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   October 22, 2014



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COMMENT





SLAM! Speaks: Remembering the Ultimate Warrior
By SLAM! Wrestling Staff


Warrior arrives at the autograph signing in 2008 in Uniondale, NY. Photo by Bruno Silveira, www.colorsuits.com



As wrestling reporters, the last 24+ hours has been rough for the SLAM! Wrestling staff; as wrestling fans, it's been even harder. The death of The Ultimate Warrior impacted us all, whether we grew up watching him as part of our Saturday morning ritual or otherwise connected with him during the 1990s and beyond.

Through everything Warrior did in his career and after his retirement from the ring in North America (he did wrestle in Spain a couple years following his departure from WCW), he kept himself in the consciousness of the wrestlesphere.

Today, SLAM! Wrestling's writers recall their experiences with The Ultimate Warrior.

Matthew Byer: My most vibrant memory of the Ultimate Warrior comes from SummerSlam 1988 when I was a kid. In those days there weren't that many options in order to watch a PPV and in my neighbourhood the only choice was to crowd into a local pub to watch the show. There was always great uncertainty that the feed they had was legal because frequently the sound and/or video would cut out.

In any event, in my neighbourhood there was a tendency for not everyone to get along, but for that PPV we were all on our best behaviour lest we be thrown out. As SummerSlam unfolded the excitement built, but all of the sudden the Honky Tonk Man sauntered to the ring and got on the microphone and arrogantly challenged anyone in the back to come and wrestle him for his Intercontinental Title. At first there was no challenger who appeared and you could hear the muttering throughout the pub, but than the familiar music of the Ultimate Warrior played and the whole place exploded both in the arena and our little pub in Ottawa. In a lot of ways I don't think any other wrestler ever embodied just pure excitement like the Ultimate Warrior did and that's how I'll always remember him.


Ricky Havlik: As a kid, I remember Wrestlemania 6 as such a huge deal. My parents rented me that VHS tape so many times. With a king-size blanket laid out on the floor and four pillows as ring posts, I re-enacted the WWF Championship match with a stuffed animal over and over. Despite always being a "Hogan guy," that stuffed animal always missed the leg drop and I would connect with the splash, followed by a pinfall and celebration with a homemade title belt.

Bertrand Hebert: My brother and I always watched wrestling together. The only wrestler we both loved at the same time was Ultimate Warrior and before that, we agreed on Dingo Warrior as well. He had charisma and he was a larger than life, he was different. To this day one of my favorite matches remains the Wrestlemania 6 main event between Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior. The ultimate challenge as it was built was a special match of good guy vs good guy that was completely different from everything before and from everything since. To my brother and me it was a special day as we watched together on giant screen at the Montreal Forum because Hulk Hogan finally lost to our hero. We were running everywhere like crazy people humming the Warrior theme in the Forum. Fast forward to last year and I finally met the man at Wrestle Con. He was the opposite of what I had heard about him in the past. He took time with everyone and he made sure everyone was happy before moving on to the next fan. At the time, we were in talk about bringing him to the first Ottawa Pop Expo this past December. He was excited about possibly making his first Canadian appearance in years. Unfortunately, we just could not reach a deal and we had to agree to try again one day. I will forever regret this miss opportunity. However, for now, I will remember the message from this weekend hall of fame induction speech and I will always believe!

Bob Kapur: Unlike many of my fellow SLAM! Wrestilng colleagues, I was never a big fan of the Ultimate Warrior during his heyday. Growing up, I was always a big fan of the bad guys, so always rooted against him. That said, it's hard to argue he wasn't one of the most memorable characters of the '80s and '90s boom period. I'm glad he was able to make peace with WWE this past weekend, and hopefully that brought him some inner peace before his passing. My sympathies go out to his family, and friends, and fans.

Jason Clevett: I was a huge Warrior fan as a kid. The one and only time I saw him wrestle live was October 1989 when he defended the Intercontinental Title against Andre The Giant. This was the only time I would get to see Andre live as well. The match lasted all of 30 seconds - 2 clotheslines, a shoulderblock and a big splash and Warrior was gone, his music never even stopped. A few weeks later I was the Warrior for Halloween, including wearing a foam world title belt we bought at the show. They didn't have an IC title yet, and a few months later Warrior would be World champion. I still have the belt. I've seen a lot of matches but that one still stands out because it was Warrior and Andre.

Nolan Howell: I was not around for the run of the Warrior. However, looking back at his body of work, regardless of the quality according to critics, Warrior had an unmatchable energy in whatever he did. That's what will define his legacy; his commitment to his character and the passion he brought in front of a camera, no matter the location.

Patrick Laprade: I was a huge Hogan fan growing up. But I remember that at Wrestlemania VI, I was cheering for Warrior. Between his entrance and the way he beat Honky for the IC belt, I became a fan! I was glad he could make peace with his past over the last weekend. Seeing him on Raw was a pleasant surprise, sadly, even more now. Thanks for the memories.

Jon Waldman: I was certainly a Warrior fan growing up, and a bigger fan of his than Hogan. I never understood, as a kid, why the Warrior left so often, but each time he'd return it seemed like a special event. The return that actually excited me the most came in the mid-90s after a longer hiatus. By this time I was in my teens, and yet when the famous guitar riff hit, there was a childlike excitement that came over me. The same happened when I managed to catch clips of his Hall of Fame induction and speech on Raw - he just had that unique power to remind us all of the child who believed in the power of the Ultimate Warrior. RIP.

Ranjan Chhibber, PhD: When I was in school, I do remember writing down his promos, as verse poetry, in my English class, when we were asked to read our favorite poets out loud in the class. My teacher liked the words I read, and when she asked me who wrote it, and I told her and the class, the class clapped, while she scowled and gave me an F (she hated wrestling). I wear the F today with pride.


SLAM! Wrestling writer does his best Ultimate Warrior impression at WWE Fan Axxess in New Orleans.
Matthew Asher: Unlike most wrestling fans, my first real experience with Warrior wasn't when he was donning the face-paint, running to the ring at full speed and shaking the ropes like a mad man. Back in 2005 my father called me up at college to ask what I new about someone named "The Ultimate Warrior". Me being a wrestling fan, I spouted everything I knew and then asked my dad why he wanted to know. As it turns out, Warrior just hired my father as his attorney to help him deal with a lawsuit against JAKKS Pacific.

Later that summer I was back home working as my father's assistant while the rest of his staff was on vacation. My father had previously told Warrior that I was a big wrestling fan so when I answered the phone, we spoke for a few minutes about the biz. I had a copy of the current WWE Smackdown! vs. Raw game and told Warrior that I had spent several hours creating him and wanted to know which color pattern was his favorite so I could use that in the game.

Rather than saying anything nice about how he appreciated the efforts, or even answering my question, Warrior went on a several minute tirade about how pissed off he was that you could create his character and he wasn't getting any royalties from the game. I was stunned because here was a guy who was a mythical hero, talking to one of his fans, and all he was thinking about was protecting his image or getting more money. We finished up our conversation and my father and Warrior went back to talking business.

A few weeks later, a package appeared addressed to me. Warrior had sent both me and my father autographed pictures of him during his WWF stint. On both of the pictures he also wrote a few sentences, but for the life of me, I couldn't read it because of the handwriting. I always wanted to talk to Warrior again to find out what the messages said. But now that's never going to happen. Even though my father and Warrior broke off their business relationship years ago, my father and I still have those autographed photos in our respective offices.

- Responses compiled by Jon Waldman

RELATED LINKS

  • Ultimate Warrior story archive
  • The Ultimate Warrior Photo Gallery