Part 1: Genesis
THE ROAD WARRIORS. The name alone is symbolic with power, strength, brutality, and sheer ruthlessness in tag team wrestling. You would have to go back to the days of Crusher & Bruiser, Dusty Rhodes & Dick Murdoch and The Minnesota Wrecking Crew to find a tougher tag team.
The origins of the Warriors really began in 1982, when Animal (then known as the Road Warrior) made his solo debut in the south. His outfit was a leather motorcycle cap, a jean jacket with no-sleeves, cut-off denims and big motorcycle boots. While the outfit was different, the power and attitude that would later define the Road Warriors was there.
Meanwhile, his future partner, Hawk, was wrestling in Germany. His gimmick was akin to the goosestepping outfits the Nazis used to wear. Needless to say, this didn't last long. It is unknown what else Hawk was doing during this period.
Then, in June of 1983, "Precious" Paul Ellering introduced a new tag team to the Georgia Championship Wrestling area. This team, of course, was the Warriors. They would regularly come out to the music of Black Sabbath's "IronMan" and charge the ring and attack their opponents immediatly. Their matches would usually last about 5 minutes or less!!! This team would stun audiences everywhere because of the ease they would dismantle their opponents. Most tag teams of that time would wrestle their opponents down and then pin them in about 10 or 15 minutes but these guys would wipe them out in 1 or 2 minutes, sometimes seconds!!!! They were so dominant that the NWA wanted to ban them at one time from the sport!!!
Many thought that these two bruisers would be nothing but flashes in the pan but about two or three weeks after their debut, the Warriors won the Georgia National Tag Team Titles!!! They would go to two more reigns with that championship, defeating teams such as Buzz and Bret Sawyer, Ron Garvin and Jerry Oats, Junkyard Dog and Sweet Sugar Brown among others.
Finally, The Warriors and Ellering got bored and decided to go one to bigger pastures. They left in early 1985 to go to the AWA.
Part 2: The AWA Days
In 1984, The Road Warriors and Paul Ellering decided that it was time to leave Georgia Championship Wrestling area of the NWA and venture into Verne Gange's AWA because they had done all they could do in that area and because of the NWA's efforts to ban them (it would not be the last time a federation would attempt this, as you will see later in this series).
Upon their arrival, the tore into AWA opponents much the same way they had been in the NWA. Then, in the summer of 1984, the Warriors defeated the woefully overmatched veteran team of Baron Von Rashke and The Crusher for the AWA World Tag Team Belts. This brought an era of dominance that hadn't been seen before in the AWA.
From my recollection and from reading various magazines from that time, the AWA wanted them gone too!!! The sent everyone that they could after the Warriors!!! Makeshift teams such as Curt "Mr. Perfect" Henning/Larry "The Ax" Henning, Curt Henning/Greg Gange, and Curt Henning/Baron Von Rashke with no success. In one particularly brutal incident, Henning got hung up by the neck between the top and middle ropes!!! As he was trying to free himself, Hawk took a steel chair and bashed him three times in the face with it!!! Curt was a bloody mess!!! The crowd got so angry that when the Warriors tried to leave, they rioted!!! The Warriors ending up fighting off the crowd just to leave the arena!!
The AWA figured out that makeshift teams were not getting the job done, so they went out and got some real teams like Scott and Bill Irwin, The Fabulous Freebirds, The Fabulous Ones, and the Von Erics. They even went and got then-NWA World Tag Team Champions Ivan and Nikita Koloff to take on the Warriors!!! While these teams had more success, they too could'nt get the belts from around the Warriors waists.
Finally, in September of 1985 (over one year after the Warriors won the title), a makeshift team of "Gorgeous" Jimmy Garvin and Steve "Mr. Electricity" Reagal (not to be confused with the WCW Lord Steven Regal) upset the Warriors for the title. Of course, they had a little help from Michael Hayes of the Freebirds to defeat them. Personally, I still don't think these guys should've beaten the Warriors. I don't give a rat's butt who helped them, these guys couldn't lace the Warriors' bootstraps!!! Anyway, upset by the fact that the AWA turned a blind eye to the whole incident, the Warriors decided to return "home" (to the NWA that is).
Part 3: The Russian/Horsemen/Midnight Wars
As briefly stated in part 2, The Road Warriors had a couple of run-ins with then-NWA World Tag Team Champions Ivan and Nikita Koloff. Their first confrontation took place on April 10, 1985 in Washington, DC. I'm not sure but I do believe this was a title VS. title affair (the Warriors were AWA World Tag Team Champions at that point). This match ended in a double DQ.
Their second encounter occured in July 1985 at the first Great American Bash in Charolette, NC when The Warriors challenged Ivan Koloff and Krusher Krushev for the NWA straps. In case you are wondering, the Russians were allowed to use any two members of their three man team to defend the NWA belts. This match also ended in a double DQ. Ivan Koloff was a mess after this match!!! They beat the stuffings out off him!! Of course, this would not be the last time that these teams would hook up because in October of 1985, The Road Warriors and Paul Ellering returned to the NWA.
