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Thread: The Ultimate Warrior - James Brian Hellwig

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    The Ultimate Warrior - James Brian Hellwig

    Warrior (born James Brian Hellwig[2] on June 16, 1959) is a retired American professional wrestler. He is best known for his appearances in the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s as the Ultimate Warrior, during which time he won the WWF Championship and pinned Hulk Hogan in the main event of WrestleMania VI.[3] Hellwig legally changed his name to Warrior in 1993. He wrestled both as a heel and as a face.[4] Warrior retired from professional wrestling in 1999 and embarked on a public speaking career. On June 25, 2008 he returned to wrestle one final match, defeating Orlando Jordan in Barcelona, Spain in a match booked by the Italian Nu-Wrestling Evolution promotion.

    In professional wrestling, Warrior is a former world champion by winning the WWF championship, and the NWE World Heavyweight Championship once each.

    [edit] Early life
    Warrior was born as James Brian Hellwig. He was the eldest of five children and was raised by his mother (along with, later, his stepfather) after his father left his family when young James was 12. He spent a year at Indiana State University. It was also during this time he began to compete in amateur bodybuilding.[5].

    [edit] Bodybuilding career
    Prior to his career in professional wrestling Hellwig was an amateur bodybuilder,[6] competing in a number of NPC contests and winning the 1984 NPC Mr. Georgia crown.[7] Hellwig started training with weights when he was 11 years old and has described himself as "the small, insecure kid who wasn't into any sports".[6] He moved to California where, after seeing bodybuilder Robby Robinson, decided to take up the sport. His first contest took place in Florida where he placed 5th. Later, while he was attending Life University in Marietta, Georgia, he won the Junior Atlanta contest and placed 5th at the 1981 AAU Collegiate Mr. America. In 1983, he won the AAU Coastal USA, before taking the Mr. Georgia title the following year. His last bodybuilding contest was 1985's Junior USA's, which was won by future IFBB Pro, Ron Love. Hellwig finished 5th.

    In 1985, after spending six weeks in California training for a bodybuilding contest, he was invited to join a group of bodybuilders - Garland Donoho, Mark Miller, and Steve "Flash" Borden - who were attempting to make the transition into professional wrestlers. Warrior accepted the invitation and abandoned his bodybuilding career and his plans to become a chiropractor.[8]

    [edit] Professional wrestling career
    [edit] Early career (1985–1986)
    Main articles: Powerteam USA and Blade Runners
    Hellwig began his professional wrestling career as Jim "Justice" Hellwig of Powerteam USA, the group of bodybuilders trained by Red Bastien and Rick Bassman.

    Hellwig and Steve Borden, who would later go on to success as "Sting", formed a tag team known as the Blade Runners, with Hellwig changing his ring name to "Blade Runner Rock" and Borden changing his name to "Blade Runner Flash". Debuting in the Memphis, Tennessee-based Continental Wrestling Association (CWA) promotion, run by Jerry Jarrett, the team played baby faces at first, but fans were actually slow to take to the hulking duo in a territory that had featured sympathetic "good guy tag teams" like the Rock 'n' Roll Express and The Fabulous Ones. They were quickly turned heel as The Blade Runners. The Blade Runners went on to wrestle for the Mid-South Wrestling promotion, which became the Universal Wrestling Federation (UWF) in 1986. They were part of Eddie Gilbert's Hotstuff International group, before disbanding in 1986 when Hellwig left the UWF.[5]

    [edit] World Class Championship Wrestling (1986–1987)
    In 1986, Warrior debuted in the Dallas, Texas-based World Class Championship Wrestling (WCCW) promotion, where he wrestled for $50 a night. He adopted the ring name "Dingo Warrior" after a member of the WCCW locker room remarked that he looked like "a warrior".[8] Warrior formed a tag team with Lance Von Erich, and the duo began competing for the WCWA World Tag Team Championship. On November 17, 1986, Warrior and Von Erich defeated Master Gee (substituting for champion Buzz Sawyer) and Matt Borne to win the title. They held the Championship until December 1 of that year, when they lost to Al Madril and Brian Adias.[9]

