As many of you know the professional wrestling world is mourning the loss of the legendary Ultimate Warrior. Shock and sadness are on a level playing field as colleagues and fans wrap their minds around the fact that a man they watched on their TV just days ago is no longer with us. It is truly a day of sadness and even solace as we realize that time is precious and right before he left physically, Warrior was able to make peace with many, relive the days of his glory just one last time, and say goodbye.
I often tell people that my earliest memories in life revolve around pro wrestling. Of course being a product of the late 80’s I was a huge Hulk Hogan fan but if there was anyone else who opened my eyes to the awe and spectacle of professional wrestling it was the Ultimate Warrior. The brightly colored face paint coordinated with equally bright gear was something I had never seen before. The bulging muscles would fly in and out of your television screen as Warrior knew only one speed and that was fast. As a kid you looked for anything you could grab with two hands and violently shake just as the Warrior did with the ring ropes. Warrior was essentially what people loved about wrestling in the late 80’s and early 90’s. It was the ability to look at what he did on TV and say, “Damn, he’s like a real life super hero!” To a kid not knowing the inner genius workings of pro wrestling that’s exactly what he was, a super hero.
For the longest time my favorite main event in the history of WrestleMania was Warrior versus Hogan at WrestleMania VI. The match itself turned out to be one of the all time greatest in WrestleMania history. With action that kept you on the edge of your seat, these men were so evenly matched that no one could decisively say who would win until the match was over. For me before the match is what changed what I thought I knew about pro wrestling at the time. Here were two of my heroes, Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior ready to do battle at WrestleMania. Ultimate Warrior was a good guy and so was Hogan! They can’t fight each other! Hogan is the WWF Champion. Why would he have a match with the Intercontinental Champion? The winner becomes both the WWF and IC Champion? My brain couldn’t handle it. I was a Hulkamaniac through and through but I also was a huge Warrior fan and believed in his power and wanted nothing more than for him to be WWF Champion. My allegiance was torn and right then I knew how much wrestling impacted my life.
As an adult I can look back at that time in my life and realize just how simple things were. Your only worry as a kid is watching two super heroes battle it out for wrestling supremacy. I smile knowing that in my 28 years on this earth many things have changed especially in wrestling. I feel fortunate to have lived through the era of Hogan and Warrior to the Austin and Rock and now to the Cena and Daniel Bryan. It makes me sad to realize just how human everything is around me and part of being a human is that things around you slowly fade away. And you yourself will soon be no more.
If there’s one lesson we can take away from Warrior’s final days is that you have to remember how precious time is. It’s heartbreaking yet satisfying knowing that Warrior was able to make peace with those he wronged and those who wronged him. He was able to take his rightful place where he belongs in the Hall of Fame. Monday night he got the chance to shake the ropes one last time and millions of fathers around the world were able to tell stories of how Ultimate Warrior was their John Cena or Daniel Bryan. He was able to tell his wife and young daughters how much he meant to them. He was able to do all of that and leave us.
Wherever Parts Unknown is, wherever the rocket ship that you loaded up with fuel has landed, I just hope you can see how much you meant to all wrestling fans around the world. Thank you Warrior, I’ll always believe.