Tuesday, June 1, 2021


                                   OHHH, WHAT A RUSH!







In the long-storied history of professional wrestling, there have been many great tag teams that have enjoyed a tremendous amount of success and popularity. But there were only a handful of them that could match or exceed a select few of the single world champions and reach the highest-levels of genuine main-event status that a promotion could be built around. That list is quite rare indeed. During the 1950s, the superstar tag team of Antonio Rocca and Miquel Perez were a phenomenon that packed arenas and gained headliner status. Al Costello and Roy Heffernan, the Fabulous Kangaroos captured the imagination of audiences with their bush hats and boomerang gimmicks including using the song "Waltzing Matilda" as their entrance music. There was also Dr. Gerry Graham and Eddie Graham, the Golden Grahams that reached an exceptional level of fame and notoriety as heels. In the 1960s, the powerful duo of Dick the Bruiser and The Crusher had legions of "working class" fans rally behind them. The Blonde Bombers; Pat Patterson and Ray Stevens became extremely despised by fans due to their exemplary in-ring work and ability to generate heat from the crowd. Later in the 1970s and 80s, teams like The Fabulous Freebirds and The Rock n' Roll Express for a short time attained levels of fame and attention to which they headlined regional events. However, as successful as those tag teams were, none can truly compare to the international ticket-selling ability and invincible aura of the Legion of Doom, Hawk and Animal, The Road Warriors.

The Road Warriors: 
from Chicago, Illinois
combined weight 575 lbs
Hawk: 1/26/1957-6'3"-275 lbs 
Animal: 9/12/1960-6'1"-300 lbs

Coming out of Minnesota and being trained by Eddie Sharkey who suggested they should both give the ranks of professional wrestling a try due to seeing them bounce at a bar called Gramma B's, Joseph "Animal" Laurinaitis and Michael "Hawk" Hedgstrand were an easy fit. At the beginning, they both had very short and unprosperous solo wrestling careers starting in late 1982 and early 1983. But after a little career tweaking a few months later by promoter/wrestler Ole Anderson and having them debut as a tag team with "Precious" Paul Ellering as their manager on TBS's Georgia Championship Wrestling, it would become a decision that would forever change the direction of the industry. These two massively, juiced-up, muscled brawlers dressed in leather motorcycle gear with crew cuts were like nothing ever seen before, especially when being compared to their contemporaries. In the ring, they were vicious, exhibiting very little wrestling skills besides "Press Slams" and "Clotheslines." The term "scientific wrestling" or "mat skills" were almost nonexistent, they were exhibiting a new type of brawling "smash mouth" wrestling (charging into the ring and pummeling opponents without remorse). In just a few months, Hawk and Animal started donning war-paint and sporting mohawks inspired by the popular movie Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981) and it perfectly complemented their wrestling style. It now became more than just crushing opponents put before them, it became trendsetting. So much in fact that not only would they go on to influence generations of massively built pro wrestlers who duplicated their look like Demolition, the Powers of Pain, the Blade Runners and the Ascension, but also their in-ring style like Harlem Heat, Doom, APA, the Authors of Pain, and the Disciples of Apocalypse.

But as talented and impressive as many of the clones and mimics may have been, none came close to having the worldwide impact and charisma as the one-true Road Warriors. Not since André the Giant had any wrestler been such a territory attraction and appeared as such an unbeatable force, and never a tag team. Virtually overnight the Road Warriors had become so highly sought after by other wrestling promotions from all over the world that they quickly established themselves as one of the industry's top attractions. Their entrance theme, "Iron Man" by Black Sabbath, only enhanced their already invincible aura as the song became synonymous with them as well as their "Road Warrior POP" to describe the crowd's reaction to seeing them and their finisher "The Doomsday Device." There's not many acts in wrestling history that can claim to have impacted the sport as quickly and completely as the Road Warriors did on a worldwide basis, especially within their first 5 years. Hawk and Animal's 20 year reign of dominance all over the wrestling world became unparalleled and remains the benchmark for all tag teams ever since.

But in reality, despite how unbeatable fans thought the Road Warriors were, they were human and the price of fame eventually caught up to them. Hawk and Animal were both young when they conquered the world so everything started quickly for them. And unfortunately, after a 20 year career full of pain, substance abuse, steroids, constant travel, injuries, partying and the lack of sleep that comes with the life of a superstar professional wrestler of their day, it most likely contributed to both of them passing away at an early age. Michael "Hawk" Hedgstrand died in his sleep of a heart attack at his home in Indian Rocks Beach, Florida on October 19, 2003 at the age of 46. It was no secret that during his life Hawk was a wild man that loved to party hard and live hard. Hawk stated he had more lives than a cat and managed to live through 9 near-death experiences (yes, you read that right). Thankfully, he made peace with God and became a devoted Christian before his passing. Joseph "Animal" Laurinaitis, a devoted Christian as well, was a proud family man and the much more passive of the two. Sadly, Animal died the exact same way (sleeping and suffering a heart attack) on September 22, 2020, just 10 days after his 60th birthday at the Tan-Tar-A Resort in Osage Beach, Missouri. RIP Road Warriors your legacy will always remain.