Around this time, the infamous cage incident between Dusty Rhodes, Ric Flair, and Ole/Arn Anderson took place in Atlanta, GA. It resulted in Rhodes' ankle being broken (see Earl's Illustrated History Of The Four Horsemen for the full story). You might be wondering what the hell does that have to do with the Warriors?!!! Well, a month later, Rhodes (armed with a steel-reinforced boot) teamed with the Warriors to battle the Andersons and Flair in a six-man tag match in Washington DC. The Warriors proved to be a wise choice of partners because the (pre-) Horsemen, specifically Flair, had never fought the Warriors before. The match ended with the Warriors and Rhodes getting a win over Flair and The Andersons. It was also the beginning of an impressive six-man tag team!!! That bond would be proven as in January of 1986, the Warriors and Rhodes once again teamed up to fight the Andersons and Flair. Ironically, The Warriors and Rhodes broke Ole Anderson's leg during that match. Why was it ironic? Because the match where this incident occured took place in Atlanta, GA. The same place where the Andersons and Flair had broke Dusty's ankle!!!
Also in January of 1986, the Warrior/Russian feud began again when the Koloffs kept beating on their opponents after the match. The Warriors came down to stop them but ended up on the worst end of the stick as Nikita hung Hawk over the top rope while Animal and Paul Ellering were being assalted by Ivan and Krusher!!! In revenge, the Warriors cost Krusher his now-defunct Mid-Atlantic Championship in a match with Sam Houston!!! This led to a leg injury that Krusher suffered during the match and aggravated during the Warriors attack. Left without a third man, the Koloffs called on Baron Von Rashcke (the Warriors' old enemy from the AWA) to help them.
One of their most notable confrontations was on the famous TBS "SuperStars On The SuperStation" special. This card was actually taped on February 2 and was aired on February 6 on TBS. If you read my Midnight Express series, then you know that I made serveral references to this card and I mentioned the Warriors match with the Koloffs pretty frequently. Anyway, The Warriors battled the Koloffs toe-to-toe but it was interesting to see Nikita match power with the Warriors as they were considered (at that time) as the three most powerful wrestlers in the world. The match ended wildly as the Warriors AND Paul Ellering "brought their six-pack of whup a**" for the Koloffs and the Baron!!! Yes, Paul Ellering was whipping the "Mr. Clean" crap out of the Baron!!! By the way, the Warriors won this match by DQ.
Meanwhile, while all of this was going on, The Midnight Express (Dennis Condrey/Bobby Eaton) won the NWA World Tag Team Championship from the Rock n Roll Express on this same card. Their manager, Jim Cornette, was very outspoken at that time and, while he claimed that the Midnights would take on all comers, he was pretty evasive when it came to the Warriors. I think the Warriors was one of the few teams that Cornette honestly had fear about letting his men wrestle!!! Their first confrontation took place at the first Jim Crockett Senior Memorial Cup in New Orleans, LA. The Warriors won this quarterfinal match by DQ and went on to defeat the team of Magnum TA and Ron Garvin in the finals to win the cup and $1 million dollars!!!
Part 4: Chains, Championships and Scaffolds
In the mists of their feud with the Koloffs, the Road Warriors won another championship in April of 1986. Along with Dusty Rhodes, they won the now-defunct NWA World Six Man Championship from Ivan Koloff, Nikita Koloff and Baron Von Rashcke (who subbed for the injured Krusher Krushev) in Baltimore, MD in a brutal cage match.
Also during this period,then-NWA World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair, Tully Blanchard, and Arn Anderson started to make some noise directed at the Legion Of Doom. The threesome (who was in the midst of a feud with the Rock n' Roll Express) obviously wanted revenge for what the Road Warriors and Dusty Rhodes did to Ole Anderson in Atlanta. The Warriors also were making noise about some single matches against Flair as well.
In June of 1986, Ric Flair was getting ready to wrestle some jobber on TBS' World Championship Wrestling (now known as WCW Saturday Night) when "Ironman" suddenly started playing. Out came Hawk and all hell broke loose!!! As Hawk was dominating Flair, Ole Anderson came out of nowhere and drove a knee into Hawk's back. The other Horsemen (Tully and Arn) then came out and joined in the assault. Animal tried to help but then he got ganged up on as well!!! It was one of the rare times that the Warriors were left laying. Granted, it was four against two but to see Hawk and Animal laid out was an awesome sight!!!
Both Warriors recieved NWA title matches during the legendary Great American Bash tour in 1986. The only one that I have ever seen was the one between Hawk and Flair (Which is available on the Bash '86 tape, if it is at your rental store, get it!!! It is worth the money!!!). Hawk practically dominated the match but Flair won by DQ when Hawk shoulderblocked the referee (who was Tommy Young by the way). Animal had about the same success as Hawk did as Flair also beat him by DQ. Still, the Warriors showed that they could stand on their own in singles matches by wrestling Flair, who was (and still is) considered one of the best world champions of the modern era.