    In 1987, Warrior began competing for the WCWA Texas Heavyweight Championship, losing to Bob Bradley in a tournament final on January 12. He won the title from Bradley on February 2 of that year. The title was held up in April 1987 after Warrior left the WCCW. He was reinstated as champion upon returning, but vacated it once more upon resigning from WCCW to join the World Wrestling Federation, where he adopted the ring name Ultimate Warrior.[10] There is dispute over who created the Ultimate Warrior name. Bruce Prichard stated that Vince McMahon did not know what a "Dingo" Warrior would be, but because there was the "Modern Day Warrior" Kerry von Erich and the Road Warriors there should not be one more simple warrior, but The Ultimate Warrior.[11] However, Warrior claims after one of his first matches, McMahon had him do a pretaped promo. It was there Vince said we want you to do Warrior, but we don't want Dingo. The Warrior then proceeded to cut the promo and stated that he was not this warrior or that warrior, he was The Ultimate Warrior.[12]

    In the late 1980s, while Warrior was still wrestling in Texas, he appeared in several TV ads for Westway Ford, a car dealership in Irving, Texas. Warrior interacted in full wrestling costume with Westway's wacky character, "Mean Joe Greed."[13][14]

    [edit] World Wrestling Federation (1987–1991)
    As a World Wrestling Federation (WWF) performer, the Ultimate Warrior was known for his high-energy ring entrances, which featured him racing into the arena at full speed, bursting into the ring, and violently shaking the ropes up and down. He was also known for his distinctive pattern of face paint. Warrior enjoyed two stints as Intercontinental Champion, defeating The Honky Tonk Man (in 31 seconds at the first ever SummerSlam in 1988) and Rick Rude at SummerSlam 1989. The Warrior was heralded as the wrestler to become the biggest star of the 1990s, and the successor to Hulk Hogan, who had remained wrestling's biggest star throughout the 1980s. Following a few confrontations with Hogan, most notably at the 1990 Royal Rumble, the Warrior was written in as Hogan's opponent for WrestleMania VI. Ultimate Warrior faced Hogan on April 1, 1990, at the SkyDome in Toronto, Ontario. The event was billed as "The Ultimate Challenge", as both Hogan's WWF World Championship and Warrior's Intercontinental Championship were on the line (either way, the Intercontinental Championship would be declared vacant). The match ended when Warrior performed the Warrior Splash, which pinned Hogan for the three count.

    After winning the WWF World Heavyweight Championship from Hogan, Warrior continued to build his popularity with successful defenses against the likes of Rick Rude and Ted DiBiase.[15] Then, in January 1991, Warrior faced Sgt. Slaughter at the Royal Rumble. Slaughter's gimmick at the time was a traitor who had betrayed America by aligning himself with a (kayfabe) Iraqi military general, General Adnan. In the context of the Gulf War, this made Slaughter one of the most hated heels at the time. An interference from Sensational Sherri culminated in Savage striking Warrior over the head with a metal sceptre, which allowed Slaughter the opportunity to pin Warrior for a 3 count. In a stunning upset, Warrior had lost the title he had won from Hogan less than a year earlier.[5][16][17] Hogan was given the title shot at WrestleMania VII, defeating Slaughter to regain the title he had lost to Warrior. Warrior, meanwhile, defeated Savage in a retirement match, forcing him to retire.

    The next chapter of Warrior's career was an encounter with The Undertaker, after Undertaker and his manager, Paul Bearer, locked Warrior in a coffin on the set of Bearer's Funeral Parlor. WWF officials worked feverishly to break the casket open, finally revealing Warrior's seemingly lifeless body, and the torn fabric inside of the coffin indicating Warrior's desperate struggle to get out. Warrior was finally revived by the officials performing CPR. This led to Jake "The Snake" Roberts offering to give Warrior "the knowledge of the dark side" in order to prepare Warrior to take his revenge on the Undertaker. This involved Roberts giving Warrior three "tests" shown on WWF TV in consecutive weeks. For the first test, Roberts locked Warrior inside of a coffin for a second time.

