The Road Warriors

This article is about the professional wrestling team. For other uses, see Road warrior.
The Road Warriors
Tag team
Members Road Warrior Hawk
Road Warrior Animal
Paul Ellering (manager)
Power Warrior
Sunny (valet)
Christy Hemme (valet)
Name(s) The Road Warriors
Legion of Doom[1]
The Hell Raisers
LOD 2000
LOD 2005
The Hell Warriors
575 lb (261 kg; 41.1 st)[2]
Billed from Chicago, Illinois[1]
Debut 1983[1]
Disbanded 2014
Years active 1983-2014
Promotions GCW
World Japan

The Road Warriors were a professional wrestling tag team composed of Michael "Hawk" Hegstrand and Joseph "Animal" Laurinaitis.[1] They performed under the name "Road Warriors" in the American Wrestling Association, the National Wrestling Alliance, and World Championship Wrestling, and the name Legion of Doom (LOD) in the World Wrestling Federation (despite the altered team name, they were still individually introduced as "Road Warrior" Hawk and "Road Warrior" Animal). Under either name, their gimmick was the same – two imposing muscular 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, and revolutionized the business by popularizing the use of face paint, and introducing a tandem maneuver known as the Doomsday Device.[3] Both men used the move as a team finisher throughout their careers, even when teaming with other partners. The Road Warriors are regarded by many as the greatest tag team in professional wrestling history.[3][4]


Georgia Championship Wrestling (1982-1984)

In 1983, "Precious" Paul Ellering formed a stable called The Legion of Doom in the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA)'s Georgia Championship Wrestling territory. The group consisted of the Road Warriors, Jake "The Snake" Roberts, The Spoiler, King Kong Bundy, and Buzz Sawyer. 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.[5] 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.[6]

The Road Warriors’ high impact power style and unique attire quickly got them noticed by 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.[5] 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. They gained a reputation for being very stiff and not selling simply because they could and as a result most of their matches ended quickly. It took them less than 6 months from their debut to win the NWA National Tag Team Championship, a title they would win three more times while in Georgia.[7]

American Wrestling Association (1984-1986)

In 1984, 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.[7] 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 Ones and later The Fabulous Freebirds. The Warriors then began splitting their time between the AWA and Jim Crockett Promotions (JCP) where they started feuding with NWA World tag team champions The Russians, all while still holding the AWA belts, The AWA & various NWA members were co-promoting cards at the time, in an effort to compete with the World Wrestling Federation. Hawk and Animal eventually lost the AWA title to Jimmy Garvin and "Mr. Electricity" Steve Regal on September 29, 1985, due to the interference of the Freebirds.[7] The Road Warriors' last appearance in the AWA was on April 20, 1986 at WrestleRock where they defeated the team of Garvin and Michael Hayes in a steel cage match.

During their AWA stint the team became well known for using the Black Sabbath song "Iron Man" as their entrance theme.

Japan (1985-1990)

In March 1985, the Road Warriors began touring Japan, mainly with All Japan Pro Wrestling (AJPW) where they made an immediate impact squashing the monster team of Killer Khan 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 1985 and 1986 made the Road Warriors such legends in Japan that they toured the country 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 and Genichiro Tenryu[7] and would hold them for 15 months before losing them to PWF World Tag Team champions Jumbo Tsuruta and 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.[7] Their last match in Japan during this period was on July 22, 1990, for New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW), losing to Masahiro Chono and Keiji Mutoh by disqualification.

