|MICHAEL HEGSTRAND / ROAD WARRIOR HAWK
Michael Hegstrand, professionally known as Hawk, died on October 19, 2003 from an apparent heart condition. He was 45 years old. Hegstrand, with longtime friend Joe Laurinaitis (professionally known as Animal), formed The Road Warriors, one of the most celebrated and influential tag teams in the history of professional wrestling.
There is hardly a way to describe the impact The Road Warriors had on professional wrestling. In terms of tag team wrestling, they became the most emulated wrestlers in modern history. The Road Warriors burst on to the scene in 1983 wearing
mowhawks, dog collars and face paint. They were muscular brutes who seemed impervious to pain. Indeed, they were like a modern version of Bruiser and Crusher. Their interview style was vicious, yet charismatic and a bit humorous. For years tag teams have tried to emulate them, but none have ever come close to matching their unique style.
The Road Warriors wrestled across the globe, capturing many regional titles, the IWGP Tag team titles, as well as every American version of the World Tag Team titles (WWF, NWA and AWA) – a feat that no other tag team can claim.
Several years ago Hegstrand developed Cardiomyopathy, a heart condition that kept him out of wrestling for a short while. He was able to overcome its effects and still manage to keep a regular working schedule – a testament to his will and courage. He recently became a born-again Christian and appeared at many of the wrestling/religion events run by Ted DiBiase.
The Cauliflower Alley Club Extends its sympathies to the Hegstrand family and friends.
Wrestling Tag Team Member Hawk Dies at 45
St. Petersburg Times- October 21, 2003
INDIAN ROCKS BEACH -- Wrestling had taken them to the far corners of the globe -- Australia, Japan, Korea and every corner of the United States. For two decades, the world knew them as "Hawk" and "Animal," the Road Warriors, tag team wrestling legends.
Now the team will live only in fans' memories, Michael "Hawk" Hegstrand, 45, died in his sleep at his home in Indian Rocks Beach early Sunday (October 19, 2003), friends and family said.
Friends said Mr. Hegstrand and his wife, Dale, had recently bought a condominium near their current home and were packing boxes Saturday evening. Mr. Hegstrand said he felt tired and went to take a nap. When his wife checked on him about 1 a.m., he was dead, they said. A cause has not been determined Monday.
By Dr. Tom Prichard - WWE.com - October 20, 2003
I have been a loner most of my life. It has always been hard for me to open up or get close to anyone. For as long as I can remember, I was extremely uncomfortable around people. So to get into a profession that demands being in front of people and performing, you think it would go against my instincts. But through the years, I have found a group of misfits, outcasts and “loners” who can come together and somehow find common experiences and survive in the world together.
They say you can count your true friends on one hand. I have found that to be so inmy lifetime. There are some good people in this business. People I can talk with about absolutely nothing for hours. It’s sad when one of those few people I can count on one hand dies. Mike Hegstrand, better known as Hawk of The Legion of Doom passed away late Saturday night. Hawk and I laughed and shared stories on many occasions. He was wild, crazy and, at times, completely outrageous. Andhe had a heart of gold and was one of the nicest guys in this business.
I keep telling myself over and over that I need to stay in touch with some of the people I have met through the years and have really come to like. The last time I talked to Hawk was in May when he and Animal were coming back to WWE for a couplematches in Philadelphia and Baltimore. We talked on the phone and it seemed asif he had really got his life together and was excited about coming back. I washoping to see The LOD back in action myself. Fate had other plans.
Darren Drozdov joined LOD as “Puke” and became one of them immediately. The Legion of Doom had an aura around them and not just anyone could fit the mold. Droz had the attitude, and fit right in. Droz was like Hawk in a lot of ways.
Tough, crazy and outrageous at times, but had a heart of gold and would go out of the way to help anybody. It didn’t surprise me when Droz and Hawk became the focus point of the LOD storyline at the time. Animal and Hawk helped Droz and made him feel welcome. Hawk wanted to wrestle one on one with Droz and give him an education you can only get from a seasoned veteran. I’m sure Droz appreciated it. Hawk told me on more than one occasion that Droz “had it.”
There is no denying that The LOD made an impression on this business that made many young Superstars of today want to emulate. In the November RAW Magazine, nearly 150,000 fans came to the conclusion that The Legion of Doom was the greatest tag team in WWE history. That covers a lot of ground. When the fans heard “Ahhhhh, what a rush!” they were on their feet giving what is known backstage as a “Road Warrior pop.” And when Hawk and Animal came thru the curtain, they were energized as well. It usually meant an extra stiff night for their unlucky opponents!
Before coming to WWE, Hawk and Animal were known as The Road Warriors. Both came from Minnesota. Both had that intangible “it” factor that is often talked about, but hard to describe. The Warriors held tag titles in the NWA, AWA and WWE. I believe they were the first team to capture the titles in all threemajor organizations. In the ring, The Road Warriors were unstoppable. It was a magic combination of charisma, physicality, and talent that made Hawk andAnimal legitimate Superstars. I’m sure Joe Laurinaitis(Animal) is grieving the loss of his friend and tag team partner.
Hawk was 45. I’m 44. While I feel the aches and pains from years in the ring, I don’t think of 44 as old. Seasoned, maybe. I got chills when I received the call Sunday telling me Hawk had passed away in his sleep. After hanging up I called Brad Armstrong to tell him the news. Brad, like Hawk, is one of those people who made life in this business fun and never boring. I left a message on his cell phone and when Brad called me back I could tell he didn’t want to believe what he’d heard. We had lost another friend. It’s difficult to write about anyone passing away. It’s a part of life everyone must face, but no one wants to talk about. Hawk lived lifeto its fullest and I don’t think he had too many regrets. I feel lucky to have knownhim. My condolences go out to his wife Dale as well as family and friends.