A true WWE legend, the Ultimate Warrior may also have been one of the most entertaining wrestlers to ever enter the squared circle. Infused with an infectious enthusiasm and boiling over with energy, his demeanor transferred over into the ring with each and every match. Fans would burst into applause whenever Warrior would famously sprint down the warm-up tunnel straight to center stage, and they’d cheer even louder when he pinned his next victim. He was a man who lived his life with the gas pedal pushed all the way down, and wrestling was no exception.
Though he was occasionally embroiled in WWE controversy, The Ultimate Warrior was so dedicated to his persona that he legally changed his name to Warrior. It was a badge of honor his family still carries forward to this day. This was the sort of dedication he brought to the sport, and it’s one of the main reasons why he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
As a lynchpin in the earlier years of the WWE, many of the finer points of The Ultimate Warrior’s life may be unknown to younger generations. Allow us to help. What follows are the 10 stunning things you probably didn’t know about WWE’s Ultimate Warrior.
10. He Was Originally a Bodybuilder
The Ultimate Warrior had humble beginnings. Originally a small child who had little interest in sports, Warrior’s life was changed when he saw bodybuilder Robby Robinson. He was immediately inspired to start lifting weights at the age of eleven. Soon enough, he was on-stage participating in bodybuilding competitions, showing off bulging muscles and developing a stage presence.
Warrior competed in a variety of NPC (National Physique Committee) contests, but had mixed results. Eventually, the future wrestling star went on to win the 1984 NPC Mr. Georgia title. It was his first taste of victory, but it would not be his last. It were these humble bodybuilding origins that lead him to professional wrestling, as his friends Garland Donoho, Mark Miller, and Steve Borden invited him to form a pro wrestling team. Warrior agreed, taking a huge risk by abandoning both his bodybuilding career and his plans of becoming a chiropractor.
9. His Wrestling Career Was Slow To Take Off
Warrior began his career wrestling with The Freedom Fighters. He developed a persona named “Justice” and fought with his friend Steve Borden. Later, the two wrestled as a tag team in the CWA wrestling league based out of Tennessee. There they took the ring under the personas of “Blade Runner Rock” (Warrior) and “Blade Runner Flash” (Borden). The two were slow to take off with the fans and they bounced around a few wrestling leagues, winding up in the UWF.
In 1986, Warrior parted ways with Borden, and interestingly enough both went on to have rather successful solo wrestling careers. Borden later developed his persona Sting which earned him large acclaim.
8. His Matches With Hulk Hogan Are Some of the Most Influential In Wrestling History
Hulk Hogan is considered one of the biggest professional wrestling stars in the history of the sport. He’d maintained his success throughout the 1980s, and by 1990 his popularity was still surging. It was at this time that The Ultimate Warrior was billed as his opponent for the Royal Rumble in Toronto, Ontario.
It was one of the most high-profile wrestling events of its time, and is still fondly remembered by many professional wrestling fans. The stakes were incredibly high, as both wrestlers had championship belts on the line, and so the match became dubbed “The Ultimate Challenge”. Warrior would win the match, pinning a bewildered Hogan who later showed astounding sportsmanship by handing over his belt and hoisting the victorious Warrior’s arm in the air.
7. He Was in a Legitimate Feud With Vince McMahon
Vince McMahon, CEO of the WWE, is no stranger to the limelight. Oftentimes, he takes to the ring to perform staged promotional skits. Apparently, the man had a knack for making headlines behind the scenes as well. McMahon was once strong-armed by Warrior in a way he did not much appreciate.
Wrestlemania VII, as all these sort of events are billed as, was to be a stupendous show featuring several big names. The Ultimate Warrior requested a grand sum of $550,000 for his wrestling services during the event, which McMahon was basically forced to oblige because of Warrior’s star power. Later however, McMahon said he’d made a mistake and refused to name Warrior to the par-per-view SummerSlam roster. The refusal caused a rift between the two that even further contributes to our list…
6. The WWE Attempted to Defame Him
In 2005, the WWE released a DVD entitled The Self-Destruction of The Ultimate Warrior. The DVD features several big wrestling names, new and old, looking back on Warrior’s wrestling career. The clips are filled with negative feedback and belittlement of Warrior’s contributions to the WWE and to the sport of wrestling in general.