Jim Crockett Promotions/World Championship Wrestling (1986-1990)

On April 19, 1986, The Road Warriors won the inaugural Jim Crockett, Sr. Memorial Cup Tag Team Tournament by beating Ron Garvin and Magnum T.A. in the finals.[8] 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[9] as well as the Midnight Express.[10] At Starrcade '86, the Road Warriors were featured in a Scaffold Match, defeating the Midnight Express.[11]

The 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 WarGames match.[12] The Road Warriors were on the winning side of War Games both matches that summer[13] taking their feud with the Horsemen to Starrcade '87, where they lost by disqualification to Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson.[14] The Road Warriors also picked up the NWA World Six-Man Tag Team Championship twice alongside Dusty Rhodes.[7] 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 JCP after finding out they were booked against the Road Warriors in a series of Scaffold Matches that they were supposed to lose.[15]

In 1988, Hawk and Animal quietly turned heel and finally won the NWA World Tag Team Championship on October 29, 1988 in New Orleans, Louisiana at a house show against the Midnight Express, 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 26 episode of World Championship Wrestling, which was under strict instructions from TBS television executives prohibiting blading, the Road Warriors attacked Rhodes, removed a spike from their shoulder pads, and attempted to gouge his eye out.[15] 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 World Six-Man Tag Team titles; they picked AJPW superstar Genichiro Tenryu but the titles were quickly abandoned.[7]

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.[16] 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.[7] Hawk and Animal would spend the rest of their tenure in World Championship Wrestling (WCW)(as JCP became to be known after being purchased by Turner Broadcasting System in 1988) feuding with teams like The Samoan Swat Team[17][18] and The Skyscrapers.[19][20] Their last big wins in WCW 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”[18][21][22] (The Steiners actually defeated the Warriors by pinfall in their match, but the Warriors won the round robin style tournament on a point system basis.) and over The Skyscrapers in a Chicago Street Fight at WrestleWar '90: Wild Thing.

The Road Warriors made their last WCW pay-per-view appearance on May 19, 1990 at Capital Combat where they teamed with Norman “The Lunatic” against Kevin Sullivan, Cactus Jack and Bam Bam Bigelow[23] in a match that was cut from the commercial tape of the event. They left WCW in June 1990 due to heat with then-WCW head Jim Herd according to Animal on their WWE produced DVD.

World Wrestling Federation (1990-1992)

When Hawk and Animal signed with the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) in June 1990, Vince McMahon retired the Road Warriors moniker. They both made their TV debuts on the July 15, 1990 episode of Wrestling Challenge. In the WWF the team would be known only as the "Legion of Doom".[24] To their opponents and detractors (such as Bobby Heenan), they were referred to as Legion of Dummies. Hawk and Animal immediately entered into a feud with Demolition, the team McMahon had supposedly created in their likeness three years earlier, which led into a televised six-man tag-team match where Hawk and Animal teamed up with WWF World Heavyweight Champion the Ultimate Warrior against all three members of Demolition.[25] Bill Eadie (Ax) was having health issues and an agreement was made to phase him out and eventually replace him with Crush (Brian Adams) while Barry Darsow continued in his role of Smash. Ax 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 did not have the expected intensity because of the change and LOD soon set their sights on the tag team titles. At SummerSlam 1991 in Madison Square Garden, the Legion of Doom defeated The Nasty Boys in a no DQ street fight to win the World Tag Team Championship, becoming the only team to win world tag titles in all three of the top promotions of the 1980s.[7] Hawk and Animal would eventually lose the titles to Money Inc. (IRS (Mike Rotunda) and Ted DiBiase) on February 7, 1992 after which they briefly left the promotion.[7]

LOD would return a short time later with their original manager Paul Ellering at WrestleMania VIII. The team later incorporated a ventriloquist dummy called "Rocco" (Originally introduced as "Freckles" in front of a live crowd at a WWF TV Taping, the segment bombed so badly that it never aired) which served as their “inspiration”, but this gimmick was short-lived. Hegstrand left the company in disgust with the Rocco gimmick immediately after SummerSlam 1992 at the Wembley Stadium where LOD rode to the ring on motorbikes in front of over 80,000 fans. He then went AWOL in London after the event with John Nord (The Berzerker) and missed the flight back to the U.S., while Laurinaitis stuck around and finished the team's contractual obligations with former Demolition member Crush (now repackaged from his Demolition character to being a face, becoming a tanned, muscle guy from the beaches of his native Hawaii) replacing Hawk on house shows in Europe in Mid September 1992, after Hawk left the WWF. Crush and Animal teamed to defeat the Beverly Brothers five times and Kato and Skinner once. Paul Ellering also joined Crush and Animal in some six man tag team matches. When the newly formed team returned to North America, Animal and Crush both started wrestling singles matches and the team was no more.[26] Shortly after Animal then left the WWF because an injury to his back forced him into a lengthy hiatus.[27]

