Professional wrestler The Ultimate Warrior died Tuesday night at the age of 54, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) announced.
James Brian Hellwig, who officially changed his name to The Ultimate Warrior in 1993, “collapsed outside an Arizona hotel at 5:50 PM on April 8th … while walking to his car with his wife”, TMZ reported.
“Warrior was transported to a nearby hospital … where he was pronounced dead,” the website added.
James Brian Hellwig’s death comes only three days after The Ultimate Warrior was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, and just one day after Hellwig made an appearance on WWE’s Raw, his first appearance on the show since 1996.
According to WWE, The Ultimate Warrior was “one of the most iconic WWE Superstars ever,” joined the organization in 1987 and three years later was world champion, defeating Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania VI at SkyDome in Toronto. The match, billed as the Ultimate Challenge, lived up to the billing in the eyes of most, a common staple in lists of greatest wrestling matches of all time.
The WWE’s initial statement on James Brian Hellwig’s death said: “WWE is shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the passing of one of the most iconic WWE Superstars ever, The Ultimate Warrior. Warrior began his WWE career in 1987 and quickly went on to become one of the biggest stars in WWE history. Warrior became WWE Champion at WrestleMania VI, defeating Hulk Hogan in an epic encounter. We are grateful that just days ago, Warrior had the opportunity to take his rightful place in the WWE Hall of Fame and was also able to appear at WrestleMania 30 and Monday Night Raw to address his legions of fans. WWE sends its sincere condolences to Warrior’s family, friends and fans. Warrior was 54 and is survived by his wife Dana and his two daughters.”
James Brian Hellwig and WWE had a contentious relationship after he left the company in 1996, battling one another in lawuits over ownership of The Ultimate Warrior copyright.
WWE released a controversial DVD in 2005 titled The Self-Destruction of The Ultimate Warrior, which featured many wrestlers giving disparaging remarks about Warrior. That DVD led to yet another lawsuit.
As his wrestling career was over, the man who began his career as a bodybuilder had a brief turn as a motivational speaker.
Along with his enshrinement into the Hall of Fame and return to the ring in Raw, The Ultimate Warrior character is to be included in the WWE 2K14 video game, another sign of his reconciliation with WWE.
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