On April 8, the wrestling world lost a legendary wrestler that personified an era, captivated a generation and became a pop culture icon. The Ultimate Warrior, real name The Warrior, died at the age of 54 on Tuesday evening after collapsing outside an Arizona hotel according to an April 8 report by TMZ.com. Warrior, formerly known as Jim Hellwig, was apparently walking to his car with his wife where he collapsed. He was pronounced dead by time he arrived at the hospital.
The Warrior will be remembered for his in-ring intensity, incredible physique, shaking of the ropes and sprinting to the ring. However, over the last 18 years, he was mostly associated with the feuds he had outside of the ring. Warrior was effectively shunned by the WWE for nearly two decades. The company even bashed him in a 2005 DVD titled The Self-Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior DVD; which painted the Warrior out to be unprofessional, uncontrollable, comical and insignificant.
This DVD was a major part of The Warrior's HOF speech on Saturday April 5. He talked about how much it angered and hurt him. But, Warrior turned the message into one of perseverance as he thanked his fans for the constant support and for making his reunion with the WWE possible.
The Warrior should have been inducted into the WWE a long time ago. Unfortunately, his feud with the WWE, and CEO Vince McMahon, went from private to public and even into the courtroom. Yet, in an era that has seen Vince bury his grudges with other performers like Bruno Sammartino and Bret Hart, Vince and The Warrior were able to bury the hatchet and forgive each other for their past grudges.
Sadly, Warrior's feud with Vince McMahon wasn't the only one with fellow members of this elite fraternity. Warrior also had notable public feuds with wrestlers like Hulk Hogan and Jake "The Snake" Roberts.
Hogan, who will go down as The Warrior's greatest opponent, was also on the other end of a very ugly feud with Warrior outside of the ring. However, The Warrior's return to the WWE gave both wrestling legends the chance to end their senseless feud and make peace. Hogan shed light on this interaction as he made the following comments via Twitter:
We talked, both forgave each other, we hugged ,we shook hands as we told each other I love you, I am so sad, God bless his beautiful family HH"
Jake Roberts was a fellow inductee into the WWE HOF on April 5 and made the most of his return to the WWE both professionally and personally. Roberts took the time to meet with The Warrior and make peace after years of publicly insulting each other. Jake commented on this encounter via Twitter:
Deeply saddened. We just had a great talk & buried a senseless hatchet. Talked working together. RIP Warrior. Taking solace we made peace."
One can look back over the last few days of The Warrior's life and take some solace in knowing that the wrestling legend, the man, the father of two daughters was able to finally get his rightful place in the WWE HOF and an appearance in front of the WWE Universe to say his final goodbye.
And yet, the timing of The Warrior's passing is still very surreal. It's almost as if he foreshadowed his death during his promo on the April 7 edition of RAW. Warrior made the following comments:
Every man's heart one day beats its final beat. And if what that man did in his life makes the blood pulse through the body of others, it makes them bleed something larger than life. Then his essence, his spirit will be immortalized."
To a generation, a sports entertainment empire, and to his loved ones, The Warrior will be "immortalized."