Both tonight’s episode of Raw and my report will be special ones, as they are a tribute to Jim Hellwig, a.k.a., The Ultimate Warrior. The sudden death of him has truly rocked the wrestling world, and has been so surreal, considering just this time last week, he was appearing on Monday Night Raw for the first time in eighteen years; and then twenty-four hours later, he was gone.
As Wrestling-Online Editor Colin Vassallo has said, and I absolutely agree, this shocking tragedy really puts life into perspective. One day he was here, at what seemed to be one of the happiest moments of his life, and the next night, he had passed. May God rest his soul and provide support to his family, friends, and fans.
In lieu of my usual review/opinions, I will give my thoughts on Warrior, much like I have for people in wrestling who have previously passed.
Monday Night Raw TV Report for April 14th, 2014 – “Goodbye.”
Introduction Segment: Remembrance
Michael Cole’s starts off, saying “We here at WWE are deeply saddened by the tragic passing of The Ultimate Warrior’s Tonight, we pay tribute to one of the greatest superstars of all-time.”
The roster, along with Vince McMahon himself is standing on stage, as Jerry “The King” Lawler the fans in attendance to join them, then a video package airs. It features comments from Hulk Hogan, Triple H, Stephanie McMahon, and a portion of his promo from last week. Clips from his career, the Hall-Of-Fame Ceremony (with his family, which I admit right now, made me tear up), WrestleMania, and Raw are included.
Back live, Lawler asks us for silence, as they toll the bell ten times. Notably, Natalya and Cody (I’m sure who grew up around him) are visibly breaking up; and many superstars have Warrior t-shirts on to commemorate. Following the ten-bell salute, chants of Warrior break out, as his theme music plays, and everyone on stage and in the stands is clapping and cheering for him.
At the commentator’s booth, Cole and Lawler go over the card for the night, which includes Tag-Team Champions The Usos taking on Batista and Orton again, as well as an Eight-Man Single Elimination Tournament to determine who will face Big E. for the Intercontinental Championship. They also speculate if The Authority will stand up to The Shield after Roman Reigns speared Triple H last week. Up first is Rob Van Dam facing Alberto Del Rio in the I.C. Tourney.
Match #1: Single in the Intercontinental Championship Tournament – Alberto Del Rio VS. Rob Van Dam
Del Rio pounds away immediately, but Van Dam reverses an Irish whip into the corner and brings him out with a monkey flip. He nails a spin-kick and springboard backsplash/crossbody. The two slug it out, with Del Rio giving R.V.D. a smacking kick in the corner. Van Dam counters and tosses Alberto over the ropes, then follows with a baseball slide. He misses a moonsault and gets clotheslined, then thrown into the barricade.
Van Dam back in control and gets a near-fall after the Rolling Thunder senton. Del Rio drives him down with a DDT for two, then slingshots him into the corner. Van Dam lands on the middle rope and kicks him down, but gets knees in the gut when trying a split-legged moonsault. He nails the backstabber, but R.V.D. kicks out at two. Van Dam jumps to the top rope, but is crotched and nailed with a running enziguri. 1 – 2 – Van Dam gets the shoulder up.
Alberto sets up for the cross armbreaker submission, but Van Dam reverses into a roll-up for a near-fall. Van Dam sweeps up Del Rio, then splashes him from the top rope with the 5-Star Frog splash and covers for the hard-earned victory.
Winner via Pinfall and ADVANCING: Rob Van Dam
Segment #2: Video Promo
A recap of Daniel Bryan’s first night as WWE World Heavyweight Champion from Raw is aired. Triple H and Stephanie are then shown live, shaking the hands of Batista and Randy Orton in their office.
Segment #3: Remembrance
Cole says that we will be looking at Ultimate Warrior’s greatest moments. The first is from the first SummerSlam on August 29th, 1988. The then I.C. Champ, Honky Tonk Man, challenged anyone to take him on. The Ultimate Warrior answered, and soundly defeated H.T.M. to become the new Intercontinental Champion.
