On September 23 I woke up and read a tweet from Hulk Hogan saying that Animal, one half of The Road Warriors, the most successful and influential tag team in wrestling history, had passed away. Considering he was only 60, I was shocked. Fans and wrestlers the world over reacted with an outpouring of respect and sadness for the loss of one of the all-time greats.
My earliest memories of wrestling are watching it in the early 1990s, back when Hulk Hogan, Ultimate Warrior, and “Macho Man” Randy Savage dominated the squared circle. It was a time of colorful characters with larger-than-life bodies and personas. One of the most dominant and charismatic tandems of this time was The Legion of Doom, also known as The Road Warriors: Hawk and Animal.
Road Warrior Hawk, who was my favorite member of The Legion of Doom, passed away in 2003. Like Eddie Guerrero, he overcame his demons and got his life back on track. However, the long-term damage he had done to his body with booze and drugs caught up with him.
Road Warrior Animal, on the other hand, appeared to be in good health and was an active part of the wrestling community year after year. He took part in the official WWE DVD about The Road Warriors, wrote an autobiography, and regularly appeared at conventions to take photos with fans and autograph memorabilia.
I was one of those fans, as I met Animal at Monster-Mania in Cherry Hill, NJ, in March 2015. He shook my hand, autographed my WWE Encyclopedia, and we took a photo together. He was very kind and gracious. Looking back on it now, I’m very grateful that I took the time to meet him. I didn’t realize it at the time, but he’s a native of Philadelphia. This city has a rich history when it comes to wrestling, so I’m proud to call Animal one of our own.
Animal is a true legend whose body of work will not be forgotten. It’s tragic that the day before his passing, he was celebrating an anniversary with his wife. There’s no way to rationalize how a vibrant, influential, and seemingly healthy life can be taken away from us within the span of 24 hours — but it can. So, please, meet your heroes. I’m glad I’ve met mine, and I will continue to do so for years to come. Rest in peace, Animal. Oh, what a rush.