From the Desk of Mr. V
April 15, 2014
Written by: Mr. V of Wrestleview.com
Ultimate Warrior, the man who is the reason why I watched wrestling
The title sums it up. Besides, if one wants to write for a website such as Wrestleview you have to love what you write. That is some advice that I got from a few sports writers and journalists that I asked throughout Pittsburgh. And many would ask what made me a wrestling fan.
I would be lying if I said that Hulk Hogan or Bruno Sammartino was the reason why I started watching wrestling. I was eight years old in Clairton, PA when on my television set that was a man running rampantly to the ring, shaking ropes, with face pain on. I was mesmerized by his strength and power. I was the runt of the neighborhood and watching this guy wrestle made me feel 100x stronger. He would win the WWF Intercontinental Championship in 1988 over the Honky Tonk Man. My fandom reached into Halloween when I begged my family for face paint and it took hours just to get it right. I was so disappointed when he lost to Rick Rude in WrestleMania V and hated Bobby Heenan for years (later in life I realized that he was hated because he was the best in his business).
When the legend won the Intercontinental Title back a few months later at SummerSlam, I was the happiest kid on my block. My hero, the reason why I watched professional wrestling, was the winner and continued to overcome the names of Rude and Andre the Giant in order to be one of the most popular wrestlers the WWF has ever seen.
Then WrestleMania VI, Champion vs. Champion. My brother and I were on opposite sides. He was a “Hulkamaniac”. I was a “Little Warrior”. We knew after the main event was over on our television sets one of us would go to bed in tears and disappointment. After one of the best matches at that time in the history of WrestleMania, The Ultimate Warrior became the World Heavyweight Champion. It was during Warrior’s title run did I start watching wrestling and became a fan. I even made sure I was home from church right away so I can see the intro for Superstars of Wrestling in the early 90s.
Probably my fondest memory was Christmas of 1990 or 1991 (Not sure, but I want to say 1990). It was near Christmas and all I wanted was one of those WWF Wrestling Buddies. But not just a wrestling buddy, but The Ultimate Warrior. My dad worked two jobs over the Christmas season and money was scarce, as they were putting two kids through a Catholic School education. Well, one of many times my family did not disappoint and (even though I was not the model student) my dad bought me The Ultimate Warrior wrestling buddy and my brother got the Hulk Hogan wrestling buddy. Needless to say it was one of my favorite Christmas presents ever.
My heart as a kid sank when Warrior lost the championship to Sgt. Slaughter due to the “Macho King” Randy Savage. I was even more concerned when Warrior and Savage put their careers on the line in WrestleMania VII. Again, in one of the best matches on the card Warrior reigned supreme and Savage reunited with Miss Elizabeth after Queen Sherri attacked Savage. I did not care, as I was running up and down my staircase like The Ultimate Warrior because he put an end to Savage’s career (When I was still a kid I did not know that wrestlers retire and unretire on a frequent basis).
Thinking wrestling was real in 1991, I thought when Warrior was locked in the casket by The Undertaker and Paul Bearer that he was going to lose all the air in the world. Roddy Piper’s frantic voice made me concerned. I trusted Jake Roberts helping Warrior overcome his fears from that story, and hated Roberts for years when he turned on Warrior in the room full of snakes. “Trust me” was Roberts’ motto during that story, and then I thought that it was not fair that Roberts did all what he did. (Again, now older I appreciate that Roberts made me hate him. He is one of the best storytellers in history).
Years passed, and The Ultimate Warrior came and went a few times. He wrestled in SummerSlam w/Hulk Hogan to defeat those Iraqi sympathizers led by Sgt. Slaughter. He was gone and just when I was going to align myself to Hulkamania a few months later I see Warrior running crazy to save Hulk Hogan from Sid Justice and Papa Shango at WrestleMania VIII. Then, he was gone again (Again, I am not going into “how” he was released, just I was sad when he was not on TV as an 11 year old).
