The sudden and unexpected death Tuesday of the Ultimate Warrior hit me with the impact of one of his clotheslines.
I sat front row at the WWE Hall of Fame induction ceremony Saturday night in New Orleans, where the 54-year-old pro wrestling icon was inducted after an 18-year, often-times tumultuous absence from the company that made him famous.
The 2014 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony documented the amazing professional and personal journey of the unforgettable and polarizing wrestling character. Warrior — his actual, legal name — influenced an entire generation of fans because of his in-ring persona and memorable, albeit oftentimes irreverent, interviews, which always contained some sort of motivational message.
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Many adults might not have been able to "decode" what the painted-face superhero was saying, but the kids who idolized the "Warrior Spirit" seemed to understand, and they welcomed the imaginary ride on Warrior’s rocket ship.
As someone who first met Warrior in 1986 in the Mid South territory, where he was outspoken and unique as a rookie, what will stick with me forever regarding this heavy metal hero/philosopher was how he addressed his wife and children as he closed the show at the Hall of Fame ceremony. With many in the sold-out audience wearing Warrior face paint as they hearkened back to their youth, the controversial individual said that his greatest accomplishment in this lifetime was being the father to his two young daughters, who escorted their father on the stage.
That statement humanized the man born as Jim Hellwig, took him to another level of respect and changed many people’s perspective of the man who cared not if he burned a bridge if it was for something in which he truly believed.
Vince McMahon deserves credit for helping Warrior refine the TV persona that Warrior created and used in WWE in the days before large, creative staffs in the corporate world of sports entertainment. Paul Levesque — aka HHH — made peace with Warrior, thus providing so many fans a lifetime memory of one of their heroes in New Orleans.
That statement humanized the man born as Jim Hellwig, took him to another level of respect …
Our thoughts go out to Warrior’s wife, Dana, and their two daughters, who were fortunate to enjoy their dad’s signature weekend with him during WrestleMania XXX.
RIP, Warrior. Your legacy will live forever.
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