Saturday, April 13

The “Two Ultimate Warriors” Conspiracy Theory, Explained

The Ultimate Warrior represented everything about WWE‘s larger-than-life cartoon-like genre of the 1980s and early 1990s. Despite initially not having much experience in the professional wrestling business, The Ultimate Warrior achieved monumental success during WWE’s Golden Era, especially after defeating Hulk Hogan for the WWE Championship in the main event of Wrestlemania 6.



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Furthermore, as The Ultimate Warrior’s main-event run following his WWE Championship win didn’t last long before taking time off from the company, there were conspiracies that another person was portraying “The Ultimate Warrior” character when he returned to WWE in 1992.

UPDATE: 2024/02/26 20:00 EST BY MICHAEL CHIN

While most wrestling fans in the 1990s understood that the business was a work, they had very limited access to credible backstage information, as even the more widely circulated dirt sheets weren’t a part of most fans’ consciousness. Combine that lack of knowledge with not yet having the Internet or convenient opportunities to re-watch most WWE programming, and it’s easy enough to see how a far-flung idea like The Ultimate Warrior being replaced by another wrestler might get some traction. In fact, there actually have been instances of wrestlers being replaced within the same role–in some cases quite overtly, and other cases more subtly, such that fans didn’t realize the switch had happened at all at the time.


The Rise Of The Ultimate Warrior

WWE Pushed The Ultimate Warrior All The Way Through His Original Run With The Company

  • WWE reinvented The Dingo Warrior as The Ultimate Warrior.
  • The Ultimate Warrior steamrolled his way through the WWE mid-card on the way to the Intercontinental Championship.
  • The Ultimate Warrior beat Hulk Hogan for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 6.


The Ultimate Warrior may not have been the most talented in-ring performer, but one can’t deny his oozing charisma, which helped him succeed in the professional wrestling business. Making his professional wrestling debut in 1985, it didn’t take long for The Ultimate Warrior to break out in WWE during the height of the 1980s Wrestling Boom period. After signing with WWE in 1987, it was only a matter of time before someone like The Ultimate Warrior would go on to run rough shod in the company.

Being among the rest of the cast of larger-than-life cartoon characters of the 1980s Wrestling Boom period, The Ultimate Warrior represented the criteria of the sports-entertainment genre WWE promoted. Someone who looks like a real-life comic book character, The Ultimate Warrior’s intensity as an on-screen character became among the most appealing aspects of his overall persona. And considering he was the man to defeat Hulk Hogan clean for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 6, as Hogan in his prime losing clean was almost unthinkable, The Ultimate Warrior could’ve gone on to be considered an all-time great if he stuck with WWE throughout the 1990s.


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The Ultimate Warrior Leaves WWE In 1991

The Ultimate Warrior’s Last Match Of His Original WWE Run Was A SummerSlam Main Event

  • WWE transitioned the world title from The Ultimate Warrior to Sgt. Slaughter at Royal Rumble 1991.
  • The Ultimate Warrior was unhappy with how WWE had managed his world title reign and how much money he was making.
  • The Ultimate Warrior disappeared from WWE programming after SummerSlam 1991.

Despite winning the WWE Championship against the face of the company at WrestleMania 6, The Ultimate Warrior’s WWE career during the early 1990s didn’t last long, especially after losing the WWE Championship to Stg Slaughter in 1991. To make things worse for The Ultimate Warrior and WWE, The Ultimate Warrior took time off from the company later that year, as he was unhappy with his contract.


After getting into a heated dispute with WWE over wanting a more lucrative deal, The Ultimate Warrior departed from WWE despite becoming an elite-tier star. However, The Ultimate Warrior’s first departure from WWE didn’t last very when he returned to the company in 1992.

The Ultimate Warrior Returns To WWE In 1992 As A Different Warrior?

