Goodbye, James Hellwig.

This has nothing to do with movies, but I’ve made note in the past that I’m a big professional wrestling nerd since childhood. Last night James Hellwig died. Better known as The Ultimate Warrior, I had some feelings on his passing that I wanted to share:

Sometimes, being a wrestling fan is hard. Wrestlers are like comic book characters – larger than life personalities in colorful costumes locked in the eternal struggle between good and evil, fighting for the entertainment of their fans. Being a comic geek, I come to expect heroes and villains to die on the printed page, then come back within the next year to boost sales. When a wrestler dies, they don’t get to be written back into existence. They don’t just leave behind their fans, they leave behind real friends and family who have to deal with their loss like the rest of us do when we lose someone we love. I’m guilty of being one of those “Oh, that guy died? That sucks. I remember when he had that feud with so-and-so. Oh well, happens to all of us eventually.” guys.

This one feels WAY more tragic though, not because of the notoriety of Ultimate Warrior, but because over the last few days he retook center stage of fans’ attention. A man we hadn’t seen on TV in YEARS was making a heartfelt (if rambling) speech to an arena full of chanting fans at the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony on Saturday night. He appeared at Wrestlemania Sunday night in front of a stadium packed with 75,000 people cheering for him while we were all introduced to his mother, his wife, and his two young daughters. Monday night he was on Raw for the first time in almost 20 years to make another speech, thanking the fans for their support, doing his classic Warrior snarl and shaking the rings ropes like he used to, telling everybody their childhood hero would live forever in the hearts and minds of the fans. Then last night, he just dropped dead. Some people say he knew it was going to happen and this was his chance to say his final goodbyes in a 3 day tour de force befitting of his legacy as a performer, while putting his infamous behind-the-scenes conflicts to rest. That he wanted to make his peace with everyone, tell his side of the story, and show his appreciation to his supports before he left on his rocket ship and returned to his home on the dark side of the moon… that last bit was for the fans.

I’m happy if Jim Hellwig was able to die with happiness and love and peace in his heart. Most of all, after he introduced us to his beautiful family, they’re the ones I truly feel sad for. While we lost our Superman, they lost their Clark Kent – their son, their husband, their father. Thank you and goodbye, Warrior. Rest In Destrucity. One Warrior Nation.

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