Saturday, October 9, 2010

What a Rush!

Hawk vs. Typhoon at a WWF house show in Cape Girardeau (1991)

I've talked before about the dwindling world of tag team wrestling, especially in the WWE.  Back in the day, and by day I mean the 1980's, it would be hard to deny that the most dominant team was the Road Warriors.  They were tough, intimidating monsters who pulled no punches.  Crazy haircuts, spiked shoulder pads, and fierce makeup made them one of the most memorable duos of all time.  Their manager, "Precious" Paul Ellering escorted them to the ring, carrying his rolled up copy of the Wall Street Journal.  The thinking man and his thugs.  There were a force to beat in the Georgia area in the early 80's.

The first time I remember watching the Road Warriors was when they were in the AWA in 1984.  They steamrolled all over everyone.  Hawk & Animal had just captured the tag team titles from the Crusher & Baron Von Raschke.  They wore the belts for just over a year, dominating everyone they faced.  Then it was the unlikely duo of Steve Regal (not the WWE wrestler) and "Gorgeous" Jimmy Garvin.  Of course, there was outside interference in the match, as the Warriors had turned face and were the good guys going into the match.

The Legion of Doom as they were also known as, left the AWA and headed to Japan.  They also wrestled for the NWA.  It didn't take long for them to be the team to beat there too.  They captured the tag team gold there and feuded with teams like the Midnight Express, the Four Horsemen, and the Powers of Pain.  Both Hawk and Animal even had singles matches against world champion Ric Flair during the Great American Bash series of matches.

The Road Warriors teamed with Dusty Rhodes and held the NWA 6 man tag team titles too.  Belts that were rarely defended.  Finally, the two snapped and turned on Rhodes and became heels again.  They would soon flip back to the side of good and lose their tag team titles to the Varsity Club (Mike Rotunda and Rick Steiner).

Really, this was probably the beginning of the end for the team as we knew them.  Sure they stayed together for the years that followed, but in 1990, they jumped to the WWF.  And things were different.  They came without Ellering.  Another change, their black spiked shoulder pads were replaced with orange ones.  Why?  IDK... And most importantly, they were no longer the Road Warriors.  Now, they were simply, the Legion of Doom.  They were still fierce and tough, but it was not the same.

The LOD feuded with Demolition, a team many thought were a Road Warriors rip off.  After about a year in the WWF, they captured the tag team titles from the Nasty Boys.  Then about six months later, Money Inc (IRS aka Mike Rotunda again & Ted DiBiase) beat them for the belts.

Then things got weird, even for the WWF.  LOD brought Paul Ellering back into the fold, but he came with a dummy (wooden one) named Rocco, who was supposed to inspire this once destructive duo.  It was a lame gimmick and by the end of the summer of 92, Hawk had left the WWF and went to Japan.  Animal stayed behind and teamed up briefly with Crush, who had been a member of Demolition a few years before.

It was much longer that Animal left too.  The Warriors reunited and jumped back and forth between WCW and the WWF.  One run in the WWF had them billed as LOD 2000, with Sunny as their manager.   Sadly, Hawk died in 2003, truly bringing an end to one of the greatest tag teams in the history of the sport.  Animal (and the WWE) tried to keep the legacy alive by creating a new version of the team with John Heidenreich.  It flopped too.  Animal would also team with and then feud with Matt Hardy.  He has since left the WWE and does some work in the independents still.  His brother still works for the WWE and Animal recently worked a FCW show (a company operated by the E).

Hopefully one day, the Road Warriors will make their way into the WWE Hall of Fame.  It would be the right way to tie up the legacy of the Legion of Doom.  And as Hawk would say, "WHAT A RUSH!"

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