Ultimate Warrior and "Paul" from his 1996 WWF Run

Ultimate Warrior and Triple H (“Paul”) from WrestleMania XII (1996)

From WWE.com:

WWE is shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the passing of one of the most iconic WWE Superstars ever, The Ultimate Warrior.

Warrior began his WWE career in 1987 and quickly went on to become one of the biggest stars in WWE history. Warrior became WWE Champion at WrestleMania VI, defeating Hulk Hogan in an epic encounter.

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.

Warrior was 54 and is survived by his wife Dana and his two daughters.

After three consecutive days on WWE TV (Hall of Fame ceremony, WrestleMania, Monday Night RAW), his first WWE appearances since 1996, news broke last night that Warrior (his legal and sole “real life” name since 1993) collapsed outside his hotel in Arizona and was pronounced dead shortly thereafter.

No other wrestler had been as big a deal for as small a time as the Ultimate Warrior, and his Hall of Fame induction was a long time coming, as he would be on the Mount Rushmore of 80s WWE. While his WCW and mid-90s WWF runs are answers to trivia questions, his image could rightfully be next to the “professional wrestler” entry in a dictionary. Loud, brash, over-sized, believed in his own gimmick, there’s a reason there are lots of pictures of 80s kids wearing Ultimate Warrior facepaint.

For completeness’ sake, don’t consider his induction into the Hall of Fame sort of happy ending to his career. There was a reason he wasn’t inducted into the Hall of Fame until this year, that reason being Vince McMahon and Warrior hating each other. But Triple H, or “Paul,” as he called him numerous times in Saturday’s speech, brokered a peace not between Warrior and McMahon but between Warrior and WWE. Warrior mentioned “self-destruction” multiple times in his Hall of Fame speech which relates to a hatchet job DVD produced by WWE in 2005, The Self-Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior, which led to a lawsuit and rightfully sour grapes. Read this review of the DVD by Scott Keith to understand just how petty McMahon had been in regards to Warrior. There’s more to the story (there’s always more to the story) in terms of contract demands, no-shows, and being a jackass in the locker room, but the DVD was the lowest blow in a feud that served no purpose. I imagine this is how Chip Kelly and DeSean Jackson’s relationship will be viewed in 20 years.

The Ultimate Warrior finally returned to WWE fans this weekend, including a nostalgically awesome in-character promo on Monday’s RAW, only for him to leave again, at a depressingly young age like so many wrestlers.