“Ohhhhhhhhh What A Rush” it is to bring you another update to Rotten Ink and this time it’s all about Hawk and Animal The Road Warriors or is it The Legion Of Doom the world of wrestling’s most powerful and dominate tag team! Growing up I loved pro wrestling and spent many of time watching it with my Grandpa, Dad and Brother and besides WWF we watched allot of NWA/WCW and one of my favorite tag teams of all time was The Road Warriors two muscle bound face painted wrestlers who mowed down the computation and took no prisoners. I can remember having Remco action figures of The Road Warriors as well as the AWA Thumbster of Animal as also posters of them taking from Pro Wrestling Illustrated hanging on my walls. So with this update I want to give you a run down of their career as well as talk about my memories of them in wrestling, the main attraction will be the reviews for the comic series based on them called Fifth Force: Hawk & Animal made by Antarctic Press so lets get into the ring with The Road Warriors and hope they don’t knock our heads off with their finisher The Doomsday Device.
In 1982 in Georgia Championship Wrestling Paul Ellering introduced a stable of wrestlers he called The Legion Of Doom that consisted of Jake “The Snake” Roberts, King Kong Bundy, Matt Borne, Arn Anderson, The Spoiler, The Sheik, Iron Sheik and The Road Warriors. The group was short lived and the name was taken from the old Super Friends Cartoon and later the name Legion of Doom was just given to The Road Warriors and manager Ellering who dominated the tag team division and would win the federations tag titles a total of three times. They left in 1984 to find bigger and better things. During this first run is were they got the reputation of being rough, no sellers who did what they wanted when they wanted.
In 1984 they joined the AWA (American Wrestling Alliance) were they quickly captured the Tag Titles and went from bad guys to one of the companies top draws. They feuded with the likes of The Fabulous Ones (Stan Lane & Steve Keirn) as well as The Fabulous Freebirds (Michael Hayes, Terry Gordy & Buddy Roberts) and would dominate the federation for a few years. While in the AWA they would also make appearances in Japan with All Japan Pro Wrestling as well as the NWA and for both they were major draws. The Road Warriors left AWA in 1986 with their final appearance being at the Wrestlerock event.
From AWA to NWA took place in 1986 and upon entering the federation the won the first ever Jim Crockett Sr. Memorial Tag Team Tournament by beating the team of Magnum T.A. and Ronnie Garvin. And from this moment on they were major attractions for all the companies events even fighting in a Scaffold Match against The Midnight Express and later feuding with the likes of The Four Horseman who was the biggest Heel stable around. While there they turned from Good to Bad to Good again and even was around when Ted Turner bought NWA and turned it into WCW (World Championship Wrestling) and had many great feuds with teams like Doom (Ron Simmons & Butch Reed), Skyscrapers (Sid Vicious & Dan Spivey), The Varsity Club (Steve Williams & Mike Rotunda), The Samoan Swat Team (Fatu & Samu) among many other great teams. They left in 1990 after not seeing eye to eye with Jim Herd who was running WCW at the time. And with this also marked the true end of them being know as The Road Warriors as the next places they landed had other ideas for them.
In 1990 when they left WCW they landed in the WWF were they were known as The Legion Of Doom and quickly teamed with The Ultimate Warrior and began a feud with Demolition (Ax, Smash & Crush) that was short lived. They then won the Tag Titles from The Nasty Boys (Brian Knobbs & Jerry Sags) and held them until they lost to the team of Money Inc. that’s members were Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase and I.R.S. in 1992 and after this lose they left the company for a short amount of time only to come back this time with Paul Ellering and a ventriloquist dummy named Roco who was the teams inspiration. This terrible gimmick lead quickly to Hawk quitting the company and this ending the Legion of Dooms first WWF run, as Animal stuck around and filled out the teams contract now teaming with a repackaged Crush. During this time Animal also injured his back severally taking him out of wrestling for awhile.
