Ultimate Warrior Interview

Many fans will remember the character of the Ultimate Warrior played by Jim Hellwig. He recently conducted an extensive interview on his career and other thoughts:

  1. Who came up with the original concept of the Dingo Warrior character?

I did. When I went to WCCW.

  1. Did you ever imagine that the Ultimate Warrior would become as huge of a superstar as he did?

Well, I've said before, to the consternation of many people in the business who think they know more about my life than I do, that when I got in the business I set goals for myself. Of course, a lot of people do that. They pursue goals and things that don't work out as they originally envisioned. I did get in the business and set goals for myself and I was giving myself a time frame.

Was there a definitive amount of time I was giving myself when I got in the business? No. But I had taken a leave from pursuing a doctor of chiropractic career with the idea that I would go make some money, come back and open my own practice. So when I got in it I did have high goals. I don't set any low goals. I didn't get in it just to be a pro wrestler. I didn't know the terms at the time but as I came to know the terms I would say I didn't get into the business to become a jobber or a guy that didn't reach the top of the business.

  1. What do you feel contributed to the character becoming so big in the wrestling world?

Well, on a number of different levels. I mean his presence, the way he looked, the body thing, the connection to looking like he walked off the pages of a comic book, the continual evolution of the character from the beginning. I invested in the character. My efforts to refine my physique and use the knowledge I had from my body building career.

I knew when me and Steve got in the business that bodies were coming in. The Road Warrior guys were an impressive duo. They were upper body guys. They didn't have the legs. They didn't have the full physique like I did. So I knew to use my physique and if I could keep from getting injured that I could make a spot in it. There were characters in the business and I knew if I could take my own personality characteristics and wrap them up in an energetic, exciting, intense character that it would help his appeal and help build a fan base. Some of the stuff naturally happened out of instinct in the ring.

At first when I was in the WWF they had three shows a night. I wasn't on the TV. They had A, B, and C teams. I was on the C team at the time, learning. Some of the stuff I did in the ring just came out and I knew just from listening to the fans just to continue to do even though the veterans at the time told me they didn't think it would be a good thing for me to continue to do those things as the character would ultimately just die out if I did. The vernacular, the jargon, everything I created around him, the whole comic book world, what he was, how he talked, how he acted, and everything about him, there is something very motivating about it and it was very energetic for people. There wasn't ever a lull in the energy. I think that's one of the reasons why he became so big. It was the entire package.

  1. Speaking of the entire package and the "comic book" look, how does it feel to be immortalized as a character in video games, comic books, and as an action figure?

That's pretty cool. When I was in the business I didn't really pay attention. I can't ever remember grabbing a couple of t shirts at the time. They did merchandise at the buildings and that was it. They didn't have the magazine or anything at the time. You'd grab a t shirt or you'd cross paths with Jimmy that did the merchandise and you'd grab a hat or a picture or something like that but you were always on the road and never gave it much attention.

Later on, in the mid-90's, I met my wife. She didn't know what I did. She very quickly found out and started looking around and tracked down all the merchandise that was available at the beginning of the 90's and we got all of it. It is kinda neat to have it. The stuff that's coming out like the recent Jakks Classic Series is popular. It's all neat to have. I don't let it go to my head. I mean I'm not surrounded by it in my office and just sitting there looking at it.

  1. I don't want to spend too much time on the WWF as I am not a huge fan of theirs and you are probably tired of answering the same questions about your time there time and time again but what has been your most memorable moment in the WWF?

Of course, my match with Hogan was definitely the peak of my career. It was the culmination of all the hard work and effort. It was the realization of the goal that I had set for myself. I constantly fed myself positive ideas and thoughts and messages as I was developing the character so that the character would rise up to that level. Of course, there were a lot of things that weren't in my control but I'm a big believer in positive thought and confirming to yourself the goals that you want to have or see realized.

