RIP The Ultimate Warrior (or, "THERE IS NO PLACE TO RUN! ALL THE FUSES IN THE EXIT SIGNS HAVE BEEN BURNT OUT!")

The death of Warrior, (a.k.a. the Ultimate Warrior; f.k.a. Jim Hellwig) hit me a lot harder than I would have expected, because I was never his biggest fan.  Don't get me wrong, he was fun and memorable as can be.  Even if he wasn't the best wrestler around, he famously brought a lot of energy to the ring and was entertaining as hell on the mike; his promos are deservedly the stuff of legend:


But, well, I held a grudge.  Back in the early 90s, in the midst of his famous feud with Undertaker, the two were set to headline a house show in my hometown of Bangor, Maine, and though Undertaker showed up, Ultimate Warrior didn't.  He ended up being replaced on the card by Roddy Piper, who put on a hell of a body bag match with 'Taker (Piper ended up filling in for a lot of bigger name talent who wouldn't show up for house shows in Bangor at that time, which is one of the main reasons I'm a huge fan of the man to this day).  Not long after that, Warrior would be gone from the WWF WWE (mustn't invoke the wrath of the pandas by referring to the company's old name).  He'd bounce back into the employ of Vince McMahon a few times, of course, but just a few years later he'd be gone for good.

At time I thought "good riddance".  But back then I was a young, disappointed wrestling fan who didn't know a lot about the behind the scenes aspects of the wrestling business, so I had no idea about the professional or personal turmoils he was going through at the time.

So flash forward to the weekend of WrestleMania XXX and the Hall of Fame ceremony, and here's a guy on stage who has both hurt and been hurt, forgiving people who had slighted him, earning the forgiveness of people he had slighted, and reveling in his legacy with his wife and young daughters.  And deservedly so, I say.  It was a wonderful moment.  Warrior didn't just bury the hatchet with the likes of Hulk Hogan, Jake Roberts, and Vince McMahon that night, but he did it with me, too.  He certainly didn't know it, but he gave the impression that he probably would have cared if he did.  And then to see him back in character on Raw was fantastic... even if he wasn't as big or as fast anymore, he was the Ultimate Warrior again, and I was back to being 12 years old for a few minutes.

So losing him the very next day... that was just unfair.  But at least the past could be put to rest at last.

Thanks for entertaining me, Warrior.  My condolences go out to his family, his friends, and all of his fans, my fellow warriors.


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