The Ultimate Warrior was my favorite wrestler as a child. His colorful, high-energy, over-the-top persona grabbed my attention and captivated my imagination. There were mat tacticians, high-flyers, brawlers, and then there was the Ultimate Warrior. He was an amalgamation of styles, which made him unique. He had a more impressive physique than Hulk Hogan, colorful attire that rivaled Macho Man Randy Savage’s iconic outfits, and he could fly around the ring like in a way unlike anyone his size was doing. Unfortunately, Warrior’s life was cut short at the age of 54. He died on April 8, 2014. I saw him the day before. Thankfully, there are several ways to reflect on the man and his career, including Ultimate Warrior: A Life Lived Forever, a beautiful hardback book from Insight Editions.
Prior to 2014, I had never attended a WrestleMania before. Every wrestling fan dreams of going to the “Showcase of the Immortals” at some point. On August 19, 2013 I took the plunge and bought a WWE Wrestlemania XXX Silver Package. It included a 100-level ticket to the WWE Hall of Fame Ceremony (Saturday), WrestleMania XXX (Sunday), and Monday Night Raw (Monday), as well as attendance to two general admission sessions of WrestleMania Axxess and a $50 gift card to a local restaurant. I got all of this direct through WWE for less than $2,000. It was a tremendous value, and I’m thrilled I went through with this purchase because it wound up being one of the most significant weekends of my life as a professional wrestling fan.
One of the biggest reasons WrestleMania XXX weekend was so important to me is because it was my chance to see the Ultimate Warrior live. He had mended his relationship with the company and Vince McMahon. Gone were the lawsuits and blaming one another for a variety of issues. This was Warrior’s moment to shine as a WWE Hall of Fame inductee. Having the chance to see him live in that setting, getting the honor and praise he deserved, but was long overdue, was incredibly satisfying. Watching Warrior’s acceptance speech, seeing him stand on the stage at WrestleMania as 75,000 of us chanted his name, and hearing his music hit and watching him shake the ropes on Monday Night Raw were all memorable moments. Most of all, I’ll remember his final promo, which I filmed (see below). None of us, including him, knew it was going to be his last. His words were prophetic and impactful. By the time my cab pulled up to my home in Philadelphia the following day, I was reading on my phone that the Ultimate Warrior had died. I was shell-shocked. How could my childhood hero who I just saw the night before be dead? It was incomprehensible, yet poetic. He had his storybook ending, with his fans and his family. I was there for it. I was part of it. Knowing this made me eternally grateful that I chose to buy that WrestleMania travel package in August 2013. Had I not, I would have regretted it for the rest of my life.
When the Ultimate Warrior returned, he spoke with Triple H about several projects he wanted to produce. Two Blu-ray/DVD sets came out during this time period — one before his death and one after. He also wanted a book created that chronicled his life in and out of the ring. That book is Ultimate Warrior: A Life Lived Forever. It’s unfortunate that Warrior didn’t live to see this book come to fruition. However, I’m glad to say that it’s incredibly special. It’s a beautiful hardcover coffee table book, replete with vivid photography and insightful text. What makes it even more special are the inserts that Insight Editions are known for. Inside you’ll find Warrior’s wrestling license, a replica WrestleMania VI ticket, hand-written notes, and more. It gives the book a more personal feel, as if it’s a love letter from Warrior to the fans.
Ultimate Warrior: A Life Lived Forever is a special book about a special man. It’s nearly 160 pages celebrating someone whose professional work touched the lives of millions of people in a personal way. Along with the aforementioned Blu-ray/DVD releases, this book is a great way to remember Warrior and all of his contributions, now and forever.