I have a lot of fond memories of being in the business. I guess if you made a list it would be a real long list and they all wouldn't mean the same thing to me. My run with Rick Rude and my beginning run with Hercules. Even before I got on TV my runs with some of the guys like Steve Lombardi and those guys. When I look back over it and how I grew in the business and what happened and the excitement at each different stage. Even my match with Hogan and looking back at my career, what I've done and what I wanted to do next. It would have been great to see how the Ultimate Warrior would have evolved in the business had he stayed in it, but that's just something that didn't happen.

  1. Since leaving the WWF and WCW you have been doing a lot, including public speaking engagements. Could you catch us up on all that you have been doing since your departure from wrestling?

I went on with my life, out of necessity. I have always set goals for myself and I pursued those goals. I made decent money in the business but I didn't make the kind of money that I can retire forever and I don't know that there is any kind of success in just sitting on your can and retiring forever. I like to be busy and I like to do things so I got involved in other things. Having had the unique experience as a role model with young kids, even behind the silliness of the painted face, I got to understand the power of it. I wanted to continue to positively influence people and I knew building a speaking career was one way I could do it. I financed a self learning journey and redirected my energies that I had spent physically, although I still love to work out and exercise but it's a whole different thing know because I'm not going out in front of people every night in my trunks, and my natural curiosity about things into reading, writing, and learning.

I went on a self learning journey with the great books of the western world. I started studying American history and built a speaking career out of that. Simply going out and talking to kids in schools and telling them that power in your life comes from using you mind not your muscles. Using what I used to do to get their attention and then, once I have their attention, talking about serious ideas. That grew into a deeper set of ideas about the world. I hooked up with Young Americas Foundation in Ronald Regan's Ranch and started going out to college campuses talking about the philosophy of life that I live by. I continue to do that and work on that.

  1. Do you have any desire to return to wrestling in any capacity?

I've been asked that before and the quick ready answer is no. I don't sit around thinking about it. What would drive me to do it would be a really creative challenge to do it. That's what would drive me to do it. However, I don't foresee that there's anything out there to make that happen. I don't sit around and fantasize about going back to the WWF. I don't want to. There are too many things about the business, creatively, that I am at odds at as a grown up and a father and a guy that has gone on and continued to do positive and decent things with young people and build a career out of that.

I'm 45. I would love to go full guns and get all blown up again to the Ultimate Warrior character and be intense. I loved doing that. I still work out very hard and enjoy it very much. I sometimes fantasize about having a goal where there's a payday at the end, if I devoted my time to that. Being Ultimate Warrior, having that kind of physique and staying on top of that kind of image is a full time job. Mostly with eating, food, and thinking about it. Anybody that's been around great athletes and understands them knows that, and I'm not going to say something cliché like 90% or 50%, but a great part of it is constantly visualizing and thinking about it all the time, even as you go about your other everyday things. That's why people who become super successful bodybuilders or super successful olympic athletes give it their all, all the time. It's not just something they turn on for a few weeks then go back to doing something else.

  1. On October 30th, you will be making a rare appearance in NYC with your former tag team partner Sting. How did this appearance come about and how long has it been since you've been in NYC?

Well, a few months ago I was up at Hofstra and I've been to a few other places there but, in any type of association or wrestling type of appearance like that, it's been a long time. I met Jonathan, the owner of Ringside Collectibles, at a college speaking engagement at Bentley College a couple of years ago. I didn't know anything about what his career goals were or what he was doing, I just knew that he was the chairman of the College Republicans and he worked for the Young America's Foundation to bring me in. When I got there I found out that he was a huge collector of action figures, especially wrestling figures, and had been since he was a kid. He was actually going to school to acquire the knowledge of how to grow a business in that market. He has done that and it's been inspiring to watch him do that. I stayed in touch with him over the last couple of years and especially when Jakks came out with the Classic Series, we did an auction over there for a couple of limited edition things I had and some autographed figures. He has a couple of guys working with him that work on the independent scene and we talked a few times about the conventions that are going on being held using some of the other talent that worked with me during the time I was in the WWF.

I have been approached a couple of times about doing those things but I'm just not interested in sitting at the same table with a bunch of those guys. Not for any reasons. Some of them are good people and I would enjoy seeing them again but Ultimate Warrior is an entirely different identity in the business. I am his agent, I'm his salesperson, I'm the owner of his intellectual property so I'm not interested in showing up like the other characters do at those sort of things. So, Jonathan talked to me about doing something differently and it has turned out to be different. I'm excited about doing it.

