Written by Adam Rank
Nobody encapsulates the iconic 80s like the Ultimate Warrior. Bleached frizzy hair, day-glow colors and obvious drug abuse – what could be more 80s?
The only thing more 80s would have been to drop the New Coke swilling, acid washed jeans-clad Warrior into the Nicaraguan forest to join the Freedom Fighters while he used a gun funded from inner-city crack sales. Actually, that was a movie pitched to the studios by the WWF (f-you hippies, it's still the WWF to me) before it decided to go with No Holds Barred.
Professional wrestling changed in the 80s. Skilled mat technicians were replaced with muscle-bound meatheads with limited skill sets (kind of the opposite of what's happening now). Just look at our champion during that time, Hulk Hogan. His finishing move was a freaking leg drop. You know a finishing move sucks when you practice it on your friend's little brother and it barely dazes him.
But it was cool to us as little kids. However, as we got older our tastes changed. We started to notice things like Hogan was kind of a (female dog).
Hogan cried when Paul Orndorff turned heel (though the pile driver had to hurt). King Kong Bundy broke his ribs to send Hogan to the hospital (though, that was kind of cool how they broke into SuperStars to update us on what was going to happen on Saturday Night's Main Event). And then Andre the Giant made Hogan cry on national TV.
We bought Hogan back when Land of the Lost seemed like the most intense show ever, but as our generation became teenagers, we wanted more. We didn't want a sympathetic champion; we wanted an ass-kicker. We wanted the mother (expletive) Warrior.
The Warrior was all man. (Well, as all man as you can be with tassels on your arms.) His intro music was pure hair metal (and you've likely been stuck in your head since you clicked in). The Warrior charged the ring like people charged life in the 80s, without consequences and again, pumped up drugs.
Train, say your prayers and eat your vitamins … bah! The Warriors vitamins were putting a foot in his opponent's ass.
The Warrior ended the Honkeytonk Man's Intercontinental title reign and WWF career with a 31-second beat down in WrestleMania III. (Compare the HTM's loss to Daniel Bryan for how to rebound after an embarrassing WM loss.)
Warrior reached his zenith when he finally put away Hogan in WrestleMania VI. The Warrior ruled the wrestling world. He even managed to retire Randy Savage in WrestleMania VII.
But like the 80s, the star was far too bright. Nobody could sustain his level of intensity for long. There were even rumors of his death, though I believe people were getting him confused with Jon-Erik Hexum. And like the pop from a prop gun, the Warrior was gone as mysteriously as he had arrived.
Turner's wrestling federation tried to dupe fans into thinking the Renegade was really just a rebranded Warrior. But the Renegade was lame. And let's not talk about the ill-fated OWN (One Warrior Nation … it's nWo backwards – get it?). Although I do believe he killed Brutus Beefcake in one angle, which was kind of cool.
But it was never the same.
So with this we salute you Ultimate Warrior. Wear this shirt proudly, and with neon orange and green tassels, of course.
Yeah, not really.
Adam Rank, the author if this piece, is a stand up comedian and columnist at NFL.com. You can see Adam star in NFL productions such as "NFL Fantasy Live" and the "Dave Damehsek Football Program."