Archive

Pro wrestling star Ultimate Warrior dies at 54 | TribLIVE.com
News

Pro wrestling star Ultimate Warrior dies at 54

The Associated Press
ObitUltimateWarriorJPEG0869b
In this April 5, 2014, file photo provided by the WWE, James Hellwig, aka The Ultimate Warrior, speaks during the WWE Hall of Fame Induction at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans. The WWE said Hellwig, one of pro wrestling's biggest stars in the late 1980s, died Tuesday, April 8, 2014. He was 54.
ObitUltimateWarriorJPEG082f1
In this April 5, 2014, file photo provided by the WWE, James Hellwig, aka The Ultimate Warrior, is escorted by his daughters to the stage during the WWE Hall of Fame Induction at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans. The WWE said Hellwig, one of pro wrestling's biggest stars in the late 1980s, died Tuesday, April 8, 2014. He was 54.

The Ultimate Warrior, one of the most colorful stars in pro wrestling history, has died, the WWE said. He was 54.

The WWE said Warrior, who legally changed his name from James Hellwig to his wrestling moniker, died Tuesday. Scottsdale, Ariz., police spokesman Sgt. Mark Clark said he collapsed while walking with his wife to their car at a hotel and was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Hellwig was one of pro wrestling’s biggest stars in the late 1980s. He beat Hulk Hogan in a memorable match at Wrestlemania in 1990.

He was in the spotlight again earlier this week, making appearances at the latest WrestleMania in New Orleans and on “Monday Night Raw,” and being inducted into the WWE Hall of fame.

“WWE is shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the passing of one of the most iconic WWE Superstars ever, The Ultimate Warrior,” WWE said in a statement, adding: “We are grateful that just days ago, Warrior had the opportunity to take his rightful place in the WWE Hall of Fame.”

WWE Chairman Vince McMahon tweeted: “We are all so sad the Ultimate Warrior has passed away. Our heart is with his wife Dana and his two daughters.”

The Ultimate Warrior personified the larger-than-life cartoon characters who helped skyrocket the WWE into the mainstream in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Warrior dressed in face paint, had tassels dangling from his super-sized biceps and sprinted to the ring when his theme song hit. He’d shake the ropes and grunt and howl while the crowd went wild for the popular good guy.

He made his debut with the promotion when it was known as the World Wrestling Federations in 1987 and wrestled on and off for the sports entertainment empire until 1996.

The Ultimate Warrior became the first wrestler to defeat Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania when he used his finishing splash for the pin. He won the championship in front of 67,678 fans at Toronto’s SkyDome in a match billed as “The Ultimate Challenge.”

The Ultimate Warrior would defeat Randy “Macho Man” Savage the next year at WrestleMania. Savage, who died in 2011, Hogan and Warrior were all enormous personalities with gaudy costumes and memorable catchphrases. They led the WWE’s transformation from a promotion running weekend arena shows and Saturday morning TV into one booking events at the largest stadiums around the world with millions watching every Monday night. More than 5.1 million viewers watched Warrior’s final appearance Monday night on “Raw.”

The Ultimate Warrior had a falling out with the WWE and did not appear on its TV shows after July 8, 1996, until last weekend. He reconciled with McMahon and was inducted into the Hall of Fame. He also made an appearance on “Raw” and shook the ropes one final time in front of another crowd that went wild for the Warrior.

“Speak to me, Warriors!” he bellowed, as the New Orleans crowd chanted his name.

Warrior put on a mask that resembled his famous face paint and cut a promo about 24 hours before his death that seems eerie now.

“No WWE talent becomes a legend on their own,” Warrior said. “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, it makes them bleed deeper and something larger than life, then his essence, his spirit, will be immortalized.”

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.