For those of us that are pro wrestling fans, we all grew up in what is known as the “golden era” of the SPORT of professional wrestling. An era that included guys like “Mr. Perfect” Curt Henning, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, the Great Muta, the man they call Sting and many others. For me, it all started in 1989 when I saw Joe Laurinaitis and Michael Hegstrand, better known as HAWK and ANIMAL, a tag-team named the Legion Of Doom.
The two men were like no other team at that time.
Brutal, menacing, super strong and all about business. With their trademark face-paint, spiked shoulder pads and mohawks, the Legion Of Doom were ahead of their time. Forming the team in 1983 and becoming part of the Legion Of Doom faction (a play on the super friends cartoon villains group) that consisted of King Kong Bundy, Jake “The Snake” Roberts, Hawk, Animal, and their manager “Precious” Paul Ellering. Though the group was short-lived, The L.O.D. name would stick with Hawk, Animal, and Ellering throughout their career. Using their Doomsday Device finisher to destroy opponents one knew they were destined for greatness.
At the peak of their career, The L.O.D was the first and only tag-team to hold all three big promotions titles ( AWA, WWE, NWA/WCW), And create what is now known as the “Road Warrior Pop,“ which is a crowd reaction so loud it becomes deafening and is usually the loudest crowd reaction of the night. Although they would go through several incarnations and changes throughout the years, The L.O.D would remain a staple in tag-team and pro wrestling for years.
Sadly, good things don’t last forever as we lost Michael “Hawk” Hegstrand in 2003 at the age of 46. This past Wednesday, Joe “Animal” Laurinaitis passed away at the age of 60. If one wasn’t a fan of pro wrestling, Animal’s legacy didn’t end in the ring. His son, James Laurinaitis, was a standout linebacker at Ohio State and with the St. Louis Rams in the NFL.
Although they are gone, the legacy of the Legion Of Doom will live on.
Hawk and Animal have finally reunited and I’m sure Hawk has a special pair of heavenly spiked shoulder pads waiting for Animal at the gates.
Rest easy, Joe “Animal” Laurinaitis!