WWE Hall of Famer Ultimate Warrior dead at 54

warriorWrestling legend Ultimate Warrior collapsed outside an Arizona hotel at 5:50 p.m. Pacific Tuesday, and later died at a nearby hospital. No cause of death has been released. Warrior, who changed his name legally from his birth name, James Hellwig, was 54.

Just three days earlier, Warrior had been inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, ending an 18-year break with WWE that was at times quite acrimonious. Warrior was also honored on the live WrestleMania 30 broadcast and spoke live to fans in New Orleans on Monday Night Raw.

“No WWE talent becomes a legend on their own,” Warrior said in the Monday Night Raw segment after donning a mask that mimicked the Ultimate Warrior’s in-ring makeup from the 1980s and 1990s. “Every man’s heart one day beats its final beat. His lungs breathe their final breath. And if what that man did in his life makes the blood pulse through the body of others, it makes them bleed deeper and something larger than life, then his essence, his spirit, will be immortalized.”

The news shocked and saddened the wrestling world.

“We are grateful that just days ago, Warrior had the opportunity to take his rightful place in the WWE Hall of Fame and was also able to appear at WrestleMania 30 and Monday Night Raw to address his legions of fans,” read a statement from WWE.

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Born on June 16, 1959, in Crawfordsville, Ind., Warrior was a successful amateur bodybuilder, winning the 1985 NPC Mr. Georgia title, before breaking into wrestling in 1985 as a member of The Freedom Fighters, a group that included another young bodybuilder, Steve Borden, now known to wrestling fans as Sting.

He broke off on his own as a singles wrestler in World Class Championship Wrestling in Texas, where he was discovered by WWE and signed in 1987. He rose quickly through the WWE ranks, defeating The Honky Tonk Man for the Intercontinental Championship in 1988, and later winning the WWE championship in an epic match at WrestleMania VI with hulk hogan in 1990.

He left the company in 1991 in a dispute over pay, and was back and forth with WWE until breaking for good in 1996. His in-ring work thereafter was limited to a brief run with WCW in 1998.

Warrior had just announced at the Hall of Fame induction ceremony Saturday night that he and WWE had signed a multi-year contract for Warrior to serve as a company ambassador. His wife, Dana, and his daughters, Indy and Mattie, who presented him on stage at the Hall of Fame ceremony, survive.

         
 

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