Wrestling Legend the Ultimate Warrior Dead at 54
The Ultimate Warrior, the WWF wrestling legend who was born James Brian Hellwig (and who, in 1993, legally changed his name to Warrior), passed away Tuesday at the age of 54.
While, sadly, the early death of a professional wrestler is all too common, this one is particularly shocking because he's appeared on WWE programming three times in the previous three days.
WWE.com confirmed his passing and added, "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."
It was strange enough to see Warrior at WrestleMania for his Hall of Fame induction this past weekend; his last appearance with the company was in 1996, and the split was acrimonious. Lawsuits over the use of the name and likeness of Warrior and Ultimate Warrior flew back and forth; in 2005, WWE released an unflattering DVD called "The Self Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior."
Little wonder that Stephanie McMahon, WWE's chief brand officer, someone who has been in the business literally since birth (she is the fourth generation of McMahon to promote wrestling) posted this just hours before news of his passing.
Fences were eventually mended. Last year, he appeared in the WWE 2K14 video game, and he was involved in the festivities this past WrestleMania weekend.
IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR WWE - The Ultimate Warrior speaks during the WWE Hall of Fame Induction at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans on Saturday, April 5, 2014. (Jonathan Bachman/AP Images for WWE)
Despite past acrimony, there is no doubt that Warrior deserved to be in the WWE Hall of Fame. After Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant, he is the single most recognizable face of pro wrestling's heyday in the 1980s. His physique and in-ring intensity made fans of children and adults alike. He was also an inspiration for many of the wrestlers working today.
This is absolutely horrific news. After just meeting my hero yesterday,finding out about @UltimateWarrior passing is unbelievable.Speechless— Hornswoggle (@wwehornswoggle) April 9, 2014
When I was in first grade, I was Ultimate Warrior for Halloween. I just watched his HOF speech two hours ago. I don't even have words.— Corey Graves (@WWEGraves) April 9, 2014
Scott Hall, a fellow Class of 2014 Hall of Fame Inductee, like many, couldn't even believe it was true.