Killing The Town With Storm And Cyrus : Episode 53 Road Warrior Hawk Tribute Show
Guest: Paul Ellering, Rachael Ellering, Bret Hart, Jim Cornette, Mick Foley, Magnum TA, and Scott Norton
Release Date: October 17, 20p17
Recap by: Tony Flores
- Lance’s introduction to wrestling was watching the Road Warriors on television
- Lance’s first time meeting Hawk in Europe
- Paul Ellering describes how he began managing Hawk and Animal
- Rachael Ellering recalls Hawk taking the shirt off his back to give to a man in need
- Bret Hart explains the origins of the Hart Attack and its inspiration from the Road Warriors
- Jim Cornette tells Lance about a deal he and Hawk made
- One of Mick Foley’s first jobs in the wrestling business involved carrying the Road Warriors bags
- Magnum TA recalls a conversation with Hawk and Animal after his first match with the team
- Scott Norton references a bar fight Hawk had in Roppongi
Lance opens the show congratulating he and Cyrus on making a full year. He notes this week is also the 14th anniversary of Road Warrior Hawk’s passing, using this episode as a memorial show. He explains Hawk is a major influence on why Lance became a wrestling fan. Cyrus mentions he first saw Hawk in the AWA, noting his friend Dynamite Dave Petro was almost decapitated by the Warriors during a match.
Lance describes the first wrestling match he watched was because of the Road Warriors. His dad didn’t want him to watch wrestling when he was a kid, but on a Saturday while flipping channels to the AWA, Ken Resnick mentions an upcoming match featuring the Road Warriors. Lance was intrigued. He signifies this is the match which got him hooked as a fan. Although a fan of both Hawk and Animal, he liked Hawk’s look, specifically his strange hairstyle and incredible voice. Lance would take occasional trips to the mall to to buy wrestling magazines, especially any that had the Road Warriors in them.
To amplify his fandom, Lance tells the story of a friend of his in high school recreating the Road Warriors’ music video for an air band performance, going so far as to use nylon on their heads to recreate their hairstyles. Their idea being to interrupt the band as they get booed, so they could come out, beat them up, and perform the song from the video.
Lance explains the first time meeting Hawk in Austria working for Otto Wanz. “He is by far my favorite wrestler, he was the first big name guy that I watched as a fan that I got to meet once in the business.” He refers to a press conference, which the promoter set up a small ring in a used car dealership. As Hawk steps into the ring, he almost falls off the apron due to the ropes being extremely loose. Lance grabs the top rope and pulls Hawk back upright. Hawk, much appreciative, exclaims “thanks brother, you saved me a bump.” After this, Lance got to hang out with Hawk at a public pool. To emphasize how humble and appreciative he was, Hawk spent an hour signing autographs for kids at the pool. He tells Lance “never forget where you came from, if it wasn’t for these kids, I wouldn’t be here.”
Not a big proponent of going out with the other wrestlers after the show, Lance describes one of the first times he hung out after a show. Hawk left his gear bag in Lance’s room. Lance headed back to his room only to remember Hawk’s bag is still in his room, with Lance headed to Vienna and Hawk venturing to Graz. Panicking about potentially finding a way to ship his bag to him, Hawk pounds on his door at 3:30 in the morning retrieving his 300 pound bag, much to Lance’s relief.
Road Warrior Animal Interview
Due to Animal being unavailable for a direct interview, Lance and Cyrus use an excerpt from an RF Video interview:
Animal opens with how he heard about Hawk’s passing. He got a call from a friend informing him of Mike [Hawk’s real name] had passed. At the time of his passing, they were extremely close. Animal introduced him to a Christian support group, which he believes saved his life. He explains his family was just as devastated as he was, as their families spent so much time together at various events. Although Animal was unaware of Hawk’s heart problems, he was convinced Hawk took care of as much as he could before it became too much of a burden on his body.
