WWE legend Joe Laurinaitis, a.k.a Road Warrior Animal, has died at age 60. His family and WWE both confirmed his death on Wednesday morning.
At this time, we would like to confirm the passing of Joseph Laurinaitis aka Road Warrior Animal at the age of 60. The family is planning to release a statement later today. At this time we ask for you to keep everyone in your thoughts and prayers. #OhWhatARush— RoadWarriorAnimal (@RWAnimal) September 23, 2020
Laurinaitis was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2011 alongside partner Michael Hegstrand (Road Warrior Hawk) as the two comprised one of the most iconic and dominant tag teams in the history of professional wrestling, the Road Warriors (also known as the Legion of Doom).
Hegstrand died of a heart attack in 2003 at age 46.
Laurinaitis had a brief run at the start of his career competing individually as The Road Warrior before being paired with friend and fellow wrestler, Hegstrand, to form The Road Warriors in 1983. With their trademark face paint and spiked shoulderpads, the powerful duo quickly became a top attraction in Georgia Championship Wrestling, winning the NWA national tag team championship three times in the promotion.
The pair moved through the AWA, Japan and Jim Crockett Promotions -- later World Championship Wrestling (WCW) -- winning tag team championships at every stop while establishing themselves as one of the biggest draws in wrestling with legendary reactions from fans. They were also part of the first-ever WarGames match in WCW, teaming with Dusty Rhodes and Nikita Koloff against The Four Horsemen.
In June 1990, the pair signed with the World Wrestling Federation (now WWE) and debuted as the Legion of Doom, a name they had used at times early in their run with manager Paul Ellering. As was standard for the duo, they would eventually win the WWF tag team championship, beating The Nasty Boys in a street fight at SummerSlam 1991.
L.O.D. had more more runs in WCW, Japan and WWF throughout their careers, including a brief second run with the WWF tag team titles in 1997. Laurinaitis returned to WWE in 2005, two years after Hegstrand's death, reforming L.O.D. with Heidenreich. He dedicated his final WWE run to his Road Warriors teammate.
With their power wrestling and no-selling style, Animal and Hawk were considered one of the most influential tag teams in the history of professional wrestling. To this day, no team has ever been able to truly capture the aura that made the Road Warriors such a massive attraction during their peak.
Laurinaitis is survived by four children including James Laurinaitis, a star linebacker at Ohio State who went on to play in the NFL. Joe's brother John Laurinaitis has been an executive, producer and occasional on-air talent in WWE since 2001.
The Road Warriors were a team who personified excitement, physicality, and the undeniable ability to energize the crowd. @StephMcMahon and I join the Superstars, legends, and our @WWE fans in offering our condolences to the Joe Laurinaitis’ family at this difficult time. https://t.co/pDu4BH77uY— Triple H (@TripleH) September 23, 2020
RIP Animal,love you my brother, I know you and Hawk have a lot of unfinished business to take care of! God speed and blessings to your beautiful family,one love4Life. HH— Hulk Hogan (@HulkHogan) September 23, 2020