Just days after he was enshrined in the WWE Hall of Fame, 54-year-old James Brian Hellwig (known as The Ultimate Warrior), collapsed at an Arizona hotel Tuesday evening. He was later pronounced dead at an area hospital, and so far no cause of death is known, though reports say the collapse came after Warrior clutched his chest.

Though there are many tragic stories of pro wrestlers dying before they reach old age, The Ultimate Warrior's death seems all the more eery and peculiar in light of his speech on "Monday Night Raw" this week.

The words he spoke the very night before his passing now serve as a self-given eulogy, urging fans and future pro wrestlers to carry on his legacy.

"Every man's heart one day beats its final beat. His lungs breathe their final breath," Warrior told the assembled masses. "And if what that man did in his life makes the blood pulse through the body of others and makes them believe deeper in something that's larger than life, then his essence, his spirit, will be immortalized by the storytellers, by the loyalty, by the memory of those who honor him, and make the running the man did live forever ... I am Ultimate Warrior. You are the Ultimate Warrior fans, and the spirit of Ultimate Warrior will run forever."

The appearance was part of a new beginning for Warrior (Hellwig legally changed his name to Warrior in 1993), who was estranged for more than 18 years from the WWE before his Hall of Fame induction on Saturday in New Orleans.

He last appeared on "Monday Night Raw" in 1996. Plans were in the works for The Ultimate Warrior character to reconnect with fans as a brand ambassador, similar to the deal Hulk Hogan recently signed with the organization.

Though there were many issues leading to what many called a "feud" between Warrior and other prominent wrestlers and WWE CEO Vince McMahon, most of the tension in recent years came from the WWE's 2005 release of a DVD entitled "The Self-Destruction of The Ultimate Warrior."

The program featured a variety of characters from Warrior's days in the promotion providing critical commentary about Warrior's shortcomings.

Warrior solidified his fame quickly in 1987 when he first appeared on the World Wrestling Federation scene. It took him just three years to become the first and only wrestler to ever hold the organization's Intercontinental Championship and WWF Championship belts at the same time.

He won the WWF belt from Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania VI.

Hogan is widely considered to be the most popular wrestler of all time, and the fact that the WWF allowed a scenario in which Warrior took his belt is a clear indication of the kind of admiration and respect fans had for the character known for his violent rope shaking, gravelly voice, and tribal face paint.

Warrior would later lose the WWF belt to a long-past-his-prime Sergeant Slaughter, and multiple contract disputes followed. He made his last official appearance with the WWF as a wrestler in 1996.

Warrior was a bodybuilder long before he entered the wrestling ring, and he first began working with weights at the age of 11. Another group of bodybuilders he met on the competition circuit enticed him to join them as they branched out to pro wrestling.

Over a few years in small shows and venues, the character that would later be coined "The Ultimate Warrior" slowly began to take shape.

Warrior went on to wrestle with some other smaller promotions after leaving the WWF, but his final stint in the big leagues of wrestling was with the WCW. Warrior would follow Hulk Hogan to the promotion, and the two were involved in multiple storylines with that circuit.

The last time Warrior appeared under the WCW banner was on the November 9, 1998 installment of Nitro. It would take another 15 years for the bridge he burned with the WWF to be repaired under the new WWE banner.

It all started when Warrior agreed to be featured in the video game WWE2K14 last year. The video game appearance could not happen without Warrior's consent since he successfully secured rights to the character and his likeness through contentious court battles in 1996 and 1998.

Warrior's final speech to the fans also featured one last rope shake, which was brief and very weak compared to how he did the maneuver in his prime. Backstage observers also noticed that Warrior looked like he was "in constant pain" at the event.

During the speech itself he looked to be struggling to catch his breath. It certainly seems possible that Warrior knew the seriousness of his health issues and the possibility that his days could be numbered.

Still, TMZ reported that he looked to be "in great spirits" as he posed for pictures with fans at the airport in New Orleans the morning of his passing.

The WWE issued a statement in the wake of Warrior's passing, calling him "one of the most iconic WWE superstars ever."

Multiple current and past WWE superstars also took to Twitter and other social media to give tribute to their friend and colleague. Athletes from other sports like MMA also offered their sentiments on the man they grew up watching.

Warrior is survived by his wife Dana and his two daughters. Dana was also by his side when he collapsed and took that final breath he talked about less than 24 hours before he died.


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