Animal mentions they only had one fight about a month into wrestling as a team. Nothing major happened as the locker room broke up the fight. He believes Hawk was misunderstood, with most people not getting to know the real Mike Hegstrand as being so generous. He would give people the shirt off his back if they needed help. Switching topics, Animal explains how Hawk and Shawn Michaels made peace. At a Christian convention, they kneeled together and apologized to one another.
Between each interview, selections of promos are played. This excerpt, with the help of Paul Ellering, discuss a match against Dusty Rhodes and Sting.
Paul Ellering Interview
In addition to being their manager, Paul was also close friends with Hawk and Animal. As they were all from Minnesota, they would travel together. Paul was managing numerous wrestlers. Ole Anderson told Paul that Eddie Sharkey was looking for a tag team. After scouting the team, they were brought in and placed with Paul, who would go on to manage them for the majority of their career.
Lance tells Paul the story mentioned earlier seeing the Road Warriors as his first match, he was awestruck. Upon reflection, the team did not realize they would start the trend of powerhouse tag teams, but a year later, they began to notice a change in tag team wrestling. They saw this altered the spectrum, introducing a new, fresh perspective. This was diametrically opposed to the old school approach, where as the smash mouth, hard-hitting style was not seen before.
Lance speaks to Hawk’s voice and promo being so unique. Paul explains Hawk was being himself, he didn’t have to play a character. The genuine nature of his promos were instrumental for him being so popular. In tune with his personality, Paul talks about how generous and caring he was. While staying in New York on their way to a gym, Hawk hands a homeless man $100 for something to eat. Kind by nature, he wouldn’t go looking for a fight, but he would not back down from one if provoked. Lance remembers Hawk’s generosity. During the same trip in Europe in 1993, most of the wrestlers were staying in campers, Hawk bought food so everyone could have a barbecue and socialize.
They speak about how close Hawk was to Rachael, Paul daughter. As Rachael studied under Lance, she would affectionately refer to him as Uncle Hawk. When Paul’s children were younger, the family would take regular trips to Florida. During these trips they would make it a point to stop by to see Hawk. Paul closes the interview reiterating Hawk’s generous nature, quoting the song, “only the good die young”.
Excerpt from a promo on the Powers of Pain.
Rachael Ellering Interview
She opens explaining she didn’t see him as the wrestler, she saw him as family, Uncle Hawk. Rachael talks about the only time her father took her to a wrestling show in Chicago in 2003 just before Hawk’s passing. Having made a sign in support of the Road Warriors, their opponent ripped her sign apart on. After the match, he made the opponent apologize to Rachael. Another wrestler mentioned to her he got chewed out in the locker room because of it. They had a special relationship, he would call in to check up on her regularly, with Rachael visiting his home regularly.
One of her fondest memory of Hawk was during a trip to Florida. During a car ride, he stopped at a stop light, handed a homeless man money and took the shirt off his back to give to him. This stands out as a pivotal moment for Rachael as she inspires to one day be as generous and caring as he was.
Lance refers to the story of him hanging out with Hawk after a show in Europe. Hawk subscribed to the notion rather than let the underpaid new wrestlers pay for the tab out of respect or the veterans, he paid the bill explaining he got paid more so he should pay. Lance remembers this and implements the notion after a show in Edmonton, which included Rachael. She fought Lance over the tab, informing her he got paid more, he should pay the bill. The simple act has stuck with him ever since that moment.
Rachael speaks about the kind man Hawk was, having him in her life being inspirational. To that end, she has a tattoo of a hawk on her shoulder as a tribute to him. Lance describes a picture of Hawk and Rachael from when she was eight years old. Rachael adores the picture, as she is looking at him in such high regard, she remembers it was the last time she saw him before he passed, with it being the only picture she has of them together.
Excerpt from a promo on the Skyscrapers
Bret Hart Interview
Bret has so much respect for Hawk and Animal carving paths in wrestling as two different tag teams. Bret speaks about facing the Road Warriors in an ten man tag at Calgary Stampede (WWE In Your House July 6th, 1997), referring to it as the biggest pop of his career. The match stands out to Bret as it brought together many stars who worked in their family’s Stampede promotion, mentioning Brian Pillman, Owen Hart, Davey Boy Smith and Jim Neidhart.
