebounded with a nice program involving Randy Savage and Ric Flair. We could get into the debate about all of his departures from the WWE and who was responsible for what, but this isn’t the time or place to be discussing that. And I’m not even going to bring up his time in WCW. It may have been the low point of his career.
So what is the Ultimate Warrior’s legacy in the world of pro wrestling? I would say that he is probably one of the most recognizable names in the history of pro wrestling. If you were a fan of wrestling growing up in the late 80s and early 90s, the Ultimate Warrior was one of the most popular wrestlers at the time. He was essentially 1B to Hulk Hogan’s 1A. But it helped that he was different from Hulk Hogan in many ways. Warrior’s unique look and persona helped him differentiate from Hogan during his rise to the top. But he very much still fit into the cartoon like atmosphere that the WWF was pushing with their characters at the time.
I would say that the Ultimate Warrior has one of the top five entrances in the history of wrestling. Just hearing the first couple notes of his theme song was enough to get the crowd pumped up and into his entrance. And as I said above, everything about the Warrior’s entrance worked perfectly. From the running to the ring, the rock and roll theme song, and his look and mannerisms once he got to the ring. It was like a perfect circle.
The Ultimate Warrior will never be remembered as one of the best in ring workers in wrestling history. And that is completely okay. Hulk Hogan wasn’t a great in ring worker and he is the most recognizable name in wrestling. Andre the Giant wasn’t a great worker but he’s still remembered fondly by wrestling fans. In today’s day and age people but a lot of emphasis on the in ring work of a wrestler. If Warrior was around today, maybe he wouldn’t have such a following.
But what Warrior lacked in the ring he made up for with his charisma and passion for wrestling. There’s no denying that he loved pro wrestling. Some people might disagree but I think Warrior loved wrestling. He went out there every night and gave his all to entertain the fans. When he won the Title at Wrestlemania 6, it looked like he truly recognized how big a moment it was in his career and appreciated everything Hulk Hogan did to “pass the torch” over to Warrior, even if it didn’t work out in the end.
If The Ultimate Warrior’s life was a movie, it had the perfect ending. Warrior had burned a lot of bridges since he left the wrestling business. He pretty much made peace with everyone the weekend of the Hall of Fame ceremony. That includes Vince McMahon and Hulk Hogan. He was able to take his place in WWE history with his induction into the Hall of Fame. He appeared at one final Wrestlemania, and he was able to address all of his fans one last time on RAW. It’s a great story of a man rising to the top, coming on hard times and losing friends, and making peace with his past problems/demons and ending his life knowing that everything worked out in the end. If this were a movie, the tears would have been flowing inside the theater.
It always sucks when a popular wrestler from our childhood passes. Especially at the young age of 54. No matter what happened behind the scenes, there is no doubt that the Warrior held a special place in all of our memories. His unique style and look made him an instant hit in the WWE. The Ultimate Warrior was able to have the spotlight on him one more time before his untimely passing. Hopefully he erased any bad memories he had left. Warrior was able to make new ones last weekend and ended his life with a smile on his face.
Thank You Ultimate Warrior for everything you did in the pro wrestling world. You were an important part of my childhood and your Warrior Legacy will never be forgotten.
Until Next Time,
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