I believed in the Ultimate Warrior. And despite my buried-alive childhood, I still will.
Lifelong fans of WWE, like myself, still trying to cope with the ending of the Undertaker's streak at WrestleMania 30, have been completely deflated as tragic news breaks that the man who played the Ultimate Warrior -- one of the industry's most revered yet controversial figures -- passed away Tuesday evening at the age of 54.
Known for his high-energy and often inaudible promos, Warrior -- born James Brian Hellwig -- four days ago had been inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. Two days later on Monday Night Raw he delivered a signature rant and donned a new mask that resembled his traditional face paint -- a piece of merchandise I'm sure that'll fly off the shelves.
Warrior was in great shape. And although he flagged off the chants for "one more match" during his Hall of Fame speech, he looked to be in condition to at least have his final bout be a punch-and-kick street fight with a cocky newcomer like Titus O'Neal or Dolph Zigger.
The hopes, however, of ever seeing Warrior run down the aisle again to his loaded theme music while his colorful tassels parade in the wind will never come to pass. And for a kid like me who safeguarded my Ultimate Warrior action figure, the news of his sudden passing is a jackknife powerbomb to my buried-alive childhood.
Back in the nineties, Saturday morning in my home meant Goosebumps, Doug, Saved by the Bell, a bowl of Fruity Pebbles and a household anticipation for WWF Superstars. My more than 30 "bone-crunching" WWF action figures sat comfortably with my older brother and me as we watched and re-enacted everything that appeared on the program -- despite the genuine warning that pleaded with us not to. However, unlike the Ultimate Warrior, I was rarely victorious in my matches, as my BIG brother -- who's always been larger than life -- had mastered the BIG splash.
The Ultimate Warrior, just like the Undertaker, captivated my imagination and is partially responsible for my secret desire to still one day walk down a WWE ramp and do something, anything, in a WWE ring. I even had a ring name and persona worked out in my head that was influenced by the colorful character. My infatuation with the Ultimate Warrior was so fanatic-like as kid, that when my action figure finally gave out and the parts fell off, I attempted to scrape off its painted face to get a glimpse at what he might've looked like as real person -- insane, I know.
As I noted in my latest blog entitled "Undertaker's Streak Is Over and So Is My Childhood," wrestling was as much a part of my upbringing as church. Characters like the Ultimate Warrior, the Undertaker, Razor Ramon, Diesel, Psycho Sid, 1-2-3 Kid and Ahmed Johnson, were my heroes; and in a mature, reserved, late-twenties kind of way, they still are.
The night before he died, Warrior said:
No WWE talent becomes a legend on their own. Every man's heart one day beats its final beat; his lung breathe their final breath. And if what that man did in his life makes the blood pulse through the body of others, and makes them believe deeper in something larger than life, than his essence, his spirit, will be immortalized by the storytellers; by the loyalty; by the memory of those who honor him and make what the man did live forever.
I believed in the Ultimate Warrior. And despite my buried-alive childhood, I still will. The spirit of the Ultimate Warrior will run forever.
Thanks for reading. Until next time, I'm Flood the Drummer and I'm Drumming for JUSTICE!