Joseph Laurinaitis, better known in the professional wrestling world as Road Warrior Animal, died at the age of 60 on Wednesday morning. Animal’s official Twitter account broke the news — “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.”
WWE then released a statement responding to the Hall of Famer’s passing, writing, “WWE is saddened to learn that Joe Laurinaitis, known to WWE fans as Road Warrior Animal, has passed away. WWE extends its condolences to Laurinaitis’ family, friends and fans.”
Born in Philadelphia, Laurinaitis made his pro wrestling debut in November 1982 as The Road Warrior. He was quickly convinced by manager Paul Ellering to start working as a tag team alongside Mike Hegstrand (Road Warrior Hawk) as The Legion of Doom. Their iconic looks, impressive physiques and dominant in-ring style helped make them one of, if not the, most popular tag teams in pro wrestling history. The two would set out to work in numerous promotions — Georgia Championship Wrestling, All Japan Pro Wrestling, the American Wrestling Association, Jim Crockett Promotions, the World Wrestling Federation, World Championship Wrestling and Impact Wrestling from 1983-2014. The two were inducted into the WWE and Professional Wrestling Halls of Fame in 2011 and the NWA Hall of Fame in 2012. Hegstrand passed away at the age of 46 back in 2003.
“One of the most intense Superstars to ever step into the squared circle, the 6-foot-2, 300-pound Animal spent the majority of his career alongside his tag team partner, Hawk,” WWE’s statement read. “Together, they formed what was arguably the most successful, popular and feared tandem of all time — The Road Warriors. 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. 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.”