Baiamonte's Casa: An Ultimate Tribute to The Warrior
April 14, 2014
By: Joe Baiamonte of Wrestleview.com
"Speak to me, Warriors! As I thought about what I was going to say this evening, it's been hard for me to find the words.
No WWE talent becomes a legend on their own. Every man's heart one day beats its final beat. His lungs breathe a final breath. And if what that man did in his life makes the blood pulse through the body of others, and makes them bleed deeper, and something larger than life, then his essence, his spirit, will be immortalized. By the storytellers, by the loyalty, by the memory of those who honor him and make the running the man did live forever.
You, you, you, you, you, you are the legend-makers of Ultimate Warrior. In the back, I see many potential legends, some of them with warrior spirits. And you will do the same for them. You will decide if they lived with the passion and intensity. So much so that you will tell your stories and you will make them legends, as well. I am Ultimate Warrior. You are the Ultimate Warrior fans. And the spirit of Ultimate Warrior will run forever!"
Monday, 7th April, 2014 was a day when an 18 year long dream came true. The Ultimate Warrior was back in a WWE ring, delivering the above promo. The trademark facepaint may have been replaced with a replica mask and the hair was shorter and there was also a lack of multi coloured arm tassles, but it was still the Warrior, full of the same rocket fuelled ferocity that made him a childhood hero for the millions of us who needed an upgrade on Hulkamania. Most importantly, though, was that it was the Warrior back on his own terms, as a signed up, bona fide member of the WWE's Hall of Fame and not as a bankrupt has been, clinging to past glories.
What none of us realised, however, was that the above words were not the Warrior's new mission statement but rather, tragically, his own eulogy.
Of course, I would never use this time to ponder over the Warrior's knowledge of his own mortality heading into WrestleMania weekend and Raw on Monday night. I will simply allow his final words to us to serve as a poignant reminder of what made him so special to so many.
Less than 24 hours after this appearance, Warrior (I can't call him Jim Hellwig) would breathe his final breath, and stun us all as we came to terms with the fact that he was one of us, after all. This whirlwind of anarchy and superhuman strength had torn down all in his path throughout my childhood and now he was no more.
The painted madman from Parts Unknown made me believe that he was superhuman and that only another of his kind could take him from us. If HulkaMania or The Undertaker or Jake the Snake or even Papa Shango's voodoo couldn't stop the Warrior, then nothing could.
Even as a fully functioning 25 year old with an intricate knowledge of every twisted nuance of how the warped wrestling industry works, I don't feel any less passion or excitement when I hear those pulsating guitar riffs melt an arena to the ground. Those entrances, many of which outlasted Warrior's actual matches, encapsulated not just what it means to be a wrestling fan, but what it means to believe in something.
As a five year old, kayfabe meant nothing to me and the Warrior only being a character in a show was an alien concept. So of course I believed in his ability to Gorilla Press Slam the forces of evil into oblivion. He was the WWE's Batman but not a superhero who stuck around long enough to be humanized by the Attitude Era or the advent of shoot interviews and the unmasking of the industry as a whole.
Even when Warrior's qualities as both a wrestler and a human being were brought into question during the 'Self Destruction . . .' DVD and in videos that surfaced of his highly questionable personal and political beliefs, it didn't feel as if you were seeing the same person. You were seeing Bruce Wayne, not Batman. Jim Hellwig, not the Warrior. I didn't care about the moral compass of Jim Hellwig in much the same way as I don't care about the opinions and actions of Bruce Wayne or Clark Kent. As long as he reigned supreme over the villains at the end of the show, that's all I cared about, and the Warrior rarely disappointed.
The outpouring of emotion and childhood reminiscing that has swarmed social media in the days since Warrior's passing is testament to the way in which he immeasurably and infinitely influenced a generation, both inside and outside of the ring. Warrior's energy will, like he himself said, live on, in those of us who were fortunate enough to witness every rope shaking second of his existence.
I may no longer carry his Hasbro action figure with me everywhere I go, but my belief in the Ultimate Warrior and everything he taught my five year old self will never wane and just as I did when I was five, I still want to be the Warrior's natural successor twenty years later. I believe that's what every great superhero aspires to do to his followers and Warrior was one of the greatest of all time.
I could easily ramble through the archives of my favourite Warrior moments but you will undoubtedly already have your own to enjoy on Youtube. So I will leave you to enjoy those memories with a few words from the Beatnik Warrior, Jack Kerouac.
"The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars." ― Jack Kerouac, On the Road