Dining on domination
They snacked on danger. If imitation is the finest form of flattery, then this duo should be ecstatic. But those are just two reasons why the Road Warriors are No. 1 among WWE.com's Greatest Tag Teams in sports-entertainment history.
Reared on the mean streets of Chicago, Michael Hegstrand and Joe Laurinaitis -- better known as Hawk & Animal -- began their nearly two decades of dominance in 1983 when "Precious" Paul Ellering brought the two together as part of his nine-man stable in Georgia Championship Wrestling, the Legion of Doom. But Hawk & Animal couldn't be contained in a large stable. Soon, they took on the L.O.D. identity solely as their own, and Ellering steered his Road Warriors on their own path of destruction and professional wrestling was never the same.
Any wrestler who has ever worn face paint owes a debt of gratitude to the Road Warriors. Without them, there may not have been teams like the Powers of Pain and Demolition (see No. 6). Countless other face-painted warriors also rushed to the ring and borrowed a page or two out of the L.O.D. playbook.
Decked out in menacing spiked shoulder pads to punctuate their nightmarish visages, Hawk & Animal mastered the mind game long before Undertaker turned it into a science. The sheer sight of the Road Warriors terrorized opponents before the bell even rang. Both were powerful men, each able to gorilla-press in excess of 300 pounds, though Hawk was considered the high-flier of the duo and Animal the strongman. They combined strength, speed and grace like no other team before them and that enabled them to dismantle foes thoroughly and often quickly.
Their Doomsday Device -- a flying clothesline from Hawk delivered onto a poor soul prone atop Animal's shoulders -- won over legions of fans and struck fear in the opposition. But that also made Hawk & Animal targets; their wars with The Fabulous Ones, The Fabulous Freebirds (see No. 5), The Midnight Express, The Powers of Pain and The Four Horsemen in the AWA and NWA were talked about for years.
However, the Road Warriors had an appetite for gold to match their destruction, winning World Tag Team Championships in the AWA, NWA, New Japan Wrestling and IWGP. This made them legends long before they debuted in WWE in 1990. Hawk & Animal cemented their legacy by winning the World Tag Team Championships twice, becoming the only team to win championships in the AWA, NWA and WWE.
The Road Warriors as our fans knew and loved them passed away with Hawk in 2002, but their legacy will live on forever. Somewhere, in a squared circle up in the sky, Hawk is looking down approvingly on Animal and the path they blazed, waiting for one more opportunity to deliver a Doomsday Device. Ohhhh … what a rush!