Warrior looked at the industry for what it really was â€“ a business. He knew he could become a professional wrestler to be successful and make a lot of money. For all the strange ramblings and goofy tirades that Warrior has become known for, he really was a smart guy in the business aspect of wrestling.
30. THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR
Aliases – Jim “Justice” Hellwig; Blade Runner Rock; Dingo Warrior
Hometown – Crawfordsville, IN
Debuted – 1985
Titles Held – WCWA Texas Heavyweight; WCWA World Tag Team (with Lance Von Erich); WWF World Heavyweight; WWF Intercontinental (2x)
We often talk about how a certain guy got into professional wrestling for the love of the business. They grew up watching it or emulating a certain athlete, and it was all they ever wanted to do with their life.
Ultimate Warrior was not one of those men. Warrior looked at the industry for what it really was â€“ a business. He knew he could become a professional wrestler to be successful and make a lot of money. For all the strange ramblings and goofy tirades that Warrior has become known for, he really was a smart guy in the business aspect of wrestling.
His body, his look and his mannerisms made him a huge star and made him a lot of money, just as he had expected. The fact that he couldnâ€™t put on a technical wrestling exhibition was irrelevant to him. He wasnâ€™t there to be the most technically proficient at his job, he was there to be the most successful.
His career started in 1985 as part of a group of bodybuilders turned wrestlers named Powerteam USA. The gimmick was failure, but the then-Jim Hellwig and another young man named Steve Borden made a go of it as team called The Blade Runners, Rock and Sting. The pair worked for Jerry Jarrett in Tennessee and Bill Watts in Texas before the team split. Rock became Warrior and Sting, well, remained Sting.
After being a brief stop in World Class, Jim Hellwig, now dubbed the Dingo Warrior, made his debut in the World Wrestling Federation. His unique face paint, charisma and overall look made him an instant hit. Within a year of arriving in the WWF he was chosen to be the one to end Honkytonk Manâ€™s record 15-month Intercontinental Championship reign.
From there he was on fire. He traded the Intercontinental Championship with Rick Rude. He made himself look like a star by beating the legendary Andre the Giant in a series of 30-second house show matches. At the dawn of the 1990s his star began to rival that of Hulk Hoganâ€™s, and the dream match between the two powerhouse heroes was set. At WrestleMania VI, Warrior etched himself into the record books by beating Hogan clean as a whistle in the main event of the pay per view, and became the first and only man to hold both the WWF Heavyweight and Intercontinental Championships.
Unfortunately his reign didnâ€™t set the world on fire and by early 1991 he dropped the Championship to Sgt. Slaughter at the height of the first Gulf War conflict. He went on to have a stellar match with Randy Savage at WrestleMania VII and spent the spring and summer trading victories with The Undertaker. And after a supposed contract dispute at SummerSlam â€™91, Warrior was out of the WWF.
Even away from the spotlight his mystique continued to grow, as people rumored that he had died in his absence. He made his return to the WWF at WrestleMania VII, with shorter hair and a smaller physique, fueling the supposed death rumors. This run wouldnâ€™t last long as he was out of the company before the end of 1992.
A third stint with WWF in 1996 didnâ€™t last long either. He squashed Triple H in spectacular fashion at WrestleMania XII and had brief runs against Goldust and Jerry Lawler before he flaked out and was gone from the company again.
His last real run was in WCW in 1998. Billed only as â€œWarriorâ€ he instantly rekindled his old feud with Hulk Hogan. This run lasted only 2-3 months and only featured three matches, including the WarGames main event in September, a dream partner tag with Warrior & Sting against Hogan & Bret Hart on Nitro, and his loss to Hogan at Halloween Havoc. He disappeared from the wrestling landscape shortly after this match.
This entry about Ultimate Warrior was to primarily focus on his wrestling accomplishments. We can leave out his legal troubles with WWF, his legal name change to â€œWarrior,â€ his constant no-shows, his insane website ramblings, his â€œdestructiveâ€ DVD release, his right-wing conservative political tirades (â€œqueering donâ€™t make the world rightâ€) and his overall enigmatic persona, and focus on what he did between the ropes. His look and mannerisms made him an instant hit with fans of the WWF. Despite his limited wrestling skills, his charisma and intangibles allowed him to be pushed to the moon. He got high-profile wins over virtually every big name in the WWF at the time. He holds one of very few clean wins over Hulk Hogan. He is the only guy to ever hold both the companyâ€™s main singles titles at the same time. He was made to look like a star at the expense of many other experienced professionals.
Forget what we know about Warrior now; think back to what we thought of him when we were kids watching him sprint down the aisle. Whether we like to admit or not, Ultimate Warrior was and is a big star in professional wrestling. To this day he still leaves a lasting impression on what we see today.
The entire Top 100 Wrestlers feature can be found here.
Tags: WCW, WWE