Hawk in 1992 after leaving WWF and his partner Animal behind went to Japan again and started a team called The Hellraisers alongside his new partner The Power Warrior (Kensuke Sasaki) and together they became a top tag team in New Japan Pro Wrestling. They even won the tag titles from Scott Norton and Tony Halme and would later feud with the team known as The Jurassic Powers (Scott Norton & Hercules) this team up also helped launch The Power Warrior from a mid-card draw to a main event star. In 1996 after his back injury healed Animal joined his old partner and The Power Warrior in New Japan for a very short run.
1996 Hawk and Animal once more went back to WCW for a very short run and took on teams like Harlem Heat and The Steiner Brothers and even got a number of title shots against Tag Team Champions Sting and Lex Luger, but never did win the belts back. The Legion Of Doom quickly left again when they claimed that Eric Bischoff who was running WCW at the time lied to them over money.
For a year Hawk and Animal wrestled for small independent companies till in 1997 they once more reached a deal to come back to the WWF and once more proved they were the top tag team in the world when they beat the likes of The Godwins, The Headbangers and even was placed in a feud with the heel stable The Hart Foundation (Bret Hart, Owen Hart, Jim Neidhart, British Bulldog and Brian Pillman) having to team up with the likes of Stone Cold Steve Austin, Goldust and Ken Shamrock. They even won the world tag titles in 1997 and shocked the world when they lost them to a new tag team later that year named The New Age Outlaws (Billy Gunn & Road Dogg), The Legion of Doom tried several times to get the belts back but couldn’t and in 1998 on Monday Night Raw the partners and friends brawled with each other on television and disappeared for awhile.
Later in 1998 sporting a new look that consisted of helmets, normal hair and a new manager Sunny The Legion of Doom became L.O.D. 2000 an updated version of themselves. Sunny left the team pretty quickly and they were joined by Droz a wrestler who could puke on demand who was acting as a manager for them. Paul Ellering also returned and was now the manager for a biker tag team called the D.O.A. who was feuding with the LOD at the time. During this time they did a storyline were Hawk always seemed to be drunk or high on drugs and this was causing tension among the team as Droz was having to don the makeup and shoulder pads and help Animal. This segment ended with Hawk looking as if he jumped from the Titantron committing suicide or even that maybe Droz pushed him off leaving everyone to question was Droz the one giving Hawk the drugs. The storyline went nowhere and the team floated around for awhile and left in 1999, and began floating around the independent wrestling federations.
In 2001 with Hawks health in question Animal resigned with WCW to become an enforcer for champion Scott Steiner who called his stable the Magnificent Seven that’s other members included Rick Steiner, Lex Luger, Jeff Jarrett and Buff Bagwell. Animals introduction to the group was a surprise as he wore a mask all the way up to his debut. The stable was short lived and later that year when the owner of WWF Vince McMahon bought WCW, Animal’s contract was not picked up.
In 2002 Hawk and Animal signed very briefly with TNA (Total None Stop Action Wrestling) as part of a group that was fighting one time WWF writer Vince Russo who had a stable called Sports Entertainment Xtreme. Sadly The Legion Of Doom only got to wrestle one match before leaving in 2003.
Hawk and Animal made their final WWF appearance in 2003 when they took on the tag team champions Rob Van Damn and Kane, while they loss the crowd was clearly happy to see them back. The Legion of Doom was hoping that this appearance would lead to a contract but sadly on October 19th 2003 Hawk passed away from a heart attack at the age of 46, marking a sad day for wrestling fans and the end of the original Legion of Doom. Animal however in 2005 would return to WWF with new partner Heidenreich the New Legion of Doom would last till 2006 when Heidenreich was fired. Animal would stick around as a solo wrestler for awhile and would simple be called The Road Warrior Animal and would drop the makeup as well as the shoulder pads from his gimmick. In 2006 Animal was released from his contract.
