There is a conspiracy theory in wrestling that The Ultimate Warrior died in 1991, and was replaced by a different wrestler playing the part instead.
Jim Hellwig portrayed “The Ultimate Warrior” from his WWE debut in 1987 all the way to his actual death in 2014.
However, he left the WWE in 1991, after main eventing WrestleMania and winning the WWE Championship in a legendary match against Hulk Hogan in 1990.
During this time, the Ultimate Warrior was a physical specimen. He was a bodybuilder-turned-wrestler, and had a physique that any other wrestler would be envious of.
It was his look that made Vince McMahon put the WWE Championship on him – of course, it was not his horrible wrestling ability and lack of physical conditioning that endeared him to the WWE boss.
He was famously not in wrestling shape, with The Undertaker claiming he could wrestle for barely 10-minutes after he’d sprinted to the ring and shook the ropes like his life depended on it.
Ultimate Warrior left the company in 1991, after holding up the WWE for $550,000 to wrestle at Summerslam 1991.
Warrior teamed with Hogan in the Summerslam main event, and he knew that the show could not go on without him.
Vince McMahon agreed, but suspended him immediately after the show, which led to Warrior walking out on the company completely in October 1991.
Ultimate Warrior returned one year later however, after Hulk Hogan left the company to try his hand in Hollywood, before eventually joining WWE’s biggest competitors in WCW.
But something was different. The Ultimate Warrior looked noticeably smaller, with shorter hair and just a general different look about him.
People noticed the change, and rather chalk it up to the steroid scandal that nearly landed Vince McMahon a multi-year stay in jail, they theorized that the only reasonably explanation was that The Ultimate Warrior had died and been replaced.
Did The Ultimate Warrior Die In 1991?
The Ultimate Warrior did not die in 1991, nor was he replaced by another wrestler in 1992.
The rumors were that he died in 1991 (the reasons varied, from a car accident, a heart attack or even AIDS) were completely false, and Jim Hellwig was the man under the face paint in 1992.
Many people thought that Kerry Von Erich replaced him in the WWE, owing to his slightly slender (but still impressive) frame.
The reason for him being smaller was because of the steroid trial changing the wrestling world forever. With Vince McMahon facing prison, he wanted wrestlers to look more natural and smaller, which is why he pushed Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels so much during this era.
This was clear when you look at Hulk Hogan. When he joined WCW in 1992, he is clearly much smaller and slimmer than he was in the WWE, owing to the scrutiny on the wrestling business.
The Ultimate Warrior was planned to win the WWE Championship in 1992, but this was thrown out the window with the focus on smaller, more natural wrestlers.
The main reason that we know Ultimate Warrior didn’t die and be replaced by Kerry Von Erich is because The Texas Tornado himself died in 1993, while Warrior wrestled in WCW in 1998.
The Ultimate Warrior also wrestled his last match in 2008, before dying for real in 2014.
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.