|RIP to my favorite wrestler|
Thursday, September 24, 2020
Posted by jaygross
I haven't shared my 80's wrestling fandom here nearly enough. I was a huge fan growing up in the early to mid 1980's - watching all of the AWA, NWA, WCCW, and WWF I could (including staying up super late). Before the pay per views and Wrestlemanias, there were great WWF events at Madison Square Garden every month or two and I would get to watch them on the MSG network living in NJ.
The Road Warriors (with their manager Precious Paul Ellering) are my all time favorite tag team!!! And Joe Laurinaitis (AKA Animal) was my all time favorite wrestler. Yesterday Animal passed away at the age of 60. 2020 has been a tough year on so many levels, and we have recently lost so many great folks and athletes (NFL great Gale Sayers also passed away yesterday).
If you are not a wrestling fan and you follow college or NFL football, then you may recognize the last name Laurinaitis. His son James played linebacker for Ohio State and played 8 years for the Rams and Saints.
The Road Warriors were by far the most successful tag team in wrestling history. They held championships in every major organization. They were one of the few teams that fans absolutely loved whether they were heroes or bad guys. And they certainly had a unique look - two huge guys, wore leather and spiked shoulder pads, they were the first to paint their faces, and Animal had a mohawk and Hawk had the reverse mohawk. And they did so many great promos how they were going to beat everyone up.
I remember first seeing them around 1984 or 1985 in the AWA (out of Minnestoa). I remember how terrifying they were when they came flying into the ring in face paint to Black Sabbath's Iron Man for squash matches and their opponents looked genuinely terrified. Those matches usually lasted less than 2 minutes. Below is some highlights of their AWA days:
They were part of so many great matches and story lines in the NWA:
- It was awesome when they won the first Crockett Cup tournament.
- I think my favorite rivalry was with the Powers of Pain who were basically Road Warriors rip offs (Barbarian and Warlord). Here was the bench press challenge where these 4 huge guys were lifting, and it broke down with Animal getting attacked:
- The scaffold match with the Midnight Express (Dennis Condry and Bobby Eaton) where Jim Cornette fell 20 feet and blew out both of his knees was also pretty incredible.
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