Wrestling legend Joseph Laurinaitis, known by his stage name Road Warrior Animal, passed away at age 60. The WWE Hall of Famer’s official Twitter account confirmed his death today.
“At this time, we would like to confirm the passing of Joseph Laurinaitis aka Road Warrior Animal,” the Twitter account said. They captioned the tweet with Laurinaitis’ catchphrase “Oh What A Rush”. According to the post, his family is planning an official statement later today.
Joseph Laurinaitis formed one half of the tag-team Legion of Doom.
Laurinaitis formed one half of the WWE tag-team the Road Warriors, also known as Legion of Doom, in the 1980s and 90s. Michael Hegstrand, also known as Hawk, was his partner. Thanks to world-wide tours, the two became famous among wrestling fans even before they joined the WWE in 1990.
The WWE helped the duo reach millions of new fans, but the Legion of Doom left for Japan in 1992. They spent the next few years performing in the New Japan Pro Wrestling and World Championship Wrestling. They returned to the WWE in 1997 for another two year stint on the program. During their career together, the two became two-time WWE champions.
In 1999, the Legion of Doom left for another four years performing once again in Japan and at independent venues. Laurinaitis and Hegstrand made their final comeback to the WWE together in 2003. They performed a tag-team match against wrestlers Rob Van Dam and Kane. That same year Hegstrand had a heart attack and died at 46.
Road Warrior Animal joined the WWE Hall of Fame in 2011.
After Hegstrand’s death, Laurinaitis made occasional appearances in the WWE but officially retired in 2014. The WWE inducted him into the Hall of Fame in 2011.
Outside of the ring, Laurinaitis became a born-again Christian in 2001. He married two times and had three children. His son James, 34, spent seven years in the NFL as a linebacker for the St. Louis Rams and New Orleans Saints.
Several of Laurinaitis’ fellow WWE wrestlers took to Twitter to commemorate his life, including Hulk Hogan who broke the news of his death.
An official cause of death hasn’t been released.
[H/T: The Sun]