View from the Sofa: Ultimate Warrior may have left us, but his words will echo through the ages

WWE Monday Night Raw; Champions League; FA Cup Sky Sports 2; ITV

Stop all the clocks. Strip off to the waist. Tie tassels around your biceps and paint stripes on your face. Plaster your pecs with creosote and roar into the skies. Blast the power ballads, for the Warrior has died.

OK, enough bad WH Auden pastiches. But it is a solemn moment, for tomorrow marks a week since the Ultimate Warrior passed. One of the men who turned sports entertainment from something monster truck fans watch when they have run out of petrol into a global phenomenon has gone to the big square circle in the sky.

Normally professional wrestling wouldn’t be given the light of day in the sports pages. It is too full of pre-determined plots to be considered a real sport. But, after watching the Ultimate Warrior (he legally changed his surname from James Hellwig to Warrior – think of his kids) speak on Monday Night Raw mere hours before his demise at the age of 54, the finite nature of life hit us in the windpipe like a well-timed clothes line. He had just been inducted into the World Wrestling Entertainment Hall of Fame, joining such luminaries as Hulk Hogan, André the Giant and, er, “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers.

And he stepped into the ring, dressed in a suit but still with that familiar death-metaller voice, to deliver some kind of eerie sermon. He said: “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 and something larger than life then his essence, his spirit, will be immortalised.”


It was enough to make pot-bellied wrestling fans pretend they had something in their eyes. But if you take away the carnie showmanship of wrestling, what he said could have come out of the mouth of any sportsman. Imagine John Terry had said it – we’d be canonising him. Or perhaps reeling back our claims that he is an utter clot.

Incidentally, the only wrestler celebrating this week was the Ultimate Worrier, who could at last step out of the shadow of his near namesake. Never heard of him? He shuffles around dressed in spandex muttering: “Did I leave the iron on at home?”

As the week began with tragedy, something familiar and comforting was needed. And a double dose of Adrian Chiles was just the ticket. He had been named in a poll last week as being the most gaffe-prone sports pundit (Andy Townsend must have been left off the shortlist), but that is unfair.

Read more: Wrestling has lost an icon
Nancy Grace discusses wrestler's steroid use

His only “crime” is that he speaks like we do – it’s not his fault that some viewers take everything he says literally. Plus, his relationship with Roy Keane seems to be getting a lot better. The dynamic is a lot easier to watch now Chiles appears to toy with Keane, rather than try to impress him.

What he is best at, as was shown last Tuesday and in Saturday’s FA Cup coverage, is treating football like a game. There is no chest beating, as Sky is often guilty of doing. He’d never be as pompous as to start broadcasts with a piece of poetry. Ah. Oops.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Lettings Administrator

£16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Purpose of Role: To co-ordinate maintena...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager - Commercial Training

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The business development manage...

The Richmond Fellowship Scotland: Executive Director

£66,192 per annum including car allowance of £5,700): The Richmond Fellowship ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£16575 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An excellent opportunity is ava...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent