Back in 1998, the WWF decided to reinvent legendary tag team The Legion of Doom (also known as The Road Warriors) by adding a third member — “Puke” — and sending classic member Hawk into a downward spiral of alcohol and substance abuse.
The problem with the angle, besides the absurdity of trying to do The Road Warriors with anyone but Hawk and Animal, is that the story too-closely mirrored Hawk’s real-life struggles, as too many pro wrestling drug abuse angles do. Maybe you remember Hawk getting drunk, threatening to kill himself on Raw and getting shoved off the TitanTron?
While Road Warrior Animal’s WWE career continued after the story — including another attempt at recreating the team without Hawk — he’s never been okay with what happened. In an interview with Wrestle Talk TV, Animal spoke about how the angle was disrespectful and in bad taste, which are probably the two nicest ways to say it.
“I thought it was low… I thought it was out of bad taste. That’s the thing with WWE, they think they can do whatever they want, and everyone’s going to like it. I thought it was disrespectful. Why would you damage the top tag team, and say he’s got a drug problem when it’s too close to home?
“I’m not a big believer in touching on things that are too close to home. There’s some things you have to have respect for and leave them aside. There’s a big respect backstage. It’s the office that causes friction. It was in bad taste.”
While the value of the line between reality and fantasy in pro wrestling has always been debatable — how are you supposed to “be yourself, turned up to 11” if you don’t actually be yourself? — it’s easy to agree that promotions should leave real-life life-or-death struggles at home. If your employee is being destroyed by drugs and alcohol, get them help. Don’t hand them a bottle, push them through the curtain and say “ENTERTAIN” with jazz hands. That disrespects everyone.
Check out his full comments below: