The world of professional wrestling suffered another loss today as Joe Laurinaitis, known to fans around the world as Road Warrior Animal, passed away.
The Laurinaitis family issued a small statement on Twitter, reading, “At this time, we would like to confirm the passing of Joseph Laurinaitis aka Road Warrior Animal at the age of 60. The family is planning to release a statement later today. At this time we ask for you to keep everyone in your thoughts and prayers. #OhWhatARush”
WWE, AEW, and the NWA also reacted quickly to the news. On social media, WWE wrote, “WWE is saddened to learn that Joe Laurinaitis, known to WWE fans as Road Warrior Animal, has passed away. WWE extends its condolences to Laurinaitis’ family, friends and fans.” The company also added a tribute to Animal on its WWE.COM website.
AEW wrote, “AEW and the wrestling world mourn the passing of the legendary Road Warrior Animal, our thoughts are with his family, his friends and his fans.” And the NWA, where Animal spent some of his best years, also issued a statement saying, “The NWA sends its deepest condolences to the family & friends of Animal. Animal was a pioneer in tag team wrestling winning the inaugural Crockett Cup w/his partner Hawk. He truly embodied the tradition of the sport. He was a dominant force in the ring & a gentleman outside it.”
Several of his former colleagues also paid tribute to the multi-time tag team champion on social media. Paul Ellering, who is inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame with Hawk and Animal as their manager, wrote, “Today we lost the engine of the train LOD. Animal was a partner, warrior, and friend. He will be welcomed home by a waiting Hawk.”
One person who feuded a lot with the Road Warriors was Ric Flair, who formed part of the Four Horsemen. “I am more than saddened to hear of the loss of my good friend and GREAT opponent Joe Laurinaitis of the legendary Road Warriors,” Flair wrote. “They were iconic! The Road Warriors and The Four Horsemen drew more money and had more fun and entertained fans worldwide at the highest level. RIP”
Triple H added, “The Road Warriors were a team who personified excitement, physicality, and the undeniable ability to energize the crowd. @StephMcMahon and I join the Superstars, legends, and our @WWE fans in offering our condolences to the Joe Laurinaitis’ family at this difficult time.”
Bully Ray, who makes part of another legendary tag team, wrote, “I’ve often been asked … ‘Who is the greatest Tag Team of All Time?’ The answer has always been the same. Rest in Power brother.”
Jim Ross said that he was shocked to hear of the passing of Animal. “An iconic figure in our business who I was looking forward to seeing this Saturday night in Jackson, Tennessee at the @JerryLawler celebration. Condolences to Joe’s family and friends,” Ross wrote. Lawler himself also wrote how it was terrible to wake up to this news this morning. “Praying for Joe’s wife and family.”
Eric Bischoff added that he was also stunned to hear the news while Mick Foley said that this is a huge loss for wrestling and an even bigger loss to the family he adored. “He treated me like an equal from the first time we met. His example of kindness and humility made a huge impression on me,” Foley wrote.
John “Bradshaw” Layfield wrote that The Road Warriors are the greatest tag team of all time and were often imitated, but never duplicated. “Loved both of them as friends and idolized both as the GOATs. RIP Animal-love you my brother, my condolences to everyone affected by this tragic loss.”