I think I related to him unconsciously because the name Chad means “warrior.” That just about sums me up…
It feels like just yesterday I wrote something like this. I woke up yesterday morning and heard that The Ultimate Warrior had died. The remnants of the seven year old in me that’s left after Michael Jackson and Chris Kelly from Kriss Kross passing away gasped said said “Oh no!”
Of course I googled old matches, relived some of my favorite moments, and laughed as an adult at how ridiculous some of the things this man said actually are. He was my favorite, though. While I loved Hulk Hogan there was a rebellious spirit and even though he was a fan favorite was still the underdog at the peak of Hulkamania. He growled, snorted, and flexed as he talked about crazy shit. I didn’t know what any of it meant and I can’t even quote it to you. All I know is that I did it too. I tied shoelaces around my arms, wore a mask and t-shirt of his chest that I got as a gift, and put many-a pillows into a gorilla press slam during those days. Good times.
I remembered when my father bought tickets to SummerSlam ’91 at Madison Square Garden. We took the train into the city and I was too excited. My father still talks about that night to this day. I left with a Hulk Hogan bandanna and there’s a picture of me somewhere with it on and flexing on the F train back home. Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior were taking on Sgt. Slaughter, Col. Mustafa, and the other guy whose name I didn’t remember but I didn’t care. After that night he’d disappeared from Wrestling for what seemed like forever. I would watch WWF of Fox (Remember when it used to come on right after Gladiators?!?!) hoping he’d return. One night he did. Hulk Hogan was getting his ass kicked my Sid Justice-who in an interesting turn of evens is my friend Kofi’s workout partner-and he came out of nowhere. It was awesome.
As an adult who is jaded my life’s ills we tend to focus more on the hurt that has accrued since childhood. We think more about the things that people have done to wrong us as opposed to the good times. A day like yesterday made me smile thinking about how awesome my childhood was. I had my real-life hero take me to go and see my fantasy heroes. While my father does almost all that he can to help me out and I’m sure that can be frustrating he still thinks of and remembers those moments much more often. He sees me trying to do the same for my daughter. No matter how old I get, married, have other kids, be a grandfather or whatever–I’ll always be the kid who loved The Ultimate Warrior. I might see if the toys are under the house somewhere.
What I will part with were the last words that the public heard from the guy who legally changed his name to Warrior because they are very true and honestly the only real thing I’ve heard him say that made sense:
“No WWE talent becomes a legend on their own,” he said. “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.”
That’s some real shit right there…