Bret’s sentiments go deeper as the team came together in the passionate Anit American/Pro Canadian story ine, having a strong collective to face his team which included Hawk and Animal. He shares Hawk had tremendous respect for the Hart family. Before the Calgary Stampede match, the Road Warriors and the Hart Foundation only had one match in Mississippi before Bret went on to start his singles career. Although the match wasn’t great, Hawk felt upset over it, apologizing to Bret for the performance. Before the PPV match, he said to Bret “this one’s for the one we missed last time, this one’s for your dad [Stu Hart]”.
He remembers watching the Road Warriors on AWA when he first started in the WWE while trying to figure out a finishing move for the Hart Foundation. After being impressed by the Doomsday Device, they devised the Hart Attack, bear hug/clothesline combination as inspiration from their team. He mentions the Road Warriors in the conversation of greatest tag teams of the last fifty years. While Hawk and Animal were different personalities, he likens their dynamic similar to the Hart Foundation; Hawk being more of a renegade and wild similar to Jim Neidhart, while Animal was a bit of a babysitter like he was to Jim, ensuring they looked after their partner.
Bret recalls when his father passed away, he got calls from different wrestlers. He remembers one from Crush, mentioning Hawk wasn’t taking Stu’s death well. He never got to speak to Hawk, leaving a message for him as he died within a few hours of Stu. He appreciated how much respect he had for Hawk that he would be so broken up over Stu’s passing. Lance explains through all the stories he’s been gathering, as much of a hard exterior Hawk portrayed, he was a “softy who cared about people.” Bret confirms the notion as outside of a small incident with Randy Savage, he couldn’t recall anyone having issues with Hawk, always being a fun guy to be around.
Bret felt Hawk’s partying nature could have been due to some personal issues from his past, but he was always compassionate and generous toward everyone. Hawk would describe to Bret regret for not putting more into the one match they’d had, speaking volumes about Hawk as a professional, as he felt he was always safe with him and had incredible in ring psychology.
Lance speaks to the Road Warriors’ influence as a tag team, having Bret and Jim take inspiration from their team and adapt the Hart Attack to fit their technical style. Bret signifies how the Doomsday Device was innovative, as no team previously had ever come up with anything like that before. Among their contemporary peers, as well as older teams such as the Kangaroos and Dick The Bruiser and The Crusher, the Road Warriors are near the top of teams in the world, even among ring work and psychology.
Excerpt from a promo on Ric Flair.
Lance and Cyrus take a break to plug sponsors
Excerpt from a promo on Ronnie Garvin.
Jim Cornette Interview
Jim mentions he and Lance seem to always talk under similar circumstances, remembering the last time was to honor Chris Candido. Jim tells the story about a deal he made with Hawk. Jim Crockett used a private plane for the main event talent to travel around the territory, Hawk made a promise to Cornette if anything happened on the plane to cause it to crash, “knock me the f**k out, I don’t want to take three minutes to hit the ground.” Hawk, in support of the request obliged “I’ll do it, you jumped off a scaffold for me, I’ll be glad to knock you the f**k out”; referring to the Starrcade 1986 match.
Cornette explains the set up for the match, the Midnight Express kayfabe injured the Road Warriors in order for them to work in Japan. During a tournament to honor Giant Baba, Hawk broke one of the bones in his lower leg, causing him to wear a cast. Flash forward to Starrcade, Hawk takes the cast off in the locker room and performs in the match, climbing the scaffold with a broken leg. Cornette, in turn, fell from the scaffolding during the match injuring himself. Hawk deemed it fair to pay Jim back for taking the bump instead Hawk due to his own injury.
Jim elaborates on his positive working relationship with Hawk and Animal. Upon giving notice to WCW to leave for WWE, they insisted on losing to the Midnight Express, much to the defiance of Jim Herd who was running WCW at the time. This was in appreciation and respect for the Midnight Express helping with their previous success. This was seen as a big deal, as the Road Warriors would not lose many matches in the 1980s.
