“No WWE talent becomes a legend on their own.
Every man’s heart one day beats its final beat. His lungs breathe their final breath.
And if what that man did in his life makes the blood pulse through the body of others and makes them believe deeper in something that’s larger than life, then his essence, his spirit, will be immortalized by the storytellers – by the loyalty, by the memory of those who honour him, and make the running the man did live forever.
I am the Ultimate Warrior, you are the Ultimate Warrior fans and the spirit of the Ultimate Warrior will run forever.”
These were among the last words that The Ultimate Warrior – birth name James “Brian” Hellwig – ever spoke to a professional wrestling audience. It was his first appearance on main WWE programming in eighteen years, due to decades old disputes with WWE management and performers. It’s almost like some kind of awful serendipity that he had one last chance to appear before his beloved public before he died. But now those words will always echo with some kind of strangely prophetic relevance to his end.
Hounded his entire career by allegations of steroid abuse, a lack of professionalism both inside and outside the ring and accusations of being a selfish performer who cared nothing for the safety of his in ring partners, Warrior has always been among one of the most controversial Superstars in WWE history.
But – undeniably – he was also one of the most popular. He exuded an insane amount of energy both in his entrances and matches, whipping the crowd into a huge frenzy by sprinting to the ring (sometimes for distances equivalent to a par four hole on a golf course), shaking the ropes and performing with the kind of speed that would leave his opponents spinning deliriously. His promos were also a highlight of any WWE program, snorting like an enraged animal, taking the viewer on a bizarre journey through space, time and fantasy, like a spoken word GRAW track. See below to see what I meant.
Of course any loss wrestling fans may feel pales in comparison to the loss suffered by his surviving wife and children. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.