After returning from a great week in New Orleans not only for our show Thursday night but for all the WrestleMania activities, it was great to arrive home but then the news broke of the shocking death of the Ultimate Warrior at the age of 54. Here are my thoughts.
I met Warrior in 1986 in the Mid South territory when he was known as Rock, the tag team partner of Sting of the Blade Runners. Bill Watts booked the rookie duo into his territory to become the Mid South's version of the Road Warriors.
Even though the pair had a short run in Memphis prior to arriving in Oklahoma, Watts booked them largely upon the recommendation of his old friend Red Bastien who, along with Rick Bassman, trained them in California.
At that time 'Rock's' real name was Jim Hellwig and he departed Mid South under not so positive circumstances. Watts was a disciplinarian and felt that a rookie should be seen and not heard. Warrior did not share in that philosophy.
Off to Dallas Warrior went and came in contact with several veterans in World Class who loved Warrior's look and intensity although the muscular rookie he was not a polished, in ring technician but he obviously had the potential to be a marketable "attraction."
Warrior had a vision then of what his character should be in order to maximize its potential. In an era where many old school wrestling people were not always positive regarding 'wrestling characters' that were 'out there' Warrior needed a visionary with whom he could share his creative vision.
That person was Vince McMahon who was more than happy to bring Warrior to WWE and to work with the larger than life, painted face super hero in further developing the TV persona that would influence countless young fans in the late 80's and early 90's.
Warrior was always somewhat of a loner and was always a unique thinker even as a rookie in Mid South. His promos always told a highly unique and memorable message even if one did not fully understand what Warrior was saying.
For some reason, the younger fans of that era did seem to relate to the super hero with his infectious energy and one of a kind delivery.
The most memorable moment for me this past weekend in New Orleans was the interaction at the WWE Hall of Fame between Warrior and his two daughters who accompanied their Dad on stage just before he gave his induction speech. The love and bond between a father and his daughters was obvious and heart warming.
In an arena full of Warrior fans, many of who were reliving their youth with their hero, Warrior made it clear that his greatest accomplishment was not being the Ultimate Warrior but instead being the father of his two daughters.
In a career and life often marked by controversy, the beauty of the weekend was seeing Warrior come home to WWE accompanied by his family and that they were able to enjoy the celebration together.
I live with this mantra daily, "Tomorrow's aren't guaranteed for any of us." Today, that philosophy is more meaningful than ever.