Whether you call them The Road Warriors or The Legion of Doom, Animal and Hawk rank among the greatest professional wrestling tag teams in the history of the industry. Add Paul Ellering into that mix and you have one of the greatest relationships the business has ever seen.
First spotted and brought to Georgia Championship Wrestling by Ole Anderson after trying their luck elsewhere, Animal and Hawk were not alone in conquering the world. By their side was the aforementioned Ellering whose stable they joined on entry to GCW.
AWA, NWA/JCP/WCW or ventures into Japan, no matter where The Road Warriors went, Ellering was never far behind. So when the immensely popular duo departed World Championship Wrestling in 1990 after disagreements with the notorious Jim Herd and joined the then World Wrestling Federation, it was only natural the duo took their mentor and friend with them.
It was this time period that came under the spotlight when Paul Ellering joined Dr. Chris Featherstone of Sportskeeda on the UnSKripted series.
While fans of Jim Crockett Promotions looked at Animal and Hawk’s time in the big league as a watered down version of what they were capable of and WWF devotees cherish the time we had with them, Ellering had a different view on his friend’s career with the biggest company in wrestling history.
“Well, to me it was actually kinda disappointing, but when you understand the philosophy of the WWE, you know the writing was probably on the wall before they even got there. Because the WWE has always been a singles big man territory, and they had never pushed tag teams to any great degree.”
In part Ellering was correct. Vince McMahon’s bread and butter was men like Hulk Hogan. However, to state that WWF never cared about their tag team scene was questionable. In the late eighties and early nineties the doubles league was stacked with talent.
The Hart Foundation, The Rockers, The British Bulldogs, Demolition and the list goes on and on. Some of the company’s best matches of that era came from WWF’s doubles division. It just so happened that the scene wasn’t as thriving when L.O.D joined as it was previously.
Ellering then spoke about the worldwide appear of Animal and Hawk and how, unlike other teams who joined the WWF, they were legitimate draws in other parts of the world:
“We set up Japan in probably ’84 or ’85, and once we had Japan in our back pocket, we could do anything. We could go to any territory. The only one we couldn’t go to was WWF because Vince wanted to have you committed to him. And we didn’t want to be committed to anything. We wanted to have the whole world as our territory and utilize ourselves the way Andre the Giant was billed, as an attraction.”
The Legion of Doom made their WWF debut in June 1990, defeating Black Bart and Tom Stone on a June 25 WWF Superstars taping and were almost immediately inserted into a rivalry with three man Demolition. The Ultimate Warrior was their partner.
The rivalry ended at that year’s Survivor Series when The Ultimate Warriors (The Ultimate Warrior, Legion of Doom and The Texas Tornado) best The Perfect Team (Mr. Perfect and Demolition).
Following Demolition, the gladiators moved on to a live event rivalries with The Orient Express and Power and Glory in 1991. The Nasty Boys were next on the list and the two teams went to war over the WWF Tag Team Championships on house shows before Animal and Hawk dethroned Knobbs and Sags at SummerSlam 1991 in a Street Fight.
Their next rivalry had already been put in motion earlier that evening, when they came to the aid Andre the Giant who had been targeted by the colossal Natural Disasters. A bitter rivalry over the gold followed on live events and television, including the October 28, 1991, edition of WWF on MSG Network and on December 12 at SWS: SuperWrestle.
The foursome’s most memorable battle came at the 1992 WWF Royal Rumble where Animal and Hawk lost via countout.
After dropping the straps to Money Inc. on a house show on February 7, 1992, both men departed the company for several months thus ending their first stint with Vince McMahon. They would return several more times throughout the nineties, add Droz to their ranks albeit briefly and repackage themselves as L.O.D. 2000 before the decade turned again.
Road Warrior Hawk passed away on October 19 2003, while Road Warrior Animal passed away on September 22, 2020.
If you would like to listen to the full interview then it is included in the video above.
Credit for the interview: Sportskeeda
h/t for the transcription: WrestleZone