During his heyday, The Ultimate Warrior arguably was one of the most popular wrestlers in the world. Defeating The Honk Ton Man for his Intercontinental Championship, which he held until he beat Hulk Hogan for the WWF Championship at WrestleMania 6, Warrior was on top of the world. Then, after a series of exits and returns, he had a short disastrous run in WCW before all but disappearing from the wrestling world.
Years later, after tensions between him and the WWE finally began to thaw, he took his rightful place in the WWE Hall of Fame before passing away mere days later. Since he died, he has been canonized in the annals of WWE history as a champion of the downtrodden who is glorified yearly at the WWE Hall of Fame Ceremony. The only problem is that as entertaining as he was in the ring at times and we certainly don’t deny he motivated millions, the guy was a jerk. He seems to have had a lot of good traits but he also conducted himself in awful ways again and again. Don’t believe us? Then read ahead.
10. A Tale Of Two People
James Brian Hellwig, the man that would eventually grow to be known as The Ultimate Warrior, without a doubt is an awfully passionate man. Entering into the pro wrestling industry alongside Steve Borden, otherwise known as Sting, both men initially seemed to be more interested in being bodybuilders than in ring workers. Once Jim joined the WWF however, something seems to have changed.
Turned into one of the most popular figures in the industry via his exciting entrances, powerful offense, and definitive wins, The Ultimate Warrior soon became admired by millions. Perhaps buying into the hype, it seems that he began to truly believe in the character he’d created. Believing himself to be a leader of his fellow people, he began to use his new-found fame to motivate people to get fit and otherwise improve their lives.
Years later after he’d been fired by Vince McMahon, the two men were embroiled in a nasty lawsuit for the Ultimate Warrior intellectual property. During the legal wrangling, in a surprising move, Jim Hellwig legally changed his named to Warrior, which many people thought was an attempt to render the court case moot. The thing that nobody seemed to see coming though was that Warrior would live the rest of his life under that name. When his wife and children took the Warrior name as their surname any argument that the change had been a strategic one seems to have subsided.
It is pretty safe to say that there are few figures in the world whose reputations have been more complicated than Vince McMahon. Decried by some as a moral-less opportunist whose only concern is his own bottom line, Vince has been accused of some truly awful deeds. Alternately spoken of by nearly as many former employees as a man who cares deeply for the welfare of his workers, we’ll likely never have any idea who the true Vince is. The one thing that seems abundantly clear however is that Vinnie Mac will almost always put aside his anger or personal feelings towards a former talent for the betterment of his company. Bringing back Sable after she sued his company for millions of dollars is just one example that bolsters that claim but for some reason, in 2005 Vince and company felt a Warrior smear campaign was in order.
Producing and releasing The Self-Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior, the project’s DVD featured a documentary which reduced Warrior’s career into an unfortunate footnote. Comprised of footage of Warrior’s in-ring career alongside new interviews of his peers deriding his personality, wrestling ability and nearly every element of the man, the entire thing made Warrior look awful. At the time, the WWE had already begun to become the steward of wrestling history. Purchasing the tape libraries of many former competitors, the company had created a business out of old wrestling footage. Going to great effort to make a major figure in your company’s history look awful is a dubious and short-sighted decision that you can never take back. Your only choice then, if years later you bring him back into the fold and celebrate his legacy, is to totally ignore your former production and hope everyone else forgets. When will they learn? The internet never forgets.
8. Potential Walk Out
The distinction between fact and fiction in the wrestling world is always hard to decipher so the exact reasons for Warrior’s various tenures in the WWE being so short isn’t entirely clear. If the WWE’s version of events is to be believed, however, Warrior had a penchant for holding up his boss for extra cash and no showing events. Prior to the 1991 SummerSlam event, Warrior feeling like he hadn’t been getting paid enough decided to tell Vince McMahon that he wouldn’t wrestle if he wasn’t cut a check. As evidenced by private letters between the two, Warrior wanted Vince to give him $550,000 as a payout for the previous WrestleMania and be paid the same as Hulk Hogan at every event going forward.
Hogan, the biggest star in the wrestling world at the time, had proven for years that he was absolutely worth the money as he had a rabid fan base that always showed up to see him. Warrior, on the other hand, was a man on the rise. The second biggest star in the company he’d proven himself to be a capable champion but he never came close to being the crossover star that The Hulkster was. Warrior while demanding the pay increase warned McMahon that until he agreed to his terms in writing he’d be staying home. Essentially blackmailing your boss, who’d advertised your presence to legions of fans surprisingly wasn’t a great business move. Given the cash he’d demanded, Warrior wrestled at the event but was promptly suspended immediately after his match concluded.