Segment #4: Office Promo
Triple H and Stephanie are discussing with Batista and Randy Orton about The Shield. He states that The Shield remind him of “us,” referring to Evolution. He thinks that no one can stop them; Stephanie chimes in and says “I do, and I’m looking at him,” staring at her husband. He insists that the three of them need to be one, but Batista and Orton don’t care. They just want to be the champ, and walk out on The Authority.
Match #2: Tag-Team – Rybaxel (Ryback and Curtis Axel) VS. The Brotherhood (Goldust and Cody Rhodes)
Curtis starts out with Goldust and tries an early advantage, but Goldust takes quick control. Cody is in and works over Axel’s arm, then tags his brother. Axel regains domination with punches in the corner, then switches with Ryback. He splashes Goldust in the corner, and covers for two. Both of Rybaxel deliver second rope hits on Goldust, then Ryback goes to wearing Goldust down with the grounding rear chinlock.
Cody gets the tag and takes out both Ryback and Axel, moonsaulting a standing Ryback. He springboards off the top rope onto Ryback on the floor, then slingshots back in the ring with a front dropkick. 1 – 2 – Axel breaks it up. Rhodes nails the Disaster Kick on Axel, but is clotheslined down by Ryback while going for another. 1 – 2 – 3.
Winners via Pinfall: Rybaxel (Ryback and Curtis Axel)
Segment #5: Video Promo
Another Bo Dallas package airs, trying to convince us to “Bo-Lieve.”
Match #3: Single – Alicia Fox VS. Divas Champion Paige (Non-Title)
Lockup, with neither getting control. Alicia shoves Paige, but Paige shoves back. Fox catches Paige running into three tilt-a-whirl backbreakers. She gets a two-count following a Northern Lights suplex pin combo, then clamps on a grounding rear chinlock. She slaps and kicks Paige in the corner, but Paige kicks back. She hits three consecutive short-arm clotheslines, then a running dropkick. Paige locks her up in a cross-legged submission, complete with armlock, and Alicia taps out.
Winner via Submission: Divas Champion Paige
The announcers recap Batista and Orton’s attack on Tag-Team Champions The Usos from last week.
Match #4: Tag-Team – Tag-Team Champions The Usos (Jimmy and Jey) VS. “The Viper” Randy Orton and “The Animal” Batista
(Note: In a nice tribute, The Usos are wearing Warrior t-shirts and face paint.) The Usos are all over Orton/Batista right away. They gear up and soar over the ropes on to Randy and Dave. In another touching tribute, The Usos also shake the ropes, much like Warrior. The twins are in control as the bout settles down into more one-on-one action with Orton. He switches with Batista (who is heavily booed). Batista all over an Uso (sorry, still can’t tell the difference.) He suplexes The Uso, then tags in Orton. Uso begins to slug back on Orton, but Randy shoves him down. He tags in Batista, who gains dominance. He spinebusters The Uso for two. Uso comes back with a Samoan Drop, but his pin is broken up. Orton takes it to the other Uso on the outside, then is promptly attacked by The Shield.
Winners via Disqualification: “The Viper” Randy Orton and “The Animal” Batista
Post-match, The Shield surround an alone Batista, who is driven outside the ring with a Superman Punch by Reigns. Orton collects Batista and he stares down the trio from the aisle.
Up next, Cesaro will face Mark Henry in the I.C. Title Tournament.
Segment #6: Remembrance
Warrior’s probably most-famous match, facing Hulk Hogan for the Intercontinental Championship and WWF Championship, respectively, at WrestleMania VI on April 1, 1990, is recalled.
Segment #7: Backstage Promo
Batista and Orton are walking through the hallways when Triple H and Stephanie come up to them. All he says was “told you.”
