Wrestling legend Ultimate Warrior passed away at 54 years old, just one day after appearing on WWE RAW, following his induction in to the 2014 Hall of Fame. Warrior (his legal name) collapsed while clutching his chest, outside an Arizona hotel on the Tuesday evening. He was walking to his car with his wife Dana. Tragically he was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital.
His autopsy revealed no drugs or alcohol in his system, and the official cause of death was heart disease. This doesn’t rule out past use of steroids as a contributing factor.
“WWE is shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the passing of one of the most iconic WWE Superstars ever,” WWE.com announced in a statement.
“We are grateful that just days ago, Warrior had the opportunity to take his rightful place in the WWE Hall of Fame and was also able to appear at WrestleMania 30 and Monday Night Raw to address his legions of fans.”
In a personal Tweet, WWE Chairman Vince McMahon wrote: “We are all so sad that the Ultimate Warrior has passed away. Our heart is with his wife Dana and his two daughters.”
After years of friction Warrior began working with WWE again for the launch of the WWE 2K14 video game. He then did his dealings through Triple H to be inducted in to the 2014 Hall of Fame class. In an image that nobody thought we’d see, Stephanie McMahon Tweeted Warrior hugging Vince after his controversial (but entertaining) induction speech:
According to Triple H in an AP story some of Vince’s final words to Warrior were: “I’ve always loved you. Sometimes, I didn’t like you, but I always loved you.”
In hindsight people have pointed out how Warrior seemed to struggle – particularly on RAW – with walking. Perhaps this was simple wrestling related wear and tear on his knees and hips, though it could have been a sign of something more. Others mentioned how he was sweating a lot backstage – beyond what you would expect – which was seen as slightly odd.
“I got a sense he wasn’t well,” Sean Waltman told the Associated Press. “It was sad to me. He was kind of hunched over. He used to have such great posture. You just had this sense that he wasn’t well. But he was in great spirits. He came up to (other wrestlers) and gave them hugs.”
Bret Hart agreed in a CJAY92 Calgary radio interview:
“He seemed good, he seemed happy for sure. I had a sense his health wasn’t great. He seemed a little frail. He seemed a little less indestructible than he used to be.”
Police spokesman Sergeant Mark Clark’s initial reaction is that the death was caused by a “catastrophic medical condition”. The obvious theory is a heart attack brought on by his past steroid abuse, though autopsy results are not in:
“I don’t think it would be a surprise to know he took steroids for a long time and I don’t know if he ever stopped,” continues Bret Hart.
Warrior’s last known public sighting was around 6am Tuesday morning following the post-Wresltemania RAW, at New Orleans Airport. He was spotted by fans and was giving out autographs.
A Controversial Career With Closure
Warrior is best known for his runs in the WWF as a larger than life comic-book style character that rivalled Hulk Hogan, though he first got his break with Steve Borden (Sting) as a tag team – when they decided to ditch bodybuilding and give wrestling a try.
They debuted in 1985 as Powerteam USA, before changing to The Freedom Fighters, and finally settling on the Blade Runners “Rock” and “Flash” in Memphis. They then went on to Mid-South/UWF as the muscle for Eddie Gilbert’s Hotstuff International group.
Their careers then split and Warrior went off to WCCW to wrestle as the Dingo Warrior, before being brought to the WWF as the Ultimate Warrior. His run with Vince has always been controversial – he chose to do business on his own terms and would never fall in line with the rest of the locker room. Many of his peers felt he was not capable enough in the ring to deserve his spot, and disliked the way he kept his distance backstage. Nonetheless Warrior had a winning on-camera persona and fans of the era will remember him as the IC and World champ that gave Hulkamania a run for his money.
Warrior successfully moved on from wrestling and became an accomplished painter, with some private sales of his work reaching over $100,000. He offered his unique philosophy in the form of life-coaching and inspirational speaking, though he was also heavily criticized for several inflammatory political remarks.
Like Bret Hart, Bruno Sammartino and many others, WWE and Warrior decided to give their relationship closure. A new DVD correcting the bias of the “Self Destruction” DVD was released, he was featured in the WWE 2K14 video game, and had signed on to be a company ambassador. Warrior was also inducted in to the 2014 WWE Hall of Fame, appearing both at Wrestlemania and the following RAW – where he cut a promo about the spirit of the Ultimate Warrior living on forever!
“It’s really ironic the way he died — it was almost like he willed it or something … He wrote his own ending,” says Bret Hart to SLAM! Wrestling.
In a blog, Mick Foley wrote:
“His promo style was loved by some, loathed by others for their seemingly nonsensical style. But Warrior’s promos were unique and intense – and no one has done anything quite like them, before or sense. But in his final promo, he was anything but nonsensical. He was profound, and eerily prophetic.”
Wrestling World Reacts To Warrior’s Death
Wrestling personalities have taken to social media to give their condolences and thoughts, on what can only be described as tragic:
* Triple H was the one who helped broker the Hall of Fame deal personally.
* Ted DiBiase who believes Warrior was undeserving of the Hall of Fame Tweeted the following:
* Warrior became WWE Champion at WrestleMania VI, defeating Hulk Hogan. The pair had heat for a number of years, but Hogan sat front row to see his induction on Saturday, and at least claims that they no longer shared any ill will.
* Hornswoggle was one of the latter people to see him at the airport.
* Though Warrior took a shot at DDP Yoga during his HOF speech, and there was a bit of Twitter beef, Jake claims to have burried the hatchet before Warrior’s passing.
Steve Wilton, one of Warrior’s PR staff made the following statement:
I am shocked and profoundly saddened by the death of my friend Warrior. He was a great man and leaves behind a legacy that will forever live in the hearts and minds of those who knew him personally,and his legions of Ultimate Warrior fans.
My thoughts and prayers go out to Warrior’s beautiful family, his wife Dana and their daughters Mattigan and Indiana. No words are strong enough to express my feeling for them at this time.
I was honored to be able to spend the weekend with Warrior and his family at WrestleMania 30 and have never seen a prouder father or more loving family.
Warrior was the happiest I had ever seen him to bring Ultimate Warrior back home to WWE and share that unmistakeable passion and excitement with each and every Ultimate Warrior fan around the world.
I have lost my best friend and my hero but take comfort in knowing his legacy will live forever. I will Always Believe.