By Jarred Collins
Growing up in the 80’s, I was a huge fan of professional wrestling. At around the age of
5, I can remember cutting out a picture of Hulk Hogan, from the local newspaper, and hanging it on the back of my door. I was a Hogan fan like every other boy. Hogan represented an American hero who had traditional values, but before long I found myself cheering for a different hero.
The Ultimate Warrior was over the top in everything he did. His glaring guitar riffs that opened his entrance music would have you on your feet and running around the room. His entrance lasted all of about 10 seconds, as he sprinted at warp speed to the ring, jumped on the ring apron, and shook the ropes. Most of his jobber matches lasted less than his entrance did, as he would perform feats of strength with his reckless gorilla press slam, multiple shoulder blocks and big splash to finish off his opponent. His interviews would need the CIA to unscramble the meaning, as he raved and yelled like a lunatic. But for some reason when he was done, I always found myself being drawn in.
He had several great feuds. He feuded with the Heenan Family, which led to being billed at the top of the card with Andre the Giant on house shows opposite of Hogan. The the feud with Heenan led to him facing off with “Ravishing” Rick Rude over the Intercontinental Title. The two would go on to have several memorable matches throughout the year of 1989.
The Warrior’s matches are often criticized for the short length, botches or him being blown up after his sprint to the ring. But after going back and watching, most of the matches hold up better than the “Attitude”-era matches during the wrestling boom of the mid to late 90s . Some of Warrior’s most memorable battles being the 16-minute match with Rick Rude at SummerSlam 89, Wrestlemaina VI’s 22-minute clash with Hulk Hogan, and two 20-plus minute classics with Randy Savage at Wrestlemania VII and Summerslam ’92.
The Warrior was also an innovator. He was not the first to wear face paint to the ring, but his paint became his logo and marketing trait. It was on shirts, wristbands, posters, teddy bears and any other piece of merchandise they could sell. He was a marketing machine. To go along with the face paint, he was the first to change the color of his championship belts. That was a huge attention getter growing up. He would not just change it once, but four or five times.
The Ultimate Warrior is one of the few wrestlers I still mark out for every time I hear his music hit. His influence still being felt with current WWE stars. He may have never called his own matches in the ring, but he did go out and perform for the crowd every night.
His induction into the WWE Hall of Fame is well overdue.