I have an awful memory. I’m not really sure why so many memories escape me as I get older and experience more things in life, but it happens. There are very few moments from my childhood that I can remember as an adult today, however one particular memory — for whatever reason — has always stayed with me.
While my memory is terrible, as long as I can remember I have been an enormous pro wrestling fan. I literally can’t think of a time in my life where I wasn’t watching the product on a regular basis. While I have always been a major fan, I don’t have many specific memories that I can recall. There is one, however, that for whatever reason, I remember quite clearly.
On April 1, 1990, I watched WrestleMania VI with whatever version of family I had at the time. While I don’t remember which version of the many different parental figures I was living with at the time, I remember how I felt when the main event of WrestleMania VI ended, as if it just happened yesterday.
I cried my eyes out.
I was, like many other children my age at that time, a “Hulkamaniac.” Hulk Hogan was my guy. For the first time ever, Hogan was going into WrestleMania with an opponent that you didn’t hate as a fan. It wasn’t another dastardly villain. Instead, it was just a bad ass up-and-comer who seemed to pose a legitimate threat to “The Hulkster’s” reign as WWF Champion.
The main event of WrestleMania VI featured the WWF Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan defending his title against the WWF Intercontinental Champion The Ultimate Warrior at The SkyDome in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
I was six years old.
While both guys were larger-than-life, it seemed like nobody could ever stop “Hulkamania.” No one could defeat my hero. But on that night, somebody did.
Hogan lost his WWF Championship in an exciting match to Warrior. Many have argued that Hogan was a bit selfish with his post-match antics, doing everything in his power to keep the spotlight on him, as opposed to legitimately passing the torch to the new “face of WWF.”
But it worked.
Still thinking wrestling was real at that point in my life, I cried uncontrollably. I couldn’t believe what I had just witnessed. While I was sad for Hogan, and by all rights, should have hated Warrior forever for beating my hero and making him sad, Warrior had an indescribable and undeniable charisma.
There was just something about him.
It wasn’t long before I became one of the “Warrior’s.” While I’ve heard that Hogan was selfish in the way he conducted himself after the match, the torch-passing, as far as I was concerned, worked. I went from being a gigantic Hulk Hogan fan, to an equally massive Ultimate Warrior fan.
On Tuesday, April 8, 2014, moments after finishing my WZRtv broadcast with Ryan Clark, I was informed that Ultimate Warrior had tragically passed away.
I was as shocked as I was as a six year old watching “Hulkamania” come to an end at the hands of Ultimate Warrior at The SkyDome in Toronto.
How is this possible? I just saw the guy three nights in a row. I sat proudly as he was honored as the newest inductee into the WWE Hall Of Fame. I saw him get his moment in the spotlight at WrestleMania XXX. I saw him have one final epic moment on WWE RAW.
Life is precious. At any moment, it can all be over. If there’s one positive anyone can take away from all of this, especially considering the eerie timing, is that at least Warrior got to make peace with many of those who he had issues with for so many years. At least he got the chance to speak to his legions of fans one final time. And at least he got to deliver one final poignant message before his time was called.
The following is that message, verbatim.
“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, and makes them bleed deeper in something larger than life, then his essence, his spirit, will be immortalized.”
– Ultimate Warrior
I can say with absolute certainty that I will never forget how I felt on April 1, 1990. I will also never forget how I felt on April 8, 2014. Warrior, your spirit is immortalized within me, along with the millions of others who loved and respected you.
Rest in peace.