The Ultimate Warrior was an action figure cartoon come to life.
He resonated so clearly with kids (like 7-year-old me) because he was loud, passionate, chaotic.
For a generation of people currently between the ages of approximately 28 and 38, the Warrior was the antithesis of order and structure that they/we were learning at home and at school.
The Warrior tragically passed away this week, at age 54, while walking to his car with his wife.
Just this past weekend, Warrior ended his years-long estrangement from World Wrestling Entertainment, the organization he was once the centerpiece of, as he was inducted into their Hall of Fame and waved to the crowd at Wrestlemania, the biggest show of the year.
The next night, he capped an emotional week by appearing on the company’s flagship program, Monday Night Raw, and spoke to his fans. It came off like a farewell address — full of thanks and closure.
Buried an old grudge, accepted his legacy, appeared on the ‘Showcase of the Immortals,’ spoke directly to his fans, then his body apparently gave up, as he collapsed and died 24 hours later.
Let me be clear, death so young is beyond tragic — for his wife and daughters, for his legion of fans.
This is how you end a movie when the producers want to frustrate the audience. The tortured soul finds redemption, bathes in a tidal wave of love, and then immediately passes. Yes, the protagonist “goes out” on top, but before he can truly enjoy what he richly deserved. The highest high is followed instantly by the lowest low and it’s jarring to absolutely everyone.
The Warrior character inspired me as a kid because of his individuality. His confidence. His sheer momentum.
Talking to people about the Warrior’s passing made one thing quite clear: For the generation that grew up watching him, he made us feel like little kids again.
Perhaps now is a good time to let the values of the Warrior be as motivating now as they were back then.
If only this were a movie script.