AS I SEE IT: The Road Warriors book

Bob Magee
Pro Wrestling: Between the Sheets

Book review time again..

This time, Road Warrior Animal’s “The Road Warriors: Danger, Death and the Rush of Wrestling”.

We read the story of Joe Laurinaitis from his childhood days in Philadelphia to his first days in Minnesota; and his frst days as a powerlifter and bar bouncer

It details how Animal met the two men most identified with him, Mike “Road Warrior Hawk” Hegstrand and their exploits as monstrous bouncers for a place called “Gramma B’s” and “Precious” Paul Ellering; as well as the many men he knew from Minnesota who made their way to professional wrestling who were his bouncing and road buddies; including Rick Rude, Scott “Nikita Koloff” Simpson, Barry Darsow, Scott Norton, and John Nord.

He talks about his first days at Eddie Sharkey’s school in the basement of a south Minneapolis church, how stark the training atmosphere was, and makes no bones about how raw and green Hawk and Animal were at the beginning, including their first push by Ole Anderson down in Georgia Championship Wrestling.

The well-known careers of the Road Warriors are outlined, with stories of the LOD’s most well-known matches; including The Night of the Skywalkers with the Midnight Express (I still remember the watermelon being dropped off the scaffold to indicate what was going to happen to Jim Cornette), the first War Games (again, look on You Tube for the killer promo for the building of the cage), their tag team title victories in NWA/WCW, AWA and WWF, as well as their time in Japan with Tsuruta and Tenryu.

While it’s not as 100% kayfabe-free as Chris Jericho‘s book (OK, maybe 90%), there’s no sugarcoating here. The steroid use of the day is openly acknowledged from the first pages (Animal discusses being introduced to Dianabol); the hard post-show partying of the day, as is the later drug abuse of Road Warrior Hawk, and the problems it caused in later years for Hawk and overall for the Road Warriors careers.

The book begins with a foreword by “Precious” Paul Ellering, and concludes with comments on the LOD by Ric Flair, Bret Hart, Rob Van Dam, Jim Ross, Nikita Koloff, Larry Zbyszko, and Sean Waltman.

The book is well worth buying by readers and for those of us of a certain age, is a welcome trip down memory lane.

To conclude, a reminder about three killer shows at the ECW Arena….first, the return of Germany’s Westside Xtreme Wrestling, Combat Zone Wrestling’s tenth annual Best of The Best tournament, and CHIKARA Pro Wrestling’s King of Trios all in April; then concluding with the historic May debut of New Japan Pro Wrestling here in Philadelphia. Thing start off on April 9 with an ECW Arena doubleheader, where Germany’s Westside Xtreme Wrestling makes its United States return in an afternoon show to start at 2:30 pm. Westside Xtreme Wrestling debuted in Philadelphia last March, with their “Vision” event featuring a brutal main event of wXw’s Thumbtack Jack and Drake Younger and dream matches including Alex Shelley vs. Chris Hero and wXw Tag champions Switchblade Conspiracy defending against The American Wolves.

In the main event, Japan Deathmatch Icon Jun Kasai takes on the “Golden Boy” Drake Younger! This match is the most anticipated by all fans of Hardcore Wrestling….and they will collide in a No Ropes Barbed Wired Match! So many legendary Barbed Wire Matches have been seen by Arena fans, but “Kasai vs. Drake” will open a new chapter of violence. To balance things, technical wrestling fans will see Zack Sabre, Jr. and Emil Sitoci, who holds victories over Japanese top cruiserweights CIMA, Taiji Ishimori and Yoshinobu Kanemaru. Last June, Sabre beat Steve Douglas to unify the wXw lightweight and heavyweight titles to win wXw’s first “Unified World Championship”, a title eventually lost to the massive Austrian Big van Walter. Elsewhere on the show, Big van Walter and Sami Callihan will also be in action. Visit Westside Xtreme Wrestling’s United States site for the latest news and ticket information on wXw’s U.S. return! Early purchases of fronyt row tickets are available via e-mail [email protected] with the topic “wXw Philadelphia First Row”.

That evening, Combat Zone Wrestling presents the tenth annual “Best of The Best” tournament, with a scheduled 7:30 pm belltime. Early participants announced are wXw’s Zack Sabre, Jr., Big Japan Wrestling’s Deisuke Sekimoto, Dragon Gate USA’s Chuck Taylor, CHIKARA’s Johnny Gargano, CZW’s (Gran) Akuma and Sami Callihan. Along with the Best of the Best tournament, a Dream Death Match will take place with the CZW return of “Crazy Monkey’ Jun Kasai. Tickets will be available through the CZW Pro Shop at this link.

The very next week, CHIKARA Pro Wrestling comes to the world’s most famous Bingo Hall for King of Trios 2011 on April 15-17. Belltimes are 7:30 pm on Friday and Saturday and 4:30 pm on Sunday for the finals. Michinoku Pro’s Great Sasuke, Dick Togo, and Jensei Shinzaki (aka Hakushi), F.I.S.T, The Colony, The Osirian Portal, The Throwbacks, Da Soul Touchaz, the trio of Mike Quakenbush, Jigsaw, and Japanese legend Manami Toyota; Kizarny and the Batiri, Tim Donst and two of his fellow BDK members, and a trio from Australia’s IHPW (Percy, Kabel, and Tama Williams) have been announced. Saturday afternoon will feature the fourth annual Fan Conclave at 2:30 pm priopr to showtime. Tickets for this year’s Fan Conclave are $10 (free to those buying tickets for all three nights) . Along with wrestler autographs and gimmick sales, Stan Bush (who has the official song of King of Trios 2011) will be performing a concert during the Fan Conclave. Tickets for all events are available NOW at the CHIKARA store.

Finally, on May 15, New Japan Pro Wrestling debuts at the ECW Arena with a full lineup including 2010 Super J Tag League winners Jado and Gedo, Japanese legend Jushin “Thunder” Liger, IWGP Heavyweight Champion Hiroshi Tanahashi, 2010 G1 Climax tournament winner Satoshi Kojima, Tiger Mask IV, Shinsuke Nakamura, Ryusuke Taguchi, Kazuchika Okada, Giant Bernard, Karl “Machine Guns” Anderson, Prince Devitt, Kenny Omega, Yujiro Takahashi, Tetsuya Naito, Mitsuhide Hirasawa, Togi Makabe, Toru Yano, and new addition MVP. Fair warning: tickets are not cheap, plus there is a $4 convenience fee for tickets purchased through the website. Tickets are Gold (Row 2/3) $65, Blue (row 4/5) $45 Red (GA) $25 and can be ordered at this site. Fans that purchase a GOLD ticket will receive a special meet and greet with NJPW Superstars at 2:30pm before the doors open, as well as, a commemorative ticket and DVD gift (redeemable with ticket the night of the show).

Until next time…

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