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Joseph Laurinaitis, WWE’s Road Warrior Animal, dies at 60

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Joseph Laurinaitis, the WWE Hall of Famer known as Road Warrior Animal, has died. He was 60.

Joseph Laurinaitis, the WWE Hall of Famer known as Road Warrior Animal, has died. He was 60.

Laurinaitis’ verified Twitter account confirmed his death Wednesday morning. No cause of death has been given. A statement from his family is expected later in the day.

The Chicago-born Laurinaitis paired with Michael Hegstrand, a.k.a. Road Warrior Hawk, in the 1980s to form the legendary tag team known as the Road Warriors and Legion of Doom.

“One of the most intense Superstars to ever step into the squared circle, the 6-foot-2, 300-pound Animal spent most of his career alongside his tag team partner, Hawk,” WWE said in a statement Wednesday morning. “Together, they formed what was arguably the most successful, popular and feared tandem of all time — The Road Warriors.”

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The duo won tag team titles in the National Wrestling Alliance and the American Wrestling Assn. before doing the same in WWE in 1991 and 1997. After Hegstrand died of a heart attack in 2003, Laurinaitis won a final WWE tag team title with Jon Heidenreich in 2005 and dedicated the win to his late partner.

Laurinaitis and Hegstrand were inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2011.

“With their intimidating face paint, outfits covered in metal spikes and impressive array of power moves, the duo captured titles and destroyed opponents wherever they roamed,” the WWE said Wednesday. “Their dominance made them so popular that the phrase ‘Road Warrior pop’ has been used in locker rooms to describe particularly deafening reactions from the crowd ever since.”

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His son James was a star linebacker at Ohio State, where he was a three-time All-American and two-time Big Ten defensive player of the year. He was selected by the Rams in the second round of the 2009 draft and spent eight years in the NFL.

Fans of Ohio State linebacker James Laurinaitis dress like his father, pro wrestler Joseph Laurinaitis
Fans of Ohio State linebacker James Laurinaitis dress like his father, pro wrestler Joseph Laurinaitis, for a game against Penn State on Sept. 23, 2006.
(Kiichiro Sato / Associated Press)

The wrestling world paid tribute to the late superstar Wednesday on social media.

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