In his last public appearance, not 24 hours before his death, James Hellwig made clear that there is a distinction between the Ultimate Warrior and the man beneath the facepaint. So it in no way detracts from the respect earned by one of the biggest and most unique characters in wrestling history to point out that Hellwig himself was basically a crazy jerk.
Fans got a taste of Hellwig's thought processes from his incomprehensible promos in his first WWF run. They appeared inspirational enough—until you stopped to actually listen to the words.
At 0:43: "How must I prepare, you must ask yourself, 'Should I jump off the tallest building in the world? Should I lay on the lawn and let it run over me with lawnmowers? Should I go to Africa and let it trample me with raging elephants?'"
At 1:13: "Exit stage left! Exit stage right! There is no place to run. All the fuses in the exit signs have been burned out!"
At 2:28: "Now you must deal with the creation of all the unpleasantries in the entire universe as I feel the injection from the gods above!"
In 1991, Hellwig went through a contract dispute with the WWF. Letters between Hellwig and Vince McMahon were revealed in a later lawsuit, and they show that even in private, he was a strange, strange man. A sampling:
"The veterans you spite are the very ones who will fuck it up for you. No matter I listened. I would go to ring push myself to the brink of a heart attack and you would say "When you go to the corner - SMILE?!?! you spoke of the Ultimate Warrior appealing to all, old, young, ugly, beautiful, fat, skinny, black, white.
"A character who would show ups and downs emotions and intensities, sensitivities and cold-heartedness when it was needed. Like a yo-yo I obliged so I could be The One. Where the hell are this man's ups and downs. - Total jugular-vein popping yelling at all times. Is this the Total Picture, character, or presentation that can be The One? I learned with you to show intensity at this level but also to show just as much intensity with the look of my eyes or with the whisper of my voice or even better - extreme intensity in total silence."
After bouncing in and out of WWF a few times, Hellwig in 1998 ended up in WCW, where he was given some creative control over his storylines. That resulted in things like "magic smoke" knocking out his opponents, and this bizarre segment, in which Warrior—Hellwig by now had legally changed his name to simply "Warrior"—appeared in a mirror, where only Hulk Hogan could see him.
But it was outside of the wrestling world where Warrior's crazy was truly allowed to shine through. In 1996, he co-wrote a five-issue Warrior comic book. It has been thoroughly mocked here, but there are two things you need to know. First, the series focuses on a concept called "Destrucity." Here's how the book defines it:
"Destrucity: tri-fold in its definition, therefore meaning... 1. The name of the Galax in WARRIOR wherein the "Terrain of Testament" lies. 2. The Living of one's life in the Way of a Warrior according to a Warrior's 8 Disciplines. Those are as follows: 1) Physical, 2) Beliefs, 3) Moment of Mastery, 4) Attitude, 5) Commitment, 6) Association, 7) Integrity, 8) Wisdom. 3. The creating of a truce between one's Destiny and one's Reality. Promising to stay true to what one is destined to be, yet accepting what is the now... one's reality."
Second, there was a Christmas issue, and it featured these two panels.
Though the storyline is vaguely about Warrior rescuing Santa Claus, note that Santa was neither chained up nor unconscious in the panels immediately preceding these, forcing us to conclude that Warrior did those things himself.
Following an official retirement from wrestling, Warrior rebranded himself as a motivational speaker and life coach. He embraced the rise of the internet, frequently and prolifically posting on his website. You'll want to bookmark this, because it may very be the only webpage you'll ever need: The world's social philosophies explained by the Warrior. A couple examples:
Kantianism: This is the exact opposite of Objectivism. It's epistemology is faith-eaten and mystic-appeasing. It's metaphysics is subjective, it's ethics are altruistic and it's politics are collectivistic. Kant created the exact opposite of what constitutes a philosophy based on reason. His "argument" consists of equivocations, elaborate straw-men (the entire Critique of Pure Reason for example), etc. He was quite an evil person.
