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Never say never in the world of sports entertainment.
Following a strained relationship with Vince McMahon and the WWE that dates back to 1996, The Ultimate Warrior has buried the hatchet and will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame prior to WrestleMania 30 this April in New Orleans.
“The Ultimate Warrior was the most intense, colorful, competitive and outspoken Superstar in sports entertainment history, and his contributions to WWE were extraordinary,” said WWE Chairman & CEO Vince McMahon in a statement. “We are thrilled to induct The Ultimate Warrior into the WWE Hall of Fame.”
"Thrilled" is not a term wrestling fans expected McMahon to ever say following Warrior's untimely departure from the WWE during his last stint with the company. Best known for his electrifying entrance music, incoherent interviews and pinning Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania VI, Warrior was in the middle of a WWE return following a nearly four-year hiatus when his contract was reportedly terminated by McMahon after he failed to show up at live events.
There aren't many men that hold a grudge like McMahon and Warrior was nowhere to be found on WWE programming until the company released a DVD in 2005 titled "The Self-Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior."
Let's just say the DVD was less than flattering as WWE talent took turns mocking Warrior while working in clips throughout his wrestling career. Warrior was so upset about the project that he filed a lawsuit against the WWE, claiming the DVD project violated a March 2000 settlement agreement that stated both sides wouldn't disparage each other. An Arizona judge ruled that Warrior had breached his own agreement first for disparaging public comments about the WWE and the lawsuit was tossed out.
A resolution between both sides didn't seem possible until last summer when 2K Sports announced that Warrior would be a playable character in WWE 2K14 and featured him in an epic promotional commercial.
Now 54, Warrior will finally get his proper farewell from wrestling in front of what should be a sold-out crowd at the New Orleans Arena on April 5.
This marks the second year in a row the WWE has extended the olive branch to a former legend. Thanks to some great work by wrestler and WWE executive Triple H, the longest-reigning WWE champion of all-time, Bruno Sammartino, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2013. Not only did Sammartino and McMahon have their share of issues that needed to be ironed out, the 78-year-old was quite critical of the modern day wrestling product.
With Sammartino and Warrior now in, the late Randy "Macho Man" Savage continues to be the biggest glaring omission from the Hall of Fame.
Now, time for the real question:
Who inducts the @UltimateWarrior into the hall of fame? That's a tall order.
— Coach (@CMPunk) January 14, 2014
Has to be Hulk Hogan, right?