#ReadAnFnBookFridays: The Road Warriors: Danger, Death, and the Rush of Wrestling By Joe Laurinaitis


I wasn’t going to include this book in our weekly #ReadAnFnBookFridays initiative, but then i learned Wrestlemania was this weekend, April 6, 2014, so I relented on my intended omission.

Way back in 2011, Joe Laurinaitis, aka Road Warrior Animal, followed the path of many wrestlers before him and wrote a book recounting his career with Michael Hegstrand, aka Road Warrior Hawk, as they proceeded to dominate the world of tag team wrestling in every wrestling organization the duo joined.

For me, this book was one of those impulse buys, made while I was tooling around on Amazon. In the past, I was a big wrestling fan, but over the past five or six years, I haven’t paid much attention to what’s going on in professional sports entertainment, although I do occasionally get out and support a few local promotions, as everyone should do from time to time.

When I look back on my wrestling fandom, the Road Warriors played a big role in getting me hooked through most of my youth. It wasn’t until I read Animal’s book, The Road Warriors: Danger, Death, and the Rush of Wrestling, that I realized how early in the Road Warriors career I became infatuated with them.

The Superstation, WTBS, made its way into my family’s home some time around 1983, or maybe even 1982. From there, it didn’t take me long to find matches from the NWA on my television. At the time, I was seven, or eight, and it was the Road Warriors who were my first wrestling crush.

They were big. They were mean. They had crazy face paint, and eventually, they even came out to the Black Sabbath classic, Iron Man. In fact, it was the Road Warriors who enticed me into seeking out Black Sabbath, which has become a life-long obsession.

In his book, Laurinaitis tells the tag team’s story from its beginning in Minnesota, where the pair worked as bouncers with Rick Rude, Nikita Koloff, aka Scott Simpson, and a few others who would go on to train together and eventually get the nod from Ole Anderson to join the professional wrestling circuit.

At the heart of the story, aside from Hawk and Animal’s determination to make it as professional wrestlers, is the extreme lifestyle differences between the two.

Animal, was more of the homebody, who viewed wrestling not only with a historical reverence, but with the respect of any other career path one chooses as a means to support a family. Hawk, on the other hand, was the life of the party, who was known for drinking more than everyone else, snorting more cocaine than everyone else, or even driving his car/motorcycle faster than everyone else.

They talked a mean game too.

The two managed to co-exist for almost 20 years before addiction, and erratic behavior led to the Road Warrior’s exile from televised professional wrestling, and eventually Hawk’s death in 2003.

In typical wrestling book fashion, Animal goes over key matches in his history with painstaking detail, including an almost blow-for-blow commentary for each of the tag team’s championship matches, and there were plenty of those. In fact, they started their careers with the tag team belts when Ole Anderson brought them into the wrestling organization he helped manage. It was actually Ole Anderson who devised the entire Road Warriors gimmick.

Animal pays special attention to the Road Warriors, or The Legion of Doom’s, Wrestlemania appearances.

Wrestelmania VII: The Legion of Doom wrestled Power and Glory

Wrestlemania XIII: The Legion of Doom and Ahmed Johnson faced off with the Nation of Domination for a Chicago Street Fight Match.

Wrestlemania XIV: The Legion of Doom won the tag team battle royal that kicked off the event, setting them up for a shot at the title on the next pay per view event.  Notice the crowd reaction as the Legion of Doom is announced. To this day, wrestlers compare their entrances to those of the Road Warriors, wiht something they refer to as the “Road Warrior Pop.” Wrestling fans ate their gimmick up.

In between the Wrestlemania’s there were the issues of Hawk’s growing issues with substance abuse, and his dependability issues. It was eventually the issue that split the pair apart.

All of it is detailed in Animal’s book.

He also touches on his family life quite a bit, including his son, James Laurinaitis, who has played Linebacker for the St. Louis Rams since 2009.

Overall the book is a pretty good read. There isn’t a lot of dirt dishing in it, like there is in some other wrestling books, but the Road Warriors story is one that doesn’t need salacious stories like those to be good.

They dominated the sport from the first time they ever stepped into the ring.

You can get the ebook at Amazon for $4.99, or go for the paperback or hardcover editions for a few bucks more.

If classic wrestling is your thing, check it out. Otherwise, until next week, why don’t you read a fucking book or something.