The Road Warriors, also known as the Legion of Doom, were a professional wrestling tag team composed of Road Warrior Hawk (Michael Hegstrand) and Road Warrior Animal (Joseph Laurinaitis) They performed under the name "The Road Warriors" in the American Wrestling Association (AWA), the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), and World Championship Wrestling (WCW), and the name "Legion of Doom" (LOD) in the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). Under either name, their gimmick was the same – two imposing wrestlers in face paint. For brief periods, other wrestlers were added as stand-in partners for both men. In Japan in the 1990s, Kensuke "Power Warrior" Sasaki often teamed with Hawk and Animal, separately and together.
Hawk and Animal were known for their impressive physiques, as their physical size was larger than most wrestlers of the era. Their face paint and spiked armor were inspired by the Mad Max film The Road Warrior; they were the first wrestlers to bring a theme from a movie into the wrestling world. They also introduced a tandem maneuver known as the Doomsday Device. Both men used the move as a team finisher throughout their careers, even when teaming with other partners.
The Road Warriors began as part of Paul Ellering's Legion of Doom stable in Georgia Championship Wrestling in 1983. The careers of Hawk and Animal spanned two decades, featuring stops in the National Wrestling Alliance, American Wrestling Association, All Japan Pro Wrestling, New Japan Pro Wrestling, World Championship Wrestling, and the World Wrestling Federation, as well as numerous independent promotions across the United States. Their name (and to some extent, their look) was taken from the Mel Gibson movie Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior
Georgia Championship Wrestling
In the early 1980s, in NWA's Georgia Championship Wrestling, Paul Ellering introduced a stable called "The Legion of Doom" that consisted of the Road Warriors, Jake "The Snake" Roberts, The Spoiler, Matt Borne, King Kong Bundy, Arn Anderson, The Iron Sheik and the original Sheik. Animal had briefly competed as the Road Warrior before Ellering paired him up with fellow Chicagoan Hawk to form the Road Warriors. The stable was short lived and the name "Legion of Doom" soon referred only to the Road Warriors and Ellering with either name used interchangeably throughout their career. Animal reveals in the "Road Warriors: The Life and Death of the Most Dominant Tag-Team in Wrestling History (2005)" DVD set that the name "Legion of Doom" was taken from the Super Friends cartoon.
The Road Warriors’ high impact power style and unique attire quickly got them noticed by the fans and dreaded by opponents so much so that some wrestlers would grab their bag and leave the arena when they saw they were scheduled to face the Road Warriors. In Georgia the team quickly rose to the top despite being very young and without the traditional “Paying dues” period just because they were so believable in their role as power monsters. It took them less than 6 months from their debut to win the NWA National Tag Team Championship a title they’d win three more times while in Georgia.
In 1985 the Road Warriors began touring Japan, mainly with All Japan Pro Wrestling where they made an immediate impact squashing the monster team of Killer Kahn and Animal Hamaguchi in under 4 minutes. This and subsequent dominant victories garnered the Road Warriors a lot of Japanese wrestling media headlines and front-page stories. Their tours with AJPW in 85 and 86 made the Road Warriors such legends in Japan that they toured in Japan whenever they were “between contracts” of the big three.
The Road Warriors won the NWA International Tag Team Championship on March 12, 1987 from Jumbo Tsuruta & Genichiro Tenryu and would hold them for 15 months before losing them to PWF World Tag-Team champions Jumbo Tsuruta & Yoshiaki Yatsu to unify the titles as the AJPW World Tag-Team titles, making the Road Warriors the last defending champions of the NWA International Tag-Team titles.
