Wow. I’m just stunned.
As I sit here and reminisce, reflecting on my childhood and all the things that came full circle with Warrior this past week, I’m just floored and blown away by what has transpired.
I think back to what this man has meant to me over the course of my life. My childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. Everything from his radiant super-hero character to his teachings and inspirational speeches. I feel like I owe him a debt which I cannot repay.
My heart goes out to his family. His mother, his wife, and two children. I watched them during Warrior’s Hall of Fame speech last Saturday. The tears of joy his wife cried while telling him “I’m so proud of you.” The pride his mother showed on his behalf as he praised her for the hard work ethic and discipline she gave him, and his two daughters. Their expressions as he told them “The most awesome thing I will ever do is be your father.” I cannot imagine what it’s like to walk a mile in any one of their shoes right now, and the mere thought of it hurts.
Ultimate Warrior was a supercharged wrestling character straight out of a comic book. Intense, maniacal, over-the-top, intimidating, and reckless. He terrorized the WWF and captivated the hearts and minds of millions of fans the world over. The man who portrayed him, while every bit as intense, could not have been more gracious, kind, and respectful to the people who loved him. One of the most touching things I’ve ever seen takes place in the video below. A die-hard fan from Italy finally gets the chance to meet his hero. An event he’s waited for his entire life. So many times I’ve witnessed this kind of thing. A person finally gets an opportunity they’ve waited a lifetime for. They approach the person who means everything in the world to them, and all that person needs to do is take just a moment out of their own life to make someone’s dream come true — and they couldn’t give a shit less. So many times I’ve seen it, and it never fails to disgust me every single time it happens. It’s one moment, and the person on the pedestal has been given an incredible opportunity to change someone’s life forever.
One such moment occurs here when a grown man approaches his hero in tears. This is when I realized just how much Warrior appreciates his fans.
Sadly, I never got the chance.
So many memories of his wrestling career. So many moments the inner child in me will never forget. But, having said that, the adult who types this also appreciates what he has done for me recently. He has motivated and inspired me. At times when life has attempted to hold me down, I always found energy and strength in his personal videos. At random times he took time out of his day to upload raw videos to his YouTube channel; Injections of Inspiration. One of them struck a chord in me so much that I downloaded it and converted it into a ringtone. While working a job I absolutely loathed to support my family, I used it as my wake up alarm for over a year. So many nights as my head hit the pillow I dreaded the next day. Hearing this in the morning would motivate me to get up and get moving, so much in fact that I would let it continue to play the entire time I got ready to go. It became an important part of my life during that time. A necessity. Without it, I definitely would not have lasted there as long as I did.
This has been one of the strangest, saddest weeks since the loss of my father last year. I’ve been all but completely detached from professional wrestling for easily the last 10 years. Yet, The Undertaker breaking his undefeated streak at Wrestlemania this past Sunday is something I’ve been quietly mourning. It’s been a childhood attachment well into my adult life and the one lone thing I’ve consistently kept up with in wrestling over the years. Now, the reality of Ultimate Warrior’s sudden passing, just days after I watched him get inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, just doesn’t feel real at all. I read the news when it broke last night and I was speechless. Dumbfounded. I stopped what I was doing and just went to bed. Today, only sadness.
Thank you Warrior, for everything you’ve meant to me throughout my life. My sincerest condolences to your family. What was supposed to be a farewell speech that summed up a triumphant journey; the words he spoke on national television just 24 hours prior to his death have now become ominous, fateful, and downright eerie. Perhaps at some point all of us; your family, friends, and fans alike, will have a philosophical anecdote to ease the sadness we feel toward such a sudden, untimely loss. But, for now, this fan ends it with just this: Thank you to the man who taught me to Always Believe.