There are many reasons why the Legion of Doom/Road Warriors are considered the greatest tag team in the history of professional wrestling. Not only are they trend setters known for changing the face of wrestling and pop culture, but in Hawk and Animal's 20 year career together they have a few notable accolades. Their first match ever together on June 11, 1983, they debuted on television as the National tag team champions (it was said that they won the titles at a tournament in Chicago, but in reality they were given the belts by the promotion because the former champions Arn Anderson and Matt Borne vacated those titles due to legal matters). They would go on to win 15 total tag team championships from various promotions all over the world and are the only team to ever win the tag team titles in the AWA, NWA/WCW, and WWF/WWE, which were the 3 biggest wrestling promotions in the US. They were also the first American tag team to win the International tag team titles and the first to defend those belts outside of Japan. Entering the tournament as the number 1 seed, the Road Warriors won the 1st Annual NWA Jim Crockett Cup 24 team tag team tournament in 1986, won the Starrcade: Future Shock Iron Man tag team tournament in 1989 and won the Wrestlemania XIV tag team Battle Royal in 1998. They were voted tag team of the year by the readers of PRO WRESTLING ILLUSTRATED an unprecedented 4 different times in 1983-85 and 1988 (no team has ever won it more than twice before or since) and ranked as the #1 tag team of the PWI years in 2003. Additionally, they won the Tokyo Sports Best Foreigner Award (1985) and the Cauliflower Alley Club Tag Team Award (2020). Plus, they are the only tag team to be members of all the most prestigious pro wrestling Hall of Fame organizations: Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s Hall of Fame (1996), the WWE Hall of Fame (2011), the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame & Museum (2011), the NWA Hall of Fame (2012), the Quebec Wrestling Hall of Fame (2015), and the NWA Legends Hall of Heroes (2016). 


While the Road Warriors had many legendary matches and moments during their career, nothing tops their main event match on the WWF/SWS crossover promotion mega-event the SWS WRESTLEFEST in the Tokyo Dome on March 30, 1991. This event took place 7 days after WrestleMania VII and in front of 56,000 fans where the Road Warriors take on Hulk Hogan and Genichiro Tenryu in a tag team showdown of the ages. This was incredibly significant due to the fact that you had the Road Warriors, the greatest tag team in the world going up against America's greatest singles wrestler in Hulk Hogan and Japan's greatest singles wrestler in Genichiro Tenryu--AND THE ROAD WARRIORS WON! Sure, the victory was due to a count out, but the Road Warriors got their hands raised in the end and proved how truly over they were and gave Hogan (especially during that time period) are rare defeat on such a prestigious event. Yes, Hogan was possibly even more over in Japan than Hawk and Animal (he's considered their "ichiban"), but the Road Warriors ruled that country as well and this match proved it. The highlight was when Hawk and Animal double press slammed Hogan and Tenryu. It became the greatest press slam of all time and an iconic moment in wrestling history. 

An iconic moment in the Road Warriors greatest match.


TOP LEFT: (Late-1982) Joe Laurinaitis as "The Road Warrior" in Georgia. TOP RIGHT: (Early-1983) Michael Hegstrand as "Crusher Von Haig" in Vancouver. BOTTOM LEFT: (Mid-1983) Promoter and booker, Ole Anderson puts Joe and Mike together with "Precious" Paul Ellering to form The Road Warriors Hawk and Animal as they make their debut in GCW as the National tag team champions. BOTTOM RIGHT: (Mid-1983 to early-1984) Within just a few months experimental make-up and haircuts begin to take shape inspired by the Mel Gibson movie MAD MAX 2: THE ROAD WARRIOR (1981). They also pick up the moniker "The Legion of Doom" by being part of a stable with Paul Ellering, Jake Roberts, the Spoiler and King Kong Bundy before splitting and keeping it for themselves. With their brutal in-ring style, raw interviews and unique look they start to rise in popularity. They'll be the National tag team champions 4 times before leaving the GCW territory for bigger game. 

TOP LEFT: (1984-1986) The Road Warriors start coming into their own being lead by Paul Ellering and going to the AWA. At this time they start using Black Sabbath's song "Iron Man" as their entrance theme and winning the AWA tag team titles on August 25, 1984, becoming the most sought after traveling territorial attraction since André the Giant, especially in Japan. TOP RIGHT: (1986-1987) The Prime years begin in the NWA/WCW as the Road Warriors win the 1st ever Crockett Cup 24 team tag team tournament in 1986, cementing themselves as the number 1 tag team in the world, won the NWA/WCW six-man tag team titles with Dusty Rhodes and in 1987, become the first American tag team to win the International tag team belts in Japan. BOTTOM LEFT: (1988-1990) The iconic look begins with the spiked shoulder pads as the Road Warriors have superstar appeal and the ability to sell/promote national products such as Zubaz and Roos while appearing in commercials and making guest appearances on sitcoms. They won the NWA/WCW six-man tag team titles 2x, once with Dusty Rhodes and once with Genichiro Tenryu, the NWA/WCW Starrcade '89 Iron Man tag team tournament and the NWA/WCW tag team titles all in 1989. BOTTOM RIGHT: (1990-1992) Coming to the WWF without Paul Ellering and dropping "The Road Warriors" moniker and going by just "The Legion of Doom" or "LOD" for short. Plus, by winning the WWF tag team belts in 1991, the LOD became the only tag team in wrestling history to win the tag team titles in the AWA, NWA/WCW and WWF organizations. As the WWF's number 1 tag team, they have more merchandise made of them than ever before turning them into global sensations.

