This past weekend was a momentous one for any who would call themselves professional wrestling fans.
WrestleMania XXX, a week-long extravaganza often considered the Super Bowl of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), occurred Sunday evening, opposite the premiere of Game of Thrones fourth season and a slew of NBA basketball games.
Among the highlights of the weekend, Saturday night featured the 2014 WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. The star of the night, 1980s superstar, the Ultimate Warrior.
Warrior, whose real name was James Brian Hellwig at birth, was introduced by Linda McMahon, wife of WWE CEO Vince McMahon. He gave a rousing, uninterrupted 40-minute induction speech Saturday night after having been absent from the company for over 18 years.
Three nights later, the news that no one would want to hear came across the internet screen: “Ultimate Warrior passes away.”
Warrior was only 54 years old. He is survived by his wife Dana and their two daughters.
Among NBA circles, the news hit Portland Trail Blazers star point guard Damian Lillard as well as Phoenix Suns Digital VP and huge WWE fan Jeramie McPeek.
Rip to the ultimate warrior… #TNT!!
— Damian Lillard (@Dame_Lillard) April 9, 2014
Just heard about #UltimateWarrior passing away. Horrible news.
— Jeramie McPeek (@Jeramie) April 9, 2014
One night after WrestleMania XXX, Warrior came out to speak to the exuberant New Orleans crowd in the Smoothie King Center—home to the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans. He addressed the fans in character, donning an Ultimate Warrior mask [image to the left] and gave another moving, yet eerily prophetic speech on the WWE’s flagship show, Monday Night RAW .
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, it makes them believe deeper—in something larger than life; than his essence, his spirit, will be immortalized.”
Concluding his speech with a rousing line that will echo in memory, he stated, “I am Ultimate Warrior, you are the Ultimate Warrior fans and the spirit of the Ultimate Warrior will run forever.”