Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Ultimate Warrior dead at 54

1959 - 2014
"Bizarre" doesn't even begin to describe this. From
WWE is shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the passing of one of the most iconic WWE Superstars ever, The Ultimate Warrior.

We are grateful that just days ago, Warrior had the opportunity to take his rightful place in the WWE Hall of Fame and was also able to appear at WrestleMania 30 and Monday Night Raw to address his legions of fans.

WWE sends its sincere condolences to Warrior’s family, friends and fans.

Warrior was 54 and is survived by his wife Dana and his two daughters.
There's bizarre... then there's dying the day after you finish making peace with the people and industry that you've had a grudge against for 15+ years. Closing the biggest chapter of your life before preparing to embark on a new journey, then dying a day after you cut a promo about how legends live on after their death?

Truly unbelievable.

To me, The Ultimate Warrior will always take me back to the days when WWE was a real life comic book and Superstars were superheroes. Warrior in particular will always embody that because he looked the part with the huge muscles, the crazy hair, the face paint, the tassels and boot fringe and watching him practically "fly" down the aisle. He talked about it in his Hall of Fame speech on Saturday, he got to use his creativity and build this totally over-the-top character unlike anything that had ever been seen before or since. That's the kind of thing that forever captures the imagination of a four-year-old glued to the television.

My personal favorite moment came when Warrior was feuding with The Undertaker, I was at a house show and after their match, Taker sealed him inside a body bag. Should've been pretty traumatizing stuff for a kid, but Warrior sat up (while still inside the bag), tore through it and gave Taker a big shoulder block to send him out of the ring. That kind of stuff is why I've never grown out of this ridiculous cartoon show that is pro wrestling and what makes it the most unique form of entertainment out there. Harkening back to another point Warrior made in his speech, wrestlers don't dress up like football players, but football players dress up like The Ultimate Warrior. John Cena doesn't wear replica NBA Championship rings, but LeBron James buys replica WWE Titles for his teammates, that's the power of pro wrestling.

A lot has been said since Warrior was announced for the Hall of Fame about his bizarre worldview, which certainly seemed pretty out there. I honestly don't know anything about it other than the infamous one line, and I don't know if there's much else out there about it, but he's obviously said some pretty harsh and hurtful things over the years. Hell, he pretty much insulted those who were "throwing life away" right after Jake the Snake talked about throwing his life away.

And while you can't really talk about Warrior's life without talking about the controversial nature of his personality, I'm a firm believer in redemption and giving folks the benefit of the doubt when it looks like they're ready to turn over a new leaf. A few people who follow him more closely told me he's walked back a lot of his more hateful rants, not that it excuses saying cruel things, but it's something. Perhaps that's naive of me, but judging from his Hall of Fame speech, it strikes me that a lot of Warrior's feelings were coming from a place of bitterness.

The Self-Destruction DVD clearly affected him, whether he was excusing his hardheadedness or was oblivious that's how people felt about him, it was just really sad it got to that point. And it was sad WWE felt he was the only guy they had to do a hit-piece on, it never should've got to that point between someone who played such a pivotal role in wrestling and the company that put him there and I sincerely hope it never happens between WWE and any other wrestler again. If there's one good thing that comes out of this, it's that it further proves no bridge is forever burned. And it makes me think about my own life, if Bret Hart, Bruno Sammartino and The Ultimate Warrior can give Vince McMahon a hug, who am I to hold a grudge against anyone?

And when someone's life ends right when they appear to be making the effort to mend fences, that's the biggest tragedy of all.

Here's to Warrior and what could've been.
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 larger than life then his essence, his spirit, will be immortalized. By the story tellers, 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 the Ultimate Warrior will run forever!
-Warrior, April 7, 2014

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