JOE's tribute to The Ultimate Warrior: Five things that made him great
He's shaking the ropes of the big wrestling ring in the sky now, so we remember one of the greatest the squared circle has ever seen.
The JOE offices were saddened and shocked today by the news of the passing of James Brian Hellwig, known better to his legions of fans as The Ultimate Warrior.
For years when we were younger, his image appeared on our TV screens every week on Raw to pay-per-view events like In Your House and WrestleMania, while his iconic neon mask adorned our t-shirts and Hallowe'en costumes. We could never quite reach the awesome heights of his powerful rock-star hairstyle, but we gave it our best shot.
Casting our minds back, we tried to break down into a few short but simple points exactly what made The Ultimate Warrior so great, why he was one of our favourites and why he will be so fondly remembered. From his Gorilla Press Slam to the trademark tassels on his boots, there's plenty more to him than the few points below, but when we think of him, we remember these things...
They almost never made any sense, and you could tell that he was coming up with this stuff as he went along, but it was all part of the essence of his character and part of what gave him that slight edge. He seemed to be in contact with another world, and we genuinely still believe that if you had asked him what he said during one of the promos, he probably couldn't tell you.
Load the spaceship with the rocket fuel...
Shaking the ropes
Years later, Batista's entrance would be a homage to the great man himself, as he would also shake the ropes as he entered and left the ring, but you can't beat the original and best.
The tasseled arm bands
Many an elastic band from our lunchbox was rolled up our arms and on to our puny childhood biceps in a vain effort to look even a fraction as cool as the Ultimate Warrior, but we never quite achieved it.
A match that is regularly (and rightfully) remembered as a classic of its time and one of the absolute best, it was Hulkamania against the man from Parts Unknown, two forces of nature meeting in the squared circle. Hogan presenting the belt to Warrior afterwards was a nice touch, but it's hard not to feel even a few goosebumps looking back at this.
His last appearance on Raw
What looks now like an act of fate, Warrior was able to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame as well as make an appearance on Raw just days before his death. That makes his passing all the more surreal for the fans, but it's also a great reminder of the type of character that he was, and what a ring presence he had.
As much as wrestling is about the physical element and the moves you can perform in the ring, no one cares about the guy who can pull off the perfect suplex if he's got nothing on the mic. That wasn't the case for Warrior, and as recently as Monday night he was there to remind us why even today, there are few, possibly none, that can match his ability to handle a crowd.
There was plenty more we could write, so many memories have we of one of our favourite ever wrestlers. While the character was a big part of our lives growing up, it was an even bigger part of his, as he legally changed his name to Warrior a few years back, and deep down he still had that love for the business and the buzz that he got from appearing in front of a crowd that was chanting his name.
Rest in peace Warrior, you will be missed.
Main pic via BetweenTheRopes.com