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Ultimate ode to the Ultimate Warrior

April 10, 2014

Ultimate Warrior dead at 54

10 April 2014

There I was, in Parts Unknown, getting physically and mentally prepared for the next challenge that awaits the Ultimate Warrior, when the Warriors spoke to me.

They said get to Madison Square Garden. Get to SummerSlam. Something’s going to happen to change the destiny of Ultimate Warrior.

There you were Honky Tonky Man, sly and sleazy as you are, issuing a challenge to anybody in the WWF to rise to the occasion.

Well… the Ultimate Warrior did, and he took it alllllllllll!

These are the comments as I remember by the Ultimate Warrior on his WWF compilation VHS tape introducing the Intercontinental Championship match at SummerSlam 88 in which he was the “surprise” challenger to the Honky Tonk Man. That match was the moment I became a “Warrior”. The fact I still remember the comments – after so many years – speaks to the fanaticism I had for the Warrior then, and the enduring memories that linger today.

I even recall much of Honky Tonk Man’s comments in defeat, such as the frequency I’d watched that match. “I said I’d wrestle anyone, I didn’t say I’d wrestle a warrior. God damn it Mean Gene, they sent a warrior. It’s not fair. The belt’s mine. It belongs to me. I’m the greatest of all time”, after Gene Okerlund reminded Honky Tonk Man of the challenge he made to send anyone to the ring.

Ultimate Warrior pummelling Honky Tonk Man during an Intercontinental rematch, January 1990

Ultimate Warrior pummelling Honky Tonk Man during an Intercontinental Title rematch, January 1990

The Ultimate Warrior died on Tuesday, 8 April, 2014, aged 54, after collapsing when walking to his car at an Arizona Hotel. It’s ironic that his death came just as he was welcomed back to the WWE (nee WWF) after 18 years. Inducted into the Hall Of Fame on the weekend and appearing at Wrestlemania 30 (wow, it’s been that many years?), he would then make his final TV appearance, on Monday Night RAW.

Without his “wantam” (a word I invented to describe the warpaint on his face), and long gone of that long, wild hair too, Warrior (legally changed his name to this in 1993) began to speak…

“As I thought about what I was going to say this evening, it’s been hard for me to find the words”. He stopped, pulled out a wantam mask, put it onto his face, and engaged Ultimate Warrior mode…

“Well then you shut up, Warrior, and let me do the talking.

“No WWE talent becomes a legend on their own. Every man’s heart one day beats its final beat. His lungs breathe their final breath. And if what that man did in his life makes the blood pulse through the body of others and makes them believe deeper in something larger than life then his essence, his spirit, will be immortalized. By the story tellers, by the loyalty, by the memory of those who honor him and make the running the man did live forever. You, you, you, you, you, you are the legend makers of Ultimate Warrior. In the back I see many potential legends. Some of them with warrior spirits. And you will do the same for them. You will decide if they lived with the passion and intensity. So much so that you will tell your stories and you will make them legends, as well. I am Ultimate Warrior. You are the Ultimate Warrior fans. And the spirit of the Ultimate Warrior will run forever!”

— The Ultimate Warrior

Ultimate Warrior giving his final - and ultimate - speech, on RAW

Ultimate Warrior giving his final – and ultimate – speech, on RAW, 2014-04-07

Interesting that he speaks of death not long before he actually dies. There’s nothing spooky in that speech truly predicting death. The Ultimate Warrior always rambled on about that sort of stuff, with it being more philosophical and humbling, and with potentially a slight dig at such accolades as a Hall Of Fame induction and his many detractors in the industry, that even if he never returned to WWE, his legacy and immortality will be furnished by others. The irony is more in the timing of his return and whether Vince McMahon (WWE owner and president) knew something “spiritually” – that the Warrior Gods spoke to him that Ultimate Warrior was soon to expire?

Warrior was ostracised by many in WWE after a series of contract disputes and perceived selfishness. The company released a DVD in 2005 called The Self Destruction Of The Ultimate Warrior. While it showed most of his classic matches, it was mostly an attack-piece, full of Vince and wrestlers like Triple H taking pot-shots at the Warrior. Triple H called him a d*head if I’m not mistaken. Now he calls him a friend. To his credit, Hulk Hogan was way more circumspect, liking the Warrior personally without ever really being able to engage with the inner Warrior.

Effectively since Ultimate Warrior stopped wrestling regularly in the WWF of the time, I’ve tuned out. I was only ever interested in the character, not the man, just as Warrior paradoxically switches persona in his RAW speech. Him in short hair, engaged in his speaking career, and even the apparent attack-pieces (if you believe the headline) on youtube he makes against Hulk Hogan and the WWE, I’m not interested. The Ultimate Warrior died long ago, this is just the passing of his physical being. His spirit  most certainly will live on, because the stories that do remain and the legend that has been built, will continue to be told and honoured by this Warrior

The Ultimate Warrior is dead, long live the Ultimate Warrior

From 2002: The Warrior’s life with the Ultimate Warrior

That Famous Match at SummerSlam 88

Tributes

Hulk Hogan
RIP WARRIOR. only love. HH

Vince McMahon
We are all so sad that the Ultimate Warrior has passed away. Our heart is with his wife Dana and his two daughters.

