It wasn’t until I saw the Ultimate Warrior run down to the ring and take out the Honky Tonk Man at SummerSlam 1988 in 29 seconds rather than 31 (I counted) with a couple of haymakers, a shoulder block, and a splash, that I understood what a real life superhero was.
When I was a kid, I thought the Honky Tonk Man was the worst. He was all greasy and slimy, playing old music with his guitar and thinking it was cool. He always got away with keeping the Intercontinental title after he originally stole it from Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat.
And here we were. Honky, with his false swagger as if he was the top dog. And then the crowd erupted when the Warrior came out. The crowd thought he was a star so I thought he was a star. And he absolutely was. I thought, “Who did that? That must have been the first quick win in an Intercontinental title match in the history of ever.”
Or at least that’s what my nine-year-old firmly tied in kayfabe mind thought. This guy was what I imagine Brock Lesnar is like to a kid now.
That was the first minute that I was hooked on wrestling. And I was all in when he went for the title against Hogan. After all, he was my first superhero.
It’s a bit frustrating that he was my first favorite. He became someone I saw to be so awful and then there was a redemption story that didn’t quite totally fit. I was actually at Monday Night Raw where he gave his goodbye speech and then he died the next day. It felt fittingly closure-worthy for me on a personal scale even though I can’t dream to speak of how that affected others.
But I also think about what becoming a wrestling fan based on seeing the Ultimate Warrior has brought me.
- Met countless new people
- Visited places I probably never would have otherwise
- Helped me through struggles not worth mentioning here
- Gave me a Godson
- Hang out and watch wrestling shows with cool folks
So it’s not all bad. For that, I can say, “Thanks Ultimate Warrior.”