It is an ending that you would normally find in a Hollywood story – the vanquished hero returns for one last hurrah before his time on Earth is done.
[adinserter block=”1″]And while pro wrestling is an industry built around stories, this particular ending is real.
The Ultimate Warrior died this week at the still-too-young age of 54, just two days after headlining the WWE Hall of Fame class of 2014. In what could be seen as an eerie prelude to his death, the man formerly known as Jim Hellwig stood in a WWE ring one more time and thanked the WWE Universe for their support over the years, adding that they would always be a part of The Ultimate Warrior.
Then, less than 24 hours later and half a nation away from that ring, Warrior was gone.
Over the next days and weeks, there will be lots and lots of speculation about what really happened with Warrior. People will talk about his motives, WWE’s motives, the circumstances that led to his death. Did he know his time was short so he wanted to let the fans know how much he loved and appreciated them? Did he see his HOF induction as the last mountain he needed to scale before proclaiming his life fulfilled?
If he did, then he took those secrets with him to the grave.
If there is anything good to report from this sadness, it is the fact that Warrior was able to reconcile with WWE after years of estrangement.
He fought long, hard and often angrily with his former employer over the rights to his likeness and character. This battle had gone long past shots across each other’s bows…it was a full-scale war.
Nine years ago, WWE released a DVD detailing Warrior’s fall from WWE grace. In turn, Warrior took to social media every chance he got to blast the company.
But in recent years, we have seen a kinder, gentler WWE when it comes to dealing with its past legends. Last year, WWE finally struck a peace accord with Bruno Sammartino that led to his long-overdue Hall of Fame induction.
This year, it was not just Warrior with whom WWE mended fences. Hulk Hogan – ostracized for going to former rivals WCW and TNA, came back to host WrestleMania XXX. And former outcasts Jake “The Snake” Roberts and Scott “Razor Ramon” Hall were welcomed into the Hall with Warrior.
Thankfully, Warrior lived long enough to see his relationship with WWE come full circle. This story, though, shines a new light on the situation involving Randy “Macho Man” Savage, who did not live long enough to see his association with WWE restored.
[adinserter block=”2″]It also adds a whole new front to the ongoing battle between WWE and CM Punk. Both sides have to ask themselves if everything that has been said and done between them warrants taking these bad feelings to the end of their days. (Hint: It’s not.)
In the meantime, all we can do now is reflect on the greatness that was the character of The Ultimate Warrior and be thankful that he was able to go out on good terms with the company that made him a superstar. Because he made his peace with WWE, Warrior can now rest in peace.
Bill Atkinson is a contributor to Camel Clutch Blog and the owner of WrestleWatch, a family-friendly wrestling web site. Follow Bill on Twitter at @BAtkinson1963 and visit WrestleWatch at www.wrestlewatch.com.
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