    For the second test, Warrior was "buried alive" by Roberts. For the third test, the Warrior entered a room full of snakes, to find "the answer" in a chest in the middle of the room. However, waiting inside the chest was a King Cobra, which (kayfabe) bit Warrior in the face. As Warrior weakened from the effects of the cobra's strike, Roberts was joined by the Undertaker and Paul Bearer, revealing the three were working together all along. Roberts then uttered, "Never trust a snake." The stage was now set for a match between the Ultimate Warrior and Roberts. However, the match would never take place. In August 1991, Warrior was involved in an alleged pay dispute with WWF owner Vince McMahon over the SummerSlam main event, teaming him with Hogan against Sgt. Slaughter, Colonel Mustafa, and General Adnan. WWF alleges that Warrior threatened to no show the event unless he was paid for his previous Wrestlemania appearance. According to McMahon, Warrior was paid that amount, then fired immediately after SummerSlam. McMahon released Warrior from WWF as an example to other wrestlers

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    Return to the WWF (1992)
    With Hulk Hogan about to leave WWF in mid 1992, McMahon contacted Warrior about returning. He made his comeback at WrestleMania VIII (to rescue Hulk Hogan from a beat down at the hands of Sid Justice and Papa Shango). When he made his return, he looked smaller and his hair was shorter, leading to a rumor that it was a different person performing the character.

    Upon his return, he received a degree of creative control over his bookings. One storyline involved Papa Shango, a "witch doctor," cast a spell over Warrior, causing him to convulse and vomit in very odd colors, though Warrior says he hated that story and had no control over it.[18] The Warrior was booked in a WWF Championship match against Randy Savage at SummerSlam in August 1992; the Warrior won by count-out, therefore he did not win the title.

    In November 1992, Warrior was scheduled to be the tag team partner of Savage to be known as the Ultimate Maniacs at Survivor Series. However, weeks before the event, Warrior and WWF found themselves at odds again, arguing over who had creative rights to the Ultimate Warrior name and over creative differences as to how the Warrior's character should be used. The WWF states that his reason for leaving was a "violation" found in his system during a random drug test. This occurred at the height of Warrior's ongoing marketing/financial differences with Vince McMahon. Titan Sports — and more specifically, the WWF — was under intense scrutiny of its drug policies including performance-enhancing drugs, the most prominent being steroids. Warrior has claimed to have had test results that show he was not using steroids during this period. Warrior has stated that he and fellow wrestler, "The British Bulldog" Davey Boy Smith, were used as scapegoats during McMahon's steroid litigation. After he left, Warrior was replaced by Mr. Perfect for the Survivor Series tag team match.

    [edit] Semi-retirement (1992–1996)
    Between November 1992 and July 1995, Warrior was semi-retired. During his time away from the WWF, Warrior opened the short-lived "Warrior University", a professional wrestling school based in Scottsdale, Arizona.

    In December 1992, he wrestled as the Dingo Warrior against Hercules Hernandez in Billerica, Massachusetts, for Killer Kowalski's International Wrestling Federation.

    In March 1995, World Championship Wrestling (WCW) introduced The Renegade as Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage's "ultimate weapon", using ring attire and mannerisms that closely resembled Warrior's and many people believe The Renegade either was the Warrior or that WCW pretended he was, neither of which is true. In July 1995, he returned to the ring for the National Wrestling Conference (NWC) promotion in Las Vegas, defeating The Honky Tonk Man. He had also wrestled a tour of Europe for Otto Wanz's Catch Wrestling Association (CWA) promotion.

    [edit] Return to the WWF (1996)
    After three and a half years spent mostly outside the wrestling limelight, Warrior returned to the WWF in March 1996, squashing a young Triple H at WrestleMania XII. Following WrestleMania, Warrior participated in feuds with Goldust and Jerry Lawler. The WWF terminated Warrior's contract when he took time off allegedly to grieve the death of his father. WWF owner Vince McMahon claimed that Warrior had not seen his father in ten years and did not care much for him; therefore, he did not take Warrior's excuse for missing bookings at face value. Warrior disputes McMahon's explanation, claiming that the real reason why he no showed those events was a breach of contract by McMahon, in which WWF sold Warrior's merchandise without giving him a percentage. His last match in the WWF was on the July 8 edition of WWF Monday Night Raw, where he defeated Owen Hart by disqualification. He was replaced by Sycho Sid in the In Your House pay-per-view later that month, teaming with Shawn Michaels and Ahmed Johnson against Owen Hart, Davey Boy Smith, and Vader.