TOP RIGHT: (1992-1996) Paul Ellering returns and joins the LOD at Wrestlemania VIII and soon incorporates "Rocco" the dummy (which was a disaster). Hawk quits after SummerSlam 1992 due to his frustrations with the WWF storylines and his growing behind the scenes drug problem. Animal suffers a back injury finishing up the final WWF dates without Paul Ellering and Rocco. Hawk begins his solo career and eventually forms The Hell Raisers as Hawk Warrior and Power Warrior in Japan. TOP LEFT: (1996) Animal heals, grudges between them are buried and the Road Warriors reunite once again in Japan (doing a few 6-man tag team matches with Power Warrior calling themselves the Hell Warriors) and then return to WCW as the one-true Road Warriors! BOTTOM LEFT: (1997) The LOD return to the WWF and win the tag team belts for the second time. BOTTOM RIGHT: (1998) After a horrible storyline that had the Road Warriors fight each other due to not being able to regain the tag team belts, they reunited with a fresh new look at Wrestlemania XIV as "The LOD 2000" managed by Sunny and winning the tag team Battle Royal.

TOP RIGHT: (1998-1999) Sunny leaves as Paul Ellering returns once again and will eventually start feuding with the LOD 2000 with his new team the Disciples of Apocalypse. Behind the scenes Hawk continues to spiral out of control with addiction issues and rehab stints, so the WWF have the LOD take on a third member named Puke as back up if Hawk can't perform. TOP LEFT: (1999-2003) After being unhappy with the WWF's storylines the LOD leave, Paul Ellering retires once again and Hawk finally gets sober. Then Hawk and Animal get back to basics traveling to Japan and other independent wrestling organizations before returning to the WWF (now WWE) on May 12, 2003 for one last match with the company. They will return to Japan and sadly, Hawk passes on October 19, 2003 and ends the Road Warriors unbeatable 20 year legacy. BOTTOM LEFT: (2005-2006) Animal returns to the WWE and forms a new LOD with Jon Heidenreich and wins the tag team titles. After the team disbands in 2006, Animal goes solo and returns to his 1982 gimmick as "The Road Warrior" without make-up and wearing leather. His final match is on May 6, 2006 before being released by the WWE. BOTTOM RIGHT: (2007-2020) The Hell Warriors return as Animal Warrior and Power Warrior and do a few sporadic matches over the years in Japan and Mexico until Power Warrior's retirement on February 14, 2014. Animal passes on September 22, 2020, closing the final chapter in the Legion of Doom/Road Warriors story.  


The First merchandise the Road Warriors ever had were homemade T-shirts that had their faces on it and sold out of their van in 1983. By the end of their career there were literally hundreds of different Road Warrior or Legion of Doom T-shirts on the market. Thirty years later, the merchandising of pro wrestling has exploded to unfathomable heights. With their striking visibility of facepaint, haircuts, spiked shoulder pads and muscular physiques the Road Warriors are still among those leading the charge of pro wrestling merchandising and collectability even though they haven't wrestled a match together since 2003. 

There's something to be said of their timelessness. Let's be frank, the Road Warriors are cool. They were cool back in 1983 and they're cool today. Essentially, that means their appearance perfectly translates to toys and other types of merchandise in a way that transcends the genre and era. And they are part of a special select few individuals in pro wrestling history that can be continually finically viable on a consistent basis. A a big part of the reason why is Paul Ellering.

What most people don't know is that their manager Paul Ellering was Hawk and Animal's "shoot" (real) manager in all aspects of their business. From the beginning in 1983, Paul took care of their plane tickets, hotels, rental cars, schedule, pay, luggage and deals, including deals with promoters and lawyers. And among those lawyers were of copyrights and trademarks. You see, Paul knew what he saw when the Road Warriors first broke onto the scene. He knew they were going to get over in more ways than one. Using his superior intellect (he's a member of Mensa) and experience in the wrestling business, Paul knew how to protect Hawk and Animal and educate them on the inner workings of not just wrestling promoters, but "likeness" when it came to merchandise. Paul had Hawk and Animal copyright and trademark their images, names and quotes, so when manufacturing companies came on the scene and wanted pro wrestlers for their products, the Road Warriors were not beholden to the deals wrestling promoters had with them. They made their own deal separate from everyone else. Case in point: when Remco came to Verne Gagne and the AWA to make action figures in 1984, the Road Warriors got a separate deal from all the other wrestlers. To use their likenesses and such, Remco had to pay Paul, Hawk and Animal a lump sum. They were their own brand, had their own set of rules and wrestling promoters and manufactures had to abide by them. It was perfect. And honestly, who wasn't going to use the Road Warriors? They were born to make money. Even Vince McMahon and the WWF had to do this because he didn't create or own ANYTHING of the Road Warriors, the Legion of Doom, Hawk, Animal or Paul Ellering. Vince had to basically give them a separate deal to use their likeness on his WWF products. How many of their contemporaries can say that?

It's not surprising that both Hawk and Animal would also branch outside of wrestling. In 1988, a line of zebra print weightlifting pants developed by Bob Truax and Dan Stock (who co-owned a gym with the Road Warriors) called Zubaz used Hawk and Animal as the ambassadors of their company which exploded and sold a 100 million dollars worth of product in 1991 alone. The company had the slogan "Dare to be Different" and pants, hats, shirts and even diapers can sometimes still be seen on professional athletes to this day. Another product they did commercials for and sponsored in the early 1990s were Roos sneakers (also known as "KangaRoos"). Roos are still a prominent shoe brand in over sixty countries worldwide.

