By Michael Weaver, Jr. [E-Mail | Facebook | Instagram | Website | X]

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This exclusive interview was originally published in May 2002.)

Road Warrior Animal began his career at the age of 22.  (Photo Credit: WWE)
Road Warrior Animal began his career at the age of 22. (Photo Credit: WWE)

WU ONLINE: Animal, you started your career in November 1982 at the tender age of 22. When did you decide you wanted to be a sports-entertainer and how did you go about becoming one?

ANIMAL: Well, it came between pro football and pro wrestling and I knew there would be more longevity in wrestling with my partner than football.

WU ONLINE: Hawk, you started your career as a sports-entertainer in June 1983. How did you become one and when did you decide, “Hey, this is what I want to be!”?

HAWK: Me and Animal were friends and were raised in Philly and then Chicago. We moved in Minneapolis for my dad’s computer business and Animal’s dad’s business. We trained at Jesse Ventura’s gym and met Eddie Sharkey who broke Bob Backlund and others. Me and Animal and a few other large guys [“Ravishing” Rick Rude and Barry Darsow (Who portrayed Smash and Repo Man.).] came down and met him in a rib joint. When he saw that crew, he said, “Which four of you?,” so since me and Animal arranged the thing, we walked forward. Eddie taught us how to take bumps and that’s it. It was nothing like a camp that Vince McMahon has. It was a boxing ring. We learned everything else in the Georgia Championship Wrestling (GCW). They (Georgia Championship Wrestling) saw money in us.

WU ONLINE: Paul Ellering was your manager for many years. How did the three of you meet?

HAWK: Paul was put under our wing by Ole Anderson. He was a legitimate shoot manager. He got the money and we did the work. He was probably to this day the most paid manager. Now that I have got in real good shape after my heart problem, which was, repairable, now old is new again and someday I think we’ll be reunited.

WU ONLINE: On August 25, 1984 the Road Warriors defeated The Crusher and Baron Von Raschke in Las Vegas, Nevada to capture the AWA Tag Team Championship. What was it like to win your first championship?

ANIMAL: It was like anything, it was the first big achievement, winning was your reward.

HAWK: It’s also a sign that you can carry the ball. When you’re given the belt they give you their confidence. We captured all the big promotions belts and that can’t be duplicated. No one can duplicate because we had every promotion including All Japan and brought the belts to the states and represented Japan. No one has worked for two promotions without a contract. We worked both NWA and AWA without a contract.

WU ONLINE: The next championship the two of you held was the NWA Tag Team Championship which you defeated Bobby Eaton and Stan Lane in New Orleans, Iowa on October 29, 1988. What was it like to first conquer the AWA and then the NWA?

ANIMAL: Every title is an achievement. We won every title two times and every one was important as the last.

HAWK: It was great for our career and the promoters put their trust in us. We had no trouble carrying the ball. We were so excited when we got in the ring. That we sometimes didn’t realize what we did until we watched it. People intended us to be heels. That was when Freddie Krueger and the Terminator were popular heels. We were monster babyfaces. It was a great feeling.

WU ONLINE: When you entered the WWF many people said you were just Demolition wannabes. How did you feel when you heard such ignorant remarks?

HAWK: That was probably Vince’s doing. Vince wanted us but we didn’t want to come to Vince because we were happy where we were. We had painted our faces many years before Demolition. It was kinda an odd thing to say.

The Legion of Doom captured the WWF Tag Team Championship at WWF SummerSlam'91.  (Photo Credit: WWF)
The Legion of Doom captured the WWF Tag Team Championship at WWF SummerSlam’91. (Photo Credit: WWF)

WU ONLINE: You won the WWF Tag Team Championship at WWF SummerSlam’91 on August 26, 1991 against The Nasty Boys. What was it like to be in Madison Square Garden, one of the biggest pay-per-views in the WWF calendar at that time, and in the end you two were the best in the world?

ANIMAL: That was probably one of the most electrifying buildings ever. Winning it was great. It was the vibrant city and it went good with our gimmicks.

HAWK: A lot of people don’t realize that the ten big attendance shows: Japan, Wembley, North Korea…we’ve been on like 7 of 10 either in tag matches or main events.

WU ONLINE: In 1992, you were absent from the WWF for about a month or two. When you returned, Paul (Ellering) was with you for the first time in the WWF. Later in 1992, you were given Rocco – a puppet that claimed to have taught you everything you knew. What was going through your mind at that time?

HAWK: We were thinking of tearing up our contract! It was another Vince idea. Like the Road Warriors and a puppet are the farthest ideas. I don’t know what Vince has in his coffee but I don’t want any. The best thing was we broke the doll and they had to get fixed and they forgot about it. (laughs)

ANIMAL: Stupidest thing ever.

