Last night, Joseph Laurinaitis — better known to all of us as WWE Hall of Famer Road Warrior Animal — passed away in Osage Beach, MO. He was 60 years old.
Animal and Hawk didn't just redefine tag team wrestling in the 1980s, they were the template for the kinds of performers Vince McMahon would make famous in the WWF when he took the promotional nationwide. While they began their careers as The Road Warriors, it was their name in the WWE, Legion of Doom, that suited them best. They were huge, intimidating, and they were there to destroy.
Laurinaitis had recently been co-hosting Sportskeeda's WWE RAW post-show for the last few weeks with Chris Featherstone. It was fantastic to listen to such a great and accomplished veteran of the business share his opinion of the current product, as well as compare it to his own experiences. On top of that, he was a really nice guy to boot.
So, let's take a look back at some of those moments in his career and celebrate one of the greatest tag team wrestlers of all time: Road Warrior Animal.
(Please note: these are in no particular order)
#5. Animal and Hawk arrive in London
1992 wasn't a particularly kind year for the Legion of Doom in the WWF. They were nearing the end of their first run in the company, and Hawk's issues with substance abuse were beginning to become more visibly evident. While they were reunited with their original manager, Paul Ellering, they were also saddled with a ventriloquist dummy named "Rocco."
When it came time to open up the first major WWF Pay-Per-View outside of North America, however, Hawk and Animal blew it right out of the water. Or, more accurately, they drove over it on motorcycles.
With over 80,000 fans exploding into the biggest "Road Warrior pop" ever heard, Hawk, Animal, and Ellering (and also Rocco) tore down the ramp on motorbikes in an entrance that would be copied over the years by legends like The Undertaker and Triple H. The Legion of Doom had invaded Wembley Stadium and London couldn't have been more thrilled.
It wasn't long after this match that Animal found himself sidelined for a while with a back injury, and it was the last appearance of the team in the WWF for a number of years. But that one moment: What a rush.
Their SummerSlam the year before, however, was even better.