RIP, Ultimate Warrior

Iconic pro wrestler dead at 54



ames Brian Hellwig, better known as "The Ultimate Warrior" collapsed yesterday evening while walking towards his car with his wife in Scottsdale, Ariz. He was pronounced dead at an area hospital shortly thereafter. 

Warrior (he legally changed his name to the mononym in 1993) was a 2-time World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Champion. After pinning Hulk Hogan in WrestleMania VI's main event, he became the only wrestler in history to hold both the WWF's Intercontinental and Championship titles.

Upon hearing the news, his legendary rival tweeted the message “RIP WARRIOR. only love.”  

Warrior, who lived in Santa Fe, retired from pro wrestling in 1998. During his 20-plus year career, no one could stage an entrance quite like him.

Though their relationship can be described as rocky at best, the World Wrestling Entertainment’s website says “The Ultimate Warrior may be the most enigmatic man to ever hold the WWE Championship.”

Enigmatic indeed, Warrior was an avid writer, blogger and public speaker who didn't mince words when expressing his point of view on topics like politics, sexuality and beyond. "Queering doesn't make the world work," he once famously stated

In Santa Fe, he found a natural setting to nurture his artistic side.

“In 2001, after years of vacationing there, my family and I moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico,” he stated on

. “The historical Canyon Road area is lined up and down with galleries housed in small, old, historical adobe buildings; each exuding an incredible, palpable creative energy. It's one of the things I've always loved most about Santa Fe.”

"25 Years Beyond," oil/knife painting by Warrior.

He then shared how his love for art was cemented after taking a 3-hour class at Artisan. Warrior, a Georgia O'Keeffe fan, recalled instant enthusiasm by his instructor, who used his piece as an example for other students.

"The unexpected encouragement was something in itself," he wrote. "Here, a professional art instructor, charging $300 per attendee, an accomplished artist in her own right, getting excited about what I'd done. It was a landmark moment in my art career."

Samples of his artwork can be seen here.

Just three days before his passing, Warrior was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. The following day, he appeared in WrestleMania XXX and just one day before his death, Warrior made his first Raw appearance in 18 years.

"As I thought about what I was gonna say this evening, it's been hard for me to find the words," Warrior told the packed house, noticeably out of breath.

Out of character and dressed in a three-piece suit, he then pulled out a mask reminiscent of this iconic 1980's make-up, let his alter ego take center stage and drove the crowd wild.

What followed can best be described a self-eulogy.

"WWE talent becomes a legend on their own,” he ominously roared. “Every man’s heart one day beats its final beat, his lungs breathe their final breath, and if what that man did in his life makes the blood pulse through the body of others—makes them believe deeper in something larger than life, than his essence, his spirit will be immortalized by the storytellers, by the loyalty, by the memory of those who honor him and make…the man live forever.” 

He then thanked his fans, calling them “the legend-makers of Ultimate Warrior…the spirit of Ultimate Warrior will run forever!”

Warrior is survived by his wife Dana and two daughters.

Santa Fe Reporter

Letters to the Editor

Mail letters to PO Box 4910 Santa Fe, NM 87502 or email them to editor[at] Letters (no more than 200 words) should refer to specific articles in the Reporter. Letters will be edited for space and clarity.

We also welcome you to follow SFR on social media (on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) and comment there. You can also email specific staff members from our contact page.