On Monday night, something that was once unthinkable happened: The WWE announced the induction of The Ultimate Warrior into its Hall of Fame.
Not much is needed to be said about the in-ring career of Ultimate Warrior (born James Brian Hellwig), or at least the peak of it. After being signed by the WWF, his combination of size and his energy made him one of the most popular wrestlers of that era. His matches, and especially his bizarre promos, are still talked about to this day. His title-vs-title match against Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania VI is still considered one of the most memorable matches of all time. You can go back and question the technical aspect of that match, but its importance at the time is something that cannot be disputed.
However, his first WWF run came to a crashing halt in 1991, when he demanded more money to continue showing up, including for the upcoming SummerSlam pay-per-view. After SummerSlam, Vince McMahon suspended him, and he was off television for nine months before a surprise return at WrestleMania VIII. After a short run, Warrior was again released, though this time for more unclear reasons (it has been speculated that it had to do with McMahon's upcoming steroid hearings). After a few years away, Warrior returned to the WWF, this time at WrestleMania XII to defeat Triple H, then known as Hunter Hearst Helmsley. Again, after a short run, he was fired after McMahon claimed that Warrior missed events without a good reason.
The bitterness remained between the two sides for years. The WWE even put out a DVD in 2005 called "The Self-Destruction of The Ultimate Warrior," which painted Warrior in a terrible light, and even sparked Warrior (who had, by that point, legally changed his name to the moniker) to file a libel claim against the WWE. Add that to Warrior's aggressively conservative and controversial stance in speeches, and it seemed like the two sides would never reconcile.
However, just as was the case with Bret Hart, the sides ultimately came together. While I'm sure there are a number of reasons, the one person who cannot be overlooked in this is Triple H. Whatever many fans think about his backstage politics, and his wrestling run in the early 2000s, I don't think any fan can be anything but appreciative of his love of wrestling history, and his desire to reach out and mend relations with its legends, as he did with Bruno Sammartino last year. Warrior was in the latest edition of the WWE video games, and even heavily featured in the promotional work. And then on Monday came the announcement that finally, The Ultimate Warrior would be in the Hall of Fame.
Which really leaves only a couple of questions. The first is who will induct him on April 5. The odds-on favorite has to be his Wrestlemania VI opponent, Hulk Hogan. Hogan is no longer affiliated with TNA, and has said he plans on being involved with WrestleMania somehow. Iif not Hogan, Vince McMahon, Triple H or, if you want to have a truly surprising inductor, Sting — whose contract with TNA is also running out soon, whose future with the company is unclear and who teamed with Warrior as the Blade Runners in their early years — could be selected.
The other question is whether Warrior will be involved with more than simply the hall of fame. Another DVD of him, this time with his blessing, is scheduled, and with some of the recent returns, it wouldn't be inconceivable to see Warrior once more grace the ring.
No matter what, with this induction, the WWE Hall of Fame Ceremony certainly becomes a must-watch event. You never know what might come out of his mouth, and him having a live mic could end up being a wild ride. And at the end of the day, his induction is a great thing for wrestling fans everywhere.