Many presume the DVD to be a result of the rift between McMahon and The Ultimate Warrior. Triple H, who just so happens to be married to McMahon’s daughter, goes on record as saying Warrior was the most unprofessional opponent he’d ever wrestled with. In 2006, Warrior responded with a lawsuit over his portrayal, but the case was dismissed three years later.
5. The Origins of His Name Are Disputed
There are two separate versions of the origin behind The Ultimate Warrior, and we’ll only give you one guess as to who gives the varying accounts. Ding, Ding! You guessed it: Warrior and Vince McMahon.
Warrior was originally known as “Dingo Warrior” for some time, yet the switch to Ultimate Warrior is where accounts differ. In The Self-Destruction of The Ultimate Warrior, it’s said that McMahon did not know what a “Dingo” warrior was, and there were already a few wrestlers with the word warrior in their name, so rather than simply create another minor “Warrior” name they should instead create The Ultimate Warrior.
Warrior himself recollects this a tad bit differently. By his account, McMahon instructed him to film a promo following one of his initial matches. Warrior claims it was there McMahon let it be known his distaste for “Dingo”, but that they still wanted him to be “Warrior”. Warrior then replied he didn’t want to be “this warrior” or “that warrior,” but The Ultimate Warrior.
Whichever the case, the discrepancy does surely add fuel to the fire between the two men.
4. Various Feuds of His Were Cut Short
Feuds are seemingly the driving force behind some of the excitement of professional wrestling. Though obviously scripted, they are fun and certainly build up the tension when the two wrestlers finally take to the ring. One of the more entertaining of Warrior’s feuds was with the Undertaker, which seemed to really take off after the Undertaker locked him in a coffin. When WWF workers opened the coffin they found scratch marks along the walls. The Warrior was unresponsive.
Upon being resuscitated, the Warrior sought out revenge. Another wrestler named Jake “The Snake” Roberts offered help in his quest, providing him with three tests which were aired in consecutive weeks. In the end, Roberts betrayed Warrior, and a feud with the Snake was all but inevitable, however; the feud never happened due to another snag in the relationship with McMahon which led to his suspension.
3. He Created His Own Comic Book
With the flowing locks, bulging muscles, face paint and dangling tassels, every time The Ultimate Warrior stepped into the ring it was like watching a superhero. Apparently, it was precisely the look Warrior was striving towards. In 1996, Warrior wrote and published his own self-titled comic book. Surprise, surprise: he’s the main character.
The first issue was filled with innumerable foes, strange lands, explosions, and of course signals in the sky in the shape of his iconic face paint. Our hero emerges from it all with a new version of his wrestling suit, and is set to unlock the powers of the true Ultimate Warrior. For any fans of The Ultimate Warrior, these comics are surefire entertainment.
2. He Died One Day after Predicting an Early Death
The Ultimate Warrior had a few days of whirlwind activity just before he passed away. On April 5th, 2014, the legendary wrestler was admitted to the WWE Hall of Fame. There he gave a heartfelt speech, crediting his family as his greatest accomplishment. He appeared on WrestleMania XXX the following day.
On April 7, he made his first appearance on RAW in nearly eighteen years. Once again, he addressed the crowd in a heartfelt manner, discussing notions of lasting legacy and thanking his fans that have supported him throughout the years. The following day The Ultimate Warrior collapsed on his way to the car.
Many who saw him the day before described him as out of breath and sweating. Given the topic of his speech at RAW, many wonder if Warrior had some inclination something was wrong.
1. The WWE Respects His Legacy
However stressed relations were in the past, the WWE has proven all that is truly in the past. Following his tragic passing, the WWE honored him with proper respect, organizing moments of silence in future events and playing videos of his greatest moments. The organization was also extremely respectful to the family the legendary wrestler left behind, going so far as sending officials to their home in Arizona to assist in day-to-day things so they could concentrate on healing.
Though the league had taken measures to strike down the character of The Ultimate Warrior in the past, namely with the DVD The Self-Destruction of The Ultimate Warrior, it’s clear they respect the influence he had on the sport.