On episode 32 of Confessions Of The Hitman, two-time WWE Hall Of Famer Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart talked about the passing of his close personal friend, the late, great Joe Laurinaitis, also known as Road Warrior Animal. Specifically, Hart discussed what Animal was like as a person, and his surprise at Animal’s unexpected death. Hart talked about Road Warrior Hawk’s personal demons and how Hawk was unable to perform in the one match between The Hart Foundation and The Legion Of Doom.
According to Hart, Road Warrior Animal was a wonderful human being who no one disliked.
“[Animal] was a great guy,” Hart recalled. “I think he was really appreciated by everybody that knew him. I don’t know of anybody that ever had a bad thing about him. He was always a total pro. He was just an all around good guy, and it’s just a shame.”
On the subject of Animal’s untimely passing, Hart was pleased that at least the big man did not die from drug addiction or suicide, a sad story we hear too often in the genre of professional wrestling.
“I’m glad in the sense that he left on his own terms. Like, it was just his time. In wrestling, there’s so many wrestlers that have died from overdoses, drug problems, and suicides. It’s never good to hear about someone like Joe passing away.” Hart noted, “at least it was just his time was up, I guess.”
During the show, Hart expressed his gratitude that he was able to visit with Animal last year. ‘The Hitman’ acknowledged that he was shocked by the passing of Animal, especially given that he seemed to be in great health and good spirits when they met.
“I saw him last year in Anchorage, Alaska and we had such a good talk,” Hart remembered. “I’m so glad that I went to Anchorage and actually saw him. He was one of the only other wrestlers that I knew there, and we talked at length about how many wrestlers are gone, how many had died, and that we were the last of a dying breed, or our generation was pretty much cleaned out in a lot of ways. And I remember talking to him – he seemed like a guy who was in great health who had nothing but a long, healthy life in front of him. Joe was always a careful guy. He was not a guy that was a heavy drinker or a party guy. He was a guy who was always in pretty good shape, and took good care of himself, and was a good family man. He was a good man in all ways, and talking to him, I never would have believed that. It shocked me when I heard the news. Like, he was so happy with his life.”
While Animal was a straight-laced family man, his tag team partner, Hawk, was a hothead who frequently got the duo fired from jobs.
“[Animal] did tell me, he goes, ‘people don’t realize that Hawk was the loose cannon on the team and screwed up all the time’ and got them fired all the time, but it was never anything Joe did. And that’s so true, and nobody ever thinks much of Animal, that he had so much at stake all the time, from a mortgage on his house and things like that, and Hawk goes nuts and blows all his money on drugs and coke, and parties, and misses towns.” Hart continued, “Joe was such a straight guy, and he was always a good brother to Hawk.”
Apparently, The Hart Foundation and Legion Of Doom were given one opportunity to work a match together for the sake of posterity. Unfortunately, Hawk took a handful of sleeping pills before the match.
“The Road Warriors, or Legion Of Doom, were one of the greatest – and in some ways you could say the greatest – tag team of all time. I don’t know of anybody that was bigger than them. It always kind of bothered me that we did in fact have one match with The Road Warriors, or The Legion Of Doom, and it was an iconic situation because I knew I was splitting off from Jim [Neidhart] and I was going singles and it was going to be the end of The Hart Foundation. We weren’t going to exist anymore in a few months.
“And The Road Warriors, actually, I’ll call them Legion Of Doom because that’s what they were in the WWE. We had one match, and I remember they came in and said, ‘okay, you’re working one match for Coliseum Video just for a piece of history, just to lock it in. It’s a special match for you guys to go out and have one, just to say you had one.’ And we were all so excited. I was really excited about the match, and so was Jim, and so was Joe, and Hawk was excited. And I’ll never understand – Hawk was always just one of those self-destructive guys.
“Before we went out to the ring, he took a bunch of Placidyls, or pills, and he was totally just a trainwreck.” Hart added, “and it’s a testimony to Joe, me, and Jim ‘The Anvil’ that we had that match. And if you watch it, it’s still actually a pretty good match. It’s still the same match that we planned out, except one guy is half asleep all the way through the match!”
Hart was “disappointed” following the match because Hawk squandered the only chance the two tag teams had to work together.
“I was so disappointed because it meant so much for us to have a match with them,” Hart admitted. “And I know that Joe and Hawk both really loved me and Jim. They really wanted to have a great match with us. I just will never know why Hawk did what he did. He really ruined something that was for us. It’s still a pretty good match on TV though if you watch it, especially if you know that one guy is completely out of it on about 10 Placidyls.”
As the story goes, Hawk was thrilled about working The Hart Foundation years later at WWE In Your House 16: Calgary Stampede, as it was his way to redeem himself.
“The funny thing about Hawk and going back to that story is that when I came back and we had the show here in Calgary [Canada], the big In Your House pay-per-view with the Stampede Showdown or whatever it was, where The Hart Foundation took on [Goldust], ‘Stone Cold’ [Steve Austin], The Road Warriors, and Ken Shamrock – that’s the five guys that we took on. And I can remember Hawk was so excited, he goes, ‘this is going to be the match to make up for the one I screwed up a long time ago.’ He was so excited about that match, and it was kind of like a chance to go in there and redeem himself. He did, and they all worked really hard.” Hart said, “it was a fun experience, that whole Stampede pay-per-view.”
Subscribed to Confessions Of The Hitman here. If you use any of the quotations from this article, please credit Confessions Of The Hitman with an H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Have a news tip or correction? Send it to [email protected]