Rock Star Gary reflects on the Road Warriors: The Greatest Matches

To honor the passing of Road Warrior Animal, I will deviate from the hijinks of the UWF and the steamroller that was WCCW from 1985 and devote this week’s reflection to the team whom I believe was the greatest tag team of all time.

Yes, that title can be argued as there were many a tag team that could hold that distinction. For example, the Midnight Express are not far behind the Road Warriors due to their accomplishments. However, the Road Warriors hold one distinction over them and other tag teams.

They won the AWA, NWA and WWF tag team titles.

To accomplish this feat, the Road Warriors not only traveled the world but were also known for many things. The main reason for their success was their ability to sell tickets on their name alone.

While I could offer some of their best matches such as WarGames, the scaffold match at Starrcade ’86, their battle with the Horsemen at Starrcade ’87, Freebirds, or the final match of the 1986 Jim Crockett Sr. Memorial Cup, I want to show my gratitude to a team that won the most prestigious titles in the three biggest promotions in the 1980s.

Match 1 for the AWA World tag team titles: The Crusher & Baron Von Raschke (champions) versus the Road Warriors (w/ “Precious” Paul Ellering)

Highlights:

  • This match took place on August 25, 1984 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
  • When the match began, a four-way brawl erupted.
  • Since Crusher and Raschke were babyfaces, they cleared the ring of those evil Road Warriors.
  • Raschke hip-tossed him and threatened the claw, but Animal sought refuge on the apron to escape.
  • As Hawk tagged in, he bowled over Raschke before being threatened with the claw as well.
  • Crusher tagged in and supplied Hawk with a back elbow.
  • After he suplexed Hawk, Crusher got 2.
  • Animal tagged in, but Crusher thwarted a back drop attempt.
  • While Raschke tagged in, he goose-stepped toward Animal, gave him a cross corner whip, but ate a knee to the midsection on his follow-through.
  • Hawk tagged in, slammed Raschke, and followed with a flying fist drop for 2.
  • When Animal tagged in, he baited Crusher into the ring to distract the referee.
  • He then stomped the bejeezus out of Raschke. SNEAKY!
  • As Animal distracted the referee, Hawk took liberties with Raschke. How dastardly!
  • Animal slammed Raschke, delivered an elbow drop, and got 2.
  • After Animal distracted the referee again, Hawk gave Raschke the business with the tag rope in the heel corner. Nefarious!
  • Hawk tagged in and nailed Raschke on top of his head.
  • Unfortunately for Hawk, that only served to anger Raschke who no-sold Hawk’s assault.
  • A mid-ring collision occurred, Animal tagged in, and he provided Raschke with a knee lift.
  • While Animal gave Raschke a cross corner whip, he ate a mule kick on his follow-through.
  • Hot tag Crusher.
  • When Crusher placed a knee into Animal’s midsection, he walloped Animal for 2.
  • Raschke tagged in and backdropped Animal.
  • As Raschke applied the claw, Hawk attempted to break the hold, but Crusher cut him off at the pass.
  • Ellering then got up on the apron to distract the referee, so Hawk mounted the second turnbuckle.
  • After the Warriors executed a prototype version of the Doomsday Device, Hawk pinned Raschke at 11:08.
  • Cena, go away, this isn’t your moment of glory.
  • WE HAVE NEW CHAMPIONS!

Rating: **½

Summary: This match occurred very early in the Road Warriors’ career as the veterans walked them through the match. Also, it was intriguing to see the Warriors using heel tactics and not playing to the fans. For those who are fans of Crusher, he did NOT leave his feet as he was too tough.

Match 2 for the NWA World tag team titles: The Midnight Express (champions w/ Jim Cornette) versus the Road Warriors (w/ “Precious” Paul Ellering)

Highlights:

  • This match took place on October 29, 1988 in New Orleans.
  • During the introductions, Ellering attacked Cornette, and Hawk made Eaton HIT THE POLE twice.
  • Eaton was BUSTED OPEN!
  • As Lane supplied Animal with a savate kick to the midsection, Hawk mugged Eaton on the concrete floor.
  • Hawk tagged in, but Lane subdued him with a spin kick.
  • When Ellering jumped on the apron to distract the referee, the Warriors attempted to double-team Lane.
  • On the other hand, Cornette tripped Animal coming off the ropes.
  • With Eaton still down outside the ring, Hawk tagged in, and the Warriors demolished Lane with a Hart Attack.
  • Hawk then powerslammed Lane and followed with a flying fist drop.
  • After Animal tagged in, the Warriors provided Lane with a double back elbow.
  • Animal then delivered a series of elbow drops to Lane while a courageous Eaton barely made his way to the champions’ corner.
  • Next, Hawk tagged in, mounted the second turnbuckle, and lowered the boom onto Lane.
  • Meanwhile, a weakened Eaton spilled from the corner down to the concrete floor.
  • Animal tagged in and hit a flying shoulder block to Lane.
  • While a bloodied Eaton tagged in, he cleaned house with the challengers.
  • He then scored with a swinging neckbreaker to Hawk, gave Animal a cross corner whip, but got ANNIHILATED by an Animal clothesline.
  • 1-2-3.
  • The Warriors won at 4:44.
  • WE HAVE NEW CHAMPIONS!