Match #5: Single in the Intercontinental Championship Tournament – Cesaro (with Paul Heyman) VS. “The World’s Strongest Man” Mark Henry
Prior to this contest, Heyman comes out and reiterates the fact that his client, Brock Lesnar, conquered The Undertaker’s WrestleMania streak. He shows still photos from that match at WrestleMania XXX as proof. He then brings out his new client, “The King Of Swing” Cesaro.
Elbow/collar tie-up, which Henry wins with a toss of Cesaro across the ring. He then chucks him to the outside as well. Cesaro comes back in and punches away, then hits a couple of European uppercuts. He jawbreaks Henry on the ropes, but is caught in The World’s Strongest Slam position. Cesaro slips out of it, leaps off the turnbuckle with a spinning uppercut, and impressively plants Mark with The Neutralizer to take this one.
Winner via Pinfall and ADVANCING: “The King Of Swing” Cesaro (with Paul Heyman)
Segment #8: Office Promo
The Authority orders General Manager Brad Maddox to inform The Shield they are in a Six-Man Tag for the main event. Their opponents remain a mystery.
Match #6: Single – “The Super Athlete” Alexander Rusev (with Lana) VS. Xavier Woods (with R-Truth)
Rusev wins easily with The Accolade Clutch.
Winner via Submission: “The Super Athlete” Alexander Rusev
Post-match, R-Truth tries to gain some revenge, but Lana stops him at first. She then orders him to attack R-Truth, so he complies.
Segment #9: Remembrance
Warrior’s Summerslam 1990 (August 27th) WWF Championship Steel Cage Match with the late-great “Ravishing” Rick Rude is remembered.
Match #7: Single in the Intercontinental Championship Tournament – “The Real American” Jack Swagger (with Zeb Colter) VS. Sheamus
Swagger aggressive quickly with punches then knees in the corner. Sheamus hits back with a kick and couple of clotheslines. Colter distracts Sheamus, which allows Swagger to run Sheamus into the mat with a belly-to-belly suplex. In the ring, Swagger grapples Sheamus with a butterfly stretch, then nearly gets this after another belly-to-belly. Sheamus gears up, hitting Swagger back with clotheslines and shoulder-rams. He pounds away on Swagger’s chest with the “Ten Beats Of The Bowron.”
Jack counters a slingshot shoulder-ram, and clamps on the Patriot Ankle Lock. Sheamus struggles, but kicks out of it. He eventually finishes this with the Brogue Kick.
Winner via Pinfall and ADVANCING: Sheamus
Segment #10: Video Promo
The same Adam Rose package from last week re-airs, plugging him for “coming soon.”
Segment #11: Remembrance
Warrior Week, which is WWE Network‘s tribute to Ultimate Warrior, and features a new documentary on his long-awaited return to the company, is promoed to air four nights this week, starting Tuesday on the WWE Network.
Match #8: Single – Damien Sandow VS. The Big Show
Prior to the contest, Damien puts himself over, saying “I deserve it. I’ve earned it.” He pokes Show in the chest, which leads to a Knockout Punch.
Winner: No Contest
The Wyatt Family appear on screen and announce “we’re next.”
Segment #12: Arena Promo
The Wyatt Family is out and Bray takes the microphone. “Society, as a whole, has become this vile and putrid thing. ‘You, do as you’re told’ so says the man. You see what ‘they’ want you to see, and you feel whatever it is ‘they’ want you to feel, but I am different. Where you see a blank canvas, I see a beautiful painting. And when you hear silence, I hear symphony. I have a dozen faces and a million names – ‘seducer,’ ‘accuser,’ ‘destroyer.’ And you, you may call me by whatever name you see fit, but know this and understand, I have never once lied to you. But we all know who has, don’t we? Hell, John Cena has made a career out of lying to you all. He earns your trust hidden behind his porcelain smile. But don’t be fooled; he is no man, he is ‘beast.’ And don’t you worry about a thing kids. I’m not going to let him do this to you anymore. I got him right where I want him. Up against the ropes. On the edge, and all he needs is that one, last, little push. ‘Abigail’ shall be my sword through this crusade. But I do not wish to slay this ‘monster,’ not yet. I just wanted to come out and play. How about it, John? I know you’re back there.”
