Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart has spoken at length about The Legion of Doom and how he was disappointed at Hawk not being able to perform during their one interaction in the World Wrestling Federation in the early nineties.
Those with long enough memories will remember Bret Hart’s slight dig at arguably the most popular tag team in wrestling history during his 2006 WWE Hall of Fame induction.
For those who do not, part-way through a story of Vince McMahon taking finishing moves in a nightclub, Hart recounted how L.O.D were always stiff when delivering their signature Doomsday Device. The comment garnered him a look of displeasure from Animal who was in the audience and a taken aback gasp from the audience.
On episode thirty two of Confessions Of The Hitman, ‘The Excellence of Execution’ once again delved into his thoughts on the celebrated team and told the story of how The Hart Foundation vs. The Legion of Doom was a disappointment because of Hawk’s demons:
“The Road Warriors, or Legion Of Doom, were one of the greatest – and in some ways you could say the greatest – tag team of all time. I don’t know of anybody that was bigger than them. It always kind of bothered me that we did in fact have one match with The Road Warriors, or The Legion Of Doom, and it was an iconic situation because I knew I was splitting off from Jim [Neidhart] and I was going singles and it was going to be the end of The Hart Foundation. We weren’t going to exist anymore in a few months.
The match Bret Hart referred to took place on March 12, 1991, in the Dark Match of a WWF Wrestling Challenge taping and ended in a double countout.
“And The Road Warriors, actually, I’ll call them Legion Of Doom because that’s what they were in the WWE. We had one match, and I remember they came in and said, ‘okay, you’re working one match for Coliseum Video just for a piece of history, just to lock it in. It’s a special match for you guys to go out and have one, just to say you had one.’ And we were all so excited. I was really excited about the match, and so was Jim, and so was Joe, and Hawk was excited. And I’ll never understand – Hawk was always just one of those self-destructive guys.
Before we went out to the ring, he took a bunch of Placidyls, or pills, and he was totally just a trainwreck and it’s a testimony to Joe, me, and Jim ‘The Anvil’ that we had that match. And if you watch it, it’s still actually a pretty good match. It’s still the same match that we planned out, except one guy is half asleep all the way through the match!”
Being unable to have the bout he desired with the red-hot duo disappointed Bret Hart who orated his belief that if Hawk had been able to compete, the pair would have had a hidden gem:
“I was so disappointed because it meant so much for us to have a match with them. And I know that Joe and Hawk both really loved me and Jim. They really wanted to have a great match with us. I just will never know why Hawk did what he did. He really ruined something that was for us. It’s still a pretty good match on TV though if you watch it, especially if you know that one guy is completely out of it on about 10 Placidyls.”
Though it would be the only time the two teams met in a traditional tag team setting, they would collide again six years later at WWF In Your House: Canadian Stampede when The Hart Foundation (Bret Hart, Owen Hart, The British Bulldog, Jim Neidhart and Brian Pillman) fought ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin, The Legion of Doom, Goldust and Ken Shamrock.
According to ‘The Best There Is, The Best There Was, And The Best There Ever Will Be’, Hawk sought to make up for his previous error during the sensational 1997 encounter:
“The funny thing about Hawk and going back to that story is that when I came back and we had the show here in Calgary [Canada], the big In Your House pay-per-view with the Stampede Showdown or whatever it was, where The Hart Foundation took on [Goldust], ‘Stone Cold’ [Steve Austin], The Road Warriors, and Ken Shamrock – that’s the five guys that we took on. And I can remember Hawk was so excited, he goes, ‘this is going to be the match to make up for the one I screwed up a long time ago.’ He was so excited about that match, and it was kind of like a chance to go in there and redeem himself. He did, and they all worked really hard. It was a fun experience, that whole Stampede pay-per-view.”
On September 22, 2020, Road Warrior Animal sadly passed away at the age of sixty years old. Bret Hart ended the interview by talking about the talent and paying tribute to his career:
“[Animal] was a great guy. I think he was really appreciated by everybody that knew him. I don’t know of anybody that ever had a bad thing about him. He was always a total pro. He was just an all around good guy, and it’s just a shame. I’m glad in the sense that he left on his own terms. Like, it was just his time. In wrestling, there’s so many wrestlers that have died from overdoses, drug problems, and suicides. It’s never good to hear about someone like Joe passing away. At least it was just his time was up, I guess.
I saw him last year in Anchorage, Alaska and we had such a good talk. I’m so glad that I went to Anchorage and actually saw him. He was one of the only other wrestlers that I knew there, and we talked at length about how many wrestlers are gone, how many had died, and that we were the last of a dying breed, or our generation was pretty much cleaned out in a lot of ways. And I remember talking to him – he seemed like a guy who was in great health who had nothing but a long, healthy life in front of him. Joe was always a careful guy. He was not a guy that was a heavy drinker or a party guy. He was a guy who was always in pretty good shape, and took good care of himself, and was a good family man. He was a good man in all ways, and talking to him, I never would have believed that. It shocked me when I heard the news. Like, he was so happy with his life.”
The Hart Foundation vs. The Legion of Doom was a hidden gem for many years, but can be found on the WWF WrestleFest 1991 Coliseum Video VHS and also on the WWE Network.
Credit for the interview: Confessions Of The Hitman
h/t for the transcription: Wrestling Inc.