Jim mentions when he brought Hawk in for a night of legends show for Smokey Mountain Wrestling where he worked the main event. He was such a professional, asking “what do you want to do Jimmy?” Cornette alludes to a perception of the Road Warriors didn’t want to cooperate and do good business. He counters explaining they always were professional with he, Bobby Eaton, and Stan Lane. They were so popular, getting the biggest crowd reaction of the night. Jim has always had great interactions with Hawk and Animal.
Lance reiterates the Europe trip to Jim, explaining when Hawk worked the show in Smokey Mountain Wrestling, he was excited to see Hawk again, mentioning he was an all around great guy. While their later run in WWE was not a true reflection of their previous work, they were still successful. Jim recalls them holding the AWA, NWA, and WWE tag team championships in the same decade, when no other team would hold two of those titles.
While traveling the world, they were the biggest drawing tag team during the height of their popularity. One of the keys to the Road Warriors’ success was Hawk’s unique voice and promos. Jim remembers a commercial for a charity basket ball game running on local TV. Poking fun at Dusty Rhodes, “Me and Animal, we’re going to win this game, and I know Dusty’s a great basket ball player, because he always dribbles before he shoots,” playing it all day. As popular as they were, Jim acknowledges they could be just as popular today.
Jim tells another story of Ronnie Garvin and Hawk shoot wrestling in the locker room during the Great American Bash in 1986. They were in Philadelphia at Veterans Stadium which had indoor/outdoor carpet in the locker room. Both Ronnie and Hawk were playing around by wrestling on the ground. Ronnie, as an experienced shoot fighter, stretched Hawk in various holds. After wrestling for awhile, Garvin lets Hawk up, sweating and “red as a f**king tomato,” telling Ronnie “you’re a man.”
Suddenly, the Road Warriors music begins to play. Hawk had to go out for his match immediately straight from rolling around with Garvin in front of a 20,000 fans.
Cornette closes believing if Hawk was still around today, he would extremely popular at the various conventions, introducing the Road Warriors to a whole new generation of fans, even mentioning he would have his own podcast. Lance asked if Hawk ever had to knock him out on a plane. Thankfully Hawk never had too, agreeing he might have survived the plane crash, but never recovered from the brain damage/collapsed skull obtained from a possible full powered punch from Hawk.
Excerpt from a promo on Jim Cornette and Big Bubba Rodgers
Mick Foley Interview
Mick opens sharing he was a huge fan of the Road Warriors. While WWE had great production value for the television shows compared to other promotions, people were enthralled with the team. He mentions going from being a fan to carrying their gear when he set up rings in 1985. Mick reiterates Hawk looked very intimidating, but was one of the nicest guys in the locker room.
Mick met Sgt. Slaughter’s manager at an independent show at his high school. Through his father, the athletic director of the high school, Mick had access to a large VHS collection of wrestling, mostly Madison Square Garden shows. Slaughter’s manager was intrigued by Mick’s access to these tapes and gave him tickets to AWA shows at the Meadowlands Arena in nearby New Jersey. He sat front row for a match pitting the Road Warriors against Curt and Larry Hennig. While thinking the Hennigs would be cheered by the crowd, Hawk and Animal were far and away the fan’s favorite.
After the show, Mick finds his way backstage. Admitting to not knowing proper etiquette, he screams Verne Gagne’s name. Verne asks what Mick is doing backstage, after he mentions Slaughter’s manager, Verne warms up to him. While around Curt and Larry, they mentioned there wasn’t much they could do in regards to soliciting a positive reaction from the crowd, the Road Warriors were too popular in the fan’s eyes. Mick recalls being honored to carry their gear bags, especially the ones containing the shoulder pads they wore to the ring.
Echoing the sentiment of their kindness, Foley explains a new wrestler Hawk and Animal were working with missing a spot and ending the match early. He recounts them not giving the rookie a hard time. Attuning it to nerves, Hawk tells the opponent “don’t worry about it brother, easy night for us.” As they could have given him a hard time and be belligerent toward him, Mick remembers them being easy going guys, which he tries to reciprocate.