Social Darwinism: This arena of thought held that society operated on the rule "survival of the fittest." This was used to explain economic differences between the rich and the poor. Some people use it more recently to attack capitalism, that a producer is necessarily exploitative. That person holds social darwinism implicitly (or explicitly) as a premise. While there is competition in society, it is not a life-death kind of competition that exists in the animal kingdom, so the analogy falls apart. Darwin never said 'survival of the fittest' also.
Later on, Warrior would try to get into the fitness market, releasing something called the "Warrior Workout." But there were no actual exercises in the kit—only motivation to exercise. It came with a 75-minute audio recording of Warrior yelling motivational slogans and a "10-page Foundational Essay ... setting the record straight on where your 'EXERCISE HEAD' needs to be." And you better use as goddamn directed:
DO NOT DISREGARD MY INSTRUCTION THAT YOU MUST HAVE THREE HOURS OF UNOBSTRUCTED TIME BEFORE YOU OPEN THE START Kit TO REVIEW THE MATERIALS!!
Warrior's most controversial comments came in the mid-2000s, when he made another career change, this time rebranding himself as a conservative commentator. At a Young Republicans-hosted event at UConn in 2005, he said (to gasps from the crowd) that "queering don't make the world work."
He would walk back these comments somewhat, saying his intention was to point out that humans would go extinct if everyone were gay, but the new, right-wing Warrior couldn't stop talking. There was his remarkable reaction to Hurricane Katrina, in which he declared that the destruction of New Orleans was no big loss:
If we could be shown what general conditions they lived in before the hurricane, we would see that had little respect for what they did have. We would see just how unorganized, unclean and dysfunctionally they lived. They never gave a care for order, cleanliness or function before, but now that they can get someone's attention who will possibly take over the responsibility of their life for them, they go on these tirades about how their life has been ruined. Their lives were already in ruin — self ruin. Ruined by the bad choices they made over and over.
And they are fat. Have you ever seen so many fat people? Poverty? Poverty of what? Having enough to buy so much food to eat that you become obese — this is poverty? Only one TV? This is poverty? A house with a roof over your head? This is Poverty? Indoor plumbing? Electric appliances? Refrigeration? Phones? Cell phones? Computers? Designer clothes made by rap stars? $200 Nikes? Free medicine and medical care if you really need it? Is having all this poverty? What the hell, then, do we call the scenes they shoot out of Africa that they use to lay guilt trips down on all of us?
He then came very close to declaring that the hurricane was a good thing:
They claim New Orleans was (is) a great city. Maybe once it was, I don't know. Too, maybe it's just always been corrupt as it has been for years and years. Truth is, today, it was nothing more than a pornographic cesspool of decadence and depravity. You know, an East Coast version of that Las Vegas take on vacation time — "what you do there stays there." You go there, drink and drink and drink and behave like a pervert, reprobate and degenerate, take a huge dose of antibiotics and a nice extra long shower before you hop on the plane back home, and, "Hey, who knows any better?" You go back to the church, PTA, and local council and "squarely" fit right back in. One thing is for sure, IF New Orleans ever was a great city, it certainly was not because it had leaders and citizenry like the leaders and citizenry it has today.
In 2007, he complained that George Washington doesn't have his own devoted national holiday, but Martin Luther King Jr. does:
Martin Luther King can have his own self-titled birthday recognized as a National Holiday, but not our country's First President? Should I go on? Should I have to? Do I want to? Will I? You bet your ass I will.
Let's see if I understand this correctly. Or should I say, let's see if I can get to anywhere near a "correct understanding" of this piece of nonsense by, first, understanding it sensically using political-incorrectness?
Martin marched a few times from Selma, AL to Montgomery, AL. It's only about 40 miles and he walked along paved roads with security escorts and modern comforts and conveniences. He wrote a few jailhouse letters, plagiarized a great many speeches, and played up his last name "King" as if he was ONE. He led his best rally amid the monuments of Washington, DC. He preached proper, righteous behavior while he at the same time committed adultery many publicly verifiable times — oh, and he had "a dream."
