What Made the Ultimate Warrior a Wrestling Legend

PHOTO: The Ultimate Warrior won the WWE Heavyweight title from Hulk Hogan in 1989 at Wrestlemania VI in Toronto.
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Wrestling fans are mourning the death of the Ultimate Warrior today and remembering some of the WWE superstar’s greatest moments.

From defeating Hulk Hogan to his infamous entrances into the ring, Warrior was a childhood favorite for countless fans and one of the sport’s most memorable heroes.

Pro Wrestling Icon Ultimate Warrior Dead at 54

Here’s what made him a legend:

He Stole the Torch from Hulk Hogan

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A Look Back at the Ultimate Warrior's Colorful Career

WrestleMania VI in 1990 marked a milestone for the WWE: It was the first time two titleholders would face off. Warrior, then the Intercontinental Champion, was to battle Hulk Hogan, then the WWF Champion, in Toronto. The pairing was also notable because two “good guys” -– and huge fan favorites -– squared off in the ring.

Warrior won the match -- effectively putting an end to Hulkamania to become the strongest force in wrestling. His finishing moves were the Gorilla Press Drop and the Running Splash.

He Knew How to Make an Entrance

If the Warrior was in the house, fans knew it. He was famous for sprinting down the ramp and running circles around the ring, furiously shaking the ropes before stepping in.

He was “like a man possessed,” the WWE said.

He Made Bobby Heenan Wear a Weasel Suit

In one of his most famous matches, Warrior took Bobby “The Brain” Heenan down with a Sleeper Hold, and then dressed the defeated wrestler –- still passed out in the ring -– in a humiliating weasel costume.

Of course, fans knew Heenan had it coming when he entered the ring. The wrestler-turned-manager was no match for Warrior’s power.

He Actually Changed His Name to Warrior

How’s that for dedication? The Ultimate Warrior, born James Brian Hellwig, legally changed his name to Warrior in 1993. Like Madonna, Warrior only needed one name.

It’s also the last name of his wife and children.

The Most Colorful Character in Wrestling

Warrior had one of the most memorable looks in the WWE. At every match, his bright face paint was a new work of art, and rainbow-colored tassels hung from his bulging arms.

In the late 1980s, his long shaggy hair was also part of his signature style.

Hall of Fame Induction

Warrior was finally inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame this past Saturday in New Orleans. Two days later, he gave a speech at Monday Night Raw, speaking -– ironically -– about life and death.

"No WWE talent becomes a legend on their own,” he said. “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, what makes the blood pulse through the body of others and makes them bleed deeper and something larger than life, then his essence, his spirit, will be immortalized.”

Warrior died on Tuesday. The cause of his death is unclear.

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