After Hulk Hogan initially shared the sad news, the official Twitter account for WWE Hall of Famer confirmed it - Road Warrior Animal is dead at 60.
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. #OhWhatARush— RoadWarriorAnimal (@RWAnimal) September 23, 2020
Along with his tag partner Hawk (Michael Hegstrand, who died in 2003 at age 46), Joe Laurinaitis made the Road Warriors/Legion of Doom one of the biggest acts in wrestling in the 1980s and 90s. Both with his teammate and as a singles wrestler, Animal was a staple of the main event scene in WWE and WCW.
Growing up in Minnesota, Laurinaitis was trained by Eddie Sharkey along with Hegstrand, Rick Rude, and others. After debuting with as The Road Warrior, manager Paul Ellering put Animal with Hawk and repackaged. By the time they debuted for Jim Crockett Promotions in the mid-80s, they were firing on all cylinders. Their run in the WCW’s predecessor included legendary feuds with the Four Horseman and Midnight Express.
Injuries and Hawk’s addiction issues prevented sustained periods of success in the 90s, but there were plenty of highlights including working with the likes of The Steiner Brothers, Harlem Heat, Demolition, Sting, and other Hall of Fame acts.
This century, Laurinaitis remained semi-active in TNA, the indies, and guest appearances for WWE. He also wrote a book and hosted a podcast. Animal was also one of the plaintiffs in the recently dismissed brain injury lawsuit against Vince McMahon’s company.
The brother of former WWE Executive John “Johnny Ace” Laurinaitis, Animal is also survived by his wife, daughter and son. There’s no word on cause of death, but the family is promising to release a statement later today.
On behalf of the entire Cageside Seats community, we offer our prayers and condolences to Animal’s loved ones.