This was the last major run for Animal as he would go onto make some appearances for TNA, Independents as well as even for WWF as he and Hawk made it into the WWE Hall Of Fame in 2011. His last televised match was in 2012 on WWF Smackdown as he took on Heath Slater in a match he dominated. At the age of 54 it appears Animals full time in ring career is over but damn did he and Hawk have a good run. For those of you wondering Hawks real name is Michael Hegstrand and Animals is Joe Laurinaitis.
While both of them were bad asses, Hawk is the one who was more of a loose cannon and did some funny and great stuff outside of wrestling like the following things. Hawk and Randy Savage got into a fist fight backstage at a wrestling event rumored over a piece of pizza that would continue some years later backstage at a Kid Rock concert. It’s also said that Hawk beat up on Eddie Guerrero backstage and that Hawk was clearly just being a bully. Hawk also beat up a fellow patron at a movie theater when he found out that the guy’s brother killed a cop from his hometown. Hawk was also a bouncer at a bar and took pleasure in throwing out the drunks that got out of hand. Hawk also claimed that Vince McMahan and Shawn “HBK” Michaels were gay lovers on the Road Warriors RF Shoot Interview. During the 1998 WWF attraction called “Brawl For It All” were WWF Superstars boxed and grappled in real life Hawk faced Droz to a draw. Hawk also was battling alcohol and drug addiction during the LOD 2000 and Droz angle and the writers wrote this into the storyline. Say what you will but Road Warrior Hawk was a great wrestler and entertainer and I was so sad when I heard about his passing as the sport of pro wrestling truly lost a major talent.
One NWA story line for some reason that has always stuck out to me was when Road Warrior Animal suffered an eye injury at the hands of The Powers of Pain (Barbarian and Warlord) during a weightlifting computation, causing Animal to miss some matches and later return wearing a Hockey Mask to protect his eye and ready to battle those who injured him. The feud ended when The Powers of Pain quit the NWA after not wanting to do a series of Scaffold Matches that they feared they could be hurt in real life doing. When Animal first came back wearing the mask my brother and I thought that it was not the real Animal and was another wrestler filling in for him, and for some reason the image of him wearing the mask has always stuck in my mind.
The Legion Of Doom has been so popular over the ages, they have had a ton of merchandise based around them such as t-shirts, posters, stickers, trading cards, magazines and even fruit drinks called WWE Bodyslam. They have been in many video games like WCW for Nintendo and WWE 13 for PS3 and Xbox 360. They have had VHS and DVDs showcasing their careers made as well as books written about them. They have filmed shoot interviews for companies like RF Video and Highspots and have appeared at wrestling themed conventions. Many toys have been made based on them by companies like Remco and Hasbro allowing kids to make them tag champions of their toy wrestling leagues. Some of my favorite toys growing up were my AWA Road Warriors that were the size of He-Man and that I would use as bounty hunters to try and capture He-Man and they also would wrestle the likes of Ric Flair and Rick Martel. If you’re a fan of the LOD there is plenty of great stuff for you to collect.
So you just had a quick crash course all about The Legion of Doom and just how impactful they were as a tag team. I mean they were the first team that was able capture the Tag Titles in all three major federations (WWF, WCW, AWA) as well as hold the belts of many other minor and major promotions. So some time back when I found out that a comic book series was made about them I was pretty hyped to track them down, and thanks to Mavericks and Lone Star Comics, I was able to read them for the first time just for this blog update! And I must say I am pretty hyped to see what kind of action and story they come up with for this tag team. So before we enter the ring, I grade these issues on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, it’s entertainment value and it’s art and story. So with that let’s get ready to rumble and witness Hawk and Animal do what they do best and that’s kick some butt.