WU ONLINE: Let’s talk about awards that you’ve received throughout the years. The Road Warriors were the Pro Wrestling Illustrated Tag Team of the Year in 1983, 1984, 1985, and 1988. Plus you were the winner of the PWI Feud of the Year award in 1987, when you and The SuperPowers feuded with the Four Horsemen. Those aren’t the only awards you’ve won. You have been the first, second, and third runner up for PWI‘s Tag Team of the Year in 1986, 1987, 1989, 1990, 1991, and 1997. Plus Animal was the third runner up for Comeback of the Year in 1996. And finally, you were the first runner up for the Match of the Year in 1985 against Ivan and Nikita Koloff. How does it feel to know the fans voted for you two gentlemen in all of these awards?

ANIMAL: You forgot two.


ANIMAL: We also won the Tag Team of the Decade and Century. We also won the Crocket Cup.

HAWK: Crocket Cup was a nice little notch on the gun. We’re fan friendly and we dig the fans and why wouldn’t you. We will always be that way. We’re just regular guys and are good people. Your fans are your bread and butter. Why wouldn’t you fee that way?

WU ONLINE: I’m glad you said that. It seems like many of today’s stars think they’re better than the fans and that without the fans, they’d still be successful.

ANIMAL: Without the wrestling fans you have no wrestling program.

HAWK: When they ask you for an autograph, that’s a compliment. If you’re no good; they won’t ask.

WU ONLINE: Let’s go back to your last WWF Championship. On October 7, 1997 you defeated The Godwinns for the WWF Tag Team Championship. The match took place in Topeka, Kansas and it came about when you accidentally broke one of The Godwinns neck.  The Godwinns would return, turned heel and basically said that you two were has-beens. They challenged you to put your careers on the line and in the end you were still active competitors and were two-time champions. What were your thoughts during this time?

The Road Warriors have won several awards over the years including the PWI Tag Team of the Year in 1983, 1984, 1985 and 1988.  (Photo Credit: Pro Wrestling Illustrated)
The Road Warriors have won several awards over the years including the PWI Tag Team of the Year in 1983, 1984, 1985 and 1988. (Photo Credit: Pro Wrestling Illustrated)

HAWK: A lot of mixed thoughts. WWF and the way they portrayed us, when used correctly we made money. We weren’t exactly yes men because we didn’t have problems with any promoter. When he (Vince McMahon) portrayed me as the pill taker, or whatever I was, we work with children and it was hard to deal with children, because they believe the storylines. Vince knows this cause I’ve seen him do this to other people. I was good enough at the drunk act that it was hard, but it was good enough for Scott Hall to copy it.

ANIMAL: There were brighter moments.

WU ONLINE: Hawk, I’m glad you mentioned the alcoholic storyline because I have a question for you. During that time did you ever have a moment where you said, “No.  I’m not going to do that!”?

HAWK: We turned it down and then we realized that we had a stipulation in our contract. You turn down Vince and you’re on the back-burner. We realized the stipulation and on the third year we did something no other tag team had done before, we got paid for the third year for doing nothing. They used us for autograph sessions and stuff. I guess we were too much of a pain in his butt. There was nothing he could do about it. He never owned the rights to the Legion of Doom, Hawk, Animal, or Road Warriors. He never wanted to call us Road Warriors because it would confuse people with Ultimate Warrior. So he asked if we had another name and we said, “Yeah, Legion of Doom,” And when he went to look up the rights to Legion of Doom, he had a nice surprised. Like Brutus Beefcake, why would it hurt to give his name. He (Vince) won’t use him and won’t give him (Beefcake) his name. That’s cold. Vince is a very evil person. He makes Don King look like Mother Teresa.

WU ONLINE: You mentioned Vince being an evil person. Did you have any other bad experiences with other McMahon family members?

HAWK: Not really. I respect Shane and his daughter, Stephanie. It was more so with me and Vince than Vince and Animal. But I was more outspoken, I’m like that. Vince had pulled us and directs his questions to me. He’d say, “You can’t do what you’re doing in the locker room.” and I’d say, “What swearing?”  Vince would say, “No, you’re insulting the guys!”  You want me to shut my trap about how many ways you’ve tried to screw us?  I’m entitled to speak my mind. It used to frustrate him and he couldn’t control us. If you are going to speak your opinions then he has a problem with you and will place you on the back-burner. And what he can’t control frustrates him.N

ANIMAL: I was convinced of that.