Also during the Bash, the Warriors took on the Russians in a series of cage matches and double-chain matches!!! One of those matches is also featured on the Bash '86 tape!!! It was brutal and had many groin shots (the shot on Nikita was priceless!!)!!!
By the fall of 1986, the Warriors was looking for some NWA World Tag Team Title matches but an obstical by the name of the Midnight Express (Dennis Condrey/Bobby Eaton) and Jim Cornette was getting in the way. During a taping Championship Wrestling (predecesor to WCW Main Event), Jim Cornette came out and verbally assaulted Paul Ellering. Ellering responded by decking the manager!!!
Later, as the Warriors were beating the tar out of some poor jobbers, the Midnights hit the ring!!! During the assault, Bobby Eaton delivered a knee to the back of Animal from the top rope. Jim Cornette also delivered some blows to Animal's back with his (loaded) tennis racquet!!! Cornette, as usual, bragged about how his Midnights put the Warriors out and how Eaton was the greatest high-flyer in wrestling (which he was at that time). Ellering, in a shrewd move, tricked Jim Cornette into signing a match for his team to wrestle the Warriors at Starrcade '86. Cornette assumed that it was a straight tag team matchup but later learned that the match was an anything goes scaffold match in which the only way to win was to throw both of your opponents off of the scaffold to the ring or to the concrete floor!!! This scared the living sh*t out of Cornette!!!
Well, the match was a classic and the Warriors got their revenge on the Midnights and Cornette was also thrown from the scaffold, injuring his leg!!!! Meanwhile, one of their fiercest enemies, Nikita Koloff, had turned face and joined the Warriors and Dusty Rhodes in their battles against the Horsemen.
Part 5: Horsemen Wars
After their temporary dismantling of the Midnight Express at Starrcade '86, they turned their attention to the Four Horsemen. The Horsemen was, at that time, comprised of Ole Anderson, Arn Anderson, then-NWA TV champ Tully Blanchard, and then-NWA World Champ Ric Flair.
While no one was surprised that Dusty Rhodes joined the Warriors for their battles with the Four Horsemen (they were the NWA Six-Man Champs and were responsible for putting Ole Anderson on the proverbial "shelf" for six months in 1986), I think just about everyone was surprised to see Nikita Koloff join them as well!!! After all, some of the Warriors toughest and most bitter battles came against this man!!! So why would the Warriors and Rhodes trust him? Because Nikita was one of the few guys at that time that could go toe to toe with the Road Warriors (many fans and wrestling writers dubbed him "The Russian Road Warrior" as well as "The Russian Nightmare"). I also think it was because of his battles with Horsemen Ric Flair and the fact that he helped Dusty Rhodes during a tag team cage match against Ole Anderson and JJ Dillion (the Horsemen's manager at that time) in Charolette, NC in either October or early-November of 1986.
Anyway, the bond was formed and what the fans were treated to was some of the best eight-man tag team wars every seen!!! The first encounter that I know of was either in December 1986 or January 1987. It took place on World Wide Wrestling. While the damn show went off before a winner was decided, it did give me (and other wrestling fans) a taste of the mayhem that was to come!!! The action was fast and furious!!! Another famous encounter took place during the spring of 1987 when Lex Luger replaced Ole Anderson as a member of the Horsemen.
The encounter took place in Miami, Florida at the James L. Knight Center. The match was covered in PRO WRESTLING ILLUSTRATED and was a feature story in their SUPERCARDS '87 issue. This matchup was just as wild as their previous encounter in January. The Horsemen did gain a little edge in this one because they now had someone (Luger) that could match power with Nikita and the Warriors. Still, the end came when Rhodes dropped his famous "bionic elbow" on a prone Arn Anderson and got the pin. It would not be the last time that these eight men would hook up in a festival of violence.
Meanwhile, the Warriors were making an attempt to repeat their 1986 Jim Crockett Senior Memorial Cup win in New Orleans, LA by winning the second annual tournament in Baltimore, MD. The got a bye in the first round and defeated Shaska Watley and Tejo Kahn in the second round before losing a disputed decision to Jim Cornette's third version of the Midnight Express (Stan Lane/Bobby Eaton) by DQ. I call it disputed because this version had only been together about two weeks and because Jim Cornette tried to throw fire into Road Warrior Animal earlier in the match!!! While I do have great respect for that version of the Midnights, they just were not in the Warrior's league at that point and should've lost. By the way, their comrades in arms (Dusty Rhodes/Nikita Koloff) defeated the Midnights in the semi-finals and went on to defeat Tully Blanchard and Lex Luger to win the tournament.