    [edit] World Championship Wrestling (1998)
    WCW signed Warrior in 1998 and gave him a degree of creative control over his matches,[19] He created a storyline where he formed a stable opposing Hogan's (now going under his heelish "Hollywood" gimmick) New World Order: the "One Warrior Nation." The acronym oWn (One Warrior Nation) was a play on the name nWo. Highlights of the storyline included Warrior kidnapping and "converting" The Disciple and frequent instances of "magic smoke" knocking out all of the nWo members except for Hollywood Hogan (and covering Warrior's movement through a trapdoor in the ring).

    Warrior only participated in three matches in WCW. The first was the War Games main event (along with eight other wrestlers) at Fall Brawl, which Diamond Dallas Page won. On WCW Monday Nitro, he teamed with Sting to defeat Hogan and Bret Hart by disqualification, a match in which he had little participation; he was tagged in for a short exchange with Hart, then singlehandedly chased several nWo members down the entry way, whipping them with Hogan's belt. The third was his loss to Hogan at Halloween Havoc, in what is considered by Eric Bischoff to be one of the worst Main Event pay-per-view wrestling matches ever.[20] In the Halloween Havoc match, the timing of the maneuvers and hits was poor; an arm injury that Warrior received at WarGames further slowed the action. An attempt to "blind" Warrior with a fireball backfired when Hogan faced complications igniting a piece of flash paper, causing the fire to go up in Hogan's face instead. The match finally came to an end when Horace Hogan hit Warrior in the back with a chair while Eric Bischoff had referee Nick Patrick distracted. Hogan then scored the pinfall, ending the match.

    WCW claimed that attempts were made to save the storyline and re-sign Warrior, but he was said to have asked for too much money, and WCW ended negotiations. In a DVD shoot interview, Warrior claims that they simply decided not to call him any more, despite having phoned WCW general manager Eric Bischoff 16 times after the Havoc debacle. He has further indicated in interviews and convention appearances that the only reason he was brought back was so Hogan could get a win over Warrior in return for Hogan's WrestleMania job. Warrior's last appearance in WCW was the Nitro after Halloween Havoc, when he chased nWo Hollywood out of the ring. He announced his retirement the following year. According to the book The Death of WCW, Warrior supposedly insisted upon a new contract picking up where the previous one left off in exchange for the Halloween Havoc job, though this claim is largely unsupported.[18][21]

    [edit] Nu-Wrestling Evolution (2008)
    During an April 19, 2008 Nu-Wrestling Evolution (NWE) event in Madrid, Spain, Warrior was presented with an award celebrating his professional wrestling career in front of over 15,000 attendees. During the presentation, NWE World Heavyweight Champion Orlando Jordan mocked a fan of Warrior's, resulting in a heated argument between Warrior and Jordan. As a result of the exchange, a match between Warrior and Jordan was scheduled for June 25, 2008 in the Palau Municipal d'Esports de Badalona in Barcelona, marking Warrior's first match in nearly 10 years. After much hype, On June 25, he finally made his much anticipated return to pro wrestling when he faced Jordan for the NWE World Heavyweight Championship. Notably the Warrior did a top rope superplex and defeated Jordan with his clothesline/shoulder tackle finish and immediately vacated the title.

    [edit] Personal life
    Warrior married Shari Lynn Tyree on October 2, 1982. The couple met in Dallas, Texas at the famous Million Dollar Saloon strip club where Shari was working at the time.[22] They remained together for the majority of Warriors' WWF career before divorcing on March 22, 1991, two days before Wrestlemania 7. [23] Warrior married for the second time in 2000 to Dana. Together they have two daughters: Indiana Marin "Indy" Warrior (born 2000) and Mattigan Twain Warrior (born December 16, 2002). [24]

    [edit] Trademark and libel litigation
    In 1993, Hellwig legally changed his name to Warrior. This one-word name appears on all legal documents pertaining to Warrior, and his children carry the Warrior name as their legal surname.

