Remembering the Legacy of The Ultimate Warrior
Debuting on Ocotber 25, 1987 on WWF Wrestling Challenge against Terry Gibbs, The Ultimate Warrior burst onto the scene and quickly became among the most popular superstars in World Wrestling Entertainment history. From the moment his entrance music, the crowd erupted as Warrior ran full speed to the ring and violently shook the ropes as soon as he was in the ring.
At the inaugural SummerSlam in 1988, the Ultimate Warrior– born James Hellwig– challenged and defeated the Honky Tonk Man to win the Intercontinental Championship. He won the title in just 27 seconds. He held onto to the through a successful feud with “Ravishing” Rick Rude.
As his star continued to rise, it became clear that he might be the man to replace Hulk Hogan as the face of the WWE. This led to one of the most famous main events in Wresltemania history. At Wrestlemania VI, in Toronto’s Skydome, Warrior was successful over Hulk Hogan, defeating Hogan in “The Ultimate Challenge.” The Ultimate Warrior became the first and, to this day, the only wrestler to hold both the WWE Championship and the Intercontinental Championship.
Warrior stayed in the WWE until 1991, and then he returned for another run from 1992-1996. His second run was wrought with controversy, mostly behind the scenes. He made outlandish contractual demands and threats to not appear at key pay-per-view events to Vince McMahon. Warrior admittedly also dealt with an addiction to steroids during his wrestling career.
After his departure from WWE, Warrior made a small run with WCW in 1998. This led to a second match with Hogan at Halloween Havoc– this time as the NWO’s Hollywood Hulk Hogan– that ended with Hogan winning with the help of outside interference. Warrior retired from wrestling shortly after that defeat.
James Hellwig legally changed his name to Warrior after his departure from WWE, and won a court decision that allowed him to continue using the face paint and all character monikers of the Ultimate Warrior when he made any public appearances. Regardless of what demons he dealt with, the Ultimate Warrior will go down in history as one of the most beloved superstars in all of the wrestling profession by millions of fans around the world.
On April 5, 2014, the Ultimate Warrior his place among the greats of his profession as he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. He appeared with the other inductees at Wrestlemania XXX the next night, and made one final appearance for the fans on the April 7 edition of Monday Night Raw. Warrior gave a very spirited speech to the fans, calling them the “legend-makers of all WWE superstars.” The following night, as he was walking to his car with his wife from the hotel room, he collapsed with a massive heart attack. He was, sadly, pronounced dead at the age of 54 in the hospital.
To honor the legacy of the legends of sports entertainment and WWE, enjoy the final moments of Ultimate Warrior’s amazing match with Hulk Hogan and Warrior’s final address to the WWE universe before his untimely passing.