It has now been 2 months since the passing of Jim Hellwig aka Warrior. I wanted to write something when this happened and the truth is that I got lazy and forgot about it. So perhaps that I am writing this now will give all of us some perspective on what happened. He came and is gone as fast as his ring entrance was or some of his matches(Honky Tonk Man Summer Slam). His rise to the top in the WWE was meteoric and his fall was even harder. Even his death is so surrounded by controversy and questions.
Warrior was as beloved as Hulk Hogan was, as Randy Savage was back in the late 80’s early 90’s. He was different. The three biggest WWE stars from that era were Hogan, Savage and Warrior. Hulk and Randy strutted to the ring. Not so much as moving slowly but just getting that crowd built up to their eventual entrance and victory in their matches. Warrior was shot out of a cannon to the ring drowning the crowd with his energy and vigor. No one had this kind of entrance. It was an uncontrollable frenzy all the way until he got in the ring and started shaking the ropes. You would have thought he was going to tear off the ring posts in the process. And he would bludgeon his opponents. He was Goldberg long before Goldberg was around. And he was as big a star as anyone. But what happened. I don’t have any back stage access or sources in the industry. Instead all I can do is rely on what I have read. A lot of wrestlers thought they were as good as Hogan. Hogan could sell out any arena anywhere and not many can make that claim. But there is only one Hogan and he was the only one who could have made Wrestling what it is today when Vince McMahon created the machine. So I am sure that burned Warrior who probably felt he was as big a draw in wrestling as there was and on par with Hogan.
Where I think Warrior went wrong is outside of the Wrestling world he is not on that level. The problems with Vince and who knows what really happened and how much money he was promised and suing for his name because he made the name what it is despite the opportunity and huge push Vince gave him. From all accounts Vince is a very shrewd business man. He wouldn’t be where he is today if he wasn’t. His feuds with Hogan when he retired which was all over the internet were very strange and very personal. Maybe because Hogan was always getting another chance to be a star. Is it because Warrior was un reliable and always causing a problem. He did have that reputation. But after all he had the same star appeal as Hogan did. He just wasn’t going to be number one on the list like Hogan was.
When WWE announced Warrior was getting put in the hall of fame I was shocked. I will admit I wasn’t into wrestling that much at the time. Not like the old days and not like now. Even so that he signed a legends contract which I am sure is coming in handy now that he is no longer with us. It has come out now that he always felt he would pass away young. All the males on his side had heart problems. So it was probably not a good idea for Warrior to do steroids. For what we know he hated Vince so when he buried the hatchet was this because he knew his time was running out and wanted some form of security for his family. Or maybe he was just tired of fighting.
When a wrestler leaves us before his time the WWE usually does it right. With the tributes and speeches. I don’t know what kind of money they give to the widows but Warrior was under contract at the time and his widow has sad the WWE did the right thing by her. I was looking forward to his induction speech and I was hoping I could understand what he was going to say. To my surprise it was very good. It seemed like he buried a lot of hatchets he had in his closet before he ultimately gave his own eulogy on Monday Night Raw the next night and day before he would leave us. What I will remember most is the WWE Superstars like John Cena, Daniel Bryan and Batista who probably never met him let alone had a conversation with him singing his praises. There was Batista the man the fans turned against saying he shakes the ropes tribute to the Warrior. Stories like this were lost because of the fighting he did with Vince. The number of Superstars who revered him and never got the chance to meet him is probably long. He should have been there all along and maybe he took that to his grave.
Linda McMahon inducted him into the hall of fame. A rather dubious choice. I thought maybe Hogan would have done that. What does it say about the man when no other fellow wrestler would induct him. I found that very strange. Everything about him was strange. I will always remember him as a rare performer who thrilled us every time he came to the ring and confused us once he stepped out of it.