Days after being inducted into the World Wrestling Entertainment’s (WWE) Hall of Fame, Jim Hellwig, who will be forever immortalized under his stage name the Ultimate Warrior, died late on Tuesday night after collapsing at a hotel in Arizona. He was 54 years old.
“WWE is shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the passing of one of the most iconic WWE superstars ever, the Ultimate Warrior,” read a press release posted on the promotion’s website late on Tuesday night.
No details on the cause of death have been released.
The Ultimate Warrior’s popularity in the wide world of wrestling lasted from the late 1980s up through the mid-1990s, peaking when he defeated archrival Hulk Hogan in 1990 at WrestleMania VI for the WWF championship.
The Warrior will be remembered most for his high-octane, dead-sprint entrances to the ring to one of the greatest walk-in tracks in the history of professional wrestling, and for delivering unbridled, surrealist prefight monologues reminiscent of equal parts Colonel Kurtz and Nietzsche in themes and imagery. His fights were often brief and lacked technical finesse, but the energy he brought to the ring was unmatched.
In the mid-1990s, the Warrior fell out with WWE and faded through multiple promotions before announcing semiretirement at the end of the decade. In 2005, the WWE released the DVD, The Self Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior, featuring interviews with multiple wrestlers and promoters; however, Hellwig’s first-person views on his fall from grace were notably absent.
Despite the bitter relations between Hellwig and the WWE, the Ultimate Warrior was inducted into the promotion’s Hall of Fame last weekend and appeared at WrestleMania XXX in New Orleans and on Monday Night Raw the following evening, where he delivered one last haunting monologue.
“Every man’s heart one day beats its final beat. His lungs breathe a final breath,” said Hellwig. “And if what that man did in his life makes the blood pulse through the body of others, and makes them bleed deeper and something larger than life, then his essence, his spirit, will be immortalized.”