He was their Warrior

When Mr Ken Ng was a student, wrestler The Ultimate Warrior kept him going through tough times at the university.

Mr Ng, 35, had struggled with juggling 10 academic modules - at least twice as many as what his peers did.

But he kept in mind the wrestling legend's "never give up" spirit to see him through.

Naturally, The Ultimate Warrior's death on Tuesday came as a shock and dealt a big blow to his fans in Singapore.

Mr Ng, an operations manager in the gaming industry, told The New Paper yesterday that his wrestling idol's never-say-die attitude is one of the things he will fondly remember.

He said: "He was always a source of motivation for me, a reminder to not give up. I was shocked to learn of his death because he was only 54."

Mr Ng recalled a time in the late 1980s when he would watch the matches on TV with his father, uncle and grandfather.

For "special matches", they would join other fans at video rental shops that showed the fights.

The Ultimate Warrior, born James Brian Hellwig, died on Tuesday night after collapsing at a hotel in Arizona, US.

 

UNKNOWN

The cause of death is still unknown, with an autopsy and toxicology tests to be performed later this week.

It came shortly after he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame on Saturday, appeared at WrestleMania 30 on Sunday and was on Monday Night Raw for the first time since 1996.

He delivered a powerful and somewhat prophetic speech that Monday: "No WWE talent becomes a legend of his own. Every man's heart one day beats its final beat. His lungs breathe a 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 and something larger than life then his essence, his spirit will be immortalised.

"You are the Ultimate Warrior fans. And the spirit of the Ultimate Warrior will run forever."

Known for his inspirational words and pre-fight speeches, his words continue to be a source of motivation for fans here.

Another local WWE fan Muhammad Abdukharil Noorman, 28, said: "Till now, I keep re-watching old promos of him and it might seem like he was speaking gibberish.

"But now that I know better, he said many things that one can learn from and apply in real life. His death is a loss to the world of wrestling because he was inspiring ­- and no one else was as charismatic and crazy as him."

The warehouse assistant started watching WWE matches when he was just four years old, following in the footsteps of his grandfather.

 

INTENSE

"The Ultimate Warrior was so intense on screen that you believed it was real," he said.

The 1.88m, 127kg heavyweight was well-known for his neon attire, build, energetic style and signature moves.

He began his career in 1987, and rose to become one of the biggest WWE superstars.

A key highlight in his career was his epic victory against arch-enemy Hulk Hogan in 1990 at WrestleMania VI for the WWE championship.

IT consultant Liang Shuming, 43, said: "There are so many bad characters in WWE but he is one of the few good ones. The one and only Ultimate Warrior."

Life lessons from a wrestler

The time of the night had come ­- the thumping of the Ultimate Warrior's entrance music was being played on television and I was up on my feet.

While he sprinted into the ring, I ran the length of my living room.

As he shook the ring ropes as if he was going to tear them off, I grabbed my imaginary ropes and did the head bang along with him.

My mum, knitting peacefully in her armchair, watched on in horror, shaking her head and muttering her disapproval as her needles clicked furiously.

I was too young then to realise fully how staged and scripted a lot of the then-World Wrestling Federation's shows were.

The business correctly changed its name to World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) eventually.

But back when I was a young boy, wrestling was my favourite television programme.

And the Ultimate Warrior was my hero.

My mum would never have believed me, but I dare say I learnt a lot about life from him.

1. LESS TALK, MORE ACTION

While most wrestlers loved to prance around and pose before they made their way to the ring, the Ultimate Warrior was in the ring in a flash.

Once out from behind the curtains, he burst to the ring and slid in.

He was all business right from the get go and was always ready for battle.

And in an industry where wrestlers seemed to talk more than wrestle, the Ultimate Warrior was an anomaly.

He did have lines to spew in promotional videos and lead-ups to big matches, but he was never the kind who spoke too much.

He didn't need to. His body language and expressions said all he needed to.

While his colleagues took snakes, scissors, guitars, urns and hot women with them to the ring, the Ultimate Warrior went in with nothing but his bulging muscles.

2. PASSION AND INTENSITY

The Ultimate Warrior was all about adrenaline.

You could see his intensity when competing even under his face paint.

In matches, when he was taking a massive beating, there would come a time when he would start shaking the ropes and be oblivious to any punches.

Part of the show, some would say, but he showed a young boy what it meant to rise even when someone was beating you down.

One particular match encapsulated that intensity. He beat the Honky Tonk Man to win the Intercontinental Championship in under 30 seconds.

He ripped into his flashy opponent right from the off, never giving him a chance to breathe, and beat him one, two, three.

Fast, furious and effective.

3. ENDURANCE

The match that defined his career was defeating Hulk Hogan to become champion at WrestleMania VI.

Warrior survived everything that Hogan threw at him, avoiding the Hogan Legdrop - Hulk Hogan's famed finishing move - and turning the tables on him.

It was an intense match that swung from one extreme to another.

And at the end, when the Warrior had his hand raised, it was out of true respect that Hulk Hogan himself handed him the championship belt, lifted the Warrior's arm in victory and left the ring gracefully to let the younger man soak in the applause.

 

4. STAYING TRUE TO HIMSELF

Many wrestling stars have offended the McMahon family, who runs the company.

The Warrior did, too, but never opted to suck up to them to get back into the business, unlike many of his peers.

Although they apparently settled their differences just a few days before his death, when he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, he had stayed away from the WWE for 16 years until his recent return.

 

This article was published on April 11 in The New Paper.

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