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  August 29, 1998



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Ultimate quest

Facing Warrior challenge of a lifetime

By BRET HART -- For the Calgary Sun
  Perhaps the greatest 'whatever happened to' story in pro wrestling belongs to The Ultimate Warrior. Remember him? Dumb question. The guy charged in from parts unknown and beat Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania in 1990.
 Yep, I said beat Hogan. Wiped the floor with him. Threw him from pillar to post. Pinned Hogan clean in the middle 1-2-3.
 Fans shed tears in SkyDome and called it the night Hulkamania died.
 It was the end of an era.
 And it was the beginning of an era. Hogan vs. Warrior was good guy vs. good guy, which was unheard of in those days. Eight years later we're still trying to sort out the confusion about how the bad guys are cheered and the good guys are booed. In retrospect it's easy to see, even though they didn't realize it at the time, that Hogan/Warrior started all that.
 Of course Hogan turned bad. It was the only way to stay on top in the age of the anti-hero.
 And then Warrior just disappeared -- and not just from wrestling. It seemed like he'd dropped off the face of the planet. The rumors reached mythic proportions. Every time a new guy showed up on TV and had a similar physique, the fans all thought it was the return of Warrior with a different character.
 After dozens of false alarms they decided there was only one explanation for Warrior's mysterious absence. Warrior was dead. Typical in the world of fandom. There was no happy medium. No logical explaination. If Warrior wasn't in the ring then surely he must be dead.
 And so it was that the Ultimate Warrior joined the ranks of Jim Morrison and even Elvis. There were Warrior sightings by those who believed the whole thing was just a publicity stunt.
 It never occurred to them that Warrior was building furniture somewhere in the Arizona desert.
 The WWF capitalized on Warrior's cult-like following by bringing in a guy called Renegade, who kind of looked like Ultimate. They went to great lengths -- and I think even a legal battle -- to use the Warrior's gear and gimmick, racing down the aisle and shaking the ropes. Close but no cigar.
 Renegade was in WCW for a while too. He was too short in stature so he fell short in the impersonation.
 A few years later Warrior legally changed his name -- to Warrior. Now his credit cards and legal papers say Warrior, formerly known as Jim Hellwig. At least he left us with something pronounceable -- not just a painted mask symbol.
 There is a certain faction that has criticized me for taking wrestling too seriously. Shawn Michaels even said that my problem is that I think all this (wrestling) is real. Yes I do take being a hero to millions of people around the world seriously. I think the world would be a better place if those who are looked to as role models took it more seriously. But I didn't have my born name wiped out of existence to become 'Hitman.' There is something psychotic about that. Out of touch with reality. Dangerous.
 And now Warrior showed up in WCW. Did you see Hogan's face? There are a lot of guys Hogan hasn't beaten -- including me. But there is one guy I don't think Hogan can ever beat and that's Warrior. Warrior was the only one to take Hogan down when Hulkamania ruled. Hogan is a master at head games but Warrior knows how to psyche Hogan out -- and Hogan knows it.
 But things are different now. Hogan is a bad guy. And Warrior no longer mumbles incoherently at his arms. On Nitro he spoke of revolution instead of rebellion. A One Warrior Nation -- or OWN to wipe out the influence of the NWO.
 What is it that Warrior wants to OWN? The title? Well if that's the case, when he thought about rebellion and revolution he forgot to consider retribution. My retribution. Hogan never beat me but he managed to steal my title via Yokozuna. I think it's fair to say that Hogan left the WWF rather than face The Hitman at SummerSlam 93. The match was already signed. Yes, I respect Hogan for what he's accomplished and what he's given to wrestling and that's why I still back him despite the finish at Wrestlemania 9. If Warrior thinks he's the only guy whose got unfinished business with Hollywood Hulk Hogan he's sadly mistaken.
 Back in '90 I was a tag team guy with Jim Neidhart. When Warrior beat Hogan, I doubt he ever figured that the guy in pink from The Hart Foundation would be waiting for him as his most formidable opponent when he got back.
 While Warrior was walking with Elvis, The Hitman fought his way to two intercontinental belts, five world championships, and two United States titles. Warrior beat Hogan when Hogan was in his prime. What would beating Hogan again prove? If Warrior really wants to prove that he can beat the best then he has to wrestle the best there is -- and that's me. Warrior knows that but he's trying to overlook it so that everyone else will too. The question is, does the Warrior who took down Hulkamania with a clothesline as the mainstay in his repitoire have what it takes to conquer the Hitman's aresnal? Unless there was a secret training ground hidden in the Arizona desert then I seriously doubt it.
 Curiosity's gotten the best of me and I'll have to make Warrior the ultimate challenge. The power of the Warrior was strong enough to destroy Hulkamania, but let's see if it's smart enough to out-manoeuvre The Hitman?
 Stay tuned for details on the release of an independently produced documentary about a year in the life of The Hitman.
 Email my fan club HITMANclub@canada.com or HITMANclub@aol.com and ask to be put on my emailing list or write C/O The Sun. To borrow a phrase from The X-files, when it comes to this documentary, "the truth is out there."

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