Ultimate Warrior: How Did He Die? Cause of Death Unclear but Heart Attack Suspected
The Ultimate Warrior was seen clutching his chest before he collapsed to the ground on Tuesday afternoon, law enforcement sources told TMZ.
The sources spoke with witnesses, who saw Warrior–born James Hellwig–before his death. Warrior was walking down a hallway at the Gainey Suites Hotel in Scottsdale, Arizona, when he collapsed.
Warrior suffered a “catastrophic medical event” and it’s believed that no drugs or alcohol factored into his death, TMZ reported. He was pronounced dead at a hospital.
Warrior was 54 when he died, and his death was confirmed by the WWE.
Scottsdale police spokesman Sgt. Mark Clark said that no foul play was involved in his death, ESPN reported.
The Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office will carry out an autopsy Thursday.
“WWE is shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the passing of one of the most iconic WWE superstars ever, The Ultimate Warrior,” the company said in a statement. “We are grateful that just days ago, Warrior had the opportunity to take his rightful place in the WWE Hall of Fame and was also able to appear at WrestleMania 30 and Monday Night Raw to address his legions of fans. WWE sends its sincere condolences to Warrior’s family, friends and fans.”
WWE head Vince McMahon tweeted: “We are all so sad the Ultimate Warrior has passed away. Our heart is with his wife Dana and his two daughters.”
Dwayne Johnson, known as The Rock and one of the WWE’s biggest stars, also offered his condolences on Twitter.
“Loss always has a way of reminding us to live and love as greatly as we can. My prayers and strength to his family. RIP Ultimate Warrior,” Johnson tweeted.
Hulk Hogan, a rival in Warrior’s WWE days, also tweeted about his death.
“RIP WARRIOR. only love. HH,” Hogan wrote.
AP Update for his death:
Warrior was one of pro wrestling’s biggest stars in the late 1980s. He beat Hulk Hogan in a memorable match at Wrestlemania in 1990.
He was in the spotlight again earlier this week, making appearances at the latest WrestleMania in New Orleans and on “Monday Night Raw,” and being inducted into the WWE Hall of fame.
The Ultimate Warrior personified the larger-than-life cartoon characters who helped skyrocket the WWE into the mainstream in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Warrior dressed in face paint, had tassels dangling from his super-sized biceps and sprinted to the ring when his theme song hit. He’d shake the ropes and grunt and howl while the crowd went wild for the popular good guy.
He made his debut with the promotion when it was known as the World Wrestling Federation in 1987 and wrestled on and off for the sports entertainment empire until 1996.
The Ultimate Warrior became the first wrestler to defeat Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania when he used his finishing splash for the pin. He won the championship in front of 67,678 fans at Toronto’s SkyDome in a match billed as “The Ultimate Challenge.”
The Ultimate Warrior would defeat Randy “Macho Man” Savage the next year at WrestleMania. Savage, who died in 2011, Hogan and Warrior were all enormous personalities with gaudy costumes and memorable catchphrases. They led the WWE’s transformation from a promotion running weekend arena shows and Saturday morning TV into one booking events at the largest stadiums around the world with millions watching every Monday night. More than 5.1 million viewers watched Warrior’s final appearance Monday night on “Raw.”
The Ultimate Warrior had a falling out with the WWE and did not appear on its TV shows after July 8, 1996, until last weekend. He reconciled with McMahon and was inducted into the Hall of Fame. He also made an appearance on “Raw” and shook the ropes one final time in front of another crowd that went wild for the Warrior.
“Speak to me, Warriors!” he bellowed, as the New Orleans crowd chanted his name.
Warrior put on a mask that resembled his famous face paint and cut a promo about 24 hours before his death that seems eerie now.
“No WWE talent becomes a legend on their own,” Warrior said. “Every man’s heart one day beats its final beat. His lungs breathe their final breath. And if what that man did in his life makes the blood pulse through the body of others, it makes them bleed deeper and something larger than life, then his essence, his spirit, will be immortalized.”