James Hellwig, better known to wrestling fans as the Ultimate Warrior, was pronounced dead Tuesday evening. Hellwig collapsed outside a hotel in Arizona and was transported to a nearby hospital, but by then it was too late. He was 54 years old. The news comes as a particular surprise to the WWE because Hellwig had just appeared on Monday Night Raw on April 7 and had just been inducted into the World Wrestling Entertainment Hall of Fame on April 5 — three days before his death.
Hellwig had his name legally changed to the Ultimate Warrior in 1993. He was the only wrestler in WWE history to ever hold the WWF Championship and the Intercontinental Championship at the same time. He retired from wrestling in 1999 and returned for a single match in the Nu-Wrestling Evolution (NWE) Championship in Spain in 2008. He was once described by the WWE as "one of the most recognizable Superstars in WWE history".
Nothing could be more true. #RIPUltimateWarrior has been trending on Twitter all morning as shocked fans and wrestlers alike mourn the loss of a true icon. Fellow wrestler Triple H and Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon both took to Twitter to express their sadness after the news was broken on the WWE website.
During his final appearance on Monday Night Raw, Hellwig sent out an inspiring speech in character that will serve as the closing statement of his legacy: "In the back, I see many potential legends, some of them with warrior spirits. And... 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. I am Ultimate Warrior... and the spirit of Ultimate Warrior will run forever."
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