Joseph “Joe” Laurinaitis, who competed in multiple wrestling promotions, including WWE, as Road Warrior Animal, is dead. The news of his passing was reported on Wednesday morning on his official Twitter account. The post can be viewed here.
“At this time, we would like to confirm the passing of Joseph Laurinaitis aka Road Warrior Animal at the age of 60. The family is planning to release a statement later today. At this time we ask for you to keep everyone in your thoughts and prayers,” read the post, which ended with a hashtag referencing his tag team’s familiar “oh, what a rush” catchphrase.
According to Sporting News, the wrestler is survived by his son, former NFL linebacker James Laurinaitis, and his brother, former WWE on-air authority figure John Laurinaitis, among other family members. Further details on his cause of death are currently unavailable.
The Road Warriors Were Among The Top Tag Teams Of The 1980s And 1990s
Teaming up with Michael Hegstrand, who was billed as Road Warrior Hawk, Animal was one-half of The Road Warriors, which formed in the early 1980s in Georgia Championship Wrestling, as recalled by Wrestling Inc. After spending the next several years in various promotions, the duo joined WWE in 1990 and was given the new name The Legion of Doom (LOD), retaining their individual in-ring monikers as well as their longtime manager, Paul Ellering.
Despite the impressive resume they compiled prior to signing with WWE, the LOD’s first run with the promotion only lasted until 1992 as Animal dealt with a back injury and Hawk left the company to join New Japan Pro-Wrestling, where he and Kensuke Sasaki partnered as the similarly-themed Hell Raisers. Following a six-month stint in World Championship Wrestling in 1996 that was cut short due to a contract dispute, Hawk and Animal returned to WWE in 1997, where they had another two-year run.
Shortly before Hawk’s death in 2003 at the age of 46, the LOD briefly competed in WWE for a third time, then later returned in 2006, with Jon Heidenreich filling Hawk’s shoes alongside Animal.
Together with Ellering, The Road Warriors/Legion of Doom were inducted into the company’s Hall of Fame in 2011, following a career where they won numerous tag team championships in the U.S. and Japan.
Animal Was Often Critical Of The Current WWE Product In Recent Years
In the years that followed his Hall of Fame induction, Animal often expressed critical views about WWE’s modern-day programming. These included one instance in December 2018 where he took to his What a Rush podcast to comment about Becky Lynch’s massive push as arguably the company’s top female star, as well as the trend of women main-eventing pay-per-views on a more frequent basis. He explained that he wasn’t a fan of Lynch’s moniker and persona as “The Man,” saying that it would be better if WWE books her as a “pure white meat babyface who doesn’t quit” rather than a defiant anti-hero.
In addition, Animal teamed up with Sportskeeda to co-host the Legion of Raw podcast, and he had, just as recently as September 21, shared his opinion on the divisive reveal of RETRIBUTION’s members on this week’s edition of Monday Night Raw. As quoted by the publication, the in-ring legend remarked that the faction “did not do the show any justice” and opined that WWE made a big mistake by not having a familiar main roster superstar lead the stable.
“But you can’t expect to throw guys that barely are working main events in NXT to be the main event on TV or Raw. What do they expect is going to happen?” Animal commented. “On top of that, you take your hottest heel team [The Hurt Business] and you have them play babyface against RETRIBUTION. Are you kidding me?”