Anyway, the Warriors shook off the loss and challenged then-NWA World Tag Team Champions "Ravishing" Rick Rude and Manny "Ragin' Bull" Fernandez. They won many of these encounters but did not get the belts because most of the wins came by DQ's. Still, many fans wondered at this point had the Warriors lost their killer instinct. I always argued that it wasn't so much that they lost their killer instinct as it was that teams were starting to figure them out and were able to counter some of the Warrior's tactics. Frustrated by their lack of success in the United States, the Warriors went over to Japan and won the All-Japan International Tag Team belts. I'm not sure who their opponents were though (if someone knows, please e-mail me this information). I do know that they were on a tear and that Japanese officals tried to have them banned because "they were too good." Sound familiar? Needless to say, Japanese fans (like the American fans in 1984) would not stand for it and demanded that the Warriors not be banned. The All-Japan officals, because of the public pressure, relented.
Meanwhile, Jim Crockett, Jr. came up with a new concept of wrestling. Have ten tough wrestlers meet in two-rings inclosed inside of a cage with a roof on top of it. The match ends when one of the team members gives up. This match, of course, was the WarGames/The Match Beyond. On one side was the Four Horsemen and JJ Dillion. On the other side, Dusty Rhodes and Nikita Koloff who were joined by you know who!!! Off the subject, Eric(a) Bischoff should pull out this tape and see how a WarGames is supposed to be done because I haven't seen one as brutal or as good as the first one. The closest that I have seen is one in May of 1992 when Sting's Squadron took on the Paul E's Dangerous Alliance.
This match was THE ULTIMATE encounter between these teams. The casualties saw Nikita Koloff get his neck re-injured by Tully Blanchard and Ric Flair. It also saw JJ Dillion (who was an actual participant as well as Paul Ellering) get his shoulder seperated when the Road Warriors put a version of their "Human Sacrifice" manuvear on him (their move never had an official name, I just call it by the name that my friends back home used to call it: "The Human Sacrifice." You'll be hearing me use it more often in this series.). It ended when Hawk choked out Dillion with his foot. The Horsemen demanded a re-match and got it in Miami, Florida (the site of their first meeting). Once again, the Superpowers (Dusty/Nikita) and the Warriors defeated the Horsemen by making the WarMachine (Dillion's replacement who was really Big Bubba Rodgers) submit to a steel-spike which Animal used to gouge the eye and head of WarMachine.
It would not be the last time that the Warriors would use a steel spike on someone as you will see later in this series. Anyway, the eight men would meet again in the WarGames in Chicago, Illinois. This third match up was signed because of an incident that took place during July when Animal was getting ready to wrestle Ric Flair for the NWA title. The Horsemen jumped Animal and Ellering before the match. Flair then took one of Animal's spiked wristbands and gouged his eye and head in retaliation for what he did in Miami!!! The Warriors, Koloff and Rhodes demanded this match and got it in August or September of 1987. This time, The Warrior team was joined by Ron "Hands Of Stone" Garvin who took Paul Ellering's place (Ellering had been injured by the Horsemen during the Miami WarGames). The results, however, were the same as the first two as The Warrior team defeated the Horsemen again!!!
For the remainer of 1987, the eight men would meet time and again in both singles and tag competition. Nikita would lose the US Title to Lex Luger on July 10, 1987 but would defeat Luger's comrade, Tully Blanchard, for the NWA World TV belt in August. Rhodes would go on to defeat Lex Luger for the US belt at Starrcade '87 in Chicago, Ill in a cage match. As for the Warriors, they would continue to battle the Horsemen and got another shot at tag team glory when they fought Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson for the NWA Tag Team belts at Starrcade '87. This was another disputed match for one reason: referee Tommy Young. Tully had shoulder blocked the ref earlier in the match but there was no DQ. While Young was down, he supposedly saw Animal backdrop Anderson over the top rope (which Animal did do but how in the hell are you supposed to see someone break the rules when you're laying face down on the concrete?!!). The Warriors put Anderson in "The Human Sacrifice" and got the pinfall. Young, however, reversed the decision and gave the win to Blanchard and Anderson by DQ. The Warriors defiantly walked out with the belts anyway in true Warrior fashion in one THE most bullsh*t decisions I have ever seen!!!
The Horsemen, in later years, would admit that one of the few things that they wanted to do that they never was able to do was beat the Warriors by pinfall. This statement appeared somewhere on the net. It was either Flair or Anderson that said it.
Part 6: The Clone Wars
They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Well, in the world of pro wrestling, that is most definitely false!!! Imitation could get you beat down in this sport. Wrestling fans have seen this with Ric Flair and the late Buddy Rogers over the name of "Nature Boy." We've also seen this with Steve Keirn/Stan Lane feuding with the late Eddie Gilbert and Tommy "Wildfire" Rich over the name of the Fabulous Ones as well as the war over the name of the Midnight Express. Well, between 1987-1988, two teams came on the scene in pro wrestling that would both challenge The Road Warriors in both appearance out of the ring and dominance in the ring. The teams were The Powers Of Pain (Warlord/Barbarian) and Demolition (Ax/Smash).
