Wednesday, April 9, 2014

James Hellwig, aka The Ultimate Warrior (1959-2014)

It was just 4 days ago that he had been inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. His last public appearance came two days later on Monday Night Raw. Having made his peace after years of conflict with WWE Chairman-CEO Vince McMahon, the Ultimate Warrior abruptly passed away Tuesday afternoon at 54.

Born James Hellwig in 1959, the Warrior first made his name as part of Powerteam USA with Steve Borden (Sting), under the tutelage of Rick Bassman, before signing with Bill Watts' Mid-South Wrestling. Hellwig & Borden were billed as Rock & Flash, the Blade Runners, a heel team managed by the late Eddie Gilbert. After about a year, the team split, with Rock heading west to World Class Championship Wrestling, undergoing a name change to the Dingo Warrior, managed at first by Percival Pringle III (Bill Moody, aka Paul Bearer), but then turning babyface, a role Hellwig would play for the rest of his career.

Within a few months, Dingo Warrior jumped to the then-World Wrestling Federation as the Ultimate Warrior, who sprinted from the locker room to the ring, and squashed a jobber or two on a regular basis. He'd eventually win the Intercontinental title and the WWF title, the latter in a memorable match at Wrestlemania 6 in Toronto vs. Hulk Hogan, a portion of which follows, courtesy of WWE's YouTube channel:

After an aborted comeback in 1996, the Warrior resurfaced, known simply as the Warrior, in WCW in 1998, brought in to challenge a then-heel Hogan for the WCW title. This run was also short-lived, and would be the last time the Warrior would appear on a national stage until his induction into the WWE Hall of Fame.

Warrior also ventured into comic books, self-publishing a short-lived series, Warrior (naturally), which lasted about three issues before disappearing off shelves. Strangely, Sting was not present to see his former training and tag team partner enter the Hall of Fame, as this alone would have been enough inducement for him to sign with WWE, but the newsboards still believe that this is imminent.

Rest in peace, mighty Warrior.

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