7. Warrior University
Warrior was an interesting man. Coming off as pure id in all of his promos, his speeches were either incomprehensible messes that sounded vaguely cool or rambling, never-ending tirades that grasped endlessly at articulating a thought. You’d certainly never get the impression that he’d be a shark in the business world but to our surprise that seems to be the case. Prone to fighting in courtrooms to defend his character or coming up with endless ways for him to monetize the name he’d created, some of his business plans were pretty out there.
Case in point, the Warrior University, a website that hosted a wide range of motivational videos, fans only had to fork over $20 on a monthly basis to gain access. While we are utterly unclear on how videos espousing the so-called Warrior Way in any way was comparable to a university, the concept’s title is not the part we had an issue with. Although other men like Tony Robbins have charged people heavily for their motivational content, Warrior, a man with no real history in that industry thinking it is reasonable to gouge his fans so deeply was gross.
6. The Warrior Workout
If somebody is trying to come up with a list of the weirdest businesses Warrior created his Warrior Workout has to top it. Although competing against his comic book for instance where he once appeared to tie up Santa Claus and stole his clothing may be difficult to out weird but the workout took the cake. Sold as a workout system where fans could reasonably assume Warrior would teach them how he crafted his own impressive physique (setting aside medicinal assistance assuredly), it was nothing of the sort.
Lacking any actual intricate instruction of how to do specific exercises or even basic advice on how the body works, the set which we can only assume didn’t come cheap, was about your mental outlook. “It came with a 75-minute audio recording of Warrior yelling motivational slogans and a “10-page Foundational Essay … setting the record straight on where your ‘EXERCISE HEAD’ needs to be.” Our favorite aspect though has to be the only trace of actual instruction that was included we could find: “DO NOT DISREGARD MY INSTRUCTION THAT YOU MUST HAVE THREE HOURS OF UNOBSTRUCTED TIME BEFORE YOU OPEN THE START KIT TO REVIEW THE MATERIALS!!”. Definitely worth the investment.
5. Heath Ledger Remarks
This one came entirely out of left field. For some reason when Heath Ledger a talented young actor died at the young age of 28, Warrior felt the need to weigh in. Never mind the fact that he never knew the man, had never acted in any way, outside of his in-ring theatrics, and had no reasonable ground on which to speak on the matter.
Speaking on Brokeback Mountain a movie Ledger starred in, Warrior said this: “Booby Heenan, it’s just too difficult to keep a straight face talking about the pure two-faced bag of sh!t you are (and have always been), what, with you also actually wearing one as a piece of body jewelry. You are dying, diseased on the inside, and no more time is left to get back any of the integrity that matters the most on death’s bed. Imagine what it will be like, lying there taking in your last breaths, knowing you [sold] yourself out your whole life, and had to, in your final years, be faced with emptying your own personal sh!t bag affirming to you the true value of what you achieved in your life. Not even Vince could come up with a better finish than this. Karma is just a beautiful thing to behold”. Speaking of the death of Ledger, who’d left behind a three-year-old little girl, Warrior’s words were as follows: “By today’s standard, though, I do have to agree that he was a great father. Perhaps even greater than the father of the year, Hulk Hogan. After all, Leather Hedger did what it took to kill himself. His kid is without a father, yes, but the negative influence is now removed and his own child has the chance for a full recovery.”
Looking back on the obvious grief Warrior’s daughters expressed during their public appearances while thinking of their father, we find it all the more appalling that he would say such things. Any father speaking so callously about the destruction of a father-daughter relationship at such a young age is truly hard for us to comprehend.
4. Bobby Heenan Remarks
When the WWE put out the aforementioned The Self-Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior DVD, they must have known how a man like Warrior, who took his character so seriously, would react. Extremely angered by the release, Warrior had it out for the people behind the project for years which ensured he’d hold the WWE in contempt but they weren’t the only ones who felt his ire. Bobby Heenan, a hilarious man who many consider to be the best wrestling manager ever as well as one of the best color commentators, felt his wrath. Appearing multiple times in the documentary, Bobby ran down Warrior in no uncertain terms, making him look like a dangerous, inconsiderate oaf who only cared for himself. Warrior unsurprisingly didn’t take too kindly to his characterization and had some choice words about him.
Years later when Warrior was invited to appear on an episode of a web show that was hosted on the WWE’s website called Byte This, Warrior took the opportunity to vent his grievances. These are his words about Bobby Heenan: “Booby Heenan, it’s just too difficult to keep a straight face talking about the pure two-faced bag of shit you are (and have always been), what, with you also actually wearing one as a piece of body jewelry. You are dying, diseased on the inside, and no more time is left to get back any of the integrity that matters the most on death’s bed. Imagine what it will be like, lying there taking in your last breaths, knowing you [sold] yourself out your whole life, and had to, in your final years, be faced with emptying your own personal sh!t bag affirming to you the true value of what you achieved in your life. Not even Vince could come up with a better finish than this. Karma is just a beautiful thing to behold.”
