The Ultimate Warrior was a WWE icon in every sense of the word. He was a larger-than-life character in the Golden Era of WWE, where the top featured stars were big, bulky men and a whole lot of cartoon-y characters. Even if Warrior’s promos are considered “ridiculous” by today’s standards, it’s important to remember the context of his time.
It’s true that Warrior was far from the best in-ring worker, but his technical prowess in the ring wasn’t what made him one of the most revered superstars of his generation – it was his persona – explosive, passionate, energetic and larger-than-life. Throughout his WWE career, Warrior was one of the top babyfaces if not the top one.
Once poised to be Hulk Hogan‘s successor, Warrior would defeat The Hulkmaniac at the Toronto Skydome in 1990 at WrestleMania VI in what was his big coronation. He would become a dual champion for that night, being both Intercontinental and WWE Champion. Though he had to vacate the former, it was a rare feat for his time.
However, despite all his achievements and contributions to the business, there was so much negativity, so much tension and so much bad blood between both ends. This would be the case for 18 years until The Warrior was finally inducted into the WWE Hall Of Fame. As you could probably imagine, convincing The Warrior to make amends with the company after nearly two decades was no easy task, but somehow, Triple H managed to pull it off.
But how did Triple H manage to mend a relationship that seemed unfixable? What were the circumstances that led to all this bad blood? To understand the context of that, we need to go all the way back to 1991, when The Ultimate Warrior had a dispute with WWE over his pay. He felt that he deserved to be compensated $550,000 for his WrestleMania VII match against Randy Savage. Apart from just this, he wanted a higher merchandise cut and a guarantee that no other superstar on the roster would earn more than him for PPVs.
He believed that he was more value to the company than Hulk Hogan, the franchise player for nearly a decade. While WWE did agree to his terms, the moment his SummerSlam match was finished, Vince McMahon suspended him for threatening the company. The reason they temporarily accepted his demands was so that he showed up for the SummerSlam main event.
Though Warrior asked for his release, it wasn’t granted because he still had a year left on his contract. Vince McMahon only later contacted him to appear for WrestleMania VIII, to which he agreed to the terms. Because Hulk Hogan was transitioning out of WWE, they needed Warrior, and even gave him a measure of creative control.
However, he was released later in the year after he failed a drug test. It’s important to note the timeline of events here, because this was the period of time when WWE was undergoing the steroid scandal. His next return would be years later at 1996, where he faced none other than a young Triple H.
This was less than a couple of months removed from the infamous MSG curtain call, but it turned out to be more than just a mixed experience for Triple H. At the time, he was quite bitter about the whole experience, because he was naturally elated when he heard that he would be working at WrestleMania against a legend of the caliber of The Warrior. He said:
“It was the opportunity of a lifetime, but the process wound up being less than positive. Warrior had blown me off all week, and I wound up actually meeting him for the first time on the afternoon of WrestleMania, after the show had already started and Vince McMahon had already gone to the ring to do commentary. The guy I met lived up to every bit of his horrible reputation.
He was paranoid, mistrusting, and abrasive, and it left a bitter taste in my mouth.”
As you probably know, the match would finish in a minute and a half, with Warrior completely no-selling the pedigree. However, later on, Triple H did say that there was a part of the experience which was really cool too. Even so, he would end up no-showing a series of live events citing his father’s death. McMahon didn’t buy his excuse because he had been estranged from his father for over a decade.
He was subsequently done with the company, and years later, WWE put out a documentary called “The Self Destruction Of The Ultimate Warrior“. Their relationship further soured. Warrior too, had said a lot of bad things about the company, Vince McMahon and even Triple H.
It was only 9 years later in 2014 when Triple H decided that he wanted to extend the olive branch. It all started with Warrior’s independent deal with 2K, where he was set to appear in 2K14. Triple H said that he called Warrior and spoke to him, but they were both reserved and careful.
When Warrior was announced as part of the 2K Press Conference, Triple H knew this was the perfect opportunity to begin to mend the broken bridge. He knew he had to see eye-to-eye with Warrior to get any further. Warrior had stated that Triple H going out of his way to meet him in person was something that he greatly appreciated.
When they did speak, they both knew that they were beyond the years of just being in-ring performers. They were family men. They were fathers. They spoke about their personal lives, and slowly, but surely, Warrior began to let his guard down. When Warrior did finally sign his contract and was set to get inducted into the WWE Hall Of Fame, he wrote:
“Congrats, we did it! You did really good, Paul. You kept your word and stepped up. I appreciate it. Get me some hard copies to sign, and let’s get to work. It’s good to not be at odds with Vince and WWE anymore. Great to be back home! Consider me your ally from now on. Relay the same to Vince. Always Believe, Warrior.”
That would mark the end of any hostility between the two parties. Warrior would get his rightful place into the WWE Hall of Fame, and fans got to relieve his presence in a moment of nostalgia. He would appear on Monday Night RAW, cutting a great bone-chilling promo in-character.
It turned out to be his last, because he tragically passed away the next day. It was no easy feat to get him back on good terms, but that WrestleMania 30 weekend turned out to be one of the most wholesome weeks in WWE history. Warrior may not be around anymore, but he got to celebrate his legacy during his final week where he made a legend out of himself – right home in WWE.