10 Things I Learned Watching Dark Side of the Ring: The Last Ride of The Road Warriors

Image Credit: (CBR.com)

One of my favorite parts about pro wrestling is a tag team match. A tag team match is basically a match between teams of wrestlers One of my favorite tag teams that ever stepped in the ring was The Road Warriors Animal and Hawk. They just looked so cool, had a fantastic finisher, and the gimmick just worked for the both of them.

So I watched Vice’s Dark Side of the Ring documentary on The Road Warriors and there are many things that I did not know about them. So, I thought why not give a list of the 10 things in this documentary that I learned while watching it.

10. The first time Hawk and Animal met

There have been many stories on how the road warriors met for the 1st time. Well Animal and Hawk met while both were working out at Jesse Ventura’s gym in Minnesota. Minnesota has a long list of wrestlers who come from that area too. Both were working out and while lifting weights Hawk actually slapped him and said he should lift more weight. Which I guess is kind of motivational, but weird in a way. So Hawk and Animal would become close friends after this and eventually became partners in the ring.

9. The Road Warriors worked as bouncers at a bar and were helping there boss in drugs deals.

Of course, it was just perfect for both Hawk and Animal to work at a bar. Especially as both had a big reputation in wrestling to love beating people up. According to one of Hawk’s brothers, he only took the job not only to pay the bills, but just to beat people up.

One story Animal told was how there boss at the bar was also involved with dealing drugs. He needed some help with some of his customers not paying him back. So Hawk and Animal found them and would beat them up telling them that they got to pay. It got so severe that they brought one guy to a bridge and were threatening to throw him off the bridge, unless he paid there bosses.

The craziest part was taking this position got attraction from the bartender Eddie Sharkey. Sharkey is one of the top wrestling trainers in Minnesota and was about to open his wrestling school. Seeing how Hawk along with Animal beat up people, he thought they would be perfect.

8. Hawk and Animal almost quit wrestling there first few years in the business.

This was during the early years if there wrestling careers. But case in point the work was hard, and the pay was terrible. Animal at the time was starting a family and had a child on the way. He needed to make money with more mouths to feed. In the documentary he admitted that he made more money bouncing at a bar then wrestling a match. Hawk was wrestling in Vancouver and he just did not like it there, so he moved back to Minnesota.

The only reason why they did not leave the business, was that Ole Anderson one of the bookers came to Minnesota. He was speaking to Eddie Sharkey and Anderson saw a photo of Hawk. One of the funniest parts of the documentary was that Anderson after seeing the picture said “There’s two of these guys?!?!” I would have loved to have seen his reaction and see the dollar signs pop out. So of course he got in contact with both of them and they worked as a tag team at Ole Anderson’s wrestling promotion. I think it is safe to say they made the right choice staying in the wrestling business.

7. The story behind their hairstyle

One of my favorite parts about The Road Warriors was that they just looked so cool. The face-paint and shoulder pads made them stand out, but the hair for me was so cool. I honestly never knew the backstory of how the hairstyle came to be. Apparently it was Road Warrior Hawk’s idea and he wanted Animal to shave his head into a mohawk. Where Hawk would shave his head into a double mohawk. Hawk thought it would be cool if they would combined it together it would form into one full head of hair, thus making them stand out. Hawk is a freaking genius because, that hairstyle obviously made them stand out from the industry.

6. They would apologize to jobbers at the beginning of their matches.

Earlier, I stated that the Road Warriors were known to have a big reputation in wrestling to like beating people up in real life. Especially when it came to jobbers. A jobber is a performer comes in a promotion to get defeated routinely by rising stars that are being elevated to the top of the card. They are only there to do a simple job and that is of course to loose.

When the Road Warriors would face jobbers, Hawk would actually apologize to them before the match begins. Why would he do this you ask? Well they just loved to beat people up. Apparently they had a strict no hitting in the nuts or face hard policy and that is how they were able to do this through there careers. Which I guess makes sense, but looking at the clotheslines they gave during the match, they were very stiff.

5. Why they were called The Legion of Doom in WWF/WWE

Growing up I use to love watching old videos of the Road Warriors wrestle everywhere. When they went to WWF/WWE, they called the Legion of Doom instead of the Road Warriors. According to Animal, Vince McMahon thought there would have been too many wrestlers that had the name warrior. Especially as The Ultimate Warrior’s was super success and the company also signing Kerry Von Erich who was once called The Modern Day Warrior. It sounds strange as in WWF/WWE Kerry Von Erich would never go by that name and was mainly called The Texas Tornado. I honestly believe that Vince wanted to have a different creative spin on them so that could stand out on his promotion, which I honestly don’t blame him.

So, Animal came up with the Legion of Doom name and he got it from the He-Man cartoons. Mainly because Hawk was a huge fan and would talk about them a lot while they were on the road. The Legion of Doom is a fantastic name for them and it just worked with there characters.