The Demo's came on the scene first. They appeared in the WWF in early 1987 under the management of "Lucious" Johnny Valiant. Later, Valiant sold their contract to Mr. Fuji. All the while, however, they were labeled as fakers, clones, Road Warrior wanna-be's, etc. The Warriors themselves dismissed the Demo's when asked about them, saying how they would demolish (no pun intended) Ax and Smash if they ever met them. At that point in time, the Warriors without question was the superior team but the Demos got better and better over the next two years. In fact, they improved so much that fans actually started to give Demolition a chance against Hawk and Animal if they ever met. This had to disturb the Warriors very much. There will be more talk about the Warrior/Demolition feud later in this series.
Meanwhile, in 1988, a new tag team was formed in the NWA under the guidance of Ivan Koloff and Paul Jones. This team was the Warlord and The Barbarian, collectively known as The Powers Of Pain. In January of that year, Jones began making claims that his team was stronger than the Warriors. Naturally, the Warriors took exception to this and challenged The Powers to a $50,000 weightlifting contest. The contest took place at an arena card in Greensboro, NC. Both team bench-pressed impressive numbers. The contest was actually quite civil until Ivan threw powder into the eyes of the Warriors and Paul Ellering as Animal was attempting to bench-press over 600lbs.!!! The Powers then took Animal and smashed his face into the weights, fracturing his orbital socket!!! It was originally feared that he would suffer permanent blindness in his left eye but Animal recovered.
While Animal was recovering, The Powers and Koloff took advantage of the situation and won the now defunct-NWA World Six Man Tag Team titles from Hawk, Dusty Rhodes, and Paul Ellering (who was subbing for Animal) in a cage match. The Warriors got some revenge later when, during a match between Hawk/Paul Ellering against The Powers, Animal stormed the ring with Jason Vorhees-type mask with Road Warrior paint on it!!! He used it to protect his face but he also used it as a weapon of revenge as well!!! This show of force was a message to The Powers. The message was that nothing will stop the Warriors from getting revenge!!!
The two teams met several times in both tag team and specialty-matches. The two most famous confrontations both took place in Greensboro, NC within a month of each other. The first was a six-man Chicago Street Fight/Barbwire match that was televised on the first Clash Of The Champions event. The Warriors and The Powers were joined by their respective six-man partners in this battle (Dusty Rhodes for the Warriors/Ivan Koloff for the Powers). The match was exciting but, suprisingly, non-bloody. This could've been due to the fact that it was on national tv and because they didn't want to lose the viewers to their "competition" that day (WWF's WrestleMania IV was also being shown at the same time on PPV). Anyway, The Warriors and Rhodes won but Animal nearly paid for it when The Barbarian kicked his face-mask off of him. Hawk and Rhodes, however, prevented the Powers and Koloff from doing any damage. The second confrontation took place at the third annual Jim Crockett Senior Memorial Cup in April. Both team were trying to advance to the semi-finals to face Sting and Lex Luger. The Powers won by a screwjob decision when Animal clothesline attempt hit the referee instead of the Barbarian. I call it a screwjob because the Warriors had gotten the pinfall moments before the ref made that call!!! This only added fuel to an already hot rivarly.
The feud ended in June of 1988 when Paul Jones signed The Powers to face The Warriors in a series of scaffold matches during The Great American Bash. He did so, however, without consulting the Powers first. When they learned what Jones did, they were furious!!! They wanted to go on to better matches as well as face the Warriors but they didn't have this in mind. The Powers, feeling that their manager was only using them for his own benifit, left the NWA virtually overnight and headed to the WWF where they faced their " Road Warrior clone brothers" Demolition. Jones, meanwhile, sent the overmatched team of Ivan Koloff and The Russian Assasin (Angel Of Death) to face the Warriors in place of the Powers in the scaffold match. Need I say who won?
The Warriors, however, were also getting frustrated. They felt that they were not getting the respect that they deserved from NWA promoters and were determined to change that. That change came in October of 1988 in Richmond, VA.
Part 7: Domination
Frustrated by a lack of respect from NWA promoters, the Road Warriors a plan in motion. Part of that plan took place in Richmond, VA in October 1988 during a six-man tag team match with The Road Warriors and Sting against The Varsity Club (Kevin Sullivan, Mike Rotunda, Rick Steiner). The Warriors, noticably, did not tag Sting for most of the entire bout. When Sting was tagged in, he cleaned house and had Rotunda in position for the Scorpion Deathlock. Hawk, out of nowhere, pulls Sting off of Rotunda!!! As Sting and Hawk argued, Animal came in from behind and leveled Sting. They then put a double-clothesline on him, used a combination gorrilla press/ax-handle move off the top rope onto Sting's neck, and put him in the dreaded "Human Sacrifice." Sting was a crumpled heap in the ring. Lex Luger tried to come in and help but he got hammered as well. Afterwards, The Roadies (in an issue of THE WRESTLER) declared that "Sting, Dusty and the fans can go to hell!!!" Their next step was a title match against their long-time nemisis, The Midnight Express.