Animal made his return to World Championship Wrestling at WCW Sin on January 14, 2001.  (Photo Credit: WCW, Inc.)
Animal made his return to World Championship Wrestling at WCW Sin on January 14, 2001. (Photo Credit: WCW, Inc.)

WU ONLINE: Animal, in early January 2001, World Championship Wrestling claimed that they had a superstar for its up coming pay-per-view WCW Sin. The main event was Sid Vicious versus WCW World Champion, Scott Steiner, versus Jeff Jarrett versus a mystery wrestler. Towards the end of the match, you came out to the ring in a mask and at the same time Sid broke his leg. Now, no offense but do you feel that WCW let its fans down? The way they promoted the individual, fans thought it was going to be anybody but you. Again, no offense but do you think surprises in sports-entertainment sometimes do not live up to the hype?

ANIMAL: Well I think it was an unfortunate situation, with Sid breaking his leg.

HAWK: It made Joe Theism look like a guppy.

ANIMAL: The intent was that I was never going to be apart of that match but it was going to be a rundown. I was never booked to be in an elimination match, but I was going to be with a group of guys. I think it would’ve been more of an impact if I would’ve been able to do what I wanted to do and then take my mask off. But what are you going to do? I was waiting for Hawk.

HAWK: We are like brothers, we don’t have problems being singles but we prefer to be partners. It’s clockwork. I know what Animal is thinking and he knows what I’m thinking. He’s my closest friend and should be my blood brother, as far as I’m concerned. We’ve been together for 20 years and no tag team has lasted that long. Vince didn’t use us right when we were there just like “Stone Cold” (Steve Austin) wasn’t used right in WCW. Everyone else used us correctly because we’re not hard to deal with, he’d (Vince) tell you that we are. The reason we have a problem is we’ve gotten along with every other promoter but this guy here thinks we’re pawns. How can I mess with this pawn today? Vince would say. There’s so much dissension, there’s so many cliques. It was never fun to be in the WWF locker room. I thought it was always ridiculous to take a urine test when the president of the United States doesn’t. If you have steroids sent to your house, you deserve to be caught.

WU ONLINE: In March 2001, World Championship Wrestling was finally sold to World Wrestling Federation. What were your thoughts when the announcement was made and after the whole ‘invasion’ of WCW into the WWF?

ANIMAL: I think they could’ve made that the Superbowl of wrestling but I think everyone knew WCW was going to be backseat to the WWF. Not the stars because they were some great stars in WCW. But you have gotta take care of WCW stars and make them comfortable.

HAWK: I think he blew it there I really do, that could’ve been a great storyline but he fell flat on his face.

WU ONLINE: The so-called insiders of wrestling say that Vince just bought WCW to kill it. Do you agree?

ANIMAL: First, we have to say the guy is a genius in this business. He’s successful, certain situations could’ve been different but you need two companies to be successful. You can’t be number 1 without number 2.

HAWK: I think when you’re the only show in town, I think that’s why your ratings drop. People might be getting tired of his show and are trying to find something different.

(At this point, Hawk left due to a pre-scheduled meeting.)

At WWF WrestleMania VIII, The Legion of Doom were reunited with their former manager, Paul Ellering.  (Photo Credit: WWF)
At WWF WrestleMania VIII, The Legion of Doom were reunited with their former manager, Paul Ellering. (Photo Credit: WWF)

WU ONLINE: It seems as if many sports-entertainment companies are now out of business: WCW, ECW, Smokey Mountain Wrestling (SMW), AWA and others. One company that has survived all of it is the WWF. Since you two have wrestled in several organizations, why do you think the WWF has been so successful?

ANIMAL: It’s a money thing. If you don’t have the money to go against the number one company, you go out of business. We, in the IWS (International Wrestling Superstars), are presenting WrestleFest 2002. It’s a big show on the east coast, filmed for pay-per-view. There is going to be a two-hour autograph session. You have to get back to basics.

WU ONLINE: The day many individuals are talking about right now is June 22. It will be that day that Jimmy”Superfly”Snuka wrestles his last United States match. Also scheduled on the card will be the legendary Road Warriors. You two gentlemen will defend the IWS Tag Team Championship against the Headshrinkers in a steel cage match. I think it’s safe to say that will be complete chaos. What is your strategy going into this match and do you think there really is strategy in a steel cage match?

ANIMAL: Basically don’t get killed. You really can’t have strategy in a cage match. You just have to ignore the cage.

WU ONLINE: How do you feel about Jimmy Snuka wrestling his last US match?

ANIMAL: I think it’s phenomenal! Jimmy put the WWF on the map. He’s the master of the SuperFly Splash. It’s a real tribute for all these fans to come out and support him.