The Ultimate Warrior Returned At WrestleMania 8, And Some Fans Were Suspicious

Hulk Hogan Ultimate Warrior WrestleMania 8

  • The end of WrestleMania 8 saw The Ultimate Warrior make a surprise return to help Hulk Hogan.
  • The Ultimate Warrior’s smaller musculature and shorter hair led some fans to speculate a different wrestler was playing the character.
  • Some fans thought WWE had substituted Kerry Von Erich into the Ultimate Warrior role.


At WrestleMania 8, The Ultimate Warrior returned to save Hulk Hogan from a beatdown by Sid Justice and Papa Shango moments after Hogan defeated Sid in the main event. The Ultimate Warrior returning to WWE may have initially been positive for the company, especially when Hulk Hogan was about to leave. However, The Ultimate Warrior’s return didn’t exactly pan out the WWE wanted.

For instance, he looked noticeably different when he returned in 1992. Although he was still a physical specimen, The Ultimate Warrior appeared smaller than he did in his previous WWE run. It’s also worth noting that The Ultimate Warrior returned with shorter hair, leaving some thinking there was the possibility of someone else portraying The Ultimate Warrior.

In a wackier turn of events, there were beliefs that Jim Hellwig, who portrayed The Ultimate Warrior, had passed away around the time “The Ultimate Warrior” character was brought back to WWE TV. To make things wackier, some people thought that Kerry Von Erich took over portraying “The Ultimate Warrior” character in 1992.


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The Ultimate Warrior may have looked different, but it’s not hard to see the conspiracy of “The Texas Tornado” Kerry Von Erich replacing his character has no validity behind it. One should also remember that around the time The Ultimate Warrior to WWE, regarding why he appeared leaner, the company was in the middle of a steroid scandal that almost led to Vince McMahon getting imprisoned, so one should expect WWE superstars during this time to appear leaner than usual.

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There Is A History Of Different Wrestlers Playing The Same Character Or One Being Replaced

While The Rumors About The Ultimate Warrior Were Not True, WWE Has Used Different Wrestlers In Different Gimmicks At Times


  • WWE infamously cast a Fake Diesel and Razor Ramon in the early stages of the Monday Night War.
  • WWE booked a second Undertaker and later a second Kane for specific feuds against the originals.
  • Doink the Clown and Sin Cara are examples of WWE more subtly changing the performer behind a gimmick in cases casual fans may never have even realized.

Nowadays, most fans consider the conspiracy theory around a different man playing The Ultimate Warrior after his return to WWE to be pretty absurd and a vestige of a time when people had a poorer understanding of backstage happenings. However, it is worth noting that there have been instances of one wrestler replacing another within the same persona. The most infamous example may be WWE’s clunky attempt at recasting Kevin Nash and Scott Hall’s signature characters with the Fake Razor Ramon and Fake Diesel.


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WWE also played with similar concepts in introducing a second, heel Undertaker for the real Undertaker to return and face at SummerSlam 1994, as well as a second Kane to battle The Big Red Machine in 2006. More directly analogous examples ot the Warrior conspiracy theory, though, include Doink the Clown. The character was played masterfully by Matt Borne, only for him to seamlessly be replaced without WWE acknowledging it or many fans even realizing when Steve Lombardi took over the role (Steve Keirn also worked the gimmick at WrestleMania 9 and particularly on house shows). There’s also the more recent case of Sin Cara starting out as the famous luchador previously known as Mistico, or to ultimately be replaced by his own WWE arch-rival, Hunico.


In The Ultimate Warrior’s case, it’s conceivable WWE may have tried replacing the original worker if they thought they could have gotten away with it, particularly given the drama associated with him behind the scenes. Moreover, there’s a sense in which WCW even tried to pull this trick in casting The Renegade as very clear Warrior knock off (even going so far as to introduce him as Hulk Hogan’s “ultimate surprise” to help him fight off the heels at Uncensored 1995). The Ultimate Warrior was always portrayed by one man, though, so the “Two Ultimate Warriors” conspiracy can be put to rest.

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