The A&E Network series Biography is featuring a number of professional wrestlers on its show. This week, the featured wrestler was WWE Hall of Fame Inductee The Ultimate Warrior. He defeated Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania VI to become the World Wrestling Federation’s first male singles double champion. However, there is much that is not known about him. This week, viewers learned a lot more about Jim Hellwig, the man known as The Ultimate Warrior.
The Ultimate Warrior was not born overflowing with kinetic energy
Jim Hellwig was the oldest of five children born in Crawfordsville, Indiana. The population of the town was, at the time, around 18,000. Jim’s father left the family when he was 12 years old. Young Jim was considered a shy child, which is nothing like the character he portrayed years later.
Warrior was able to “work out” his issues as he got older
Hellwig was an undersized football player on his high school team. During his senior year, the future WWF star became fascinated with bodybuilding. Jim reshaped his body and thought that he had found his career path.
Moving to Georgia was rewarding for Hellwig
After high school and some college Hellwig moved to Georgia to pursue a career in bodybuilding. While there, Jim won a Mr. Georgia tournament. Hellwig also met his first wife while in Georgia.
After Georgia, Jim Hellwig was California bound
Hellwig moved to California because he felt that he wasn’t getting what he wanted out of Georgia. At that time, California was the mecca of bodybuilding. While in California, Warrior met Rick Bassman., who thought that Hellwig could succeed in professional wrestling. Hellwig also met Steve Borden, better known to wrestling fans today as Sting. The two became part of a group of bodybuilders that Bassman trained for the sport.
Rock and Sting were chosen by Jerry Jarrett
Bassman presented his four trainees to promoters across the country, and Jerry Jarrett decided to take a chance on the men, but Jarrett only wanted in Hellwig and Borden. The two men became known as The Freedom Fighters; Hellwig and Borden became Justice and Flash, respectively. Hellwig turned to wrestling because he wasn’t making enough money bodybuilding.
The Freedom Fighters didn’t work in the South…
The Freedom Fighters had trouble getting over with the fans as untrained, thickly muscled good guys. As a result, The Freedom Fighters moved to the UWF under Bill Watts and became the heel Blade Runners. The boys were renamed Rock and Sting, and their gimmick was a knockoff of The Road Warriors.
…But neither do Blade Runners
A few months after arriving in the UWF, the boys entered into a dispute with Bill Watts over money. As a result of the issue, Hellwig decided to leave the UWF while Sting stayed behind and continued to work for Watts. Hellwig ventured to Texas and began performing as The Dingo Warrior for World Class Championship Wrestling.
It’s a dingo, not a dog
A member of the WCCW creative team described Hellwig as being intense like a warrior. Because of this, “Warrior” became part of the new character’s name. The name “Dingo” came from someone walking by with what looked like a little dog. The person carrying the dog stated when asked, “It’s not a dog, it’s a dingo.” The creative team member liked the word and added it to the character’s name, and The Dingo Warrior was born.
Andre the Giant agreed to put over The Ultimate Warrior
According to legend, Andre the Giant did not do anything in the wrestling ring that he didn’t want to do. The purpose The Ultimate Warrior’s feud with Andre was to make the Warrior look like Hulk Hogan’s equal. Since Hogan had slammed Andre, the giant felt that the Warrior should also.
Being “The Man” became too much for The Ultimate Warrior…
After defeating Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania VI, Warrior was very emotional over the idea that he was now the top man in the WWF. The next day, Warrior wondered where his career was going next. Vince McMahon was not happy with Warrior’s title reign. Less than a year after winning the WWF Title, Warrior dropped the belt to Sgt. Slaughter, who lost it back to Hogan. At the same time that he lost the title, the Warrior’s marriage was falling apart and his wife was filing for divorce.
…And a little child shall destroy The Ultimate Warrior
While walking through an airport in sunglasses, and without his face paint, The Ultimate Warrior encountered a child who asked if Hellwig was actually the character in question. Hellwig blew the child off, upsetting him. Hellwig’s actions were reported to McMahon. Thus, The Ultimate Warrior was ordered to record a heartfelt apology video to the child. The Warrior struggled to complete the video because he was not sure what he was apologizing for. McMahon explained to the Warrior that the video was a work. From there, he was able to complete the video. Following this incident, Warrior wrote a letter to McMahon, demanding to be paid the same as Hogan. Warrior also refused to work the SummerSlam 1991 main event unless he was paid $500K.
The Ultimate Warrior almost faces wrestling justice
Prior to the SummerSlam 1991 match, McMahon tells Sgt. Slaughter that The Ultimate Warrior refused to work if he was not paid upfront. Slaughter, Hulk Hogan and The Iron Sheik hatched a plan where, during the match, Sheik would break the Warrior’s legs. McMahon talks the men out of their plan, not wishing to add a lawsuit to his other problems. During the match, McMahon hands Warrior a response letter. The letter from McMahon read that Warrior wasn’t the legend Hogan was. Rather, Warrior was only a legend in his mind. McMahon suspended the Warrior for 90 days. However, when Hogan took time off from wrestling, McMahon brought The Ultimate Warrior back to the company.
The Steroid Scandal cost The Ultimate Warrior his job…
In 1992, the WWF was in the midst of legal trouble related to steroids within professional wrestling. Vince released the Warrior after he failed a drug test.
…but The Ultimate Warrior again finds his way back to the company
In 1996, after moving to Arizona and opening a wrestling school, The Ultimate Warrior re-signed with the WWF in the hopes that the added visibility would help to increase sales of his new comic book. During his return, Warrior’s father passed away. He missed a few shows while grieving his father. McMahon believes that since the Warrior had not spoken to his father in over 10 years, the reason for missing shows was not valid. As a result, Warrior was, once again, fired from the company.
The Ultimate Warrior’s WCW run not very important
A&E’s Biography of The Ultimate Warrior was a reasonably comprehensive account of his life and wrestling career, but his run in World Championship Wrestling was not included in the piece. During this run, Hogan was able to even the scales with Warrior by gaining a pinfall victory in what was regarded as one of the worst matches ever staged. However, A&E chose to omit this period of Warrior’s career.
Warrior becomes a controversial figure
Several years after his run in WCW, the Warrior, who officially changed his name to “Warrior”, became a conservative blogger and public speaker. The views that Warrior spoke and wrote during this period caused former fans of his to view him in a negative light. Allegedly, WWE’s “Self Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior” DVD was WWE’s attempt to distance the company from the Warrior during this time.
Move to Santa Fe was the best thing that happened to Warrior
According to his second wife, Dana, moving to Santa Fe was good for Warrior. The move allowed him to be in an environment away from people who were jealous of him or trying to destroy his career.
The WWE Hall of Fame was The Ultimate Warrior’s final achievement
In 2014, the Warrior accepted WWE’s offer to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame after declining the invitation several times. The weekend of the induction allowed Warrior to reconcile with Hulk Hogan and Vince McMahon. His reconnection with WWE helped Warrior to achieve total peace in his life. Sadly, the Warrior passed away three days after the induction ceremony. Jim Hellwig was never able to enjoy the peace that he had finally attained.
The next episode of A&E’s Biography will chronicle the life and career of “The Hardcore Legend,” Mick Foley.
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