I’ve been meaning to write more, but boy I wish it had been under better circumstances. If you can’t relate or sympathize, hey, I totally understand. But with that being said, I’m gonna still do my thing.
Tonight, I got bored of watching Storage Wars, and I decided I was gonna play Dark Souls 2, take some aggression out on a video game because that’s just a way to blow some steam off. Usually when I do that, I play some music or a video on my laptop. Tonight I decided that I would catch up on some NXT on the WWE Network. I go to WWE.com and the first thing I see is that The Ultimate Warrior had passed away. I just stared at my computer screen for what had to be 20 seconds. I felt this feeling literally 2 days earlier, that state of disbelief, but yet you know it to be true. I thought to check out other sites, but this is WWE’s official site, this isn’t some bullshit to try to get some hits. I go and click on the story. I read and all these thoughts are pouring in my head. And it’s all soaking in my head like a sponge.
Like many of you, my first thought was that it had to be his heart. He got inducted in the WWE Hall Of Fame Saturday night and delivered a tremendous speech. On Sunday, I think he appeared to be grabbing his chest occasionally which may not mean anything, but when things like this happen, you start looking for any clues to latch on to to make sense of things. Then Monday, we see the picture of him and Vince backstage smiling, which if you know their history, it was heartwarming. Finally, Monday night on RAW, he came out and gave this rousing speech that was inspiring and now in hindsight may be one of the eeriest things I ever heard. He didn’t look quite right again on Monday, but who am I to judge? Maybe that’s just how he was nowadays, ya know? Then today, I get this news, and sigh, fucking A. I thought the wrestling world had drained me emotionally between Cena not doing the right thing and the Streak ending, but this is on a whole other level.
Every wrestler’s death has a meaning, it has an impact, and I don’t wish to discredit anybody, but some obviously hit other’s moreso than other’s. When I was younger, Andre the Giant died, and I was sad, but I had only seen the tail end of his career so although I was sad, it didn’t really impact me, although I bought the special edition magazine, and I read up on him because I knew he was important, and I was a student of this business. Then Texas Tornado was another one around that time, but it didn’t affect me too bad. The first big impact really was Owen Hart to be honest. I’m not gonna lie like so many others do and say they were big fans of Owen. No you weren’t. But he had a great run, and I loved his run against Bret. I still have his tribute show on disc somewhere and it choked me at one point. I had seen him since he had debuted, so yeah, it had an impact on me. Then you had Pillman, and that stung. But the deaths started piling up. Perfect, Bulldog, the steroids era was getting it’s victims and as much as I loved those guys and Hawk, and Bossman, Mike Awesome, at some point you became numb to it.
But then Eddie Guerrero died and that had such a different feeling to it. Another active wrestler, like Owen, but he didn’t die in front of the crowd, but he died in his hotel room the night before he was to supposedly win a belt. Eddie was special. He was a guy who wore his heart on his sleeve for the world to see. He was a mess and he had to go to rehab, but he cleaned up his act and went on to become such an entertaining performer. One of the greatest moments in wrestling history that is forever burned in my memory is him and Benoit embracing in the middle of the ring after Benoit won the belt at Wrestlemania XX. The 2 guys had left WCW with no guarantees of making it in WWE and here they were on the grandest stage and the big anniversary show and center stage to end the show at Madison Square Garden. It was perfect. The Eddie tribute show is still tough to watch. I remember that Monday going in to work to Amsterdam Print and a girl asking me how I could be so sad about a wrestler’s death. I asked her nicely, how did you react after Kurt Cobain’s death. She told me she was very sad, depressed, mopey, may have cried. I said, well there you go, same damn thing. These guys are the same damn thing.
More deaths, the next big one is Benoit’s, but that one is even more depressing than any of the other ones because his head is so fucked up from all the years of punishment his head has taken from wrestling moves, the examiners say he had the brain of an 85 year old man with dementia, but WWE didn’t want to discuss that and let the newspapers and TV networks run with steroids because believe it or not, that was actually the lesser of 2 evils. Funny how that works out. A mother and son murdered and one of the greatest wrestlers of all time is demonized for all time and nobody is willing to take any responsibility? I just need to move on.
More and more deaths, my god, do a search for wrestler deaths and it will make you nauseous. Don’t watch old pay per views from the mid 90’s or earlier because half those guys and gals are dead sadly. My boy Test died around 2010 I think, that hit me hard, but he appeared to be doing some extra shit he shouldn’t have. Then Macho Man and Paul Bearer are 2 recent ones that really hit hard for me personally. Paul was much more expected. Macho Man, he should have had another 20 years on this planet, but some things just aren’t meant to be.
And that’s the fucking problem with being a wrestling fan. You sit there, you get invested in these storylines. You start to find a few guys that are main eventers you like, but unless your a Yankee fan, you will inherently start liking a few underdogs and start hoping they pick up steam and root for them to make it big. Right now, I’m pulling for Luke Harper, Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, and Wade Barrett. But then they eventually get released or their body gets so worn down they need to take a break and don’t come back or whatever so then they’re gone and then a year or 2 later, you hear they are dead. And it’s rinse and fucking repeat. So you get your guard up, you don’t want to get too attached to these guys, but you can’t help it. If you’re gonna be a fan, you gotta go balls out. That’s what being a true fan is all about.
For me, I started watching in 1989. Hulk Hogan was the face of the company brother. Ultimate Warrior was trying to recapture his Intercontinetal title form ravishing Rick Rude at Summerslam, and he did. This Ultimate Warrior was such an intense bad ass. Wait, why doesn’t the Intercontinental champion hold more stroke than just the WWF champion? As a kid, I was like, this WWF champion can only work in the US, but Rick Rude can go to Europe and wrestle, so who cares? I’d rather have the IC belt. Being young and naive, good times! My logic was flawless. Hogan would get the belt from Macho man at some point or already had it, I don’t remember, who cares. Fuck Hogan. I just didn’t like Hogan as a child. He was fake to me. He was doing all this stuff to try to make himself feel good about himself, not try to do what was right. Even as an 8 year old, I knew Hogan was in it for himself, I just didn’t understand just how right I was until much, much older. Of course I also thought Brutus the Barber Beefcake and the Red Rooster were cool, so I wasn’t THAT smart. But I liked demolition and Jake the Snake if that redeems me in any way. Any way, the Big Boss Man and The Ultimate Warrior were my boys. My hair was similar to Boss Man’s and I was fat like him so I loved him, but man if I could have had muscles and hair like Warrior, well shit negro, that’s all you would have had to say.
The first Wrestlemania I would see is Wrestlemania 6 which is where he would beat Hogan in the champion vs champion match, which for 9 year old me was the greatest match of all time. A year later, he’d take on Macho Man in a retirement match, which would then become the greatest match of all time, and actually that would hold true until Wrestlemania 10 with Shawn vs razor’s Ladder match. Wrestlemania 8 would have the biggest mark out moment possibly ever for me as a kid from a wrestling perspective when Warrior saved Hogan at the end of Mania 8. I mean, Warrior was so much apart of my formulative years of a wrestling fan. Without him, I am a completely different wrestling fan. I owe such a huge debt of gratitude to this man. There’s only ever been 2 times I questioned whether what I was seeing was real or fake. One was when Jake’s snake was biting Macho. the other was when Taker locked Warrior in the air tight coffin for what seemed like 5 agonizing minutes as I looked on worried for his safety. Yup, I was a total dumbass. Granted after about 2 minutes I was like, well this is fake, but at first it got me thinking. I was a dumb kid, it happens.
When Warrior just up and left the last time when him and Savage were to team up, I never understood what happened. There were rumors he had died and they replaced him. Stupid playground rumors that they had used like 3 or 4 different Ultimate Warriors. And then WCW had him and he was the Renegade. He wasn’t by the way. Warrior came back at Wrestlemania 12 and destroyed HHH and fought Lawler and released a lousy 2 comic books and like Keyser Soze, he was gone out of my life again. But you can ask Russ or Eric or anybody that used to watch wrestling, especially Royal Rumbles with me. Every year, I’d predict, “this is the year the Warrior returns” only to be let down every year. But I loved the guy. I couldn’t help it. He ended up in WCW for a couple of weeks, made a bunch of money, appeared in a mirror, scared Hogan, had 2 shitty matches, and left. It was pretty bad.
He would go on and seem to have lots of negative things to say about a lot of people. He seemed like such a negative agitated dude online. Like a self righteous asshole. He seemed so bitter, like something was eating him up internally. Maybe I was misinterpreting what I was seeing. It was sad to see. My childhood hero was now just not the same. Maybe he was that not so great popular song from your youth that you loved but looking back, you know damn well that it wasn’t great, but you still cherish that song. I still wanted something great for him. Yeah, I laughed at the Self Destrustion DVD, but I also sat there and watched every promo as a child and hung on to every one of his words fully enamored.
He finally got his moment in the spotlight one last time. This time, he wasn’t the butt of a joke, he was getting the praise he deserved. He was getting the respect and admiration that he deserved. Whatever bad stuff existed between him and Vince I think ceased to exist. I think they exorcised their demons. On Saturday, Warrior seemed so proud to show off his family, he was so proud. On Sunday, he seemed touched to be accepted by his peers to be considered amongst the best of all time. And on Monday, the crowd finally gave him the reaction he deserved and he gave every last ounce of him in perhaps the best speech of his life. It was short, it was sweet, but it was about the spirit of the Warrior and what he has tried to stand for and it was amazing. A day later, the man would be dead.
In his final speech, he talked about loyalty and honoring and being immortalized. What I am about to say should come as no surprise to most of you. I think I have decided what my next tattoo will be. I have always considered having wrestling related tattoo and the Warrior mask was an idea. I think maybe this is the sign and or motivation I needed to honor the man that inspired me 25 years ago to keep watching this crazy spectacle that I still keep watching through the highs and the lows. This week has been trying. But I think there’s honestly only 2 wrestlers out there deserving of body art on my body, Warrior and Taker. And I have to imagine if I ever come up with a good idea for Taker, he won’t be too far behind. While writing this, a song came to mind, and I know it’s probably cheesy and whatnot, don’t feel obligated to check it out, but it makes me think the Warrior would have heard it on his flight out of New Orleans and had a smile on his face after all he accomplished this past weekend.
I don’t own the rights to the song or video or anything like that. Just thought it would be appropriate.
Anyway, rest in peace Warrior. I hope you found peace in the end and I hope you enjoyed your place in the sun. You were one of a kind.
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