American Wrestling Association
The Road Warriors moved on to Verne Gagne's American Wrestling Association (AWA) along with their manager Paul Ellering. On August 25, 1984 they defeated The Crusher and Baron Von Raschke for the AWA World Tag Team Championship. The Road Warriors were brought in by Gagne to work as heels, but their squash matches soon won over fans. They became the AWA's top draw throughout 1984 and 1985, feuding primarily with The Fabulous Freebirds in the AWA, but began splitting their time between the AWA and the NWA where they started feuding with NWA World Tag-Team Champions The Russian Team while still holding the AWA Tag-Team titles. Hawk and Animal eventually lost the AWA titles to Jimmy Garvin and Steve Regal on September 29, 1985 due to the interference of the Freebirds. The Road Warrior's last appearance in the AWA came in a cage match against the team of Garvin and Michael Hayes at WrestleRock 86 which the Warriors won
National Wrestling Alliance
In the middle of 1986, The Road Warriors moved to National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) exclusively, winning the inaugural Jim Crocket Sr. Memorial Cup Tag-Team Tournament by beating Ron Garvin and Magnum T.A. in the finals. Building upon their rapid push, Hawk and Animal were featured attractions of the Great American Bash tour where they were matched against Ivan and Nikita Koloff. At Starrcade '86, the Road Warriors were featured in a Scaffold Match, defeating the Midnight Express.
The Road Warriors joined forces with Dusty Rhodes and Nikita Koloff in a bloody feud with the Four Horsemen. During the 1987 Great American Bash, the rival sides faced off in the first ever War Games Match. The Road Warriors were on the winning side of War Games both matches that summer taking their feud with the Horsemen to Starrcade 87, where they lost by disqualification to Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson. The Road Warriors also picked up the NWA Six-Man tag-team titles twice alongside Dusty Rhodes. The Warriors engaged in a violent feud with The Powers of Pain (The Barbarian and The Warlord) where the Road Warriors finally met their equal physically, but the angle ended when the Powers of Pain left the NWA after finding out they were booked against the Road Warriors in a series of Scaffold Matches that they were supposed to lose.
In 1988, Hawk and Animal turned heel, mauling the Midnight Express for the NWA World Tag Team Championship on October 29,1988. In November of that year the Road Warriors played a role in ending Dusty Rhodes' tenure as head booker for the promotion. During the November 26th episode of World Championship Wrestling, which was under strict instructions from TBS television executives prohibiting blading, the Road Warriors attacked Rhodes, removing a spike from the shoulder pads, and attempting to gouge his eye out. Rhodes was fired for that episode shortly after Starrcade '88. Before Rhodes was fired, Animal beat him at the Clash of the Champions, so the Road Warriors were allowed to pick a new partner to hold the NWA Six-Man titles; they picked Genichiro Tenryu but the titles were quickly abandoned.
The Road Warriors quickly turned face yet again due to overwhelming fan support no matter how brutal or violent they were. Their World Tag Team title reign came to an end when they faced The Varsity Club (Mike Rotunda and Steve Williams) on April 2, 1989. The title change was a controversial one as referee Teddy Long performed an excessively fast count. Long would be fired from his job due to the count but the titles were not returned to the Road Warriors. Hawk and Animal would spend the rest of their tenure in the NWA feuding with teams like The Samoan Swat Team and The Skyscrapers. Their last big win in the NWA came when they defeated three other teams (including the red hot Steiner Brothers) to win the Ironman Tag-Team Tournament at Starrcade 1989 “Future Shock”.
The Road Warriors made their last PPV appearance on May 19, 1990 at Capital Combat where they teamed with Norman “The Lunatic” against Kevin Sullivan, Cactus Jack and Bam Bam Bigelow in a match that was cut from the commercial tape of the event.
During their NWA stint, the group became well known for using the Black Sabbath song "Iron Man" as their entrance theme.
World Wrestling Federation
When Hawk and Animal signed with the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) in 1990, Vince McMahon retired the Road Warriors moniker. They both made their TV debuts on the July 15, 1990 episode of Wrestling Challenge. In WWF/WWE the team would be known only as the Legion of Doom Hawk and Animal immediately entered into a feud with Demolition, the team McMahon had supposedly created in their likeness three years earlier. Which lead into a televised six-man tag-team match where Hawk and Animal teamed up with Ultimate Warrior against Demolition. However, Bill Eadie, who played Demolition member "Ax", was getting older and an agreement was made to phase him out and eventually replace him with Crush. Eadie was moved into a role as manager for the team with the hope of taking a front office position, which eventually fell through The Legion of Doom / Demolition feud didn't have the expected intensity because of the change and L.O.D. soon set their sights on the gold. At SummerSlam 1991, the Legion of Doom defeated The Nasty Boys to win the World Tag Team Championship, becoming the first and only team to win world tag titles in all three of the top promotions of the 1980s. Hawk and Animal would go on to lose the titles to Money Inc. on February 7, 1992 after which they briefly left the federation.
