Jonathan Bachman/AP Images for WWE

As the Ultimate Warrior approached the podium to give his World Wrestling Entertainment Hall of Fame induction speech, he was flanked by his two young daughters, Indiana and Mattigan.

“I will always be your dad,” Warrior later told his daughters from the stage Saturday night in New Orleans.

It was hard to reconcile the doting dad with the muscled wrestler with neon face paint and tassels around his biceps who was one of the biggest stars of the late 1980s and early 1990s, perhaps best known for his victory against Hulk Hogan in WrestleMania VI in 1990.

Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania VI.

It was even harder to reconcile the news three days later, when the WWE announced late Tuesday night that the Ultimate Warrior had died. A cause of death has not been determined. He was 54.

But the Warrior’s final days were all about reconciliation, redemption and unknowingly, farewell.

After an 18 year estrangement from the WWE, Warrior was enshrined in the Hall of Fame, appeared at WrestleMania 30 on Sunday at the Mercedes Benz Superdome and returned to “Monday Night Raw” for the first time since 1996. He also had signed a multi year deal to become an ambassador for the company.

In his final public appearance Monday night, Warrior donned the long jacket with his image hand painted on the back, similar to what he wore during his wrestling days, and put on a mask that looked like his trademark face paint. As he pulled the mask over his face, he growled, morphing into character, and said, Leave the talking to me, in perhaps a nod to detractors who questioned whether he was ever able to separate the man from the character.

“No WWE talent becomes a legend on their own,” he told the crowd. “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 believe deeper in something that’s larger than life, then his essence, his spirit, will be immortalized by the storytellers by the loyalty, by the memory of those who honor him, and make the running the man did live forever.

“I am the Ultimate Warrior, you are the Ultimate Warrior fans and the spirit of the Ultimate Warrior will run forever.”

Warrior was born James Brian Hellwig, but legally changed his name to Warrior in 1993 (His children use Warrior as their last name.) As former WWE chief executive officer Linda McMahon pointed out, he opted not to change his name to “Jim Warrior” or “Warrior Hellwig,” but just “Warrior,” emblematic of the ethos and beliefs that he had adopted. After his wrestling career, he became a motivational speaker and even started an ill fated fitness program.

Warrior was known for his energetic style, sprinting to the ring violent shaking of the ropes to psych himself up and unique interview style that left fans captivated or confused, and often both. The thumping beats that heralded his arrival might be the best entrance music in wrestling history.

His matches were never scientific and rarely long but his combination of press slam, clotheslines and splash were effective. His first Intercontinental title victory came against the Honky Tonk Man at Summer Slam in 1988 and lasted barely 30 seconds. Honky had made the fatal wrestling error of an open challenge.

A bodybuilder, his minimal initial wrestling training came on a racquetball court in California in the early 1980s. His early career was marked by his work in a tag team known as the Blade Runners with Steve Borden, who would later become Sting. Warrior was known as Blade Runner Rock and Borden as Blade Runner Flash.

His use of the Warrior name came in the Texas based World Class Championship Wrestling where he worked as the Dingo Warrior and was billed as being from Queens, N.Y.

Warrior came to the then WWF in 1987 and was re branded as The Ultimate Warrior. He had multiple stints in the WWE, ending in contract disputes, litigation and acrimony. WWE released a DVD in 2005 called “The Self Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior” that featured negative comments about the Warrior’s work and persona from WWE officials and other performers. The DVD, which did not include interviews with Warrior, led to another lawsuit.

During his Hall speech, Warrior made reference several times to the DVD and said it “broke my heart I was a good guy. I am a good guy.”

Warrior credited WWE executive vice president Paul Levesque, a k a Triple H, for helping repair the tattered relationship. Stephanie McMahon, WWE’s chief brand officer, had tweeted a photo of her father, Vince McMahon the company’s chairman and Warrior in an embrace Monday with the caption, “Never say never.”

“The Ultimate Warrior is a legend and the Ultimate Warrior fans, you are legendary,” he said. “I saw you fight back against all the lies, the mischaracterizations. They tried to repurpose your minds, rewrite history about the fond wonderful memories of the Ultimate Warrior. You fought back and I am here because of you.”

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