Wrestling legend James Brian Hellwig, known to fans as The Ultimate Warrior, died Tuesday, April 8, just days after he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. He was 54.
One of the most popular and revered wrestlers in history, Hellwig quickly became a star during the wrestling heyday of the late '80s. The Indiana native eventually went on to become WWE Champion at WrestleMania VI in 1990, where he defeated another iconic fellow wrestler, Hulk Hogan.
Ten years later in 1998, Hellwig stepped away from the ring for what would be an 18-year absence from WWE. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in New Orleans on Saturday, April 5, ahead of WrestleMania XXX. WWE CEO Vince McMahon sang his praises when the announcement was made in January and recalled the Ultimate Warrior as "the most intense, colorful, competitive and outspoken Superstar in sports-entertainment history," adding that Hellwig's "contributions to WWE were extraordinary."
The World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. released a statement Tuesday that read, "WWE is shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the passing of one of the most iconic WWE Superstars ever, The Ultimate Warrior."
His rival Hulk Hogan tweeted early Wednesday, "RIP WARRIOR. only love. HH."
WWE COO and 13-time world champion Triple H (real name Paul Michael Levesque) also mourned the loss of the Ultimate Warrior and shared, "Saddened to announce the passing of the Ultimate Warrior. Icon and friend. My sympathy to his wife Dana and his daughters."
TMZ reported late Tuesday night that Hellwig had collapsed outside of a hotel in Arizona. He was taken to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Hellwig is survived by his second wife, Dana, and daughters, Mattigan Twain Warrior, 11, and Indiana Marin Warrior, 14.