That same year, on a speaking engagement at DePaul University:
One of the premises that I put forward in my speech being that the fundamental difference between the ideological sides is "thinking vs feeling," the most enlivening emotional outbursts erupted when homosexuals were offended by my use of the word "queer." One guy without his husband and two physically-repulsive butch-dykes slurping on one another's tongues (really) on the front row had a real hard time cozying up to my principled heterosexual obstinacy. So, in an act of pure selfish pleasure the guy got himself physically thrown out by the masculine security guard, unmistakably loving every single masochistic, man-handled moment of it. And the dykes, well, they ran out screaming and yelling like speared wild boars that I was a homophobe for making my remarks. Rumor has it that they decided to exit more because I was not getting stimulated by watching their poorly performed two-nightcrawlers-in-heat act.
In 2008, Warrior weighed in on the death of Heath Ledger (whom he repeatedly called "Leather Hedger"), and declared that no one should mourn for a drug user who starred in a gay propaganda film.
In the interest of full disclosure, I must tell you I have watched Brokeback Mountain no less than 45 times and I own the Limited Edition DVD, signed by Willie Nelson a short time after he wrote that queer cowboy song as a tribute to the courage of the producers and actors who broke such incredible creative ground when they made their agenda-less movie. Serious. Until I saw Bendover Brokeback, Braveheart was my favorite movie. But the love scenes of Brokeback sucked me right in and I had no choice but to give myself over to the passion of its wide open range, if you get my drift. Such courage this young man and his colleagues have. Reminds me of the courage of classic movie stars, where during the War they enlisted and flew bomber planes and fought on frontlines, then came back and picked up their lives and careers right where they left off, without anti-American sentiment, whining and complaining, or self-destructive self indulgence. I'm equally inspired.
By today's standard, though, I do have to agree that he was a great father. Perhaps even greater then the father of the year, Hulk Hogan. After all, Leather Hedger did what it took to kill himself. His kid is without a father, yes, but the negative influence is now removed and his own child has the chance for a full recovery.
Warrior toned down his political opinions in his last few years, and even made something resembling nice with Vince McMahon in time to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame this past weekend. But to truly capture the essence of the Warrior, we have to go back to 2005, when WWE released a DVD titled The Self-Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior. It was not a flattering look at Warrior; which is to say, it was a pretty accurate one.
WWE invited Warrior to appear on its web show, Byte This. He responded in Warrior fashion, with a lengthy, angry screed bashing the company and certain employees like Jim Ross ("one of Vince's top ass-wipes"), Bobby Heenan ("two-faced bag of shit"), and Triple H ("you train like a twat and rely most on your 'sports supplements.'").
This is how Warrior says "no thanks":
I tried to tell you, Ultimate Warrior is bigger than our dislike for one another. You should have just let Him be what He was. Oh, He still will be — His fans won't have it any other way. You are, of course, finding this out for yourself right now. But you, look what you've done to yourself. Similar to an exhibitionist sick to show the world their tiny, shriveled private parts, you've done nothing but unclothe the canker sores of your wicked personality.
Of course, I do NOT accept this brainless, disgraceful invitation. FUCK NO, I do not. You can rescue yourself, Vince. Do your own damage control. I've no ear for your begging anymore. Only if you were on fire would I help you — it'd just be too hard to resist pissing on you.
Order the queer and the cripple who host the show to read what I have written here and here, and while they do that have them hold up mirrors looking at themselves so they can know exactly the kind of people in your organization I'm writing about. No apologies — I don't discriminate for the handicapped who sign on to behave degenerately.
It is worth noting that when referring to the Ultimate Warrior, the words "Him" and "He" are capitalized, while Warrior never capitalizes "me." He truly did consider his persona separate, something that came up during his speech on this past Monday's RAW. At the beginning of that speech, Warrior was lost for words. He then put on the mask, and told himself "let me do the talking."
That speech turned out to be an appropriate eulogy, but an even more telling one can be found in that 2005 letter to McMahon. To the end, the Warrior was bitter, cartoonish, delusional, grudging, and—in his own mind, at least—not in the least diminished.
Let them be proud for just a few moments that the energetic, intense and colorful Ultimate Warrior persona they loved when they were little kids didn't become a self-pitying, disappointing, broken-down has-been like all the other brittle-minded skeletons traipsing around your locker rooms or now buried in forgotten about graves.