Lance brings up Foley’s one match against Hawk at Capital Punishment in a six man tag team match, which pitted the Road Warriors and Norman The Lunatic against Cactus Jack, Kevin Sullivan, and Bam Bam Bigelow. Mick’s only memories from the match was taking a flip over the guard rail into the crowd and succumbing to the wooden steps which Hawk hit him with.
Foley was proud to be in a match with Hawk as he admired him as young wrestler. He had to take a step back and realize with being in the ring with the Road Warriors, he could have the confidence to understand he had elevated his position enough to be in a match with the caliber of a worker the likes of Hawk and Animal.
With numerous legends being kind to him when Mick was first coming up in the wrestling business, naming Roddy Piper and King Kong Bundy as examples, he would always support the rookies, remembering what his first shows were like.
Excerpt from a promo on Ric Flair
Magnum T.A. Interview
Magnum remembers starting in the business in the early 1980s, paired in a tag team with Jim Duggan for Bill Watts in Mid South Wrestling. Management mentions the Road Warriors are working a match with them in New Orleans.
Both Magnum and Duggan were hesitant after seeing the Road Warriors on Georgia Championship Wrestling. Believing they would be the stiffest team to work with, Magnum recalls have a good match with Hawk and Animal. After the match, the referee brings them to see the Road Warriors in the locker room. Hawk exclaims “hey guys, it’s great to me you. Good to meet guys just like us.” Magnum asks what he means by the statement. Without skipping a beat, Hawks retorts “stiff!” This encounter began a friendship with the team, even going so far to travel together in-between shows.
Lance claims fans during the height of their popularity did not understand the “Road Warrior pop.” Magnum confirms each time their entrance music Iron Man played, the crowd would explode in adulation.
Magnum mentions Paul Ellering playing a a large role in their psychology, explaining to them how to be vulnerable without being weak and showing real emotions. Lance describes Hawk’s personality and voice were what intrigued him, Magnum explains he enjoyed their promos because he would never know what they were going to say. Lance recalls his favorite line from Hawk’s promos was “we snack on danger, we dine on death because dead men don’t make money.”
Magnum remembers the last time seeing Hawk before he passed, he noticed he was enjoying his life being sober. As they close the interview, Magnum appreciated sharing his memories of Hawk, as he had a profound impact on his career and was glad to know him as a friend.
Scott Norton Interview
Scott opens the interview informing he and Hawk went to the same high school. Their first meeting was at a football practice. He remembers they didn’t get along upon the first meeting, but after playing together, they became close.
Scott began arm wrestling after high school. He recants a story of the two at an arm wrestling competition. While Scott enjoyed the sport, Hawk was much more enthusiastic about arm wrestling, noting his excitement during matches was the initial beginnings of the Hawk character. After a meet in Pueblo, Colorado which Norton won, they went to a bar which had a barbershop next door. The bar had a promotion where they would put patrons in a barber’s chair, lean them back and pour margaritas down their throats. Asking the proprietor what the record was, currently seventeen, Hawk exclaims “my buddy Norton can beat that.” Leading both he and Hawk to beat the record.
Lance refers to the pool story where he was mobbed by fans, pointing out “never forget where you came from.” Scott speaks about Hawk prioritized loyalty. Scott went to an AWA show in the Minneapolis area, wanting to introduce him to the other wrestlers. Ric Flair introduces himself to Scott. Wondering how he knew who he was, Ric tells him “you know that Hawk is one hell of a friend of yours, he loves you.” He’s taken aback by the interaction. Ric Flair is a huge star in the wrestling business. However, the majority of the conversation was encompassed around Hawk and how great of a guy he was.
In remembering how he broke into wrestling, he initially went to training camp with Hawk and Animal, but realized at the time, he wasn’t ready to begin his career. At the time, Scott was touring Japan with the Over The Top Sylvester Stallone movie, New Japan Pro Wrestling approached him about working with them. After a week, he contacts Hawk about the opportunity. Informing Scott they are one of the top companies in the industry, he jokes “if you don’t take that Norton, I’ll kill you!”