From what I hear it should be a huge turnout and a lot of tickets have already been sold.

That's good. I'm not interested in showing up for anybody and just taking their money and nothing happening for them. I want it to be good for them. That is a major reason why I don't do a lot of things like that. I want it to be good for them and I knew with the knowledge Jonathan has would go to work to make it happen good for him.

  1. What's the biggest misconception people have about you?

(pause)

You didn't think the questions would get this tough, did you?

(laughs) There are certainly a lot of them. That I was the creator of all the fallouts I had in the business is one of them. Nothing is further from the truth. I simply refused to tolerate being done wrong and I'm not afraid to stand up to whatever the consequences of it are. That's why my career turned out the way that it did.

I would say another mischaracterization is what comes along with that. The misconceptions that I am not dependable, that I am an asshole, that I am full of myself. I am full of myself when it comes to defending the mischaracterizations about my career. When people want to attack the legitimacy of my career and they want to talk about what the Ultimate Warrior didn't do. Take that and set it side by side with what Ultimate Warrior, as a character, did in the business and what his success really represents. I'm not OK with that. If that extends itself to being mischaracterized again as an asshole then so be it.

People say I'm not willing to make compromises and that is true. I'm not willing to make compromises. I'm not going to compromise what is right with a little bit of what is wrong. I'm not going to compromise what is true with a little bit of what is false. I'm not OK with that. The other stuff doesn't bother me. I can't keep up with all the rumors. I have to recognize what it has done though. It has continued to keep a mystery alive about me and Ultimate Warrior as a character.

What would you say?

I would say the misconception, like you said, about you having an attitude problem.

You can go round and round with it. Isn't it funny today? You really just can't say something's the way it is and everybody just says that's the way it is. Everyone has a different "spin" on it. The other ones were trivial. Like I was a steroid freak for all the years that I was in the business. If I was a tenth of the steroid freak that everybody thought I was, I'd be dead like the other guys I worked with.

  1. What can your fans look forward to from you in the future?

Well, a book one day. I've talked about it a lot of times. In fact I would say I've talked about it so much and it has yet to happen. It's probably OK for people to say Warrior will never do a book. A book is something for people to look forward to. I want to write it myself and I don't want to just do an ABC storytelling of the meaningless stuff like going from town to town, ring to ring, match to match. I want to talk about how having the unique experience of being Ultimate Warrior in professional wrestling has made me the man I am to day and caused me to think the way I do about things. I want to write about mentoring, about the importance of thinking bigger than yourself but realizing that when you do that it really becomes all about yourself. I want to talk about our cultural atmosphere and everything else like that.

I don't know what else. I want to continue to grow as a speaker. The greatest thing I will ever do is be a parent and I work hard at that every day and I don't have any aspirations to be part of the Hollywood scene or entertainment. I don't aspire to go out there. They certainly are not going to hear about me dying in some Motel 6 room over a cheap dirty bag of cocaine, or extasy, or speed or something like that. I would say they are probably going to hear more mischaracterizations about me (laughs)

I prefered the work of the first Ultimate Warrior. It's a shame he died so young. RIP.

Hmm...he seemed markedly less crazy than usual in that interview...perhaps there is a 3rd Ultimate Warrior now. (RIP for the first 2).

feels need to shake ring ropes

he seemed markedly less crazy than usual in that interview...perhaps there is a 3rd Ultimate Warrior now.

makes sense...

RIP (UW 1 & UW 2)

lol at not knowing helwig's the original and still breathing heh. or lol at me for not catching the sarcasm. one of the two :D

www.ultimatewarrior.com

Such inspirational content...check it out

lol at not knowing helwig's the original and still breathing heh. or lol at me for not catching the sarcasm. one of the two :D

The latter :)

Helwig's actually the 4th one, there was the one week that Doink the Clown played the Warrior that everyone forgets about

ONE WARRIOR NATION