In Memoriam: Ultimate Warrior

I’ve been a professional wrestling fan (off and on) since the fall of 1990. The first WrestleMania I ever watched was the sixth installment, and I immediately became a fan of the Ultimate Warrior, who captured his first and only heavyweight championship at that event, becoming the first man to ever defeat Hulk Hogan on the biggest stage of all.

The Warrior’s unsaddled energy resonated with me and all of my friends. He sprinted to the ring, shook the ropes, and promised to gorilla slam anyone who entered his path. His notorious and often ridiculed speeches were just captivating to a young mind. No kid wants to follow the rules, and Warrior broke them all. In a golden age of professional wrestling, the late-80’s and early 90’s were stuffed with intriguing characters like Jake “The Snake” Roberts, the Legion of Doom, Mr. Perfect, and the Million Dollar Man. They all commanded attention, but the Warrior commanded devotion.

I had all his action figures, I drew the Warrior symbol in all my journals, and begged my parents to order pay-per-views and attend local WWF shows so I could follow the Warrior. Backstage business drove the Warrior in and out of WWF from 1991 through 1996, but I was never more excited to watch wrestling than when he was around. His frequent disappearances from television only fueled my fascination with him.

All controversy aside and twenty-plus years later, I was blessed to see the Warrior grace the WWE stage for the last time this past week. It was magical to hear his music played at WrestleMania XXX and be able to cheer him and his legacy. It was even more thrilling to see him appear at RAW in person this past Monday.

He talked about living your life and making an impact, and how our hearts will beat their last beat and how lungs will breathe their last breath someday. It was a moving and powerful speech, and I could never have imagined he would drop dead at the age of 54 the very next day. After years of professional wrestlers expiring way too soon, this loss is particularly devastating. I want to thank Warrior for sharing his career full of cherished matches and great inspiration with me and his legion of fans. He is my all-time favorite wrestler and the place he has had in my life could never be overstated. Rest in peace Warrior.

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