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Nastier than average
Road Warriors hitting stride

By DOUG LUNNEY -- Winnipeg Sun

 If you ever dropped in for a beer at Gramma B's in Minneapolis in the early 1980s, you were wise to behave.

 The bar had five bouncers who were a tad larger and nastier than your average fellas.

 There was Joe Laurinaitis and Michael Hegstrand, who would soon go on to world-wide pro wrestling fame as the Road Warriors. Joining the two monsters were three other future rasslers named Richard Rood (ring name Rick Rude), Barry Darsow (Smash from Demolition) and John Nord (The Berzerker).

 "Nobody messed around in that bar," Laurinaitis recalled with a chuckle in a telephone interview from his Minneapolis home. "We got a lot of respect in that area.

 "We all worked out together at Jesse Ventura's gym."

 In 1983, Laurinaitis and Hegstrand, better known as Animal and Hawk, respectively, formed what has become the longest-running tag team in the history of the business.

 Also called the Legion Of Doom, the duo will headline Premier Championship Wrestling's Boiling Point show tomorrow at CanWest Global Park.

 Laurinaitis and Hegstrand have been friends since they were eight years old. Both were originally from Chicago, but each of their families moved to Minneapolis when they were growing up.

 By 1984, they ruled Vern Gagne's American Wrestling Association, which had Winnipeg as one of its hottest locations.

 "Winnipeg is one of the better wrestling venues around and it's always been a very good spot for us, whether it was the NWA, the AWA or whoever we showed up there for," Laurinaitis said. "We're looking forward to coming back for the fans."

 The former World Wrestling Federation stars have more recently been working in the United Kingdom, Japan and Taiwan. The key to their longevity is they have remained injury free for the most part, and haven't "burnt out" by staying in the same territory too long, Laurinaitis said.

 "What a lot of people don't realize is people like Sting, Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair didn't get their break in this business until the latter part of their 20s, where Hawk and I were 20 and 21 years old," he said.

 "People say 'You've been around a long time.' Yeah, sure, but I'm still almost 15 years younger than Flair (who's 52) and the same with Hogan. Hawk and I are probably in better shape than most 20 year olds.

 "We'll definitely give the people in Winnipeg a good match."

More on the Road Warriors




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