MANILA, Philippines – Professional wrestling superstar The Ultimate Warrior passed away Tuesday, just days after he was inducted to the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) Hall of Fame.
WWE superstars, including Filipino-Greek wrestler Dave “Batista” Bautista, immediately paid tribute to the late wrestling legend.
Batista said he was fortunate enough to meet The Ultimate Warrior before his passing.
Wrestling stars Randy Orton, Hulk Hogan, The Iron Shiek, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Jake "The Snake" Roberts and several others were all surprised to hear the bad news.
The Ultimate Warrior, or James Hellwig in real life, was one of the most popular and beloved WWE wrestling superstars in the late 1980s to early 1990s. His ring character was known for its signature face paint, colorful threads tied around its arms and penchant to make intense and wild ring entrances.
He has had spectacular battles with Ravishing Rick Rude, Andre' The Giant and The Undertaker but his career defining moment was his fight against Hogan in WrestleMania Vi where he became the first wrestler to win both the WWE (then known as the WWF) Intercontinental and World Championships.
The Ultimate Warrior left the WWE in the 1990s after a managerial dispute with the promotion's owner Vince MacMahon. He also earned a bad reputation outside the ring for allegedly being difficult to work with.
Early this month, he made peace with the WWE and was even inducted to the WWE Hall of Fame.
He appeared at WrestleMania XXX and even delivered a promo on WWE Raw on Monday. A day later, he collapsed while walking to his car with his wife in Arizona outside of their hotel. Hellwig was rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.
He was 54.
During his acceptance speech at the Hall of Fame ceremony, The Ultimate Warrior shared his passion for the wrestling industry.
“I was a good guy. I am a good guy,” he said. “there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about the business. The work was magic. It’s awesome to be bigger than life, to go out and be a character that people believe in.”