Today, the LOD merch is numerous, encompassing almost everything from clothing, glassware, posters, food products, school supplies, furniture, books, video games, dolls, action figures, toys and even COVID-19 masks. Being a crazy Road Warriors fan and growing up on their merchandise, I wanted to do something never done before. I wanted to compile a comprehensive list of their greatest and most popular collectibles and rank them in a top 20 list. Now to do something like that is obviously subjective, especially for how much stuff is actually out there in Road Warriors merchandise. But I've been buying and selling LOD memorabilia my entire life and I've come to know many well known wrestling and toy collectors all over the world, so I do think I have a pretty good idea. And FYI, this list will be based on actual products that were produced by companies to the public. Nothing bootleg or ring-worn such as outfits, spiked shoulder pads and wrestling belts will be included since those are for a select few high-end collectors and a niche market. This list is based on all the fun stuff kids growing up back in the day begged mom to buy in the toy isles or thumbing through a wrestling magazine. So put on your warpaint, scream "What a Rushhhh!" and then sit back to enjoy THE TOP 20 GREATEST LEGION OF DOOM/ROAD WARRIORS COLLECTIBLES OF ALL TIME!


(Diamond Toymakers 1985)


Verne Gagne and his AWA wrestling federation was doing whatever it could to stay in competition with Vince McMahon and the WWF. Since Vince was licensing out Hulk Hogan and his biggest stars to every and all product manufactures, Verne would try and do the same. Nothing was off limits, even the obscure items would get a license. And here, along with some of Verne's biggest AWA stars at the time; the Road Warriors, Sgt. Slaughter and Baron Von Raschke would be transformed into puffy stickers--because why the hell not?


(Coca-Cola Company 1988)

To most, Mello Yello is a "D" list soda that ranks alongside the likes of Tab, Moxie, and Squirt. With its carbonated citrus flavor and urine-like color, it's a wonder how people still drink that stuff. But they do, and being produced since 1979, it looks like this soda is here to stay. Despite all that, Mello Yello was the perfect fit for the National Wrestling Alliance. Since most of the major brands were being gobbled up by the WWF licensing machine back in 1988, the NWA had to set their sights on lower game to showcase their most popular wrestling superstars. So Mello Yello it was and to the credit of the Coca-Cola Company (who produced and distributed Mello Yello), they spent a buck to push this promotion forward by making a commercial starring the "American Dream" Dusty Rhodes and releasing it to local television stations of the day. A total of 12 cans of "NWA: Wrestling's Best" were released and while it was hard to find the cans with the more obscure wrestlers on it like Tim Horner, Larry Zbyszko and Jimmy Garvin (let's be honest, who was actually looking for those guys anyway?), Coca-Cola Company mass produced the cans that had the images of the Road Warriors, Sting, Dusty Rhodes and Ric Flair.


(PAAS 1991)



Every Legion of Doom fan used their mom's expensive makeup to look like them on a few occasions, even though most of us are too embarrassed to admit it. But in 1991, PAAS made it possible to do it in style (and without repercussions from mom) with the "official" WWF makeup kit. Now you could paint your colors like Hawk, Animal and even the Ultimate Warrior if you wanted and this time, mom would even be helping you out. Whether it was Halloween, Easter, or any day of the week, there was nothing better than emulating your favorite heroes with their "official" brand. 


(FAST FARE 1987)

Fast Fare is a franchise of quick stop convenience store/gas stations down south that loved wrestling. Doing a cross promotion with the NWA to celebrate their yearly wrestling tour dubbed "The Great American Bash" was an easy crossover event. 8 different wrestler cups were produced and purchased at every Fast Fare soda fountain located in their convenience stores that detailed all 10 locations that the event would be held at (it's no surprise that a few Fast Fare quick stops were also located in those particular states). Each cup also showcased 1 of 8 of the NWA's most popular wrestlers of the day (the Road Warriors Hawk and Animal, Dusty Rhodes, Ric Flair, Barry Windham, Nikita Koloff and Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson of the Rock 'n' Roll Express), so what's not to love?


(Remco 1986)

12-pack (front)
12 pack (back)

Mattel's 2-inch M.U.S.C.L.E. figures were all the rage when they hit stores in 1985, as pro wrestling was exploding in popularity. While M.U.S.C.L.E. figures were basically made up cosmic/fantasy wrestlers created in Japan (called Kinnikuman), Remco decided to have their knock-off Mini Mashers be based on real superstar wrestlers of the AWA! And why not? Would kids rather play with Muscleman or the Road Warriors? Would they rather be Terri-Bull or Ric Flair? The answer was simple to Remco and probably most kids, but Remco didn't play their hand correctly. You see, while M.U.S.C.L.E. boasted a whopping 236 original figures that came in 10 different colors that were distributed in a variety of assorted packs of 28, 10 and 4. They were chock-full of collectability so kids kept on coming back for more to complete their collections. The Mini Mashers were a total of just 12 figures that came in 4 colors (pink, red, green and blue) that were distributed in 12-packs, 8-packs and 4-packs and it hardly took much effort to accumulate a full set. Remco played the 2-inch figure challenge and lost as the Mini Mashers didn't last long and disappeared from stores by the next year. Mattel kept on trucking along with M.U.S.C.L.E. selling an estimated 6 million to 300 million figures before the line came to an end in 1988.


(Multi Toys Corp. 1990)


By 1990, the WWF was licensed by almost every product conceivable. They had action figures, games, food products and even dish soap, so why not a squirt head? Obscure item yes, that goes without question. But also cool as hell if you ask me! And check out those great head sculpts! These WWF Squirt Heads were fun for the summer or bath and looked awesome doing what they do--squirting your friends with water (if you want to get real nasty, fill them with urine or bleach and tell your friend to "open wide"). I should also point out these remain some of the earliest Legion of Doom WWF merchandise as they arrived in the federation that same year.


