Jim Hellwig, who portrayed the Ultimate Warrior, has died. He was 54.
Hellwig had just been inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame a couple of days ago, and made an appearance Monday night on RAW, seen above. He spoke about death in his speech. An excerpt:
No WWE talent becomes a legend on their own. Every man's heart one day beats its final beat. His lungs breathe a final breath. And if what that man did in his life makes the blood pulse through the body of others, and makes them bleed deeper and something larger than life, then his essence, his spirit, will be immortalized. By the storytellers, by the loyalty, by the memory of those who honor him and make the running the man did live forever. You, you, you, you, you, you are the legend-makers of Ultimate Warrior. In the back, I see many potential legends. Some of them with warrior spirits. And you will do the same for them. You will decide if they lived with the passion and intensity. So much so that you will tell your stories and you will make them legends, as well. Ultimate. You are the Ultimate Warrior fans. And the spirit of Ultimate Warrior will run forever!
Deaths sometimes occur as part of storylines in wrestling, and there hasn't been a report outside of WWE, but they seem to be treating it with the solemn tone reserved for actual deaths. Hellwig had reportedly signed a new Legends contract with WWE two days ago.
Triple H first broke the news of Hellwig's death:
Saddened to announce the passing of the Ultimate Warrior. Icon and friend. My sympathy to his wife Dana and his daughters
— Triple H (@TripleH) April 9, 2014
WWE released a statement on their site:
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.
Update: TMZ reports that according to officials, Hellwig collapsed outside of a hotel in Arizona while walking with his wife Tuesday night. He was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead. In a 2013 interview, Hellwig said that he and his wife live in New Mexico but travel to Arizona frequently.
Recently, we republished the Masked Man's Dead Wrestler of the Week essay from 2010 on the rumored death of the Ultimate Warrior back in 1991. You can read it here.