John Cena answers the threat and appears on stage, microphone in hand. Cena wants to bring The Wyatt’s demeanor from serious to fun, so he pokes at their “family” heritage by displaying doctored photos of each of them, depicting the other Wyatt Family members.
Bray retorts by mocking Cena’s foolishness, then accuses John of only making jokes whenever something goes wrong. “So, you want ‘serious,'” Cena responds. “You should know that I can get serious just as good as anyone.” He challenges Bray to a Steel Cage match at Extreme Rules. “I like that, John. Oh, I like that,” Bray answers. “We will no longer allow this ‘fallacy’ to command us. This is my world and it belongs to me,” Bray finishes before serenading a portion of “He’s got the whole world in his hands.”
Match #9: Mixed Tag-Team – Emma and Santino Marella VS. Layla and Fandango
Layla and Fandango take this one after Layla yanks Emma from the top rope.
Winners via Pinfall: Layla and Fandango
Segment #13: Office Promo
Stephanie McMahon is with The Directors Of Operations Kane. She is giving him a review and is not pleased with his job. He tries to say sorry, but Stephanie cuts him off. She berates him, but at the same time, fires him up for not being the man he once was. Kane stands up, breathes heavily, and takes his mask out of its protective box. “I am going to eviscerate Daniel Bryan.”
Segment #14: Remembrance
Cole and Lawler list what is coming up for Warrior Week on WWE Network. (His greatest matches, Tues at 10pm EST; WrestleMania Rewind, WrestleMania VI, Wed 10pm EST; Biography: Ultimate Legend, Thurs 10pm EST; Legends Of WrestleMania, Fri 10pm EST). They then re-air his now-famous last promo from just seven days ago:
“No WWE Talent becomes a legend on their own. 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 makes the blood pulse through the body of others, and makes them bleed deeper in something than larger than life, then his essence, his spirit, will be immortalized by the story tellers, by the loyalty, by the memory of those who honour him, and make the running the man did live forever. (Pointing to the fans) You, you, you, you, you, you are the legend makers of Ultimate Warrior. In the back, I see many potential legends. Some of them with Warrior Spirits; and you will do the same for them. You will decide if they lived with the passion and intensity; so much so that you will tell your stories and you will make them legends as well. I am Ultimate Warrior, you are the Ultimate Warrior Fans, and the spirit of the Ultimate Warrior will run forever.”
They put up another quote, saying “you must show no mercy, nor have any belief whatsoever, in how others judge you, for your greatness will silence them all.”
Dolph Ziggler makes his entrance as he prepares to face Wade Barrett, next.
Match #10: Single in the Intercontinental Championship Tournament – “The Show Off” Dolph Ziggler VS. Bad News Barrett
Lockup and waistlock by Ziggler, where Barrett rolls through and over. He kicks Dolph in the corner and suplexes him, then drops a knee. Ziggler rolls out of a second knee, then gives Wade a side headlock to wear him down. Barrett squeezes Dolph against the ropes, but is hit with a high-jumping dropkick. They both tumble to the floor, and punch away. Dolph tries a leap, but Barrett sends him into the ring post.
Wade has Dolph locked in a grounding rear chinlock, but Ziggler comes back with a leaping punch. He hits him with another 10-punch in the corner, and a neckbreaker for two. He leaps onto Wade, but is caught and slammed down with Wasteland. 1 – 2 – Ziggler gets the shoulder up. Dolph slides out of a pump-handle slam and drops Barrett with the Fameasser for a close call.
He goes for a corner splash, but misses and Wade hops to the second turnbuckle. Dolph stops him and brings him off with a facebuster. 1 – 2 – Barrett kicks out. Ziggler tries the Zig-Zag, but is shoved off and spun around with the Winds Of Change twisting side slam. 1 – 2 – Dolph kicks out.