(Remco 1985)

Rick Martel vs. Animal
Greg Gagne vs. Hawk

If Vince McMahon and the WWF were producing Wrestling Superstars Thumb Wrestlers in 1985 with LJN, then by damn Verne Gagne and the AWA would produce the All Star Wrestling Thumbsters with Remco! It's really that simple as 3 different "thumb" versus "thumb" match-ups were produced; Rick Martel vs. Animal, Greg Gagne vs. Hawk and Ric Flair vs. Larry Zbyszko. And they all looked pretty impressive as Remco used the same sculpts they had on their wrestling figures at the time. But honestly, from how bad Vince McMahon and Verne Gagne were battling each other for the majority of shelve space for their wrestling products in 1985 and 1986, I'm surprised LJN and Remco didn't cross promote to make a "Vince vs. Verne" thumb wrestler set (hey, I would've bought it).


(Ralston 1991)


Back in the day, there was nothing like waking up early on Saturday mornings and getting a nice bowl of sugary cereal while watching cartoons all day long. But to kids that did it in the early '90s, you had a chance to eat cereal with the Legion of Doom! What could be better than watching WWF programing on Saturdays and filling your bellies with vanilla flavored "stars"? And if you dug down deep enough through the cereal, you'll even get 1 free WWF flip book of either Hulk Hogan, the Ultimate Warrior or the Legion of Doom! But let's face it, anyone reading this article wants the LOD flip book or it was a bust. Anyway, once you finished off a couple of bowls and your blood sugar levels exploded, it was time to shout "Ohhh, what a sugar rushhhh!" as you head out the door to play with your friends for the rest of the day. This is what I call the magic of childhood.


(Gold Bond 1992)

Superstars Favorite "Quotes" card
Front and back of box
Legion of Doom card inside box

When the WWF first started producing their very own Superstars Ice Cream Bars in 1987, it was something other wrestling promotions never thought they could get away with. I mean, come on, pro wrestlers on food products? But the WWF, Vince McMahon and Hulk Hogan licensing machine went well beyond what other wrestling organizations thought possible. And when the Legion of Doom came to the WWF in 1990, it was only a matter of time before they got their card and very own ice cream bar.

Although the Legion of Doom had many cards produced of them over the years that could've made it on this list, the thought of ripping open a box and possibly getting a delicious Legion of Doom ice cream bar and Legion of Doom card at the same time on a hot summer day could be a moment any fan would cherish forever. Yeah, the WWF ice cream bars were just like Cracker Jacks, there was always a little anticipation when you opened up a box and you didn't know what bar or card you were going to get. No other single card can top that!


(WWF 1991-1992, WCW 1996 and WWF 1997-1998)

Fist generation of LOD shoulder pads with WWF logo.

WWF Fall/Winter 91-92 catalog first advertising the LOD shoulder pads.

WWF Fall/Winter 92-93 catalog first advertising the LOD wrist bands.

Second generation shoulder pads sold by WCW with Hawk & Animal autographs in front.

The last ad for the shoulder pads and wrist bands that ran in the WWF catalogs in 1997 and 1998. 

No matter how you slice it, the Legion of Doom has one of the most iconic looks in the history of professional wrestling. Their image was so emulated and copied over the years that they had an endless line of wannabe wrestlers trying mimic them (it never truly worked out). Children were no exception either, they were trying their best to be Hawk and Animal. Whether it was pumping iron with their Hulk Hogan weights or shaving their heads to their parents horror. And how could the WWF capitalize on all this and feed every child's need to be the Legion of Doom 24/7 while meeting all government regulatory safety standards? Well, have them put on foam spiked shoulder pads (and wrist bands if mom was willing to pay more) and then they'll be ready to smack some "gerbil-faced geeks" as all little Doomers should! 

It should be noted, these popular shoulder pads first appeared for sale in the WWF Fall/Winter catalog 1991-1992 (the foam wrist bands were first advertised a year later in the WWF Fall/Winter 1992-1993 catalog) and they followed the LOD as merch when they returned to WCW for a short time in 1996, but they were never advertised in any WCW catalog (the WCW removed the WWF logo on the front of the pad and exchanged it with the two signatures of Hawk & Animal). When the LOD returned to the WWF in 1997, the shoulder pads (dawning the WWF logo on the front once again) and wrist bands reappeared for sale in the WWF 1997 Shop Zone Holiday Advertorial Supplement and was advertised for the last time in the WWF 1998 Go Mental Shop Zone catalog.


(Mattel 2010)

Mattel got the WWE license to produce figures in 2009 after Jakks Pacific had it for almost 10 years. I have to admit, Jakks Pacific had a lot of questionable releases when it came to sculpts and quality of their product. Mattel started it off with a bang (or should I say a "Road Warrior POP")! And their Elite line didn't hold anything back as Hawk and Animal were released in the first Legends wave and shown as the bad asses we know and love. And when it comes to the Road Warriors contemporary wrestling figures of the day, this was their best release ever.


(Tonka 1991) 



The WWF Wrestling Buddies saved many a younger brother or sister from a serious injury from a "Power Bomb" or  "Press Slam" throughout the years. These cute, soft, cuddly and down-right fun dolls from Tonka were the perfect wrestling opponent that made even the parents want to join in on the fun. Nothing speaks pro wrestling as well as these Wrestling Buddies because they were perfectly made for what they do best--getting the stuffing beaten out of them! A major plus if you can take a "Doomsday Device" from your Legion of Doom Buddies all by yourself.


