The Ultimate Warrior has had a contentious relationship with WWE since last departing in 1996, but he will make his long-awaited return to the company when he accepts induction into the WWE Hall of Fame Saturday night in New Orleans.
Warrior is one of the most polarizing figures in the history of professional wrestling as no two people seem to have the same opinion of him. His frenetic energy and ripped physique allowed him to ascend to the top of business and even surpass Hulk Hogan in terms of popularity at one time, but his failure to play ball behind the scenes proved to be his downfall on several occasions.
Despite the issues that Warrior and Vince McMahon have had over the years, McMahon proved once again that he is willing to bring anyone back as long as it is good for business. Triple H's expanded role likely had something to do with that as well.
When asked about Warrior's induction, McMahon had nothing but good things to say about his former nemesis, according to WWE.com:
The Ultimate Warrior was the most intense, colorful, competitive and outspoken Superstar in sports-entertainment history, and his contributions to WWE were extraordinary. We are thrilled to induct The Ultimate Warrior into the WWE Hall of Fame.
Warrior first popped back up on the WWE radar prior to the release of the WWE 2K14 video game. He was announced as a special pre-order character, and he promoted the game in typical Warrior fashion, as seen in this video:
Getting back in WWE's good graces led to speculation that Warrior might finally get his due by being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, and it came to fruition when he was announced as the first inductee for the Class of 2014 back in January.
The Hall of Fame is a huge deal every year, but it is even bigger this time around. Not only is the class stacked with legendary talent, but it will air live on WWE Network at 9 p.m. ET on the eve of WrestleMania XXX.
That means thousands of wrestling fans will have the opportunity to see some of their favorites immortalized forever, and Ultimate Warrior may very well top the list.
He will be inducted alongside Jake "The Snake" Roberts, Paul Bearer, Lita, Mr. T, Carlos Colon and Razor Ramon, so there is no question that he is in very good company.
After it was announced that Warrior would be inducted, there was plenty of speculation regarding who might induct him. A number of potential candidates were bandied about including CM Punk, who commented on Warrior's induction on Twitter:
Who inducts the @UltimateWarrior into the hall of fame? That's a tall order.— Coach (@CMPunk) January 14, 2014
Things obviously went sour between Punk and WWE, so that wasn't an option for long. Warrior eventually decided that the wife of WWE chairman Vince McMahon, Linda McMahon, was the right person for the job:
It seemed like a strange choice on the surface since Warrior and Linda McMahon appear to be very different people, but that dichotomy should make for an interesting scene. Warrior's speech is definitely the draw, but Linda's introduction will generate some buzz as well.
Wrestling fans often debate whether or not Warrior was good at cutting promos, but there is no doubt that his energy kept people entertained. Perhaps there won't be as much nonsensical shouting and snorting at the Hall of Fame as a typical Warrior promo, although you can never be entirely sure when it comes to the Ultimate Warrior.
As excited as fans were about the Hall of Fame induction, there was also plenty of talk about Warrior getting involved in the product in other ways. Warrior furthered fueled that speculation with typically cryptic tweets such as this one:
Predictions, speculation, guesses...even after 18 years one UW power has not diminished at all...His power to fascinate imaginations.#WWEHOF— The Ultimate Warrior (@UltimateWarrior) January 15, 2014
WrestleMania season always seems to breed rumors, and one of them came courtesy of F4WOnline (via WrestlingInc.com). That particular report suggested that Warrior could return for one more match at WrestleMania XXX against a similarly enigmatic Superstar in the form of Ryback.
Are you excited to see Ultimate Warrior's WWE Hall of Fame induction speech?
There hasn't been any indication that Warrior will compete at WrestleMania, but you never know. He is going to be within the confines of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, and there are a few available spots in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal.
Warrior is no stranger to surprises on the WrestleMania stage, so it will be interesting to see what WWE decides to do with him in the aftermath of 'Mania.
Warrior is a true throwback in that most wrestlers today are either unable or unwilling to commit to a gimmick like he did. Perhaps Warrior wasn't among the greatest in-ring workers of all time, maybe his promos were more yelling than substance and there is no doubt that he wasn't good when it came to playing politics, but he is an important part of wrestling history nonetheless.
Bringing Warrior back into the fold is especially valuable when you consider the presence of the WWE Network. While the WWE Network has strong roots in the current product, it is also very much about wrestling's past success.
Warrior figured heavily into that, and it seems fitting that he is finally back where he belongs in WWE.
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