Once again, the hand of death keeps chipping away at my childhood and makes me question my own mortality. Last night, the Ultimate Warrior suddenly passed away at the age of 54 years old. Three days of traveling, celebrating a legendary career and happiness with his family, and now he’s gone. The timing of this is so eerie and sad on a multitude of levels.
The Warrior’s mystique and impact are undeniable. His entrance alone was an event unto itself as he sprinted to the ring and shook the ropes like a wild man while his adrenaline charged entrance music invaded your auditory senses. He had a reputation for being a bit off but he was steadfast in his beliefs which commanded your attention even though you expected and sometimes got balderdash.
I wouldn’t consider myself a massive Warrior mark growing up, but that didn’t stop me from being a fan. I remember getting my face painted in his colorful image at the annual neighborhood block party. Poor Doug always looked at me with a bit of trepidation as he put the brush to my face because he never watched wrestling. It was a complete botch job, but I didn’t care.
My introduction to the power of the Warrior took place at Summer Slam 1988, which was my first pay-per-view event. The thirty second destruction of Honky Tonk Man’s fifteen month intercontinental title reign garnered a ridiculously loud reaction from the MSG faithful. Man, they don’t pop like that anymore.
WrestleMania 6 served as a crossroads for WWF loyalists. The battle lines were drawn on the playground. You were either a Hulk Hogan guy or an Ultimate Warrior guy. There was no match more anticipated or outcome more debated. This was my Hulk and Andre, and it was a spectacle I’ll never forget.
I cried like a blubbering baby when Hogan went down for the 1-2-3. I was a Hulkamaniac through and through, and the thought of him losing clean just didn’t compute. Later on, I ended up respecting the Warrior even more for what he accomplished in the Sky Dome.
I’m glad the Warrior’s career came full circle with the Hall of Fame induction and a new brand ambassador deal. It was a sign that he and WWE had finally put their tumultuous past behind them. Still, the real tragedy is that a family has lost their husband and father. I’m going to hug my wife a little tighter tonight, and try not to take this life thing for granted.