Super Star Pro Wrestling character selection
Super Star Pro Wrestling (Pony Canyon) released in Japan 1989
WCW Wrestling character selection
WCW World Championship Wrestling (FCI) released in the US 1990

The very first video game that the Road Warriors ever appeared in was Super Star Pro Wrestling. It was released in Japan and published by Pony Canyon for the Nintendo Famicom system in 1989. The game features play for both one- and two-player modes in single or tag team matches and functioned very differently from any previous wrestling video game of the day. Each wrestler had a unique finisher and 8 specific moves that they could perform to which you had to choose 4 of them before each match. This made the game more interactive and kept it from becoming stale. 
The game featured 12 wrestlers well-known in Japan's AJPW and NJPW promotions such as The Road Warriors Hawk and Animal, Antonio Inoki, Giant Baba, Jumbo Tsuruta, Genichiro Tenryu, Riki Choshu, Akira Maeda, Bruiser Brody, Stan Hansen, Big Van Vader, Abdullah the Butcher, and the non-playable boss character André the Giant. 
Super Star Pro Wrestling was released a year later in the US under the name of WCW Wrestling for the Nintendo Entertainment System and published by FCI Incorporated. The more commonly known WCW wrestlers were swapped in and replaced the same sprites of the AJPW and NJPW wrestlers, performing their exact same move-set and finisher but with new artwork to resemble the WCW star. Below is a list of each WCW wrestler that replaced the original Super Star Pro Wrestling wrestler.
  • Lex Luger replaced Antonio Inoki
  • Ric Flair replaced Giant Baba
  • Mike Rotunda replaced Jumbo Tsuruta
  • Kevin Sullivan replaced Genichiro Tenryu
  • Sting replaced Riki Choshu
  • Rick Steiner replaced Akira Maeda
  • Ricky Steamboat replaced Bruiser Brody
  • Road Warrior Hawk replaced Stan Hansen (Even though Road Warrior Hawk is in both versions of the game, his WCW Wrestling version surprisingly did not replace his Super Star Pro Wrestling version.)
  • Michael P.S. Hayes replaced Road Warrior Hawk
  • "Dr. Death" Steve Williams replaced Big Van Vader
  • Eddie Gilbert replaced Abdullah the Butcher
  • Road Warrior Animal is the only one that remains unchanged.
  • WCW Master replaced the Super Star Pro Wrestling boss André the Giant (WWF owned the rights to André at the time, but the mask on the WCW Master is reminiscent of André's "Giant Machine" gimmick he used a lot in Japan.)


(Collegeville 1986)

Halloween has always been my favorite time of the year. There's something about the weather, the decorations and the costumes that have always intrigued me since I was a child. With all the ghouls and ghosts that come out of haunted houses that night to scare unsuspecting children, they might need some protection while they go "Trick or Treating." What could be better than being Road Warrior Hawk or Animal and putting the scare into them? Want to see a vampire jump back in its coffin? Flash Hawk's tongue and scream "Ohhhh, what a rushhhh!" Want to see Frankenstein's monster crumble in fear? Show off Animal's scowl and then "Gorilla Press" him over your head and throw him into a trash can! Either way, you can't lose with Collegeville's Road Warrior Hawk and Animal costumes because as scary as things can get on All Hallows' Eve, the Legion of Doom snacks on danger and dines on death!

1986 Collegeville Halloween costume catalogue 


(Bandai 1987)

Leaflet that came inside the capsule with each figure
Inside the leaflet.

Keshi (Japanese: 消し or ケシ) aka keshigomu (消しゴム, literally "erase rubber") is the Japanese word for eraser. In modern "keshi" refers to a collectible miniature figure, often of a manga or anime character, made of colored PVC gum rubber. It should be noted that The Pro Wrestler Keshi line (also called The Puroresurā Keshi line), is sometimes referred to as The Pro Wrestler Erasers. Check out the complete story here: The Pro Wrestler Keshi Line from Bandai (1987)

With the world-wide success of M.U.S.C.L.E came knockoffs from other toy companies that wanted to mimic those figures and cash in on their popularity (see the Remco Mini Mashers ranked at #16 on this list). But regardless of what came after, when it came to keshi figures, Bandai was always the leader of the pack. As M.U.S.C.L.E. wrestlers/characters had more of a cosmic and fantasy design to them (with a few figures actually being based off of real wrestlers), in 1987, Bandai went full reality and based this brand new 2-inch figure line on real superstar wrestlers from the NJPW (New Japan Pro-Wrestling) organization.

Bandai would sell and distribute this 10 keshi figure set in "Capsule" Machines or "Gumball" Machines (called Gashapon Machines in Japan). There were 5 Japanese NJPW wrestler figures; Tatsumi Fujinami, Riki Choshu, Jumbo Tsuruta, Akira Maeda and Hiroshi Wajima and 5 American "mystery" wrestlers (that were HUGE stars in Japan); The Road Warriors: Hawk and Animal, Bruiser Brody, Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair. All 10 figures each came with a leaflet and in 5 different colors; pink ("flesh"), blue, yellow, green and red. And despite being just capsule machine prizes, the detail on each figure is something to behold as they support highly realistic faces on chibi-like bodies. These figures are very rare and highly sought after and can get some big numbers on the secondary market, especially the pink colored figures which always command a premium.