The match was signed for October 29, 1988 in New Orleans, LA. As the introductions were being made, Paul Ellering grabbed Jim Cornette (the Midnights' manager) and started beating him up. As "Sweet" Stan Lane came down to help Cornette, the Warriors took advantage and jumped "Beautiful" Bobby Eaton. They threw him to the outside and rammed his head repeatedly into the ringpost!!! Eaton was a bloody mess outside the ring as Stan tried to fight off the Warriors in the ring. Stan actually gave a good accounting of himself but no one can take on both Hawk and Animal at the same time and expect to win. Finally, Eaton made an ill-advised tag to his partner and, after holding off the Warriors for about 20 seconds, fell victim to a running clothesline from Animal. Three seconds later, there were new NWA World Tag Team Champions.
A few days after they won the title, Dusty Rhodes came out and challenged Animal to an unscheduled match on TBS' World Championship Wrestling (now known as WCW Saturday Night). This would prove to be a costly mistake as Animal and Hawk both jumped Rhodes and planted a spike from their shoulder pads into his head and eye. This set off confrontations between Rhodes and the Warriors at both Clash Of The Champions IV and Starrcade '88: True Gritt.
The Clash matchup was to determine who would keep the six-man title held by Rhodes and the Warriors (in case your wondering, the Warriors and Rhodes regained the title during the summer when The Powers Of Pain and Ivan Koloff vacated the belts due to the Powers' departure to the WWF).
Animal won this match by DQ when Sting interfered in the match. This led to a NWA World Tag Team title match at Starrcade '88 in Norfolk, VA between The Warriors and Sting/Rhodes. This match ended when Paul Ellering got his team DQ'ed intentionally to save his team from losing the tag belts.
Over the next month, the Warriors faced various teams with great success. Their toughest challenges came from The Varsity Club, who by this time had replaced Rick Steiner with Steve "Dr. Death" Williams. This rivary would go on for about six months and would result in the Warriors losing another controversial decision to Rotunda and Williams and thus, lost the NWA titles. This match took place in (ironically) New Orleans, LA at the Superdome on April 2, 1989.
Part 8: Samoans, Skyscrapers, Steiners and Doom
April 2, 1989 will be one of those days the Road Warriors would rather forget. Almost six months after they brutalized The Midnight Express for the NWA World Tag Team Titles in New Orleans, LA, the Warriors returned to defend the title in this same city against Steve "Dr. Death" Williams and Mike Rotunda at the Superdome. The match was even until the end when the Warriors put Rotunda in the "Doomsday Device" (Yes fans, I finally acknowledged the true name of their finisher. Your e-mails were not in vain.). As Hawk went for the pin, referee Teddy Long claimed he couldn't make the pin because of an earlier shove by Animal. This turned out to be a ploy because the second Williams rolled up Hawk for the pin, Long made THE fastest three-count I have ever seen!!!!
Williams and Rotunda were the new champs but had to face the Warriors at WrestleWar '89 in Nashville, TN with Nikita Koloff as the special referee. Again, the Warriors should've had the victory after the "Device" was applied (this time on Williams) but Kevin Sullivan and Danny Spivey interfered by attacking Nikita, causing their team to lose the match by DQ and lose the NWA titles. In case your wondering what I meant by that last statement, the NWA stripped Williams and Rotunda of the NWA Tag Titles immediatly after that match because of Sullivan and Spivey's actions on Nikita. This pretty much led to the breakup of the Varsity Club as Williams soon left the group and feuded with them.
Meanwhile, the NWA held a tournament to crown new tag champions. The Warriors faced two of the "Original" Fabulous Freebirds (Michael Hayes/Terry Gordy) in the first round. It was this duo (not the Hayes/Jim Garvin combo) that eliminated the Warriors with some unexpected help from some old rivals of Hayes' in World Class Championship Wrestling. They were the Samoan Swat Team (Samu/Fatu). The Warriors later got their revenge as they helped the Midnight Express (the very team that they virtually murdered seven months before to win those belts) defeat the SST.
The SST would strike two blows to the Warriors during June and July of 1989. First, they attacked the Warriors' manager, Paul Ellering, during an interview. But the worst was yet to come in July as the SST, along with the Freebirds, ganged-up on the Warriors while they was wrestling in a cage match against Garvin and Gordy. They handcuffed Animal to the top rope and beat Hawk into oblivion!!! Animal watched helplessly as Hawk bleeding all over the place!!! I would dare say this was the worst beating the Warriors have ever taken, PERIOD!!! This promted the Warrior camp to challenge The SST and the Freebirds to the WarGames match. It was signed for July 23, 1989 at the Great American Bash: The Glory Days (looking back, they didn't know how appropriate that title would be years later but they truly were glory days). The Warriors got Steve "Dr. Death" Williams and The Midnight Express to help them in this war. The Warriors' entrance on the Harley's was one of the better one's that I have ever seen. I'm no biker but I was impressed. Anyway, the Warriors' team won when Hawk made Garvin submit to neckbreaker manuvear. I should also note that this event marked the first PPV appearance of The Skyscrapers ("Dangerous" Dan Spivey/"Sycho" Sid Vicious).
