Tonight, I was saddened to learn the passing of a WWE legend. WWE has confirmed the passing of Hall Of Famer, The Ultimate Warrior. It was shocking to me because he was just on Monday Night Raw yesterday. Although he looked slow walking and getting into the ring, I just attributed it to ring rust or maybe a life time of being a wrestler, which will give you a lot of permanent injuries. He spoke pretty clear (well, for him anyways.), so I didn't think anything was wrong with him. In fact, I was looking forward to seeing more of him in the future.
I remember seeing the Warrior for the first time in the old UWF territory. There, he teamed with another young wrestler by the name of Steve Borden, who you all might know as Sting. Then they were Rock and Flash and were called the Blade Runners. I remember them brawling with the Fantastics, while Eddie Gilbert attacked the owner of the company, Cowboy Bill Watts at the end of a UWF show and Jim Ross going absolutely ballistic on the microphone. That was the last time I saw the team together.
The next time I saw him, it was in the old World Class territory. He was known as the Dingo Warrior at that point and hell if I know what he was supposed to be then. But, he eventually won the WCCW Texas Heavyweight Championship. The only time I saw him, he was defending the title against Rick Rude and won the match on a countout. I wasn't impressed with him and didn't think I would ever see him again.
Boy, I was wrong.
The next time I saw him was in the WWE, then named WWF, on the old Wrestling Challenge show that aired on Saturday mornings on Fox 5 here in NY. Then, he was more dynamic and finished his matches really quick. Usually, it was a clothesline, bodypress, opponent falls on his face, run to the ropes, splash and the cover. Match over. But what I remembered most about him at that time as that entrance music. It was awesome and I don't think I will ever forget that song and seeing him run down the aisle to the ring and shaking those ropes.
I finally saw him at a live event at Madison Square Garden. He fought Dino Bravo and beat him in under 10 minutes. Bravo was the first wrestler that put up some offense against the guy, but it wasn't enough really. From there he was off to the races and won the Intercontenental Championship from the Honkey Tonk Man in 27 seconds at Summerslam in 1988.
I know people talk about the famous match he had against Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania VI and won the title or the matches he had against Rick Rude, Andre The Giant or even that weird feud he had with Papa Shango. To me, my favorite match of the Warrior's was at Madison Square Garden and it was against Bobby Heenan.
You read right. His opponent was Bobby "The Brain" Heenan and it was in a Loser Wears A Weasel Costume match. Now, if you don't know who Bobby Heenan is, Heenan was a manager, not a wrestler, although he used to take some of the greatest bumps a manager could take. I didn't even suspect he had a chance of winning. I wanted to see Heenan in that weasel outfit since he was being called "Weasel" anyways. Warrior did not disappoint and using a sleeper hold (probably the only time he ever used a technical hold in his entire career), he put Heenan out and stuffed him into this furry bodysuit with a tail and claws. He woke Hennan up and the hilarity began as Heenan realized what he was wearing. He chased his tail, he swung a punch wildly at the Warrior, missing and falling flat on his face, then tried to take off the outfit and had more pratfalls during than a Three Stooges Movie. I am chuckling as I type this.
He had a great feud with Randy Savage later on but left the WWE over money issues. He later returned and had some matches with Ric Flair and another match with Savage at Summerslam 1992. Then, he was let go by Vince McMahon for reasons still not known. Some said it was because McMahon let him go over steroid use, other say it was money again. Whatever the reason, it stopped whatever momentum his career had for the last time.
He would return to WWE later and feuded with Hunter Hurst Hemsley and Jerry "The King" Lawler, but really couldn't get his career back on track. He would try one last time, this time in WCW where he faced the NWO. It was weird because when he woul appear, it would be in a cloud of smoke and he would leave the same way. In reality, it was through a trap door in the ring. This trap door would almost paralyze Davy Boy Smith when he was bodyslammed on the handle. To say the Warrior's run in WCW was unmemrobale would be accurate. I held out hope that he would one day show up back in WWE to end his career on a high note, but unfortunately, it was not the case.
Thankfully, he returned to the WWE last year in a non wrestling position. He did a memorable commercial for the WWE video game and was inducted into the WWE Hall Of Fame just this past weekend. He made what would be his final appearance on Monday Night Raw on Monday to thank the fans for their support over the years.
And now, at the age of 54, The Ultimate Warrior is gone.
I could not find a cause of death online. I assume the information has not been released, but will be in the upcoming days. Either way, it was a much too early ending for him. I wish he could have basked in the adulation he deserved for just a while longer. But I'm sure wherever you are, you know that the fans appreciated your career. I may not have been the biggest fan of his, but I did appreciate what he bought to us and will always be a fan.
God Speed Ultimate Warrior.