(Hasbro 1991)

The WWF Hasbro line started in 1990 and was released a year after the WWF LJN Wrestling Superstars line ended. Now instead of 8-inch hard rubber non-movable figures, Hasbro took it into the 4-inch figure realm, gave them articulation and added an action feature so they could perform their signature finisher (or something comparable to it). The cartoonish sculpts and bright colors perfectly captured the look and feel of the WWF Universe in the early to mid 90s. When the LOD was released on a tag team pack in the series 4 shipment, they got their very first WWF action figures. And what better way to introduce the mighty LOD by giving them the ability to perform the Doomsday Device (or the "Hawk Attack" and "Dooms-Dayer" as the packaging states) on their helpless opponents. 

To this day, the WWF Hasbro line is still considered one of the best wrestling figure lines of all time. It had remarkable staying power, lasting 4 years until 1994, with a whopping 11 shipments! And today, they can sell for a ton of cash on the secondary market ("moon belly" Kamala anyone?). Plus, there's always a constant on going debate by toy and wrestling collectors on which WWF line was better--the LJN Wrestling Superstars or the Hasbros? Whatever your choice, there are no losers because both were awesome.


(Personalities Incorporated 1985)

While the Road Warriors had countless of pin-ups and pull out posters in wrestling magazines and programs, their very first professional mainstream poster was made in 1985. And it also remains their most popular. That's a big claim to make considering during their career, there were literally hundreds of Legion of Doom and Road Warriors posters produced over the years. But it's true, it's damn true because THIS poster of the fearsome Road Warriors with manager "Precious" Paul Ellering also made a small but memorable guest appearance in the background of the 1988 comedy movie Twins starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny Devito. For those who don't know, Twins was a huge box office success that still gets played on movie channels to this very day. So next time it comes on, take a moment to pause it and pay your respects to the greatest tag team of all time.

In this screen shot from the movie Twins (1988), you can clearly see the poster of the awesome Road Warriors and "Precious" Paul Ellering.


(Remco 1985-1986)

Tag Team pack with belts (released early-1985)
Tag Team pack without belts (released late-1985)
3 Man Tag Team pack (released late-1985)
First issue of the Battle Royal playset (released early-1985)

Re-released Paul Ellering on Mat Mania card (1986)

The AWA Remco action figure line tells the tale of AWA owner Verne Gagne and WWF owner Vince MacMahon. Both promoters were constantly battling each other on every front back in 1985 and 1986. Whether it was for ticket sales at their next big wrestling event, air time on television for their wrestling shows or for space on toy shelves for their products, these two would stop at nothing to crush the other. Vince had the biggest name in wrestling at the time with Hulk Hogan, who Verne previously had but lost to Vince just 2 years prior. Due to Hogan's immense popularity, Vince and his WWF organization was starting to become an unstoppable juggernaut. But Verne's newly acquired and current tag team champions, the Road Warriors were also making a huge name for themselves in such a short period of time.

Joining together with the toy company Remco, Verne beat Vince to the punch and released the very first wrestling action figures in the US with Remco's AWA Official All Star Wrestling line, beating out the LJN's WWF Wrestling Superstars line to toy shelves by just a few months. And Remco's biggest selling figures were...you guessed it...the Road Warriors! Yup, Verne put a lot of stock in the Road Warriors and best of all, Hawk and Animal looked the part of "action figure" just as much, if not more than Hulk Hogan did when it came to their bulging biceps and war paint. He also put a lot of stock in his current world champion Rick Martel, but it was the Road Warriors who were more commonly available in this line and came in two Tag Team packs (with belts and later in the year without them), a 3 man Tag Team pack with Paul Ellering and included in the first release of the AWA Battle Royal Playset. Paul Ellering also was re-released as a solo figure in the Mat Mania shipment that came out a year later in 1986. Not to mention, how much the Road Warriors appeared on Remco's accessory packaging (like the AWA Wrestling Ring and Steel Cage Playset) as well as them being the main focus on their advertisement campaign.

In the end, it didn't matter that Verne Gagne beat Vince McMahon to toy shelves because the AWA Remco line lasted only two years (1985-1986) in total before it fell into toy obscurity and the WWF LJN Wrestling Superstars line went on to unprecedented success until ending in 1989. But to Remco's credit, their Road Warrior figures remain the best ever produced of Hawk, Animal and Paul Ellering and they are always in high demand on the secondary market. Matter of fact, the entire Remco line is highly desired by collectors and can sell for insane prices. Plus, they still look great beating the crap out of your He-Man figures.


When "Real" Road Warrior Hawk collides with "Remco" Road Warrior Hawk.

Young fan with Road Warrior Hawk showing off his Remco AWA Road Warriors figures at a K Mart signing back in 1985.


(Self-Made 1983)

Wrestling magazine T-Shirt advertisement

Despite having literally hundreds of Road Warriors and Legion of Doom T-shirts made throughout their career, most people never knew that the Road Warriors actually started out producing and selling their very own T-shirt all by themselves. Yup, you heard that right. They made their own T-shirt starting in 1983 and sold them out of their van. They even advertised those shirts in the back of wrestling magazines in 1984 until the fall of 1985. When they entered the AWA and won the tag team championship a few months later on August 25, 1984 (on my 11th birthday if you can believe that), they added "AWA World Tag-Team Champions" under the red Road Warriors logo on those T-shirts. But by mid-1985, the Road Warriors stopped making these T-shirts as Verne Gagne started producing officially licensed AWA T-shirts that same year and included a variety of Road Warrior images on them and the rest is history. 

