KELLER’S TAKE: Unleash Your Warrior under fire, as VICE revisits Warrior’s vile comments about Heenan getting cancer – “Karma is just a beautiful thing”

By Wade Keller, PWTorch editor


Ultimate Warrior (photo credit Wade Keller @ PWTorch)

In an article published by Vice today, Ultimate Warrior’s vile, bigoted, hateful, judgmental comments about a cancer victim, Hurricane Katrina victims, homosexual people, a woman defending a gay man, and even Martin Luther King Jr. were presented with the question of why WWE would celebrate Warrior as an inspirational figure in a cancer awareness campaign.

[NOTE: Over two years ago, we republished many of Warrior’s comments in a guest editorial which you can read here: EDITORIAL: WWE’s promotion of Ultimate Warrior as champion of courage and compassion conflicts with his words, clashes with stance on Hogan]

Wade Keller, editorThe point isn’t to dig up decade-plus-old comments from Warrior to “trash the dead,” but rather ask why WWE has chosen him of all heroic figures in their past to celebrate as literally the face of the Susan G. Komen cancer awareness campaign they promote on their international television shows.

VICE article excerpt:

[T]heir insistence on not only welcoming Warrior back into the fold, but completely whitewashing his past and elevating his likeness to a bland symbol of corporate altruism is shockingly tone-deaf, especially for a company that’s at least outwardly trying to appear progressive, inclusive and diverse.

WWE’s response to VICE:

WWE’s ‘Unleash Your Warrior’ breast cancer awareness campaign and annual ‘Warrior Award’ recognize individuals that exhibit the strength and courage of WWE’s legendary character The Ultimate Warrior. Any attempt to distract from the mission of these initiatives and take the spotlight away from the honorees is unfortunately misguided.

So it’s misguided, according to WWE, to point out that their cancer awareness hero, Ultimate Warrior, said this about Bobby Heenan after he found out Heenan had cancer?

“As for you, Booby Heenan, it’s just too difficult to keep a straight face talking about the pure two-faced bag of sh– you are (and have always been), what, with you also actually wearing one as a piece of body jewelry. You are dying, dis-eased on the inside, and no more time is left to get back any of the integrity that matters the most on death’s bed. Imagine what it will be like, lying there taking in your last breaths, knowing you whored yourself out your whole life, and had to, in your final years, be faced with emptying your own personal sh–– bag affirming to you the true value of what you achieved in your life. Not even Vince could come up with a better finish than this. Karma is just a beautiful thing to behold.”

This is not the right response by WWE. There is zero justification that passes muster with any decent human being with good judgment to promote Warrior as a symbolic hero of their anti-cancer campaign. It’s inexcusably bad judgment, which has always been a ticking time bomb for a needless public relations nightmare. It’s the type of decision that could prompt many of those 200 sponsors WWE was boasting about in their publicly released financials yesterday to think twice about whether being aligned with WWE makes good sense for their business. Articles like this aren’t misguided for taking the spotlight away from honorees. WWE’s decision to utilize Warrior as the face of this campaign was misguided, and was always likely to take the spotlight away from the honorees.

This is time for WWE to devise a quiet exit strategy while hoping this VICE article doesn’t snowball into a major issue, which not only focuses on Warrior’s comments on cancer, but also his comments on Katrina victims as WWE begins to heavily promote WrestleMania 34 arriving in New Orleans next year at the Mercedes Benz Superdome. This is what Warrior said about Katrina victims.

Anyone who expresses sentiments like “How could they let this hurricane come here and do this to our lives?” is a kook as far as I am concerned. Those that somehow believe people are directly to blame for the happening of a natural catastrophe don’t deserve to be heard. In fact, they should to be told to shut the hell up. These kinds of people contribute nothing toward repairing things to a better state. Truth is, these people thrive on despair and disarray. Chaos — mentally and physically and in the way they conduct their lives — is nothing new to them. They forge their whole lives in and around it.

This hurricane to them was nothing more than like rearranging the furniture. If we could be shown what general conditions they lived in before the hurricane, we would see that had little respect for what they did have. We would see just how unorganized, unclean, and dysfunctionally they lived. They never gave a care for order, cleanliness or function before, but now that they can get someone’s attention who will possibly take over the responsibility of their life for them, they go on these tirades about how their life has been ruined. Their lives were already in ruin — self ruin. Ruined by the bad choices they made over and over. Beginning with the choice to sit on their ass expecting someone else to hand them a wonderful, beautiful, healthy and wealthy life. And excuse me for being the one to say so, but if you have a dozen kids and no husband to be a father, there are some ‘holes’ in your life plan that should be sewed up.

Also…

And they are fat. Have you ever seen so many fat people? Poverty? Poverty of what? Having enough to buy so much food to eat that you become obese—this is poverty? Only one TV? This is poverty? A house with a roof over your head? This is poverty? Indoor plumbing? Electric appliances? Refrigeration? Phones? Cell phones? Computers? Designer clothes made by rap stars? $200 Nikes? Free medicine and medical care if you really need it? Is having all this poverty? What the hell, then, do we call the scenes they shoot out of Africa that they use to lay guilt trips down on all of us?

