The professional wrestler known as The Ultimate Warrior had a distinguished and often controversial career in what was then the World Wrestling Federation. He beat Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania VI in 1990, had memorable matches with the likes of “Macho Man” Randy Savage and “Ravishing” Rick Rude, and delivered delightfully rambling backstage monologues.
But the wrestler, whose real name was Jim Hellwig before he legally changed it to “Warrior,” also had multiple contentious departures from WWF/WWE, with both parties suing one another in the late 1990s. In the spring of 2014, Warrior returned for his induction into the WWE Hall of Fame, appeared at Monday Night RAW to give a speech, and then died of a heart attack the following day.
In his memory, WWE created a “Warrior Award,” which it presents each year, per WWE, to “exhibited unwavering strength and perseverance, and who lives life with the courage and compassion that embodies the indomitable spirit of the Ultimate Warrior.”
The presenting of this award has at times been controversial because Warrior — when he attempted in the later years of his life to reinvent himself as a conservative political commentator — made notable anti-gay comments. Per Deadspin, Warrior once said “queering don’t make the world work” during a speech to a student group at the University of Connecticut.
So in light of that, many wrestling fans were shocked when Dana Warrior, the wrestler’s widow, who currently works for WWE as part of their creative team, posted a tweet in celebration of Pride Month. In the tweet, Dana was clad in her late husband’s trademark facepaint.
????I stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community and honor YOU with #Pride this month! I believe in equality, education, awareness, and this simple fact: love wins... Always!!— Dana Warrior (@DanaWarriorWWE) June 13, 2019
xo❤️????????????????????d ????️???? #Pride2019 #PrideMonth #LGBTQ pic.twitter.com/ailTrQyK2K
While some expressed appreciation that Dana appears to not hold the same anti-LGBT views held by her late husband, others considered the post as tone-deaf, or perhaps an attempt by WWE to express half-hearted pro-LGBT sentiments.
“Us LGBTQ fans all TRULY know how your husband felt,” a Twitter user named Jeremiah said in the replies. “We’ve seen the speeches and will ‘Always Believe’ he hated us. You may be an ally and that is appreciated, but he was the opposite. It’s how we will remember him, sadly.”
“This would have been a nice gesture if she hadn’t used a picture invoking the memory of a massive homophobe, whilst not condemning said massive homophobe. So it is in fact, at best, an empty gesture, and at worst an incredibly cynical and hypocritical one,” Twitter user Dan Spursquins said, in reply to Dana Warrior’s tweet.