"AWA World Tag-Team Champions" variant from 1984


(Technōs 1991)

WWF Wrestlefest was a legendary video game that captured the true spirit of what wrestling was in the early 1990s.

The World Tag Team Champions of Wrestlefest!

"Mean" Gene Okerlund       : "It's time to fight with a powerful challenge."
Road Warrior Animal        : "Hehaha! We snack on danger, dine on death!"
Road Warrior Hawk          : "To bury every gerbil-faced geek we face. Raaaaaah!"

Road Warrior Animal

Road Warrior Hawk

When the LOD hit you with "The Doomsday Device" it was basically a wrap.

The greatest collectible of the Legion of Doom is also the greatest wrestling video game of all time--WWF Wrestlefest! This arcade game (which was the sequel to WWF Superstars that came out 2 years prior) took every other wrestling game of the day and blew it out of the water. It's a true video game classic that holds a distinct place in the arcade hall of fame and has been inspiring new wrestling video games ever since its debut in 1991. 

WWF Wrestlefest pulled no punches and adds support for up to 4 simultaneous players with its mega-enhanced 2-D graphics, play and sound that perfectly captured the look and feel of the WWF during the early 1990s. It boasted 10 playable superstars; Hulk Hogan, Ultimate Warrior, Big Boss Man, “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase, Earthquake, Mr. Perfect, Sgt. Slaughter, Jake “The Snake” Roberts and the Demolition: Smash and Crush. Each wrestler performed all their specific maneuvers including signature finishers and taunts. The grappling system was absolutely revolutionary for the time and mimicked a real wrestling match. While it functioned just like WWF Superstars with the Technōs side-scrolling “beat-em-up” style and button mashing at its finest, as the action progressed and wrestlers take damage, new moves became available. There were also voice samples, including pre-match introductions by WWF ring announcer Mike McGuirk, voiced cut scenes featuring “Mean” Gene Okerlund, the crowd cheering and booing for the baby faces and heels (the good wrestlers and bad wrestlers respectively), full match commentary and two different modes of gameplay: Saturday Night’s Main Event (Tag Match) and Royal Rumble (Battle Royal).

In the “Tag Match,” much like the pervious WWF Superstars, it’s a 1- or 2-player (simultaneous) game where a player picks a character and partner to compete in a series of tag team matches (including one match inside a steel cage) to fight for the tag team titles. This time the champions you face are the fearsome Legion of Doom: Hawk and Animal who possess their dreaded finisher "The Doomsday Device!" If you manage to defeat them you’ll go on to defend the tag team belts in another series of matches to face the Legion of Doom one more time to beat the game. Good luck. In the “Battle Royal” up to  4-players can play simultaneously in a fast-paced survival match where more wrestlers enter the ring once someone gets eliminated by pinfall, submission or being thrown over the ropes. If you can be the last man standing after every wrestler is eliminated, you win the match. There were a lot of wrestling videos games on the market back then, but they were all dwarfed in comparison to WWF Wrestlefest as it was a true anomaly and went on to be American Technōs’ best selling arcade game.

Whether you’re a rabid collector of Legion of Doom merchandise or a “classic” arcade console hoarder, a WWF Wrestlefest cabinet is a “holy grail” piece and always in high demand on the secondary market. Obtaining an original factory 4-player cabinet made directly from Technōs is a rare find indeed. Most WWF Wrestlefest cabinets available are conversion kits (refurbished cabinets of older games remade into newer ones). But regardless, this game will never loose its charm and will always be fun to play no matter how old it gets. And if there's anything that represents the Legion of Doom/Road Warriors when they were at their best, this is the item that does it and that's why it's easily considered their number 1 collectible ever. 

My daughter Bryn with our WWF Wrestlefest arcade cabinet.

Road Warrior Animal giving my daughter Bryn a promo after he signed my WWF WRESTLEFEST marquee for her back in 2016.

* Read all about WWF Wrestlefest here: 

* Read all about my adventure getting a WWF Wrestlefest cabinet here:




I had to add this section in this article because anyone who grew up on professional wrestling in the 1980s grew up on wrestling magazines. Since there was no internet back then, they were basically your only news source and information center of what was going on in the world of professional wrestling, especially the federations you could never see on your local television stations. PRO WRESTLING ILLUSTRATED, SPORTS REVIEW WRESTLING, INSIDE WRESTLING, WRESTLING'S MAIN EVENT, WRESTLING SUPERSTARS, and WWF MAGAZINE were just some of the more popular wrestling magazines on newsstands at the time. But all of them were on your want lists especially when the Road Warriors were on cover. They were so different from all the other wrestlers to appear in the magazines at the time that they caught the imagination of fans all around the world. At the time when they came on the scene and started to take the world by storm in 1983, only Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair graced more covers than the Road Warriors did during the decade of the '80s. These 4 covers that I listed here are probably their most legendary and iconic, especially the PRO WRESTLING ILLUSTRATED #42 from March of 1984, which was their first magazine cover ever.




ROOS (1990)

ZUBAZ (1990)



Hangin' and bangin' with Road Warrior Animal in Trumball, CT in 2016.
RIP big guy.

*Click the link to order Joe "Animal" Laurinaitis' autobiography:

Check out other Hero Envy "Top" Lists:

Top 50 Greatest Marvel Slugfests of All Time (1961-1999)
Top 10 Most Evil Villains in Comics

Top 10 Superhero Capes of All Time
Doctor Who: The Top 5 Greatest Doctors Ever

The Top 5 Greatest Feats of Strength of The Incredible Hulk