Hall of Fame wrestler Joseph Laurinaitis, known to fans as Road Warrior Animal, has died at age 60.
Laurinaitis wrestled for most of his career with the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) with Road Warrior Hawk and won multiple tag team championships as The Road Warriors/Legion of Doom. Together the duo formed what was arguably the most successful, popular and feared tandem of all time — The Road Warriors, the WWE said in a statement posted Wednesday on its website.
The WWE called Laurinaitis “one of the most intense Superstars to ever step into the squared circle.”
Laurinaitis was induced into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2011. He was inducted into the Minnesota Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2019.
His death brought sadness to the wrestling world.
“RIP Animal, love you my brother, I know you and Hawk have a lot of unfinished business to take care of,” said retired wrestler Hulk Hogan in a tweet. “God speed and blessings to your beautiful family, one love4Life.:
With their intimidating face paint, outfits covered in metal spikes and impressive array of power moves, the duo captured titles and destroyed opponents wherever they roamed, the WWE said.
Animal’s partner, Hawk, whose real name was Michael Hegstrand, died of a heart attack in 2003 at 46.
“Their dominance made them so popular that the phrase “Road Warrior pop” has been used in locker rooms to describe particularly deafening reactions from the crowd ever since,” the WWE’s statement said.
Laurinaitis grew up in Minnesota and attended Irondale High School in New Brighton.
Laurinaitis’ son, James, was a star linebacker at Ohio State who was picked in the 2nd-round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Rams. He played for the Rams from 2009-2015 before finishing his career with the Saints in 2016.
Few details about Laurinaitis' death were released.
“At this time we ask for you to keep everyone in your thoughts and prayers. #OhWhatARush,” the tweet said.