Monday, November 26, 2007

Road Warrior Animal, Joe Laurinaitis, part 2

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The Road Warriors immediately signed with the WWF in 1990 and were pushed into a feud with the most famous of all “Road Warrior Clones”, Demolition (which once again included their old training partner Barry Darsow). Due to the ailing health of one of Demolition (Ax) he was replaced by Crush but the magic of the original Demolition was gone and the feud did not live up to the high hopes of the fans.

Just over a year after signing with the WWF, the Legion of Doom won the WWF World Tag Team Titles and held them for about 8 months. When they lost the titles, they briefly left the WWF only to return with long time manager Paul Ellering by their side, as well as a wooden dummy called “Rocco”. Both members of the L.O.D. thought the gimmick was stupid, and it led to Hawk quitting the WWF, leaving Animal on his own for the first time in 9 years.Animal teamed with former enemy turned “face” Crush for a while but before the team could make any kind of progress, Animal legitimately injured his back and was forced into retirement late in 1992.

For the next couple of years, Animal stayed out of the wrestling ring, collecting on a very lucrative insurance policy from Lloyd's of London while Hawk competed all over the world. Near the end of 1995, Animal's back had finally recovered enough for him to return to active competition. Three years after everyone thought the Road Warriors had ended, they reunited and signed a contract with World Championship Wrestling. Upon their debut in 1996, they immediately started a feud with the Steiner Brothers and Harlem Heat, before moving on to challenge the WCW Tag Team Champions Sting & Lex Luger. The Road Warriors had several shots at the champions but never won the titles in the 6 months they were with the company.

After leaving WCW they returned to the WWF where the Legion of Doom took part in the Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. the Hart Foundation feud, siding with Austin against the Harts. The Legion of Doom also became 2 time tag team champions on October 7, 1997 when they defeated The Godwinns. In November 1997, the Legion of Doom faced the newly formed New Age Outlaws (Road Dogg and Billy Gunn) and lost the titles to the upstart team.

After several unsuccessful challenges the L.O.D. were repackaged as Legion of Doom 2000 with manager Sunny, although she did not stay with the team for long.

In 1998, the Legion of Doom became involved in their most controversial angle to date, playing off Hawk’s real life drug and alcohol problems. Hawk started to show up drunk or “unable to perform” on TV (according to the storyline). As Hawk proved more and more erratic and unreliable, a third L.O.D. member, Puke, was introduced to team with Animal while Hawk dealt with his personal issues. The storyline ended with accusations that “Puke” had been the "enabler" of Hawk's problems, exploiting them to take Hawk’s place in the team. During this segment, Hawk infamously was shown to have fallen off the Titan Tron. It was a controversial segment that pushed the envelope of good taste and that was the hallmark of the WWF's "Attitude" era. Neither Hawk nor Animal approved of the WWF exploiting Hawk’s personal problems, essentially making light of them by turning it into a storyline and left the WWF.

While the Road Warriors never officially broke up, Animal started making an increasing number of solo appearances after they left the WWF as Hawk struggled with drug and alcohol addiction.

Animal landed a prominent position in WCW as the “Enforcer” of the stable known as The Magnificent Seven with the objective to protect WCW World Champion Scott Steiner. Animal most likely landed the high-profile part thanks to his brother John who had a powerful behind-the-scenes role with the company. The Magnificent Seven split up shortly before Vince McMahon purchased WCW, Animal’s contract was not one of the contracts the WWF picked up.

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