Meanwhile, the Warriors continued to battle the Samoans in single, tag team and eight-man tag team matches. Interesting to note that their partners in many of those eight man's were The Steiner Bros. (Rick/Scott). A team that would go on to be great rivals of the Warriors in the "future." Anyway, the Warrior/SST feud ended in September of 1989 at The Clash Of The Champions VIII in Columbia, SC. The Warriors got the pinfall after the "Device" put down Fatu for the pin. You would think that after a brutal feud like this that Hawk and Animal would get a well-deserved rest, right? Wrong!!! They almost immediately were challenged by The Skyscrapers.
Once again, a powerful team had come to challenge for the unofficial crown of the Roadies as "The Most Awesome Team In The World." They had a series of matches throughout late-September and most of October but their first national confrontation took place at Halloween Havoc '89: Settling The Score in Philedelphia, PA. I still have the original PPV broadcast of the event and it still feels like it happened yesterday. Anyway, the Warriors won this encounter by DQ after about 10-12 minutes of brutal action. Also on this card, another future rival made their first appearance. It was the team of Doom (Butch Reed/Ron Simmons) and they were managed by Woman at that time. They also wore masks as well.
The next Warrior/Skyscraper collision was scheduled for Starrcade '89: Future Shock in Atlanta, GA. It was going to be part of a round robin tournament called the "IronTeam" tournament. It also featured Doom and the Steiners. But in November of 1989 at The Clash Of The Champions IX: New York Knockout in Troy, NY, Sid suffered a punctured lung after Scott Steiner put him in his "blockbuster suplex" (a bodyslam/flipover combination). Sid was unable to compete and the Skyscrapers were forced to forfeit the tourney.
The Warriors, meanwhile, defeated Doom but lost to the Steiners by pinfall. Still, they won the tourney by defeating The Samoans (A full detailed description could possibly be found in Earl's back issue section. The original story appeared in December of last year.). The Warriors, however, could not shake the Skyscrapers as Teddy Long (the 'scrapers' manager) brought in "Mean" Mark Callous to take Sid's place. This, by the way, is the reason for the on/off feud between Sid and Mark Callous (aka The Undertaker). This version was not as powerful but made up for it with better wrestling skills. They laid the Warriors out at The Clash Of The Champions X in Houston, TX after the Warriors won the match by DQ.
The Warriors challenged The Skyscrapers to a Chicago Street Fight at WrestleWar '90 in Greensboro, NC on February 26. The 'scrapers accepted but Spivey left Callous high and dry and Long (not wanting to forfeit another big card) got some sh*tty masked man to take his place!!! Needless to say, the Warriors made short work of them. But, wouldn't you know it, another power team comes to challenge the Warriors!!! This time, it is the team of Doom, now managed by Teddy Long at this point. They confronted the Warriors after the street fight match and they got it on right then and there. The Warriors got the better of this encounter but this is one of the few feuds of the Warriors that really ended undecisive because both Doom and the Warriors got their share of wins and losses. Wanting to go on to new challenges, the NWA released the Warriors from their contract in June of 1990. Their last televised appearance was in a match against Arn Anderson and Barry Windham of the Four Horsemen. They won by DQ.
Part 9: The WWF Days
After terminating their contract with the NWA, the Road Warriors decided to head up north to the WWF under their other nickname "The Legion Of Doom."
Paul Ellering was invited to come but declined, deciding that the LOD didn't need him anymore. Ellering was proved to be right for the most part as the Warriors, while not as violent as before, were just a awesome and effective. In fact, it was about two years before they even lost by pinfall in the WWF!!! That ought to be a record in itself!!! During that time, they faced archrivals Demolition (Ax, Smash, and Crush), The Oriental Express (Pat Tanaka, Kato), and The Hart Foundation (Bret Hart, Jim Neihart).
Yes, they did face the Harts. I saw the match on one of the WWF's various video tapes. It was one of those "exclusive dark matches." The match saw the Harts actually holding their own against the LOD!!! It shouldn't be a surprise though, as the "HitMan" and "The Anvil" was a formidable team at that time. The match ended when Bret tried a flying bodypress but got caught with a powerslam from Animal for the LOD victory. I think this match took place right after WrestleMania VII to decide the top conteders to then-WWF Tag Team Champions The Nasty Boys (Jerry Sags/Brian Knobbs). Speaking of which, the Nasty's were going around saying how they were the Nastiest team in the world. While they were no doubt a vicious team (I think their battles with the Steiner Bros. in 1990 for the now defunct-WCW United States Tag Team Titles proved that), they were no where near as vicious as LOD. Still, given the tenacity they showed against the Steiners, you knew that this was not going to be an easy win for Hawk and Animal.
