Professional wrestler WARRIOR, born James Brian Hellwig, passed away yesterday at the young but hardly surprising age of 54. Though he adopted various stage names throughout his illustrious career, such as Blade Runner Rock, Dingo Warrior, and James “Justice” Hellwig, he is best known for his brief-yet-profitable stint with the WWF, where he was known as THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR. A paragon of early 1990s sex appeal, WARRIOR was what every six-to-thirteen-year-old boy wanted to be: a spandex-clad, grease-painted muscle man, hair drenched in equal parts sweat and AquaNet, his little sister’s neon pink bicycle streamers strapped to his masculine triceps.
Long-term success, however, was not to be. THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR was unceremoniously “suspended” (pro-wrestling jargon for “fired”) after trying to extort absurd recompense from WWF owner Vince McMahon. Though asked to return in 1992, THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR soon found himself on the wrong end of a doping controversy, and became “semi-retired” (pro-wrestling jargon for “unemployed”). Between 1992 and 1996, Hellwig performed for various lesser wrestling organizations, such as WCW, IWF, NWC, and CWA. He also opened a doomed-to-failure wrestling school, modestly named “Warrior University”, penned a soon-canceled comic book based (loosely) on himself, and played the role of The Swordsman in the 1993’s unforgettable, action-packed opus Firepower.
In 1993, Hellwig officially adopted the appellation WARRIOR, having fought precisely zero wars. Three years later, WARRIOR returned to the WWF, but again found himself on the wrong side of Vince McMahon. After no-showing at several events, WARRIOR was “terminated” (pro-wrestling jargon for “ZOMG GTFO”).
But sometimes failure is just the sound of success knocking on your door. In 1998, b-list wrestling organization WCW — looking to boost viewership by hiring washed-up WWF nostalgia — contracted WARRIOR, offering him more “creative freedom” than the WWF would have allowed. Putting his keen and penetrating mind to the task, WARRIOR envisioned himself leading a stable of wrestlers in opposition to Hulk Hogan’s NWO, “New World Order”. Maybe this looked good on paper. I dunno. It certainly didn’t look good on television, and WARRIOR promptly left WCW, and pro wrestling as a whole, a year later.
Sometimes failure is just fucking failure.
With a wife and kids (all bewaring the dubious surname “WARRIOR”), a mortgage, and no source of income, it was time for WARRIOR to reinvent himself once again. After a careful examination of his character and skill set, he finally found a career path that virtually guaranteed success to a blustering, amped-up asshole of below-average ability and intelligence: conservative punditry.
WARRIOR took the road, speaking at various events under the watchful eye of his ideological handler, Daniel Pinheiro. During an infamous 2005 performance given at the University of Connecticut, WARRIOR spewed some of his most quotable gems, opining that “Queering don’t make the world work”, that the right to life is contingent upon some kind of responsibility he uniformly failed to define, and advising an Iranian student to “Get a towel” (as in towelhead… GET IT?). WARRIOR’s assorted conservative witticisms earned UConn an unwelcome controversy and the College Republicans, who sponsored his visit, a reluctant apology.
But sadly, the spectacular UConn performance failed to land WARRIOR his own radio program, or even a guest spot on Fox & Friends. Beaten, but not defeated WARRIOR returned to his Arizona compound, where he took up blogging and selling little pieces of shit he drew himself to anyone pathetic enough to pay for them.
On April 5th, 2014, WARRIOR was honored with an induction into the WWE Hall of Fame, alongside other wrestling notables Jake “The Snake” Roberts and that creepy urn-hoisting fat fucker who used to hang out with The Undertaker. Perhaps not wanting to ruin an established pattern of fucking up every opportunity passed his way, WARRIOR screwed his chances of capitalizing on his Hall of Fame induction by promptly dying three days later.
Amid the media frenzy that invariable follows the death of a somewhat-public figure, WARRIOR is likely to be remembered fondly by fans and former coworkers as the glistening hyper-masculine hulk who shook the ring like an earthquake whenever stepped into it. But few will publicly reminisce about the man he really was: a boorish, bigoted oaf with an undeservedly high opinion of himself. I, for one, will not mourn his passing. If a better world is one without blustering homophobic racists, it stands to reason the world is at least somewhat better today than it was yesterday.