4. Hawk lived his life on the edge.

One thing that was very clear is how different Hawk and Animal were from each other. Road Warrior Animal was the guy who wanted to relax and chill. Which was not a surprise as Animal was a family man. In the case of Hawk he was the polar opposite and was a big party animal.

Hawk partied almost every night and was always hanging out with the wrong crew. In Japan there was a story where he kept hanging out with the Yakuza (Japanese mafia) and would come home with stacks of bills.

Hawk loved to drink alcohol Vodka on the rocks and take muscle relaxers at the same time. Which is never a good idea for anyone to do at all. It was getting worse especially when the Road Warriors joined WWE/WWF. (We will get to that later)

Something crazy was that Hawk was doing so much in regards too partying and doing drugs, that the guy even got Hepatitis C.  Hawk was rushed to the emergency room many times due to drug overdoses. He also was involved in a very bad car accident as well. Apparently, he had a head-on collision with an 18-wheeler, the truck rolled 6 times, he wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, and just walked away. I mean crazy that he would just walk away from an accident like this.

3. Hawk was under the influence of drugs during there SummerSlam 1992 match

As I said earlier Hawks drug addictions were getting worse and he was failing multiple different drug tests with the company. Which annoyed both Animal and Vince, but the moment where it all blew up was in SummerSlam 1992.

SummerSlam 1992 is one of if not the best SummerSlam in WWE history. It was the first time a major PPV took place in London, England. The Road Warriors were super over especially in the international market. At one point they were originally booked to compete for the Tag Team Championships and win them. That did not happen as Hawk showed up to the arena intoxicated and heavily annoyed Vince by constantly interrupting him. Which is never a good idea to do that with your boss, unless you want to loose your job.

Hawk apparently took a lot of placidyls which made him hallucinogenic and he could barley stand or walk. Going back and watching Money Inc. (Million Dollar Man and Irwin R. Schyster) vs The Road Warriors in that SummerSlam match, you can tell Hawk was in no shape to perform. When they made there entrance on motorcycles, it is a miracle that Hawk did not crash that bike. Everything changed, including the finish of that match as the Road Warriors could not do there finisher due to fear Hawk would fall off the top rope.

Once the match was over Animal was angry as he knew yet another suspension was coming. Hawk would eventually quit the company soon after the event. Hawk would go to Japan and steal the gimmick, where Animal would stay in WWE and part ways properly. Animal left on good terms with WWE which honestly helped when they returned to the company during the Attitude Era.

2. Hawk Almost Died in Australia in 2000

Once there second tenure in the WWE was over, The Road Warriors went back on the independent scene where they wrestled all around the world. One location was in Australia which Animal admitted was a bad idea as it was easy to get drugs over the counter. With Hawk’s problems apparently he was doing so much drugs it kept him up for 2 days and his heart was about to explode. Hawk was found passed out and was immediately taken straight to the hospital as they feared he was going to die. Hawk while in the Hospital called Animal and wanted to get him to check him out and bring him back to America. So Animal checked him out, brought him to America and cut ties saying that he was on his own.

1. Hawk turned his life around in his final years.

With all of his issues with drugs during the final years of his life he actually cleaned his life up. Well it started when Animal saw The Christian Power Team which impressed him and he along with Nikita Koloff invited Hawk. Well Hawk was the first one to walk to the alter and wanted to give himself to the lord. Hawk later that week got baptized and cleaned himself up. Hawk even eventually got married and they played a clip on how his motivation in wrestling is different. I loved one of Hawks quotes where he told many “God has nine lives, but he gave me ten to give my life to Jesus”.

Hawk clearly changed for the better, unfortunately due to the years of substance abuse issues he passed away on October 19, 2003 at the age of 46. His cause of death was due to a sudden heart attack. In the wrestling business a lot of wrestlers die at a younger age and a lot of the contributing factors is the substance abuse issues. Hawk was just another statistic as his heart just gave out due to many years of that substance abuse.

My thoughts on the documentary

I thought this was a pretty good documentary about The Road Warriors. It mainly focused on the fall of Road Warrior Hawk, which did not surprise me knowing the title of the documentary series was Dark Side of the Ring. I strongly recommend that you watch this episode as I learned a lot about the Road Warriors. Go check out the rest of there episodes as they are many well made documentaries.

As for the MVP of this documentary I have to go with Road Warrior Animal. Animal provided a great insight on to Hawk as of course he spent a large portion of his life with him. Sadly this would be last time Animal would be interviewed. Road Warrior Animal passed away a few months after this documentary premiered on Vice. In fact today is the 2 year anniversary of Road Warrior Animal’s death as he died on September 22nd, 2020. Rest in Peace Road Warrior Animal and Hawk.

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