LOD would return a short time later with original manager Paul Ellering. The team incorporated a ventriloquist dummy called Rocko (which served as their “inspiration”), but this gimmick was short-lived. Hegstrand left the company immediately after SummerSlam 1992 while Laurinaitis stuck around, finishing the team's contractual obligations on his own, before injuring his back forced him into a lengthy hiatus.
When Hawk left the WWF after SummerSlam 1992 he traveled to Japan and started working for New Japan Pro Wrestling where he quickly teamed up with the young mid-carder Kensuke Sasaki who was soon dubbed “Power Warrior” as he adopted the trademark Road Warrior face paint and spiked shoulder pads. The duo was dubbed The Hell Raisers and carried on the legacy of the Road Warriors in NJPW winning the IWGP Tag Team Titles from Tony Halme & Scott Norton and then again later from the team of Scott Norton and Hercules (known as the Jurassic Powers) and 1994 versions of the Super Grade Tag league making it to the semi finals of the 1994 tournament before losing to Masahiro Chono and Super Strong Machine.
Teaming with Hawk (or Hawk Warrior as he was called) helped elevate Kensuke Sasaki in the eyes of the fans, so much so that when the Hell Raisers broke up near the end of 1994, Sasaki shed the Power Warrior gimmick and became a main eventer on the singles scene. On special occasions, Sasaki would break out the “Power Warrior” gimmick and face paint.
During this stint, they used the theme song "Hellraiser" by Heavy Metal band Motörhead.
World Championship Wrestling
When Laurinaitis's back was finally healed enough for him to return to wrestling, the Road Warriors signed a contract with World Championship Wrestling (WCW) in late 1995. Upon their return in 1996, immediately started a feud with the returning Steiner Brothers, as well as Harlem Heat before moving on to challenging the WCW Tag-Team Champions Sting & Lex Luger. The Road Warriors had several shots at the champions but never won the titles.
Hegstrand & Laurinaitis stayed with WCW for about six months, before leaving over a dispute with Eric Bischoff. The pair made claims that Bischoff promised them a second-highest paid contract, as well as a separate contract from Japan, something which he denies remembering.
Return to the WWF
After leaving WCW and taking various independent bookings both in the U.S. and Japan before signing with the WWF, making their surprise debut on Monday Night Raw on February 24, 1997, where they destroyed the Headbangers, despite both teams being counted out. The Legion of Doom would be heavily involved in the feud with the Hart Foundation siding with Stone Cold Steve Austin, Ken Shamrock and Goldust at In Your House: Canadian Stampede. The Legion of Doom also became 2 time tag-team champions on October 7, 1997 when they defeated The Godwinns. In November 1997 the Legion of Doom faced the newly formed New Age Outlaws (Road Dogg and Billy Gunn) and shockingly lost the titles to the upstart team.
The Legion of Doom would challenge the N.A.O. several times in the next couple of months but without winning the gold. In late January 1998, the Legion of Doom disappeared from WWF television.
Legion of Doom 2000
Hawk and Animal next appeared at WrestleMania XIV during a tag-team Battle Royal where they sported a new look, new shoulderpads and intimidating helmets, a new manager (Sunny) and a new name the Legion Of Doom 2000, billed as an updated version of the Road Warriors “for the new millennium”. LOD 2000 won the battle royal and earned a shot at the tag-team titles, but did not manage to win the gold.
Sunny soon left the team and Droz started to appear with them when Hawk was “incapacitated”, he later became an official member called Puke. At the same time, Paul Ellering returned, but sided with D.O.A., whom L.O.D. were feuding with at the time; Ellering and Animal explained on the DVD it was hard for them to rip on each other on promos. For the first time in the history of the Road Warriors they participated in a storyline where tension arose between the members, teasing a break up. In this storyline, Hawk was seen by his partner Animal as unfit to wrestle and Puke was tapped to take Hawk's place in the tag team. The angle played off Hegstrand's real life alcohol and drug issues going so far as to faking a suicide jump off the top of the TitanTron. After the angle bombed and both Hegstrand & Laurinaitis voiced their objections to it, the angle was dropped, and the Legion of Doom left the WWF.