LOD finally caught up with the Nasty Boys in August of 1991 in New York City, NY at Madison Square Garden. It was the site of that year's SummerSlam event. The LOD took the titles from the Nasty's in a no-DQ, no-countout event. This win made LOD the only team to win titles in the AWA, NWA/WCW, and the WWF (the only other teams to get two out of the three were the Brainbusters and the Steiners). It was also the first title they had won without Paul Ellering, their long-time manager. You know he had to be somewhere smiling!!!
Over the next seven months, LOD took rematches with the Nasties as well as faced the formidable duo of The Natural Disasters (Earthquake/Typhoon). A duo whose combined weight was double the LOD's. In fact, Earthquake weighed as much as both Hawk and Animal!!! Still, LOD was not intimidated as they faced their much bigger challengers. The faced off at the 1992 Royal Rumble. The Disasters gave LOD all they could handle and had won the match by countout. However, LOD retained the belts because it was a countout victory. To their credit, the LOD were not certainly dominated by the Disasters. Still, when faced with two talented 400lbs. plus men, you are not going to have an easy day.
In February of 1992, the LOD lost the WWF titles to the previously unranked team of Money Inc., Ted "Million Dollar Man" DiBiase and Irwin R. Schyster (Mike Rotunda). Over the next seven months, they would chased Money Inc. as well as feud with The Beverley Bros. (Wayne Bloom/Mike Enos). They finally caught up with Money Inc. at SummerSlam '92 in London, England at Wembly Stadium (in case your wondering, this was the card when Davey Boy Smith defeated Bret Hart for the I-C belt). Unfortunley, it was not for the titles as Money Inc. dropped them to the Natural Disasters a few weeks before. Still, LOD got some redemption as Animal planted DiBiase with a powerslam for the pin. The next day, however, LOD dissapeared.
Part 10: The Breakup and The Reunion
After defeating Money Inc. (Ted DiBiase/Irwin R. Schyster) at SummerSlam '92, the LOD split up and left the WWF!!! Animal decided to take a break from active competition to heal some nagging back problems while Hawk bounced around the world. His stops included a tag team with Kensuki Sasaki in Japan. This team was known as the Hell Raiders. They had a run as IWGP Tag Team Champions. Their most notable encounter was a January 1993 match with the Steiners. That match ended in a double-DQ. Also in 1993, Hawk had a brief solo stint in WCW. He teamed with Dustin Rhodes to face "Ravishing" Rick Rude and The Equilizer at an August Clash Of The Champions event. Animal was at ringside for the match and was also the captain of the Dustin Rhodes, Sting, Davey Boy Smith and Shockmaster team at the 1993 WarGames event held at Fall Brawl 1993 in Houston, TX.
Hawk also challenged Rude for the now defunct WCW International Heavyweight Title at a November Clash Of The Champions, participated in BattleBowl '93 and teamed with Sting to challenge the Nasty Boys at Starrcade '93 for the WCW World Tag Team Titles. Hawk also was the CWA (European) Heavyweight Champion for a brief time as well. He was also a participant in World War III in the 60 man battle royal.
In 1995, the Warriors appeared together in Japan but did not team. Hawk was wrestling Scott "Flash" Norton in a singles match when Animal interfered and helped Hawk win the match. In January of 1996, the Warriors made their full-scale return to the national scene when they challenged then-WCW Tag Team Champions Sting and Lex Luger. Sting wanted to accept the challenge but Luger was reluctant (perhaps he remembers the hell the Warriors put him through during 1987-1988).
Nevertheless, the Warriors got their shot at the winner of the Sting/Lex Luger VS. Harlem Heat match. Sting and Lex won thanks to interference from the Warriors and wrestled them that night!!!
The Warriors also rekindled their feud with The Steiner Bros. Remember that classic encounter on WCW Monday Nitro?!!! It put their first match at Starrcade '89 to shame!!! The Warriors won when Animal took one of their steel spikes and nailed Rick Steiner in the head with it. They also had matches with Public Enemy, The Nasty Boys and Harlem Heat.
In May of 1996, the Warriors left WCW after a dispute with Eric Bischoff (and WCW in general) about the "sweet" contracts of Kevin Nash and Scott Hall. The traveled to the AWF and wrestled there for a brief time. Now, as everyone knows by now, the Warriors returned to the WWF. In their short four months, they have helped Ahmed Johnson all but destroy the Nation Of Domination at WrestleMania 13 and nearly won the WWF Tag Titles (Sorry NOD but the LOD could show you a thing or two about domination).This was a breath of fresh air because you know your tag team ranks suck when your best wrestlers are two of your top single wrestlers. I am speaking, of course, of Owen Hart and Davey Boy Smith. I would have given this match to the Warriors by a landslide but given the reformation of the Hart Foundation, I think it's going to be awhile before anyone defeats them for the tag straps. Still, I hope to see some gold around the Warriors' waist just one more time!!!
If you have a question, comment, criticism, or just want to talk pro wrestling, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ervin Griffin Jr. is a regular contributor to Solie's Newsletter as well as the Ringside Insider and other publications.