Despite the fact that a time has passed since the death of the Ultimate Warrior, as a huge fan of his, I feel “obligated” to write an article about him.
Before I get into how I found out about his death, I should mention that I usually get the news from Canada/U.S. in Spain with a day’s difference. This includes all walks of life, like sports, pop culture etc.
So let’s get into how I found out about his death. I watched a highlight of his WWE Hall of Fame acceptance speech the Monday after Wrestlemania and his WWE Raw appearance on the Tuesday after that one. Then it was the following Wednesday, I believe, that I woke up to the Spanish radio as usual and the D.J. said “we wake up with the tragic news of the passing of the Ultimate Warrior”. I literary sat up in my bed and yelled out in English “WHAT?” with my mouth wide open. I mean, HE WAS ON RAW TWO DAYS EARLIER! I immediately got up (I like to lay in bed for ten minutes before I get up) ran to my computer and checked the news. I read everything I could fast before I had to go to work. When I got to work, I was reading up on it for about an hour.
My reactions? It took me about a week for it to actually sync in, even though I watched videos, I read about it etc. Not for one instant did I over think his Raw speech with his passing. In any case the death was shocking.
The first time the Warrior appeared on W.W.E. T.V. as with most people back then I was impressed. The intensity, the charisma, it was all there. He immediately became my favorite wrestler, and I immediately bought his T-Shirt from a W.W.E. house show and went to K-mart to buy a framed picture of him which to this day I still have in my room. It’s a pre-main event picture.
A great highlight in my Ultimate Warrior fan career was when he defeated the Honky Tonk Man for the Intercontinental Title. I have a slight doubt with regards to this however. My best friend at the time went to a house show in Calgary that happened around SummerSlam 1988, and he told me that the Ultimate Warrior beat the Honky Tonk Man for the Intercontinental Title. Then I saw that it had actually happened at SummerSlam 1988. I still have the W.W.F. Magazine where they had pictures of what happened at SummerSlam and my friend saw it and said that it was exactly how it happened at the house show. What I don’t remember, in reality, is if my friend told me this after the pay per view actually happened or after. But it was still a pleasant surprise.
His feud with Rick Rude as the champion was another great highlight of his W.W.F. career. Both had great chemistry and Bobby Heenan made it great as well. The intercontinental title in the mix made it even greater.
But the pinnacle of his career was the W.W.F title and his feud with Hulk Hogan. The buildup was very well done. Both men would save each other from attacks from foes. A few times there were “miscommunication” between both of them which lead to skepticism on both parts. It was very well done, and it helped that there was not a Raw type show weekly, so that made it more special. The week after Wrestlemania where they announced that the Warrior had won I was ecstatic. I was jumping around the house like a mad man, because on top of being a Warrior fan, I was not at all a Hulkamaniac. I couldn’t stand him winning all the time (even I was smart for a kid back then).
When Wrestlemania VI came out V.H.S. (remember that format kiddies?) me and my friend (I mentioned earlier) watched the whole show, and when I watched the main event of Warrior and Hogan I watched it as if it was live. I was shouting at the ref for his ignorance, cheering the Warrior on, etc. Even my friend was like, “But you know what happened” I was like, “I don’t care”. When the Warrior pinned Hogan, it wasn’t any less exciting then when I watched for the first time. Great moment!
His title reign was what it was. It wasn’t exceptional nor was it poor. We all know what the Ultimate Warrior brought to the table. No one knew the backstage politics, no one knew what was going on between the Warrior and Vince, But when Sergeant Slaughter beat the Warrior I think it was hard to imagine anyone pleased with it.
Unfortunately his return at Wrestlemania XII was not huge. The fans were not into him and when he didn’t sell Hunter Hearst Helmsley’s pedigree even I was going, OH COME ON. That return in the end didn’t last. His match in W.C.W. with Hogan was….. blah! There, I admit were blotches on his career, but they didn’t overshadow his great legacy.
I got to watch the Self Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior once on YouTube, and you watch it and it really gets to your blood how petty W.W.E. can get at times. It was the first time I heard about Warrior’s incoherent promos. Sure, they were cryptic, but I understood what he said. That he didn’t have good matches? Hell, since when did the W.W.E. or the fans really care about that? Hulk Hogan and Steve Austin weren’t the greatest in the rings, they their charisma and persona carried them to the top like the Ultimate Warrior. So the D.V.D. was really such B.S. The Warrior was huge ass over during his time in the W.W.F. and no one can deny it. Hulk Hogan couldn’t touch the Warrior at one point. The Warrior WAS HUGE.
Did the Warrior’s ego get the better of him? Could he have been bigger if he didn’t have his fallouts with Vince? Maybe, who knows? What would’ve happened if Bret didn’t go to W.C.W.? What would’ve happened if Ric Flair faced Hulk Hogan in W.W.F.? What if Cena was to job once in his life? These questions can’t be answered, but what can be answered is that the Ultimate Warrior will always be A LEGEND!
— Jose Perez, OWW columnist