Well, years obviously passed and no signs of The Ultimate Warrior until 1996 when I was wondering which Ultimate Warrior would show up vs. Triple H (or Hunter Hearst Helmsley).Then again, he was gone. Again, I did not know what happened but I felt disappointed that with all that build up of Warrior’s return he left the fans again. Warrior said his piece. Vince McMahon said his piece. But for seventeen or eighteen years, the Ultimate Warrior and McMahon did not appear on television at the same time.
I watched Warrior in his brief run in World Championship Wrestling, but it was not the same. He retired in 1998, and a part of my childhood felt lost. It did rekindle for that one match in 2008 vs. Orlando Jordan, but it was just pure nostalgia in which I saw Warrior in a different light. He really loved his family and his daughters.
My views as a wrestling fan changed from 1996 to the near present day in 2013. I listened to many radio podcasts, wrote over 100 columns for Wrestleview, recapped WWE, TNA, ROH events, and even played all the wrestling video games did I wonder “What if The Ultimate Warrior came back?” Then in a YouTube video posted on Wrestleview in 2013 did I get my answer.
Finally, all made amends and my years of patience came true. The Ultimate Warrior and WWE made peace and I showed my own daughter some of The Ultimate Warrior’s promos. (Little did I know she was screaming around the house like the Warrior, and I got a chuckle out of it).
When Warrior was announced in the WWE Hall of Fame class of 2014, I was excited. I made sure I bought the WWE Network just to hear his speech on April 5th. The fan, writer, and parent in me was in awe when he was escorted to the podium not by any WWE Diva but his two daughters. He thanked his wife, his mother, his children, and overall I listened to every word. My favorite line was when he mentioned that his proudest moment was “being their father”.
Some people thought he lacked intensity. But I for one enjoyed watching and listening to The Ultimate Warrior’s stories. How he was a bit hurt about the DVD that the WWE produced in 2005. How he was very thankful to be welcomed back to the WWE. There was a lot of ease in his speech.
When he was announced as the marquee inductee in the WWE Hall of Fame on April 6th, he looked in good spirits, soaking up the moments which, little did we know, sadly were some of the final moments of his life.
Then came Monday Night Raw on April 7, 2014. Even though what was hyped was Daniel Bryan’s Championship victory and Brock Lesnar’s ability to end The Undertaker’s 21-0 record in WrestleManias, I wanted to hear The Ultimate Warrior again. What he said was classic Warrior.
Little did we know hours later those words would be his last on television. How perfect they sound now.
Then a day later before I was about to go to bed, I check my Facebook news feed and I was in disbelief when I read many posts saying that the Ultimate Warrior passed away at the age of 54. At first, it was disheartening because I felt that a part of my childhood is no longer with me. Regardless of what many thought of Warrior, I still strong believed that he was the guy that made me a fan of professional wrestling.
But then I realized that he lived his life to the fullest. He announced that he had a long-term deal as an ambassador for the WWE and I felt that many hatchets were buried. For the first time in years I saw him genuinely smile when approached by Vince McMahon and his family. But seeing the smile on Warrior’s face as he spent his final weekend with his fans and friends made me really believe that he was at piece. That he was the king of the mountain (or of “parts unknown”). Not many former WWE wrestlers or superstars can say they lived their final days like Warrior did.
To conclude, I remember some of his final words from his speech last week on Raw. The more I listened to that video, the more it hit home.
“By the story tellers, 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.”
Warrior is right. We were the storytellers that made him a legend. There are some legends in the WWE (and in other promotions) that share that spirit. We, as fans, will share their stories and legacy. There is only one question:
Who will they be?
RIP Ultimate Warrior. Prayers and thoughts to his family, his friends, and his story tellers.
Be sure to check out the “WrestleMania Project” this week on Wrestleview.com
Join Mike Tedesco and I for an all-new “Teachers’ Lounge” on No Static Radio every week.