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Road Warrior Animal Interview

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Road Warrior Animal Interview

Road Warrior Animal

Matt Turner/Getty Images
A few days prior to making an appearance at an autograph convention in New York, I had the opportunity to speak to Road Warrior Animal. Animal was one half of the legendary Legion of Doom with his late partner Hawk. The Road Warriors, as they were also known, are without a doubt the most important tag team in wrestling history. The team won every major title that there was in the business and spawned a slew of imitators including Demolition and the Blade Runners (The Ultimate Warrior and Sting).

Recently, Animal has been featured on TV not for what he is doing in the ring but whenever Ohio State plays a big game. He is the father of James Laurinaitis, the Butkus Award winning linebacker from Ohio State University.

In this interview, I cover about all of these topics items with Animal and also found out the fate of Rocco. Unfortunately, there are three 5-10 second gaps of my recording that were not audible and I have noted where that happens in the interview.

Eric: The last time American fans saw you in the ring was at last year’s TNA event Slammiversary. What have you been up to since then?

Road Warrior Animal: Well, I’ve done quite a few things. I do a lot of personal appearances and autograph sessions. If any of the fans want to try and get me, they can go to my Road Warriors Inc.com site. Like I said, I do a lot of personal appearances and autograph sessions, like the one I’m getting ready to do for Jon in Manhattan. I do things like that.

I also wrestle. Last July, I won the Mexican tag team championships with Kensuke Sasake. I really didn’t plan on wrestling in the ring anymore and he said that he needed my help so I said sure. We went down there and they gave us the Mexican titles. It’s amazing that the gimmick is still so very very popular. And that’s due to the great fans all over this country.

Eric: The Road Warriors had great success wrestling in both the American and Japanese wrestling promotions. As a wrestler, what did you find to be the biggest difference between wrestling in Japan and America?

Road Warrior Animal:Well in Japan you have the language barrier. Japan was more of the Road Warrior style of wrestling. We were 100 mph in the US in the beginning. That was a little too much for the American wrestling to take. In Japan, it’s total non-stop 100 mph which we actually loved. And they lay things in real good. If you’re going to do a forearm smash, I’d rather someone really lay in a forearm smash. In that aspect, it was great.

Eric: The Road Warriors are the only team to have won the AWA, NWA, and WWE Tag Team Championships. Which of those title wins was the most special and why?

Road Warrior Animal: Every title is special, you know what I mean. We won all the major ones but then the other promotions, when you wrestle in the Pacific Northwest for Don Owens or down in Memphis and in Canada, Montreal for the Rougeaus, I mean we won, jeez, probably 30 to 40 different sets of titles over the years.

But out of the main ones like you said, the AWA, WCW/NWA, WWE/WWF, you know to us all of them were great because we wrestled great competitors. Most of the titles, when we won them we wrestled great guys. Whether it was Demolition or the Four Horsemen, fighting the Four Horsemen in the NWA was probably the most fun.

I think that one title that was really satisfying, and that is because I really respect the company was the WWE. The WWE, that is everybody’s goal. When you are training, it is to get into the WWE. Hawk and I were fortunate to get there. The next few seconds were not audible. It’s one of those things that nobody else in professional wrestling will ever be able to say that they could do it again because those companies just do not exist.

Eric: Over the years, there were several attempts to create tag teams that were clones of the Road Warriors. However, none of those teams were ever able to live up to the legacy of the Road Warriors. What was it that you and Hawk had that those other teams were missing?

Road Warrior Animal: One thing in the wrestling business, when you look at it, when the fans watch TV, you can not teach charisma. You can not teach athleticism. You can not teach leadership. Those qualities you have to be born with.

My son James that plays for Ohio State, you know he is a natural leader. He is the first junior captain ever at Ohio State. He is the second two-time captain ever. And that is because he is a leader. That is because of how he was born. My wife and I have those genetics and I believe being a great entity in professional wrestling has a lot to do with genetics.

That’s why you don’t see a lot of guys that do that. I mean Hawk and I, we knew each other for so long before he passed away that he knew my moves, I knew his moves. At certain parts of a match, you do get hurt in matches, if he’d fall down on his head and kind of lose his place, he’d look at me and I’d say hey and tell him the moves to help him finish the match. That’s one of the things, he knew what step I was taking and I knew what step he was going to take and things like that.

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