By: Michael Chin
The Ultimate Warrior used to run to the ring. Long hair waving behind him. Fist pumping. And I pumped my fist too. At the spectacle. At the intensity. At the explosion.
Ten, fifteen years later, when he’d fallen out of vogue and out of favor, Warrior’s contemporaries spoke out. That muscled as he was, he wasn’t in such great shape. But by the time he reached ring, he’d be completely out of breath, and need to collect himself before he could engage in a match. Pathetic.
When the word got back to Warrior, however, he explained that to do anything less than run would be to sell his fans short. That he didn’t then, nor ever would give less than maximum effort in the ring, on the microphone, or even on his way to the ring.
Warrior returned to the WWE fold after nineteen years away. No face paint. Short, gray hair. Wife and children in tow. He made his entrance, not to the ring, but to the Hall of Fame. Where he spoke of his battles and his journeys. Of love. Of forgiveness.
But though his speech ran long, that’s not to say he wasn’t in a hurry.
Because in a career defined by power, by impact, by speed—by never walking, but rather running
never stopping, top speed, Warrior ran from legend to legacy, from commemoration to memory.
Three days after the Hall of Fame ceremony, he collapsed in a parking lot. Dead at 54.
And perhaps that’s the only way he could go down. Not to the Hulkster’s leg drop or Macho Man’s flying elbow. Not to biceps too big, but to a heart that had swelled too large for his chest.