Following the passing of WWE Hall of Famer Joe "Animal" Laurinaitis, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson paid tribute to the Road Warriors with a touching tribute post on Instagram. Along with Michael "Hawk" Hegstrand, Laurinaitis performed as a tag team wrestler for many years as one half of the Road Warriors. In the World Wrestling Federation, the tag team was also known as the Legion of Doom. Hegstrand died of a heart attack in 2003 at the age of 46, and yesterday, it was reported that Laurinaitis passed away at 60 years old.
"Really saddened to wake up to this news yesterday- the passing of my friend, Joe Laurinaitis (on the left) aka ROAD WARRIOR ANIMAL. Joe & Mike aka HAWK & ANIMAL, THE ROAD WARRIORS were the most intense, legit tough bad asses tag team in the history of the wild world of pro wrestling. When I was making my bones, still learning the business in the WWE as a very young 'The Rock' - I wrestled these guys so many times on the road and they always took good care of me and made sure I learned. Tough as nails. Good men. Greatest tag team of all time. And apple fritters (our inside joke). Much love and I'll always be grateful to you both. RIP."
The Road Warriors competed in various wrestling promotions for several years, but nobody where they went, they always stood out as the most popular tag team. Both had their own unique hairstyles and face paint and were also easy to remember by the spiked-shoulder pads they'd wear to the ring before matches. The pair had won many tag team championships and were especially feared for their finishing maneuver, which came to be called the Doomsday Device in the WWF. Animal was also known to conclude interviews with the signature catch phrase, "What a rush!"
A recent episode of the Vice documentary series Dark Side of the Ring also covered the story of the Road Warriors, featuring interviews with Laurinaitis. Also featured in the doc was wrestling manager "Precious" Paul Ellering, who had served as the manager for the Road Warriors at various points in their careers. Laurinaitis, Hegstrand, and Ellering were also all inducted together into the WWE Hall of Fame as the Road Warriors back in 2011. Taking to Twitter after the news of Laurinatis' death broke, Ellering commented on the emotional loss.
"Today we lost the engine of the train LOD. Animal was a partner, warrior, and friend. He will be welcomed home by a waiting Hawk," Ellering said.
Coming from one of the most famous wrestlers of all time, it's a tremendous honor for Johnson to label the Road Warriors as the "greatest tag team of all time." You'd be hard-pressed to find many wrestling fans who would disagree. Rest in peace. Johnson's words quoted above come to us from The Rock on Instagram.