New Japan Pro Wrestling (1992-1995)

The Hell Raisers
Tag team
Members Hawk Warrior
Power Warrior
Heights 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m) – Hawk Warrior
5 ft 11 in (1.80 m) – Power Warrior
518 lb (235 kg)
Debut 1992
Disbanded 1995
Years active 1992-95
Promotions NJPW

When Hawk left the WWF after SummerSlam 1992 he traveled to Japan and started working for New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) where he quickly teamed up with young mid-carder Kensuke Sasaki who was soon dubbed "Power Warrior" as he adopted the trademark Road Warrior face paint and spiked shoulder pads.[15] The duo was dubbed "The Hell Raisers" and carried on the legacy of the Road Warriors in NJPW winning the IWGP Tag Team Championship from Tony Halme and Scott Norton in December 1992 [7] and then again from the team of Scott Norton and Hercules (known as the Jurassic Powers) in January 1994.[7] They also competed in both the 1993[28] 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.[29]

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 in the middle of 1995, 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" persona, similar to Keiji Mutoh and his "Great Muta" persona.

During this stint, they used the theme song "Hellraiser" by Ozzy Osbourne.

When Animal came back from his back injury, he joined the duo in Japan in 1996. The three were announced collectively as the Road Warriors, using "Iron Man" as their theme music.

World Championship Wrestling (1996)

When Laurinaitis’ back was finally healed enough for him to return to wrestling, the Road Warriors signed a contract with WCW in late 1995. Upon their return in January 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 and Lex Luger. The Road Warriors had several shots at the champions but failed to win the titles.[30][31]

Hegstrand and 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.[32]

Return to the WWF (1997-1999)

After leaving WCW, the duo took various independent bookings both in the U.S. and Japan before signing with the WWF, making their surprise return on the February 24, 1997 edition of Monday Night Raw where they destroyed the Headbangers, despite both teams being counted out.[33] 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.[34] The Legion of Doom also became 2-time WWF tag team champions on October 7, 1997 when they defeated The Godwinns.[7] 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.[7]

The Legion of Doom would challenge the Outlaws several times in the next couple of months but could not win the gold. On one episode of Raw, the Outlaws shaved the head of Road Warrior Hawk and were beaten down further by DX. On February 23, 1998, the Legion of Doom disappeared from WWF television after the two men brawled on Raw, seemingly spelling their demise.

LOD 2000 (1998-1999)

Hawk and Animal next appeared as Legion of Doom 2000, billed as an updated version of the Road Warriors “for the new millennium”, at WrestleMania XIV during a tag team Battle Royal. The duo sported a new look, including new shoulder pads and helmets (the helmets wouldn't last long, as Hawk got rid of his by throwing it to the crowd) and a new manager in Sunny. LOD 2000 won the battle royal and earned a shot at the tag team titles, but did not manage to win the gold.[35]