Heenan, a man who has suffered from and fought against throat cancer for many years of his life, eventually losing a large portion of his face to the disease, is mostly a beloved figure. Warrior, a perfectly healthy man, at the time, clearly seemed to be taking glee in the anguish of a former co-worker, who’d he’d spent years on the road with. Truly classy.
3. Hurricane Katrina Remarks
When Hurricane Katrina and the resulting flood killed in between 1,245 to 1,836 people and caused 108 billion dollars of damage it was a true catastrophe. Destroying the homes of armies of innocents who had their entire lives uprooted for months or even years, the very culture of Louisiana and New Orleans was nearly obliterated. The nation and the world came together to rally American leaders to better aid those who were affected whilst attempting to gather funds to help the victims as best they could. Warrior, on the other hand, saw the event very differently as evidenced by his remarks.
“If we could be shown what general conditions they lived in before the hurricane, we would see that had little respect for what they did have.” “Their lives were already in ruin — self ruin. Ruined by the bad choices they made over and over.” Speaking of the people, he said, “And they are fat. Have you ever seen so many fat people? Poverty? Poverty of what? Having enough to buy so much food to eat that you become obese — this is poverty?” As for the city of New Orleans itself, Warrior said “They claim New Orleans was (is) a great city. Maybe once it was, I don’t know. Too, maybe it’s just always been corrupt as it has been for years and years. Truth is, today, it was nothing more than a… cesspool of decadence and depravity.”
Saying all of that while people are horribly suffering and mourning the deaths of their loved ones and neighbors from the comfort of your home is truly reprehensible.
2. MLK Remarks
We certainly shouldn’t need to explain why Martin Luther King, Jr. is one of the most important and respected figures in the last hundred years, let alone ever. A leader of men and breaker down of walls, he stood tall against immense odds and an overwhelming hatred for the rights of all people before his life was tragically snuffed out. The fact that every year, the third Monday of January, which always falls near the man’s birthday of January 15th, is observed as Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a great reason to reflect on the accomplishments of a great man.
At least to anyone who has respect for people regardless of their race it should be. Warrior before his death railed against MLK getting his own day while George Washington, one of the fathers of America and a slave owner, hasn’t been given a similar honor. Belittling King not only in the comparison but also through his words, Warrior greatly diminished his accomplishments.
“Martin marched a few times from Selma, AL to Montgomery, AL. It’s only about 40 miles and he walked along paved roads with security escorts and modern comforts and conveniences. He wrote a few jailhouse letters, plagiarized a great many speeches, and played up his last name “King” as if he was ONE. He led his best rally amid the monuments of Washington, DC. He preached proper, righteous behavior while he at the same time committed adultery many publicly verifiable times — oh, and he had “a dream.”” – Warrior
1. Homophobic Remarks
If running down a great man like Martin Luther King, Jr. wasn’t bad enough, Warrior also said some profoundly offensive things about homosexuals. His first anti-gay tirade took place at the Universtiy of Connecticut where Warrior’s worst remark was as follows: “The bum is as legitimate as the businessman…, that queers are as legitimate as heterosexuals…, that Kwanza is just as legitimate as Santa Claus and Christmas.” Additionally in defending that remark, he said he felt that way “because queering doesn’t make the world work.”
Amazingly he outdid himself in describing protesters who attempted to put an end to his awful remarks on homosexuality. “One of the premises that I put forward in my speech being that the fundamental difference between the ideological sides is “thinking vs feeling,” the most enlivening emotional outbursts erupted when homosexuals were offended by my use of the word “queer.” One guy without his husband and two physically-repulsive [lesbians] slurping on one another’s tongues (really) on the front row had a real hard time cozying up to my principled heterosexual obstinacy. So, in an act of pure selfish pleasure the guy got himself physically thrown out by the masculine security guard, unmistakably loving every single masochistic, man-handled moment of it. And the dykes, well, they ran out screaming and yelling like speared wild boars that I was a homophobe for making my remarks. Rumor has it that they decided to exit more because I was not getting stimulated by watching their poorly performed two-nightcrawlers-in-heat act.”
Like many of you, we grew up loving The Ultimate Warrior and got incredibly jazzed as he ran to the ring, shook the ropes and kicked some ass. We’re no longer kids though, and although we were saddened by the man’s death because we’d looked up to him once, our minds aren’t closed to his grotesque actions.
The Warrior Award, frankly, should not exist. First off, it is a perversion of the man’s actual concept of celebrating the WWE’s production crew that make the show possible, turning the award into a feel-good publicity stunt instead. Comparing people who’ve survived cancer and helped to empower others to this fear monger just feels disingenuous. On the other hand, we could certainly get behind the Connor “The Crusher” Michalek award.