I woke up this morning to the awful news that one of my childhood heroes had died. James Hellwig, a rock n roll enough name anyway, was better known as the Ultimate Warrior.
Anyone who grew up in the 80s and 90s will know the Warrior. He was a man who made his living running around in budgie smugglers with face paint on rolling around with other semi naked men. That’s right, the Ultimate Warrior was a star of the WWF.
A Global Star
And what a star he was. His rivalry with Hulk Hogan was the thing that got me hooked on wrestling as a kid. For my sins, I was Hulk Hogan fan as a kid, mainly because my neighbour looked like the Hulkster. His bout with Hogan in Toronto at WrestleMania VI is legendary (and one I’ve still got on VHS) which saw the Warrior win the world title for the first time. It was also the start of me moving from being a Hulkamanic to a Warrior.
That process was complete when he took on Andre The Giant. Let’s be honest, the Giant was a ridiculous wrestler who added next to nothing to the WWF except for a one-arm leotard and an excuse for Bobby “The Brain” Henan to run around the outside of ring.
By the time of this *fight* I’d worked out that wrestling wasn’t real (sorry kids), but couldn’t help be amazed at the strength of the Warrior. He was obviously on steroids and, of course, the whole thing was scripted, but the way he picked up and threw The Giant around – a 520lb, 240kg or 37 stone – was the sign of a serious bloke.
Other early memories of the Warrior were watching with awe as he came charging out to his signature tune and ran around the ring like a crazed monkey. It was never more on show than when he smashed the Honky Tonk Man (remember him?) in a handful of seconds to charge out of the ring before his entrance music had finished playing.
Hall of Famer
The Warrior was inducted into the WWE (it will always be the WWF to me) Hall of Fame just a few days ago. It was long overdue for one of the first global superstars of the *sports entertainment*. The delay was partly due to a fall out between the Warrior and Vince McMahon, one that everyone must be glad was put to bed before the Warriors untimely death.
The Ultimate Warrior was never the best wrestler, but had the whole package – ridiculous interviews, comedy, showmanship, massive guns, tight undies, a signature move and catchphrase. For me, he’s one of the best wrestlers ever. He takes second place in my list of favourite wrestlers (yes, I have one), behind the Rock, but not by much.
I’ll leave the final word to Hulk Hogan, who tweeted:
RIP WARRIOR. only love. HH
— Hulk Hogan (@HulkHogan) April 9, 2014
*The Ultimate Warrior died on Wednesday 9 April, 2014 and was survived by his wife Dana and two children Indiana and Mattigan.*