(Nicholas Dye/Staff Writer)
My first introduction to the world of wrestling came around 1983. My good friend Joe Barnum had introduced me to the WWF and, if I remember correctly, the first match I watched was Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake and Greg “The Hammer” Valentine vs. The Killer Bees. It was right then and there that I decided that if I were to ever become a wrestler I wanted to be part of a tag team.
As a fan of the WWF, there was no shortage of teams to watch. The Hart Foundation, British Bulldogs and eventually, Demolition, just to name a few. It was during this time that I had first heard the rumblings of a wildly destructive team that didn’t wrestle for the WWF. A team that wore face paint and spikes like Demolition, but were waaaay bigger and scarier. I quickly discovered that they were a team featured on a promotion I had never heard of at that age, the WCW. Nevertheless, I managed to get a hold of a VHS recording when I was ten of the infamous “Scaffold Match” that featured the Midnight Express taking on the Road Warriors. When the Road Warriors were introduced, I sat wide-eyed and transfixed on my television. Hawk and Animal emerged from the curtain and it was like they belonged in my collection of Masters of the Universe figures. I thought it was so cool Animal had a spider painted on his forehead and I was fucking arachnophobic! From that moment forward, the only thing that could pull me away from my beloved WWF was to briefly tune in to WCW to see the greatest tag team to ever come out of the mean streets of Chicago.
Hawk was massive and powerful and damn fast but it was Animal, who was the true crushing power of that team. I would live to watch two things happen in their matches. The first, was to see Animal perform the most devastating and flawless scoop powerslam and the second was to see him hoist their victim (that’s what they really were people!!) upon his shoulders and to see Hawk sail from the top rope to deliver a clothesline that was aptly called “The Doomsday Device.” Every single time they were on the screen, it was like seeing a comic book character come to life. They looked like characters that Conan the Barbarian would try to avoid. I would have countless conversations with my friends about how I wish they would come to the WWF. On July 15, 1990, I got my wish.
From day one, the Legion of Doom were predefined to be the champs. They quickly feuded with teams like Demolition, the Powers of Pain, and the Nasty Boys. I lived to watch Animal point two thumbs towards the ceiling, calling Hawk to set up for the Doomsday Device. He and Hawk would cut the best promos and you always felt like they just might actually pull another wrestler’s head off. Whatever you call them, the Road Warriors or the Legion of Doom, are my definitive answer to the “who’s the best tag team ever” question. Just as inevitable as their rise to success, Hawk and Animal were inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2011.
It would be years later that I would actually learn Animal’s name. Joe Laurinaitis. He became a very proud father who helped his son become one of the most feared lineman in college football and saw him play in the NFL for the New Orleans Saints and the Los Angeles Rams. Sadly, Joe Laurinaitis passed yesterday at the age of 60. He was revered in the back in every promotion and he lived to give his all to fans and to his family. Thanks for everything Animal, it has been a rush. Below is there entrance music and my favorite entrance of theirs ever. Summerslam 1992.