On Tuesday night WWE legend Joseph Laurinaitis—you may also have known him as Road Warrior Animal—died from natural causes. He was 60 years old.
TMZ reports that Laurinaitis died at the Tan-Tar-A-Resort in Osage Beach, Missouri. His wife had called police shortly before midnight but, when they arrived on scene, he was already declared dead by emergency personnel.
For most of his career in the WWE, one of several companies Laurinaitis wrestled for, he fought side-by-side with Michael Hegstrand (Road Warrior Hawk). The two started off together in Georgia Championship Wrestling back in 1983, and moved onto the American Wrestling Association and All Japan Pro Wrestling before coming to the WWE in 1990. Overall they did multiple stints in both the WWE and WCW.
Hegstrand died in 2003 from a heart attack.
As members of the WWE they combined to twice win the World Tag Team Title. Laurinaitis also won that championship with Jon Heidenreich (as part of the New Road Warriors) after Hegstrand's death. In 2011, Laurinaitis was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame as a member of the Road Warriors/Legion of Doom.
He had three children, one of whom (James) was a three-time All-American linebacker at Ohio State who went on to play eight seasons in the NFL with the Rams and Saints.
The WWE released a statement on the passing. “With their intimidating face paint, outfits covered in metal spikes and impressive array of power moves, the [Road Warriors] captured titles and destroyed opponents wherever they roamed,” it said. “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.”
Fellow wrestlers also shared their condolences via Twitter: