November 1, 2003
Ultimate Warrior pulls a fast one
By TJ MADIGAN - Calgary Sun

When I heard the Ultimate Warrior was preparing to announce his return to wrestling, my reaction was a little mixed. The sports journalist side of me cringed at the idea of a retired grappler in his mid-40s -- who was absolutely hideous in the ring, even in his prime -- stepping back into the mix to turn exciting main events into plodding nostalgia acts.

Meanwhile, my inner 12-year- old was excited like crazy at the prospect of hearing that thumping rock riff blare over the PA system and seeing the Ultimate one running to the ring with his big '80s hair blowing in the wind, multicoloured neon tassels and all.

Of course, even as a 12-year- old, I knew the Warrior sucked when it came to wrestling fundamentals but for some reason, it didn't seem to matter. I didn't care how limited his arsenal of moves was, how his matches employed virtually no psychology or how many mid-carders got buried during his push.

The Ultimate Warrior was the coolest thing since, well, Hulk Hogan, and no amount of arguing would change my pre-teen mind.

These days, my standards are a little higher but the Warrior's potential return made me wonder what reaction grown-up wrestling fans would have to their childhood hero in the current WWE climate.

Fortunately for me (and my inner 12 year old) the wondering didn't last long.

Tuesday morning, the Warrior clarified his plans by announcing he would indeed be returning to wrestling ... as a pixelated character in Acclaim's upcoming Legends Of Wrestling video game.

It was a bit of a letdown, even to the most closeted Warrior fans but I guess it goes to show he did learn something from his wrestling tenure after all -- the art of the swerve.

He teased a return to the ring and garnered more positive press than he'd seen in years. Then he pulled the swerve by announcing he isn't really coming back but will instead be making appearances on a Playstation or GameCube near you.

Well, he didn't 'technically' lie.

Actually, I guess I shouldn't have been too surprised by the stunt. Warrior's behaviour since his plunge to obscurity has been completely off the wall at the best of times.

Let's start with his website -- ultimatewarrior.com. This is the forum he uses to share his 'Warrior Wisdom' -- random threads of motivational advice, written in what I can only describe as a barely comprehensible Lord of the Rings-style dialect. These rants are often so incoherent they make his old nonsensical '80s promos seem as logical as Rick Bell columns. Read them if you dare.

Ramblings aside, he has legally changed his name to Warrior (he was born Jim Hellwig), so now his wrestling name appears on his driver's licence, passport and all other legal documents.

On the employment front, he insists he'll never work for Vince McMahon again. These days, he earns his living preaching politics at conservative speaking engagements across the States. His mission is to educate youth and to irritate as many liberals as possible. Seriously, he said that.

Most controversially, he has been outspoken about the premature deaths of several wrestlers who have struggled with demons, insinuating they deserved to pass away. He wrote a scathing editorial on his website soon after the death of Davey Boy Smith, criticizing the former British Bulldog's lifestyle and suggesting he 'chose' to die.

Overall, some pretty heavy stuff, which is sad because that's not what the Warrior character was ever about.

While researching this piece, I looked up some vintage videos of the Warrior in his prime, fully expecting to criticize his lack of ability and draw up comparisons between his kooky character and his even kookier real-life persona.

However, as soon as the entrance music started, I found myself not really caring about the politics, the workrate or the long-term ramifications of the booking.

Maybe it was nostalgia (or maybe my inner 12 year old) but for whatever reason, I managed to suspend my disbelief for the first time in a long time and enjoy the show the way I used to when I was a kid.

Maybe that's why the Warrior had so much impact in such a relatively short career.

And why a lot of my generation will be lining up for Acclaim's Legends Of Wrestling when it hits stores in April.

RELATED LINK:

  • Our Ultimate Warrior story archive


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