    Warrior and the WWF engaged in a series of lawsuits and legal actions in 1996 and 1998,[25] where both parties sought a declaration that they owned the characters, Warrior and Ultimate Warrior, under both contract and copyright law. The court ruled that Warrior was legally entitled to use the gimmick, costuming, face paint designs, and mannerisms of the "Warrior" character.[3][26]

    On September 27, 2005, WWE (formerly the WWF) released a DVD documentary focusing on Warrior's retrospective wrestling career, entitled The Self-Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior. The DVD featured clips of his more notable feuds and matches along with commentary from WWE stars past and present (most of which are unflattering), with Triple H (by this point one of WWE's top main eventers and the husband of Vince McMahon's daughter Stephanie McMahon) adding that the squash match loss against Warrior at WrestleMania XII was his most embarrassing moment with the company.[27] The DVD has provoked some controversy due to Warrior's own allegations of libel by WWE against him. Originally, Warrior was asked to help with the production of the DVD, but as he refused to work with WWE (citing he did not want to be associated with their promotion), there has been some resulting animosity between Warrior and WWE over the Warrior claiming bias on the part of WWE.[28] In January 2006, Warrior filed another lawsuit against WWE in an Arizona court over the depiction of his wrestling career in The Self-Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior DVD.[29] On September 18, 2009, Warrior's lawsuit in Arizona was dismissed.

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    Motivational speaking
    Warrior formally retired from wrestling in 1999 and had a short-lived career as a conservative speaker and commentator, partnering with conservative spokesman Daniel Pinheiro, denouncing left-wing politics. In one instance, he mentioned that "queering doesn't make the world work" during a speech at the University of Connecticut.[31] Warrior backed down and tried to explain those comments on his website as meaning that the human race would die out if everyone were a homosexual.[3][32]

    [edit] Writing
    Beginning in May 1996, Warrior began writing with Jim Callahan and The Sharp Brothers illustrating a comic book entitled ‎WARRIOR, featuring himself as the main character. The comics sold well in the first two months of their distribution, before sales slowed and the comic was taken out of circulation in early 1997.

    Warrior maintains a blog on his personal website entitled "Warrior's Machete", where he discusses his personal life, his personal views on politics, sexuality, patriotism, and his legacy as a wrestler, amongst other topics. There have been numerous instances where Warrior has used his blog to address his viewpoint on members of his wrestling past (Vince McMahon, Hulk Hogan, Lex Luger);[33] historical figures (Martin Luther King, George Washington, Jesus)[34] and celebrities who were newsworthy at the time of the blog (Heath Ledger and Paris Hilton).[35][36] He has also used the blog to post replies to letters from fans - both positive and negative.[37]

    [edit] In wrestling
    Finishing moves
    Gorilla press drop followed by a running splash[1]
    Signature moves
    Leaping shoulder block[1]
    Multiple running clotheslines[1]
    Entrance themes
    "The Warrior" by Scandal (WCCW)
    "Unstable" by Jim Johnston (WWF) 1987-1991,1992,1996
    [edit] Championships and accomplishments
    Nu-Wrestling Evolution
    NWE World Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
    Pro Wrestling Illustrated
    PWI Comeback of the Year (1992)
    PWI Feud of the Year (1991) vs. The Undertaker
    PWI Match of the Year (1990) vs. Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania VI
    World Class Wrestling Association
    WCWA Texas Heavyweight Championship (1 time)[10]
    WCWA World Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Lance Von Erich[9]
    World Wrestling Federation
    WWF Championship (1 time)[17]
    WWF Intercontinental Championship (2 times)[16]
    World Wrestling Superstars
    WWS Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
    WWS Tag Team Championship (2 times)
    Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards
    Most Overrated (1989-1991)
    Readers' Least Favorite Wrestler (1989, 1990)
    Worst Feud of the Year (1989) vs. André the Giant
    Worst Feud of the Year (1992) vs. Papa Shango
    Worst Feud of the Year (1998) vs. Hulk Hogan
    Worst Worked Match of the Year (1989) vs. André the Giant on October 31
    Worst Worked Match of the Year (1998) vs. Hulk Hogan at Halloween Havoc
    Worst Wrestler (1988, 1998)

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