Remembering The Life And Legacy Of The Ultimate Warrior

1985. After years as a bodybuilder, James Hellwig connected with a few fellow bodybuilders in California. One of them was Steve Borden - better known as Sting - who was transitioning into the world of professional wrestling. This inspired him to share Borden's passion, and he abandoned his projected career for the sake of being a pro wrestler. He received his first break as "Jim Justice," one of four members of Powerteam USA, along with Borden (known as "Flash"), Mark Miller and Garland Donoho. His trainer - Rick Bassman - was the manager of the group, and both Hellwig and Borden immediately became the focus. As a result, the two formed a tag team called the Freedom Fighters (Justice and Flash) under the tutelage of Dutch (Zeb Colter) Mantel, and then gained immense popularity as the Blade Runners (Rock and Flash) in Jerry Jarrett's Continental Wrestling Association (CWA) promotion.

The team then moved on to Bill Watts' Mid-South Wrestling - which turned into the Universal Wrestling Federation - as members of Eddie Gilbert's Hot Stuff International stable. The two were one of the top heel tag teams in the promotion, and this catapulted Hellwig to endeavor in a singles career, leaving UWF to debut as Dingo Warrior for World Class Championship Wrestling (WCCW).

Before his singles push Warrior teamed up with Lance Von Erich, and won the WCWA Tag Team Championships. After just a short reign, the team split and Dingo Warrior fully pursued his career as a singles wrestler. His first achievement was winning the WCWA Texas Heavyweight Championship, a title with a rich lineage of holders such as WWE Hall of Famers Jimmy Snuka, Rocky Johnson, Blackjack Mulligan and Ernie Ladd.

Based on his success as a singles competitor in WCCW, Warrior was offered a spot on the WWE roster in 1987.

From Jim Justice, to Justice, to Dingo Warrior, Warrior finally found a name that would stick - The Ultimate Warrior. He became so engulfed in his career, that he legally changed his name to Warrior in 1993. His first major feud in the WWE was against Hercules, and it culminated at WrestleMania IV with an Ultimate Warrior victory.

He then had his sights on championship gold, and won the Intercontinental Championship less than a year after his debut by defeating Honky Tonk Man in an open challenge at SummerSlam 1988.

Then, the 1989 Royal Rumble. Warrior participated in a posedown with "Ravishing" Rick Rude. After getting the winning vote from the fans, Rude attacked Warrior, commencing a feud that would give Warrior his first major mortal moment by losing to Rude at WrestleMania V. Warrior would rebound from this loss, and regain the title four months later at SummerSlam.

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