The Fifth Force: Hawk & Animal # 1 *
Released in 1999 Cover Price $1.99 Antarctic Press # 1 of 2
Mr. Dart is a shadow faced trench coat wearing henchman for Dr. Rancid who use their corrupt powers to frame The Legion of Doom as cheaters! When Hawk & Animal show up in Japan they meet with manager Vern who tells them they are under investigation for cheating to win the Tag Titles, and this means they are banned from wrestling and all their money is being tied up until things can be figured out. The Legion of Doom are upset and that’s when they get a visit from Mr. Dart who tells them he can make it all go away if they wrestle tonight and loose the belts; he even gives them money to help smooth over throwing the match. Hawk and Animal give it some thought and don’t see any other way out because they want to wrestle and go into the match against rivals The Kabuki Men with losing on their mind. The match is one sided as Animal takes a beating from Kabuki Men and just when all looks lost, Hawk wants to tag in and issue one comes to an end.
The Legion Of Doom are ass kicking machines who have always seemed to play by their own rules in every federation they have wrestled for so why in the world would issue one have them thinking of throwing a match all cause of some chumped up charges of cheating? Plus what the hell….so in Japan if they think you cheated to win wrestling belts, they can not only ban you from the sport all over the world, but can also tie up all your money…what federation are they working for, one ran by the Yukuza?! Hawk and Animal in the issue come off as wrestlers who have two thing on their minds and that’s wrestling and being champions, but man they also come off as mindless drones as they just go along with what a shadow faced man tells them he can do for them. Neither Dart nor Rancid come off as a big threat making this comic kind of just spin in neutral. The art is pretty cheesy and not the style I like as it has an amateur style mixed with American style Manga and is done by an unknown artist because I could not find their credit anywhere in the issue. Over all this is a very disappointing comic, and the only real appeal is the fact its about The Legion Of Doom. So let’s not waste any more time on this simple silly comic and move onto issue # 2.
The Fifth Force: Hawk & Animal # 2 *
Released in 1999 Cover Price $2.50 Antarctic Press # 2 of 2
Hawk and Animal decide during the match that they are not going to lose the belts to the Kabuki Men and pin them in the ring fair and square. After the match, Hawk and Animal get into the limo and are knocked out by gas and taken to a secret base where they are locked in a metal crate and sent to the bottom of the ocean. Mr. Dart and Dr. Rancid are also frozen and punished by Mr. Yamiyuri who in turn is blown up by the Mob for not bullying The Legion of Doom into losing the belts like they were told. In the end the news is running a story about the missing wrestling tag team champs.
Wow, this second issue is more worthless then the first. I really hate saying that, but man, this comic series seems very pointless and it goes nowhere. The point of this issue is that The Legion of Doom will not take a fall and that this all has been set up by the mafia who for some reason really wanted the tag titles off Hawk and Animal. All the characters are the same as before, and none of them are fully fleshed out making them all just seem bland and one-dimensional and making you wonder why you should even care on what’s happing. The issue also has the same art and for some reason has a .51 price increase for the same low amount of pages. Not to mention the issue ends on a cliff hanger with The Legion Of Doom missing and at the bottom of the ocean…and the 3rd issue in the series never came out making one wonder what happened to the famed wrestling tag team. Plus I am sure that poor sales and bad reviews are why this series was dead in the water after only two issues. To sum it all up, I would say that this could be one of the worst comic series based on real life pro wrestlers ever made and even die hard Legion of Doom fans like myself will be disappointed in the comics story and quality.
The Legion of Doom aka The Road Warriors deserved a better comic series than this and to find out that Animal had something to do with it makes it all so much worse. From what I understand the comics were going to be a way to introduce a comic series that would promote healthy living and working out, but when the first two issue bombed, the third issue that was going to lead to this plan was cancelled. This could be the biggest disappointment thus far doing this blog as I really hoped it would at least be entertaining, and all I got was a lame poorly drawn and written comic with no direction. I need something good for the next update to get this terrible comic series out of my brain so I think we will take a look at something a whole lot better as we tackle the 3-D BlackThorne Comic adventures of Bravestarr based on the classic 80’s cartoon made by Filmation! So until then, watch WWE Monday Night Raw and read a comic or two and remember the rush you got watching the LOD dominate the world of Tag Team Wrestling.