Rating: ***

Summary: The story being told in this match dealt with the Warriors being on the verge of a heel turn and playing the heels in this match. To demonstrate their devilishness, they decimated Eaton so that they could dominate Lane during the match. Although Eaton made a valiant comeback, too much starch had been taken from him, and the Warriors prevailed.

After the match, the Warriors celebrate, and Hawk bashes Eaton’s head in further with the tag belt.

Back at Techwood studios in Atlanta, David Crockett interviews the NEW NWA World tag team champions. While Animal is “tired” of Dusty Rhodes’ and Barry Windham’s calling upon the Road Warriors for their help, he makes an open challenge to anyone who’s man enough to face them. Hawk is “reaping (the) benefits” of becoming World champions. To cement the heel turn, Ellering namedrops IBM and General Motors as he believes the bottom line to “any business is money” instead of friendship.

Match 3 for the WWF tag team titles (no DQ/no countout): The Nasty Boys (w/ Jimmy Hart) versus the Road Warriors (w/o “Precious” Paul Ellering

Highlights:

  • This match took place on August 26, 1991 in New York City.
  • When the match began, the Warriors ambushed the champions.
  • Hawk then leaped from the apron and SOCKED Sags.
  • As Animal powerbombed Knobbs, he got 2.
  • Hawk then delivered an enziguri to Sags and followed with a flying shoulder block for 2.
  • After Animal distracted referee Joey Marella, Hart tossed some mace to Sags who blinded Hawk with it. Notorious!
  • Outside the ring, Sags grabbed a cooler of drinks and bashed Hawk in the back with it.
  • Knobbs tagged in, and the Nasty Boys hit a double boot to Hawk’s midsection.
  • While Knobbs baited Animal into distracting Marella again, the Nasty Boys provided some prison justice to Hawk in their corner. Heinous!
  • Knobbs then kept Marella at bay, and Sags rammed Hawk face-first into the steps.
  • When Sags tagged in, Knobbs leaped from the apron and crushed Hawk with a double axe handle.
  • Knobbs tagged in and bestowed his best back elbow to Hawk.
  • As Hawk received a cross corner whip, Sags whipped Knobbs into him.
  • Sags tagged in, mounted the top turnbuckle, and delivered a flying elbow drop for 2.
  • After Knobbs mounted the second turnbuckle, he inadvertently shot himself directly into a boot by Hawk.
  • Hot tag Animal.
  • While Animal cleaned house, he powerslammed Knobbs for 1.
  • Sags tossed Hawk down to the floor, and Marella checked on Hawk’s condition.
  • In the meantime, Hart tossed his helmet to Sags who CREAMED Animal with it.
  • Knobbs then landed an elbow drop for 2.
  • When Hawk caused Hart to start singing some Memphis blues, he secured Hart’s helmet.
  • Hawk then LAMBASTED Knobbs with it.
  • As Animal reversed an Irish whip, Hawk CROWNED Sags with the helmet.
  • The Warriors then launched a Doomsday Device upon Sags.
  • 1-2-3.
  • The Warriors won at 7:45.
  • WE HAVE NEW CHAMPIONS!

Rating: ***½

Summary: With disqualifications waived, Hart’s helmet acted as the necessary fuel for the Warriors to extricate the titles from the Nasty Boys. With this victory, the Warriors became legendary.

Conclusion:  If you truly enjoy tag team wrestling, the 1980s showcase a number of teams with immense talent and style (e.g. Steiners, Hart Foundation, British Bulldogs). But only one tag team can claim to be the best, and they would never back down from a challenge for that title. That team was, is, and always will be the Road Warriors.

RIP Road Warrior Hawk (1957-2003)

RIP Road Warrior Animal (1960-2020)

If you would like for me to showcase more matches by the Road Warriors, shoot me a comment or an email.

Stay tuned for WCCW 03-09-85!

Comments? Suggestions? Send them to me at [email protected] and follow me on Twitter (@rockstargary202). Also, please check out all of my reflections at rockstargary.com including Herb Abrams’ UWF.