Jim Hellwig is and always will be the Ultimate Warrior

I would assume that when most people here the name Jim Hellwig they would not recognize it. In fact it is probably an unfortunate truth that most people in my generation wouldn’t even know him by his persona, the Ultimate Warrior.

In the 1980s, in what was then called the World Wrestling Federation, Warrior was one of the brand’s biggest and most charismatic stars. His promos are still some of the most entertaining things to watch in the history of professional wrestling. His feuds with “The Macho Man” Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan kept fans captivated for weeks and weeks on end.

For many long-time wrestling fans, Warrior is still one of the greatest of all time. As a wrestling fan after the time of the Warrior, I first learned of the superstar from a DVD released in 2005 by the WWE called “The Self-Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior.” The movie chronicled the literal rise and fall of Warrior including his issues with the WWE and its owner Vince McMahon that caused him to leave the organization.

At this year’s WrestleMania, Warrior made his triumphant return to the WWE in the form of a Hall of Fame induction. For many fans, it was the perfect end to Warrior’s career. Unfortunately, it was also the perfect end to Hellwig’s life.

The night after WrestleMania, Hellwig appeared on Monday Night Raw and spoke to the WWE nation for the final time. The following night, while walking out of a Scottsdale hotel room, Hellwig collapsed and was pronounced dead at the hospital. He was 54.

It is truly bitter irony that after years of being shunned from the WWE, the Warrior passed just days after publically burying the hatchet. Wrestling fans from my generation and those passed will always remember Hellwig. Rest in peace, Warrior.

Reach the columnist at wslane@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @bill_slane