My Farewell to Animal

The Legendary Road Warriors, Hawk and Animal

(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.

To my hero Rowdy Roddy Piper…

(Nicholas Dye, Staff Writer)

As a kid growing up watching the superheroes-come-to-life in the WWF, of course I would go nuts every time I heard Hogan’s music hit or the Ultimate Warrior’s crazed run to the ring. I still get goosebumps overtime Macho Man’s music hits or the Legion of Doom march to the ring. The thing that really fired me up wasn’t “hulking up” or watching Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts deliver the greatest short arm clothesline in the business, it was the complete hatred I had for simply the greatest “heel” in the business, Rowdy Roddy Piper. Every time those bagpipes would hit and I would hear the man from Glasgow, Scotland introduced, I just wanted someone to shut him up. I wanted to see him get beat by “The Hulkster” or choked out by Andre The Giant. I remember having conversations with other kids about how fake wrestling was. I would get pissed and finally concede that it was, at least, a little fake but Hot Rod was 100% real. He was the silver tongued devil of the WWF the first TRUE super villain. I would relish turning on Saturday Night’s Main Event just to see him get knocked around even if it rarely happened. Then one day, in the middle of one of his promos, I remember a switch was flipped. He hadn’t become a “good guy” (or “babyface” as they call it in the industry), he simply came out, talked trash, and backed it all up. He was a dirty fighter and a loud mouth braggart and I suddenly found myself connecting with this kilt-wearing lunatic. Maybe it was because he reminded me, in my own warped way, of another of my heroes, Muhammad Ali. Like Ali, Piper would goad you into a fight, get you off your game, and smack the crap out of you. As I grew older, I cheered wildly for Piper in his 1992 win over the Mountie for the Intercontinental Title and I never wondered why he didn’t go for the big title. I knew he never had to. He didn’t need to be world champ to be the most dynamic wrestler in the business. You always knew that  once that sleeper hold was on, you were in trouble. Rowdy was never apologetic for anything he had done and seemed as fired up at the boos as Hogan ever did at the cheers. The main difference? Piper never needed to be in that spotlight, he created his own. In his lifetime, he has been loved and hated, feared and respected, kicked some ass and had his kicked a VERY few times along the way. He is a Hall of Fame inductee, he was the greatest villain ever and my favorite wrestler. He was always quick to shake hands with fans, shared wisdom and supported the new blood coming up, was a loving father and husband and a consummate ambassador for wrestling during it’s highs and lows. One of his last blessing was giving his name to Rhonda Rousey and I guarantee, he couldn’t have picked a better fighter to bestow the title of “Rowdy” on. I will miss you for all of those reasons Rowdy Roddy Piper and I can’t thank you enough for the amazing and damn too short ride. RIP Roderick George “Rowdy” Toombs. The greatest.