After leaving the WWF, the Road Warriors would appear for various independent federations, including the i-Generation pay-per-view in July 2000 where they won the promotion's Tag Team titles. They performed both as a team and individually. Animal competed solo for WCW for a while as Hegstrand dealt with his personal issues. Hegtrand finally overcame his battle with addiction and became a born-again Christian appearing on Ted DiBiase's religion and wrestling shows in 2003. The Road Warriors also appeared very briefly in Total Nonstop Action Wrestling during the early days of the federation, saving Americas Most Wanted, and debuting to what Jeremy Borash quotes as "A 1985 Road Warrior Pop."
World Wrestling Entertainment
The Road Warriors' last TV appearance as a team occurred on the May 12, 2003 RAW episode in a tag team match against the WWE World Tag Team Champions, Rob Van Dam and Kane The Road Warriors had hoped to get a full-time contract with the WWE but nothing ever came of it. Hegstrand died five months later on October 19, 2003 ending the reign of the most dominant tag-team in the business.
Animal would later return to WWE in 2005, teaming with Heidenreich in a feud against the tag team MNM. At the Great American Bash on July 24, 2005, Animal and Heidenreich defeated MNM to win the WWE Tag Team Championship. After winning the titles Heidenreich changed his appearance, to a look that better suited the Legion of Doom image by shaving his hair and wearing face paint.
On August 18, 2005, Heidenreich was officially made part of the "L.O.D" and was presented with his own Road Warrior "spikes". Shortly after winning the tag team titles. Animal paid tribute to his late partner and friend by looking up to the heavens above and saying, "Hawk, this one's for you, brother!" During the feuds with MNM, L.O.D. would be joined by Christy Hemme, who acted as a valet/manager for a short while.
On the October 28, 2005 edition of SmackDown!, L.O.D. lost the tag team titles to MNM in a Fatal Fourway tag match that also featured Paul Burchill & William Regal and The Mexicools (Super Crazy & Psicosis). A few months later, on January 17, 2006, Heidenreich was released from WWE. Animal continued to perform for WWE for a few months before he was also released.
On November 18, 2006, Road Warrior Animal appeared in full gear on ESPN's pre-game College Gameday show. He was shown in a video clip to promote the #1 Ohio St. vs. #2 Michigan rivalry game, where his son (James Laurinaitis) was preparing to start at Linebacker for Ohio State.
The Hell Warriors
On September 1, 2007, Road Warrior Animal appeared at All Japan Pro Wrestling and teamed with Sasaki to form the Hell Warriors, with Animal being billed as Animal Warrior to match up with Sasaki's "Power Warrior" and Hawk's "Hawk Warrior" gimmick. The newly formed Hell Warriors defeated the team of "brother" YASSHI and Shuji Kondo.
The Road Warriors/Legion Of Doom
The Hell Raisers
The Hell Warriors
- Finishing and signature moves
Championships and accomplishments
The Road Warriors/Legion Of Doom
- PWI Tag Team of the Year award in 1982.
- PWI Tag Team of the Year award in 1984.
- PWI Tag Team of the Year award in 1985.
- PWI Feud of the Year award in 1987 - Road Warriors & Super Powers vs. The Four Horsemen.
- PWI Tag Team of the Year award in 1988.
- PWI ranked them # 1 of the 100 best tag teams during the "PWI Years" in 2003.
- PWI Top 5 Tag Team (No.1)
- Other titles
- i-Generation Tag Team Championship (2 times)
- IPW Tag Team Championship (1 time)
- PCW World Tag Team Championship (1 time)
- WWZ Tag Team Championship (1 time)
The Hell Raisers
- IWGP Tag Team Championship (2 times)
- PWI ranked them #50 of the 100 best tag teams during the "PWI Years"
The Hell Warriors
- UWA Tag Team Championship (1 time)