They claim New Orleans was (is) a great city. Maybe once it was, I don’t know. Too, maybe it’s just always been corrupt as it has been for years and years. Truth is, today, it was nothing more than a pornographic cesspool of decadence and depravity. You know, an East Coast version of that Las Vegas take on vacation time—‘what you do there stays there.’ You go there, drink and drink and drink and behave like a pervert, reprobate, and degenerate, take a huge dose of antibiotics and a nice extra long shower before you hop on the plane back home, and, ‘Hey, who knows any better?’ You go back to the church, PTA, and local council and ‘squarely’ fit right back in. One thing is for sure: IF New Orleans ever was a great city, it certainly was not because it had leaders and citizenry like the leaders and citizenry it has today.

This might turn into an issue in the local media in the lead-up to WrestleMania in New Orleans. Or it might not. But WWE, taking that chance, would be disservice to stock holders who expect them to make basic common sense decisions about whom they choose to celebrate and prop up as a heroic figure. Warrior was not. He did not publicly retract his comments.

Dana Warrior told VICE:

I will not be disloyal to my husband’s memory or speak ill of a man who is not here to defend himself. I can, however, tell you his heart was changed by conversations with his two daughters. The true testament of the man behind the character is his ability to evolve. My husband did just that.

It’s wonderful if Warrior’s daughters changed his viewpoints. That his daughters and wife can know he no longer held those vile, bigoted, mean-spirited viewers can bring them some sense of peace, perhaps. But those comments disqualify him from being celebrated for his legacy, because his legacy includes those public comments, which are more relevant than anything he did in a pro wrestling ring when it comes to using his image as symbol of showing spirit and bravery in women’s fight against breast cancer.

When speaking at the University of Connecticut 12 years ago, Warrior told a gay student asking him a question to “take that object out of your mouth when speaking to me.” The student had nothing in his mouth. When a woman was upset with his comments to the gay student, Warrior said: “Don’t have an orgasm, honey.”

The VICE article concludes:

Either they were unaware of Warrior’s past statements or they were aware and just thought they might sweep them under the rug like many of the other uglier parts of their corporate history. However it happened, the company has now spent years devoting significant resources to promoting a reactionary who is on record saying things that would make Rush Limbaugh blush, as a heroic figure of inspiration and redemption. It appears that they will continue to do so.

This simply and definitively isn’t an issue with two sides about which reasonable people can disagree. It’s time for WWE to completely disassociate itself from Warrior’s image and legacy at the most, or at the very least stop celebrating it and retire it at the end of this month’s cancer awareness campaign. Susan G. Komen deserves better. New Orleans deserves better. There have been many inspirational, good people who have wrestled for WWE and rightfully been role models for kids and women fighting breast cancer. Warrior simply is at the very bottom of that list.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE BY VICE HERE: WWE is Whitewashing The Ultimate Warrior’s Bigoted Past

9 Comments on KELLER’S TAKE: Unleash Your Warrior under fire, as VICE revisits Warrior’s vile comments about Heenan getting cancer – “Karma is just a beautiful thing”

  1. “This simply and definitively isn’t an issue with two sides about which reasonable people can disagree.”

    I don’t disagree with the sentiment in your article, but everything is up for debate Wade. You should never close your ears to the other side of the argument and assume they are just unreasonable before even hearing them out.

  2. I never forgot and think about it every time I see these promos or commercials and when they celebrated him and HOFed him. He was a fkg kook, his own words condemn him. How lovely his daughters forgive him – but I’m not his kin, I never heard him apologize, and screw him. Typical corporate bs of the moment, defending that which is indefensible.

  3. I guess in WWE’s mind Warrior, a couragous mystical-slash-kooky bulk of muscle, and Jim Helwig, the utter and complete douchebag, are two separate things and they link the award and commemoration of cancer survivors with the former, ignoring the latter. The character being one thing and the man behind it being another.

    But ol’ Jim wouldn’t change his name if Warrior was only a role he played, now would he. WWE can cover their ears and scream “lalala” all they want but that won’t change the fact that Warrior was who he was – and he WAS Ultimate Warrior, on and off screen.

    Whatever reasoning and excuse WWE can bring up, they could’ve picked better. Or at least “less bad”, as when you dig into legends’ lives, many aren’t really as good of people as they are being made up to be.

  4. “But those comments disqualify him from being celebrated for his legacy…”

    Clearly, the WWE (and, frankly, the vast majority of its fans) doesn’t think so.

    Look, was Warrior a perfect choice to be the symbol for this campaign? No. Is the controversy over his nasty attitude a tempest in a teapot? I’d say so. 95 percent of people who remember him remember him for his wrestling career, not his post-career silliness. They remember the icon, not the man.

    Even Gandhi himself had a lot of ugly viewpoints that people are eager to overlook. Again, people choose to remember the icon, not the man.

    This vendetta against a dead man is just petty, Wade. It is, ironically, a very Warrior thing to do.

    • It is obvious to me that Keller doesn’t like Hellwig because he was a Republican. Wrestling please, not left wing loser politics. Thanks.

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