Today it was announced that Road Warrior Animal has died at the age of 60. Part of the Legion of Doom, arguably the greatest wrestling tag team of all time. A champion everywhere he went. A man who saw his tag team partner destroy himself over the years. A god in front of fans, but ultimately just a man.
As part of The House Show podcast we’ve watched a lot of the LOD’s second WWF run. All of Hawk’s problems, Droz coming in, so many issues. We just watched Halloween Havoc 1998 and seeing the Road Warriors ten years earlier in incredible shape physically and mentally is now a blessing because it is how I can remember both men.
There’s a reason “Road Warrior pop” is one of the undisputed forces in professional wrestling. The size, the muscles, the gear, the paint, the music, the strength – all of it. These two post-apocalyptic super heroes appearing in real life is a source of awe. There was previously nothing like them. Since their arrival there have been many imitators but none of them rose to the same level of worldwide honor.
What gets me now in my retro wrestling viewing is I not only see Animal, but I also see Joe Laurinaitis. I see a man who came from nothing and, along with his partner, rose to the top of their field. Traveled the world, made lots of money, became famous, they became legends.
Then though, Joe sees his partner made decisions that risks their legacy. Drug abuse. Addiction. Injuries. Poor financial choices. All of it. He sees the kingdom they created together torn apart from the inside. I now see a man who isn’t frustrated with his partner. Instead there is a man who is willing to try anything to keep his creation alive. Adding other partners. Changing their look. Attempting a singles run. Ensuring there is something still there for his family when he’s gone. As they themselves said, “dead men don’t make money.”
I’m in my forties and wishing to ensure I leave something for the world to remember me by. I won’t look like a beast. I won’t have tens of thousands of fans blowing the roof off the place when my music hits. I won’t be on the Mount Rushmore of (blank). But what I can do is support my kid and make sure he has a dad to be proud of, a dad he knows loves him.