WU ONLINE: You recently have opened your official website. What can fans expect to find at this site in the near future?

ANIMAL: We do a lot more things than wrestling. We do motivational speaking, mitzvahs, graduation ceremonies, business speaking. There is also our booking site and other businesses we’re involved in.

WU ONLINE: You have a nice site.

ANIMAL: Thank you. My brother Mark (from the Wrecking Crew – Fury) did the site.

At WrestleMania XIV, The Legion of Doom returned with a new look, a new manager in Sunny and called themselves L.O.D. 2000.  (Photo Credit: WWF)
At WrestleMania XIV, The Legion of Doom returned with a new look, a new manager in Sunny and called themselves L.O.D. 2000. (Photo Credit: WWF)

WU ONLINE: It’s the end of a long tour. You’ve gone from city to city and now it’s time to go home and become the man behind the paint. How do you relax and do you find it hard to leave the work at work and be a good dad and or husband?

ANIMAL: No, it’s easy for me to leave it now. In the beginning it was hard but I’m a happily married man and have three great kids. It’s easy now. My daughter won the 12 and Under in Hockey this year and my son won the Hockey Bantam which is a 14 and Under group in Hockey. They then went to Nationals.

WU ONLINE: You must be very proud of them.

ANIMAL: Yep, they’re good. I’d be proud of them if they didn’t do anything.

WU ONLINE: Any chance your son or daughter could be in sports-entertainment?

ANIMAL: Yeah, probably both of them will be somehow or manner. Very good possibility.

WU ONLINE: You have practically wrestled all of the great tag teams in the world. Is there any tag team or tag team combination that you wish you could have wrestled?

ANIMAL: Hogan and Warrior would’ve been good. Undertaker and Kane. Road Warriors and Hogan on the same team would’ve been good. There are all kinds of combinations that would’ve been great. Imagine Road Warriors and Hogan against The Rock, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and The Undertaker.

WU ONLINE: That would be awesome and probably could sell out any building! What was it like to see yourself in a video game?

ANIMAL: Probably one of the greatest compliments. Acclaim did very good with Legends of Wrestling over the holiday season. Legends of Wrestling 2 is supposed to have unbelievable graphics. We’re on that one too.

WU ONLINE: On June 19, NWA: Total Nonstop Action will debut on pay-per-view. Many people are already saying the federation will not last. What do you think of a weekly sports-entertainment pay-per-view show?

ANIMAL: I think it will be hard to do but I give them all the luck and hope they make it. I hope they make it, I hope the IWS makes it, the XWF. I hope they all make it.

WU ONLINE: Have you had any conversations with the Jarretts as to joining the federation?

ANIMAL: Briefly.

WU ONLINE: Is there anything you can say, legally about joining the NWA: TNA?

ANIMAL: No, not at this time.

WU: I have two questions left and these are questions I usually ask all of the individuals I interview. I’m going to say a name and you give me the first word that comes to your mind.

The Road Warriors returned to WCW in 1996.  (Photo Credit: WWF)
The Road Warriors returned to WCW in 1996. (Photo Credit: WWF)


A) Hawk: Animal
B) Wrestling: Road Warriors
C) Vince McMahon: promoter
D) NWA: classic
E) AWA: nostalgic
F) Champions: selective people
G) Legend: Road Warriors
H) Hulk Hogan: legend
I) Randy Savage: Dig it?! (Laughs)
J) Sting: class
K) Owen Hart: missed
L) Bret Hart: Excellence of Execution
M) WWF: number 1
N) Your Toughest Opponent: Steiners
O) Entertainment: pure for all ages

WU ONLINE: We’ve come to the end of this interview. It’s forty years after you’ve retired. You see two young men in the supermarket and one of them says, “Hey, it’s Animal of the Legion of Doom!”  What do you hope they say about you and your career?

ANIMAL: That I was a positive influence on their young adulthood life.

WU ONLINE: Any last comments for your fans?

ANIMAL: Yeah, come check out the IWS WrestleFest 2002 in Atlantic City on June 22, filmed for pay-per-view.

WU ONLINE: Any idea of when IWS WrestleFest 2002 would be shown on pay-per-view?

ANIMAL: Probably July 4, 2002.

WU ONLINE: Thank you to Animal and Hawk of The Road Warriors/Legion of Doom. You both truly one of the greatest tag teams in sports-entertainment history. Don’t forget to check out the official website of The Road Warriors and if you’re able to visit Atlantic City on June 22, make plans to attend the IWS WrestleFest 2002 event! Thanks again to The Road Warriors! Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh what a rush!

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