Stephanie McMahon
#RIPUltimateWarrior Your strength of character is to be admired. There will never be anyone like you. Your spirit lives on in your family.

Triple H
Saddened to announce the passing of the Ultimate Warrior. Icon and friend. My sympathy to his wife Dana and his daughters.

Dwayne Johnson (The Rock)
Loss always has a way of reminding us to live and love as greatly as we can. My prayers and strength to his family.
RIP Ultimate Warrior.

Trish Stratus
Sad to hear news of Warrior passing. Just seeing him happy last 3 days – it puts life in perspective that it can’t be taken for granted. RIP

Chris Jericho
Devastated to hear of the passing of Ultimate Warrior. He was a childhood hero of mine & he vs Hulk Hogan WM6 is still one of the best ever

Daniel Bryan
Heartbroken. My sincerest condolences go out to The Warrior’s family. Seeing how much he loved his daughters and his wife this weekend makes it all the more heartbreaking. The Ultimate Warrior was my favorite as a kid, and getting to speak to him this weekend was one of my favorite moments. He was so nice to me. #RIPWarrior

Ultimate Warrior’s Greatest Triumph

Retrospective on WWE Career

Final TV Appearance

16 April 2014

Letter from wife Dana to Warriors

Dearest Warriors,

It is with an absolutely broken heart I reach out to you. Since the passing of my husband, I have been fortunate enough to insulate my sweet girls and myself from the outside world. In this bubble we have grieved and continue to do so. For a week, I did not allow any television or media to seep through our cocoon. I was told, though, of the outpouring of love for my beloved husband and support for, as he always called us, his Warrior Girls. I can only say thank you.

Ultimate Warrior with wife Dana and two daughters at RAW 2014-04-14

Ultimate Warrior with wife Dana and two daughters at RAW 2014-04-14

On Sunday night, I was told WWE would pay tribute to Warrior and so I set the DVR planning to watch it when we were ready. As the hour neared, I broke resolve and turned on every TV in the house to full blast and snuggled our daughters close to me on the couch, unsure what we would see. As the scene unfolded with that amazing roster of talent gathered donning Ultimate Warrior shirts and even his face paint, we cheered and sobbed simultaneously. To everyone who stood there, thank you. My girls will remember your bowed heads for the rest of their lives. You are not just Superstars; you are super people.

I cannot put words to what that video tribute meant. We watched it multiple times and, this morning, it was how I started my day; mornings are the hardest for me. I will treasure that song and those images more than anything I own. Vindication. ULTIMATE PERFECTION.

I was told it was reported WWE was “there” for us. “There” is the understatement of a lifetime. They were a warm blanket to us three and we were quickly absorbed into their family. Words are cheap; promises are forever. This family is one I’m honored to be a member of and will gladly be the warm blanket to any of them who need me next.

My husband’s speech had so many highlights for me as I sat proudly in the audience looking on at his moment … I most loved his request for the Hall of Fame to include the, as he called them, “true Superstars,” those behind-the-scenes people who make the machine run. See, I’m the person who puts up the ring in our house. I’m the background person who makes things happen seamlessly. I am surrounded by performers in my husband and children, so I felt a kinship with all the people he wanted to shine a spotlight upon who make WWE work. He loved you all, and knew that each of you made his run there possible. Thank you!

To all the ULTIMATE WARRIOR fans: THANK YOU!! He told me when he shook the ropes it was him gathering strength from each of you. Warrior respected you and loved you as do the girls and I. I will reach out to the ropes for your strength to sustain me in the sad days that the girls and I face. UNWAVERING is what you’ve been. GRATEFUL is what we are.

The Undertaker and I have a lot more in common than you might think. You see, I had a bit of a streak of my own going for the last 20 years. Yes, Warrior and I would have matches of our own … He would yell, I would cry, he would submit, I would win – always. My quivering chin and “pooched” lip was always more powerful than any clothesline or gorilla press slam. He’d laugh and shake his head and say,”you win, Pooch,” but really we both did.

My streak was broken April 8, 2014 when he collapsed. I fought and screamed and cried for him not to leave me, but I wasn’t to win this round. Heaven won and I lost, but I had the ULTIMATE love for 20 years and my children learned to be Warriors from THE ULTIMATE DAD. I wouldn’t trade a moment of the life we shared, good or bad, for anything on God’s green earth. He is the love of my life and gave me the gift of our beautiful, sweet, amazing girls. He was loyal and kind and strong and brave. He taught me to live by his creed,”Live Strong, Act Bold, Be Brave. Nothing’s too hard to do, ALWAYS BELIEVE,” and with that creed I will carry on and make him proud.

Streaks are broken but legends live forever.

Always Believe,

Dana A. Warrior

Ultimate Warrior with daughters - anonymous posting on UW Facebook page

Beautiful image of the Ultimate Warrior with his daughters. It was posted uncredited to UW’s Facebook page on 2014-04-23.

Tribute video on RAW 2014-04-14 also available here on WWE.com

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From → Warrior Life

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