Sunny soon left the team and Droz, then known as Puke (Darren Drozdov, a former defensive end for the Denver Broncos who earned the name Puke when caught vomiting on Monday Night Football), started to accompany them to the ring. At the same time, Paul Ellering returned, but sided with the Disciples of Apocalypse (DOA), whom LOD 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 as an official member. 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 and Laurinaitis voiced their objections to it, the angle was dropped.[27] The Legion of Doom made a very brief return, first on the March 22, 1999 Raw is War by attacking Pat Patterson and Gerald Brisco in a backstage skit after the two impersonated LOD in a handicap match against Shane McMahon, on the March 15, 1999 Raw is War. Both LOD entered the pre-WrestleMania battle royal with the last two participants getting a tag team title shot later at WrestleMania XV but both came up short. They would make one final appearance on the March 29, 1999 Raw challenging Owen Hart and Jeff Jarrett for the tag team titles but failed them; they left the WWF afterwards.[36]

Independent circuit (1999-2003)

On June 22, 2002, International Wrestling Superstars, Road Warriors Animal and Hawk defeated the Headshrinkers for the World Tag-Team Championship. That victory also led to team USA winning the international tournament held in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

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 in WCW for a while as Hegstrand dealt with his personal issues.[37] Hegstrand 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 (TNA) during the early days of the promotion, saving America's Most Wanted, and debuting to what Jeremy Borash quoted as "A 1985 Road Warrior Pop".[38]

Second return to WWE and Hawk's death (2003-2006)

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.[39] The Road Warriors had hoped to get a full-time contract with WWE but nothing ever came of it. Road Warrior Hawk unfortunately died five months later on October 19, 2003.

Animal would later return to WWE in 2005,[40] teaming with Heidenreich in a feud against the tag team MNM. At The Great American Bash on July 24, 2005,[41] Animal and Heidenreich defeated MNM to win the WWE Tag Team Championship in a match personally dedicated by Animal to Hawk.[7] After winning the titles Heidenreich changed his appearance, to a look that better suited the Legion of Doom image by shaving his hair into a mohawk and wearing face paint.

On August 18, 2005, Heidenreich was officially made part of LOD and was presented with his own "Road Warrior spikes". Shortly after winning the tag team titles,[7] 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!".[42] During their feud with MNM, LOD were joined by Christy Hemme, who acted as a valet/manager for a short while.

On the October 28, 2005 edition of SmackDown!, LOD lost the tag team titles to MNM in a Fatal Four-Way tag match that also featured Paul Burchill and William Regal and The Mexicools (Super Crazy and Psicosis).[7] A few months later, on January 17, 2006, Heidenreich was released from WWE.[43] Animal continued to perform for WWE under his old persona, The Road Warrior, for a few months before he was also released.[44]

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
Tag team
Members Animal Warrior
Power Warrior
Heights 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m) – Animal Warrior
5 ft 11 in (1.80 m) – Power Warrior
528 lb (239 kg)
Debut September 1, 2007
Disbanded February 13, 2014
Promotions All Japan Pro Wrestling
Kensuke Office
Toryumon Mexico

The Hell Warriors (2007-2014)

On September 1, 2007, Road Warrior Animal appeared for 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.[45]

On May 11, 2008, The Hell Warriors wrestled in Toryumon Mexico's Dragon-Mania show. They defeated Damián el Terrible and Damián 666 to win the UWA World Tag Team Championship (not the same championship revived by El Dorado Wrestling).

On February 13, 2014, Power Warrior announced his retirement from professional wrestling, ending The Hell Warriors' run.

Their theme music is a megamix of "Iron Man" by Black Sabbath and "Hellraiser" by Ozzy Osbourne.

WWE Hall of Fame (2011)

On April 2, 2011, The Road Warriors with Paul Ellering were inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.

Video games

The Road Warriors made appearances in the video games WCW Wrestling, WWF WrestleFest, the SNES version of WWF Super WrestleMania and Legends of Wrestling, as well as in the THQ wrestling games WWE SmackDown! Here Comes the Pain, WWE SmackDown! vs. Raw, WWE Legends of WrestleMania, WWE '12 and WWE '13.


In wrestling

Championships and accomplishments

The Road Warriors / Legion of Doom

The Hell Raisers (Hawk Warrior and Power Warrior)

Legion of Doom 2005


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