Former WWE Star Ultimate Warrior Passes Away at Age 54

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistApril 9, 2014

AP Images

Updates from Wednesday, April 16

Ultimate Warrior's wife, Dana, posted a message on WWE.com thanking fans for their support:

It is with an absolutely broken heart I reach out to you. Since the passing of my husband, I have been fortunate enough to insulate my sweet girls and myself from the outside world. In this bubble we have grieved and continue to do so. For a week, I did not allow any television or media to seep through our cocoon. I was told, though, of the outpouring of love for my beloved husband and support for, as he always called us, his Warrior Girls. I can only say thank you.


I cannot put words to what that video tribute meant. We watched it multiple times and, this morning, it was how I started my day; mornings are the hardest for me. I will treasure that song and those images more than anything I own. Vindication. ULTIMATE PERFECTION.

Updates from Monday, April 14

The Associated Press, via ESPN.com, has the official report on Warrior's cause of death:

Former pro wrestler The Ultimate Warrior died of cardiovascular disease, authorities said Monday.

Maricopa County spokeswoman Cari Gerchick said that's the finding from an autopsy conducted Thursday by the county medical examiner's office.

Dave Meltzer of F4WOnline.com had more on Warrior's death:

Not reported in TMZ is that they are proceeding with a death investigation. They are less concerned with how he died as compared to how he got there. The findings will be made public when the investigation, which could take several months, is completed.

Original Text

Just three days after being inducted into the company's Hall of Fame, iconic WWE superstar Ultimate Warrior died Tuesday of unknown causes at age 54. Circumstances surrounding the sudden passing are still under investigation.

WWE wrestler and executive Triple H broke the news of his passing on Twitter:

TMZ added that, according to officials, "Warrior collapsed outside an Arizona hotel at 5:50 PM on April 8th while walking to his car with his wife. Warrior was transported to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead."

Police released a statement on the wrestler's death on Wednesday, according to Kevin Iole of Yahoo Sports:

On April 8 at 5:50 pm 54-year-old “Warrior” James B Hellwig collapsed while walking with his wife to their car at the Gainy Suites Hotel in Scottsdale, Ariz. Scottsdale Fire transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead soon after arrival. At this point in the investigation, it appears as though a catastrophic medical condition caused his death.

Warrior's death comes as a shock to many who saw him seemingly in full health on WWE programming the past few days. He was a 2014 inductee into the WWE Hall of Fame on Saturday, appeared at WrestleMania XXXwrestl and was on the latest edition of Monday Night Raw in character.

"We are grateful that just days ago, Warrior had the opportunity to take his rightful place in the WWE Hall of Fame and was also able to appear at WrestleMania 30 and Monday Night Raw to address his legions of fans," a WWE release read. "WWE sends its sincere condolences to Warrior’s family, friends and fans."

WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon, legendary WWE broadcaster Jim Ross and WWE world heavyweight champion Daniel Bryan also sent out their condolences via Twitter:

Born James Brian Hellwig, Warrior was among the most memorable and long-lasting characters in WWE history. With long, feathered hair, distinctive face paint designs that matched his trunks and an energetic, frenetic demeanor, Warrior was always destined to stand out. But it was the constant energy, unforgettable backstage shoots and classic rivalry with Hulk Hogan that helped keep him in the minds of wrestling fans to this day.

Warrior was the type of performer that, no matter what he did, gave everything—and then some. There are numerous compilations of old Warrior promos sprinkled across the Internet, his intensity never wavering and his decibels of emotion fluctuating from a barely audible whisper to an enraged shout. His ring entrances were also among the most lauded in the sport's history, with Warrior scampering to the ring in full sprint before violently shaking the ropes on all four sides. 

“The Ultimate Warrior is a legend…Ultimate Warrior fans are legendary,” Warrior said in his acceptance speech (via Brian Fritz of the Orlando Sentinel). He was appreciative of his time in the ring, saying he was glad he got to "experience the magic." The Ultimate Warrior didn’t give me what I needed to make a match work, it gave me what I needed to make life worth. 

Of course, Warrior was far more than just a memorable character. He was also a wildly accomplished in-ring performer. He held the Intercontinental championship multiple times before defeating Hogan at WrestleMania VI to capture his first WWE (then WWF) championship in 1990.

Hogan also reacted to the shocking news:

Like many characters of his ilk, though, Warrior's time in the spotlight was only outshined by the notability of his departure. He left and came back to WWE programming at different stages in the early 1990s, with bad blood festering for years beyond his last hurrah with the company in 1996.

Although Warrior would join WCW for a short period, his career as a wrestler was effectively over. He rebranded himself as a public speaker, earning a living by capitalizing on the intensity of his past Warrior promos—just without the makeup.

With years having passed since they had severed ties, the feud between WWE and Warrior soon began to thaw. His induction into the Hall of Fame was seen by many as a reintegration of Warrior—a classic character despite his short run—into the wrestling world. In many ways, Monday's promo indicated that he still had it, with the New Orleans crowd feeding off his every word.



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