Former WWE Star Ultimate Warrior Passes Away at Age 54

By: CNN
By: CNN

CNN - Just three days after being inducted into the company's Hall of Fame, iconic WWE superstar Ultimate Warrior died Tuesday of unknown causes.

He was 54.

While circumstances surrounding the situation are still under investigation, WWE wrestler and executive Triple H broke the news of his passing:

"Saddened to announce the passing of the Ultimate Warrior. Icon and friend. My sympathy to his wife Dana and his daughters."

TMZ added that, according to officials, "Warrior collapsed outside an Arizona hotel at 5:50 PM on April 8th while walking to his car with his wife. Warrior was transported to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead."

Warrior's death comes as a shock to many who saw him seemingly in full health on WWE programming the past few days. He was a 2014 inductee into the WWE Hall of Fame on Saturday, appeared at WrestleMania 30 and was on the latest edition of Monday Night Raw in character.

"We are grateful that just days ago, Warrior had the opportunity to take his rightful place in the WWE Hall of Fame and was also able to appear at WrestleMania 30 and Monday Night Raw to address his legions of fans," a WWE release read. "WWE sends its sincere condolences to Warrior’s family, friends and fans."

Born James Brian Hellwig, Warrior was among the most memorable and long-lasting characters in WWE history. With long, feathered hair, distinctive face paint designs that matched his trunks and an energetic, frenetic demeanor, Warrior was always destined to stand out. But it was the constant energy, unforgettable backstage shoots and classic rivalry with Hulk Hogan that helped keep him in the minds of wrestling fans to this day.

Warrior was the type of performer that, no matter what he did, gave everything—and then some. There are numerous compilations of old Warrior promos sprinkled across the Internet, his intensity never wavering and his decibels of emotion fluctuating from a barely audible whisper to an enraged shout. His ring entrances were also among the most lauded in the sport's history, with Warrior scampering to the ring full sprint before violently shaking the ropes on all four sides.

“The Ultimate Warrior is a legend…Ultimate Warrior fans are legendary,” Warrior said in his acceptance speech (via Brian Fritz of the Orlando Sentinel). "He was appreciative of his time in the ring, saying he was glad he got to 'experience the magic.' The Ultimate Warrior didn’t give me what I needed to make a match work, it gave me what I needed to make life worth.”

Of course, Warrior was far more than just a memorable character. He was also a wildly accomplished in-ring performer. He held the Intercontinental championship multiple times and then defeated Hogan at WrestleMania VI to capture his first WWE (then WWF) championship in 1990.

Like many characters of his ilk, though, Warrior's time in the spotlight was only outshined by the notability of his departure. He left and came back to WWE programming at different stages in the early 1990s, with bad blood festering for years beyond his last hurrah with the company in 1996.

Although Warrior would join WCW for a short period, his career as a wrestler was effectively over. He rebranded himself as a public speaker, earning a living by capitalizing on the intensity of his past Warrior promos—just without the makeup.

With years having passed since they had severed ties, the feud between WWE and Warrior soon began to thaw. His induction into the Hall of Fame was seen by many as a reintegration of Warrior—a classic character despite his short run—into the wrestling world. In many ways, Monday's promo indicated that he still had it, with the New Orleans crowd feeding off his every word.

Warrior is survived by his wife, Dana, and two daughters.


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