Wade sets up for the Bullhammer, but Ziggler ducks and rolls up. 1 – 2 – Wade kicks out. He sends Dolph a flying and then nails the Bullhammer elbow for the 1 – 2 – 3.
Winner via Pinfall and ADVANCING: Bad News Barrett
Segment #15: Video Promo
A highlight package of Masked Kane’s destruction over WWF/WWE is aired.
It is announced that Sheamus will face Batista this week on Smackdown.
Match #11: Six-Man Tag-Team – The Shield (United States Champion Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, and Roman Reigns) VS. Alberto Del Rio, Jack Swagger, Fandango, 3.M.B. (Heath Slater, Jinder Mahal, and Drew McIntyre), Titus O’Neil, Rybaxel (Ryback and Curtis Axel), “The Super Athlete” Alexander Rusev, and Bad News Barrett.
The Shield is picked apart at first, for the most part, but Reigns comes back with a spear on Ryback on the outside. The bell sounds.
Winner: No Contest
Post-match, both Ambrose and Rollins leap over the ropes onto everyone. This breaks down in the ring, with the 11 men picking apart “The Hounds Of Justice.” Familiar music from 10 years ago plays out, as Motorhead’s “Evolution” begins. This signals Triple H, Batista, and Randy Orton to walk out. The other 11 leave the ring, and Evolution start to gain up.
Orton RKO’s Reigns, and Batista follows up with a Batistabomb. They completely decimate Ambrose, Rollins, and Reigns. Then Triple H eggs on a crawling Reigns to “come on.” He can barely move as “The Game” gets in his face. “Believe in Evolution.” He Pedigrees Roman, then raises up Batista’s and Orton’s arms; and all three pose over Dean, Roman, and Seth, to close the show.
End Of Raw.
Reporter’s Rumblings – By Moe Tapp
I’ll admit, I was too young (between the ages of 2 and 5) when Warrior was at his prime in the then-WWF, so I was never really a fan. The first time I became acquainted with him in the ring was his 1998 return to WCW. I was 12 at the time, but was not hyped, mainly because I was still unfamiliar with him and not as into this business as I am now.
However, as I grew up, I began to know more about him and watch some of his matches and/or highlights of his career. My previous perception and knowledge of Warrior completely changed last week. While I was not able to watch the actual Hall-Of-Fame, Colin Vassallo gave a good report on his speech, which was mainly about his family. When he told his daughters, “the most awesome thing I will ever do is be your father,” it really got to me, and again, I teared up. It proved that he was a man who had put his family first, and they were always going to be number one. In this business, where there are a good amount of wrestlers who haven’t done that, for him to say it, is truly awesome. I have gained a new respect for the man between this and his Monday Night Raw promo. I believe he truly meant every word and it was great to see him talk so highly of the “newer generation.”
Seeing old match/promo highlights, and hearing how many times that his WrestleMania VI match with Hulk Hogan for both the Intercontinental Championship and the WWF Championship meant so much to so many, it is very easy to say that he was one of the top three most-popular in the WWF of the late-80s and very early-90s. (Hulk Hogan and the late-great “Macho Man” Randy Savage, being the other two in my opinion.) He really did have an aura of excitement to him, and elicited a magnetic response when running down that aisle and shaking the ropes. That was definitely easy to see in the memorial video tonight, with a lot of fans, many of them young children, dressed up in his face paint or mask, imitating his poses.
It is very sad to know that he was willing to come back, put all the past behind, and be involved with the WWE again, only to pass away literately a day later. As said many times, at least he was one of the very few in this business who was able to make peace with his troubles before leaving this world.
I hope many people reach out to his family, particularly his wife and young daughters, as they are the ones who are truly hurting the most. May people around them provide great love and support in this tragic time.
Rest In Peace Jim Hellwig, a.k.a Ultimate Warrior. Thank you for giving “the spirit of the Warrior” to so many around the world over the decades. God rest your soul.