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Former pro wrestler Warrior a.k.a "The Ultimate Warrior" dead at 54

Jonathan Bachman, AP, WWE

Warrior passes away Tuesday at the age of 54. Better known as "The Ultimate Warrior", he was a huge star for a period of time during the late 80's for the WWE (then known as the World Wrestling Federation). Warrior was also a controversial person as well due to his outspoken criticism of his former employer (WWE), well known colorful rants against his fellow pro wrestlers and legally changing his birth name from James Hellwig to "Warrior". During the early 2000's he became a conservative motivational briefly and got into some hot water for some off color comments he made about the LGBT community.

Born James Hellwig on June 16, 1959 in Crawfordsville, Indiana, he attended Indiana State University before devoting himself full time to his weightlifting career. After winning several collegiate and amateur awards he met fellow weightlifter Steve Borden who was getting into wrestling. The two stuck with it and became a tag team known as "The Blade Runners" (a.k.a. "The Freedom Fighters) and wrestled in the CWA (Continental Wrestling Association) and the UWF (Universal Wrestling Federation). The team was known as a "Road Warriors" knock-off and they were green as saplings. Warrior was known as "Rock" and Borden was "Sting" ( a name is continues to use to this very day). The team lasted for about a year until they broke up and Warrior moved on to WCCW (World Class Championship Wrestling).

During his time in WCCW, Warrior developed a character known as "The Dingo Warrior". Whilst in Texas he continued to perfect his character and soon caught the attention of the WWF and they brought him out to Stamford, CN to join their organization. Warrior would find his biggest success in the WWF, during his tenure there the bookers would hide his limited set movement and lack of cardio by putting him in squash matches and exposing his natural charisma. He would drop the "Dingo" from his name and replace it with "Ultimate" henceforth be known as the "Ultimate Warrior".

Warrior had a good four year run with the company and he held their Intercontinental Title whilst being groomed to replace their ageing star "Hulk Hogan". WWF owner Vince McMahon had high hopes for Warrior and did everything he could to make him look good and to become a star. he had several high profile feuds with heel wrestlers such as Rick Rude and Andre the Giant. In 1990 got his chance to become the top face when he defeated Hulk Hogan in the main event of Wrestlemania VI. But he was never a huge draw like Hogan. During his time as champion of the WWF he didn't have any strong opponents and the fans interest diminished. He left the WWF after a monetary dispute with Vince McMahon in 1991. Warrior would return a year later but leave after a few months.

For the next four years Warrior would remain semi-active. He would make sporadic appearances in several independent wrestling organizations and work on his wrestling school and artwork. In 1993 he legally changed his name from Jim Hellwig to "Warrior" and would have several legal battles with his former employers at the WWF. A few years later he would return to the company only to leave in a couple of months. Warrior would got into semi-retirement again until 1998 when he joined WCW (World Championship Wrestling) and work a program with "Hollywood" Hulk Hogan. He only wrestled in four matches (once with Hogan) before leaving wrestling for another ten years. Warrior would wrestle one more match in 2008 (with the NWE) before retiring for good.

Warrior would continue to make news for himself a few years later with a series of "shoot" videos he made that were streamed on youtube. In his "shoot" he made disparaging remarks about Hulk Hogan and buried him completely. Last year, Warrior seemed to make peace with his wrestling pass by working with the WWE on two video games featuring his likeness and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame on April 5, 2014. He was also working with them on a career retrospective DVD that would cover his career and best matches (The WWE released a negative DVD about his career back in 2005 called :The Self-Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior). Warrior made an appearance on Monday Night Raw in which he looked very ill and ailing.

Warrior was never a in-ring wrestler who could put on one hour broadways or a wrestling who could "work" a match. He was a performer who cut unique promos, had a natural charisma and would run out to the ring like a ball of fire and totally dominate his opponents. Warrior was truly a one-of-a-kind performer who larger than life persona will truly be missed. He is survived by his second wife Dana and their two daughters Indiana and Mattigan.

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