Sharing what he calls one of the craziest nights of his life, he, Hawk, and Brad Rheingans were in a bar in Roppongi. The Nebraska Corn Huskers were playing in the Coca Cola Bowl. Hawk met a girl from Australia in the bar. One of the other patrons was checking out his girl. While on an elevator, the patron punched Hawk. Hawk rips the door to the elevator open and proceeds to start the proverbial pier six brawl. The next day they are on the bus on their way to the next show. On a quiet bus, Hawk apologizes to Masao Hattori, the booker, for the fight the previous night. After countering Masao had fun at the fight, all was forgiven.
Scott recalls when he found out Hawk passed, he called his dad. His father mentioned Hawk would visit him while Norton was in Japan. Not knowing Hawk was doing this, he was appreciative of the gesture, with the two of them being friends for so long.
At Hawk’s funeral, Scott wanted to share with everyone about how wonderful Hawk. He tells the story of a match they’d had in the Tokyo Dome against Hawk. At a point in the match, both of them are laying on the mat after a double clothesline. While lying on the canvas after a hard hitting exchange, Hawk leans over to Norton and asks “could you imagine how much that would have hurt if we didn’t love each other so much?” It was an amazing moment the two shared, two high school fiends in the middle of a ring in Japan in front of 70,000 fans, having this small conversation.
In a odd foreshadowing moment, Scott describes a fishing trip the two took years ago where Hawk tells him the only bad part of being his best friend is one of them is not going to be at the other’s funeral. This was something which never left him, especially when giving a eulogy at Hawk’s funeral. Even with his passing being fourteen years previous, Scott still thinks about Hawk regularly.
Lance closes the podcast thanking everyone for contributing. He plays the Road Warrior music video to end the broadcast.
Animal referring to the real Hawk: “He’d give you the shirt off his back, if he didn’t have the shirt off his back, he’d borrow the shirt off his back to give to you, that’s the kind of guy he was.”
Rachael Ellering commenting on the only picture she has with Hawk: “I love it because… I just think it’s great how I’m looking at him… it’s like I’m looking at him like a god… I’m staring at him in such awe.”
Bret Hart sharing how his father’s death affected Hawk: “It meant a lot to me that my dad’s passing affected him as much as it did, it really upset him…made him really upset. It always made me realize what kind of a guy he was and how much respect he had for guys like my father and the guys who paved the way for him to make a living in pro wrestling.”
Jim Cornette speaking about the fan reaction to their entrance: “The Road Warrior pop was coined that for a reason, when they hit the building, the noise level and insanity from the people was like the Beatles.”
This tribute show to Road Warrior Hawk is a collection of stories by the people who knew him, worked with him, and loved him. In many of the stories told, we can get a sense of the generous, kind man Hawk was and the impact it had on the lives he touched. It’s very apparent this is an important show to Lance, as he himself tells numerous stories of how important Hawk was to him in getting started in wrestling, and how his interactions with Hawk shaped his outlook on life in and out of the ring. I would recommend the podcast for fans of the Road Warriors and for fans who did not get to see the Road Warriors wrestle during their run in the 1980s and 1990s.
12:09 Sponsor plugs
13:51 Road Warrior Animal Interview
19:59 Paul Ellering Interview
33:06 Rachael Ellering Interview
39:30 Bret Hart Interview
57:00 Jim Cornette Interview
1:20:02 Mick Foley Interview
1:32:33 Magnum TA Interview
1:42:46 Scott Norton Interview
2:04:25 Road Warrior Music Video
About the Writer
Tony Flores is a writer, musician and gamer from New York City. His earliest memories of wrestling were watching the initial episodes of Monday Night Raw from the Manhattan Center, saying up until 2am on Friday and Saturday nights to watch ECW, and seeing house shows at Madison Square Garden. Away from wrestling, he is a performing musician in New York, and can be found gaming on Twitch. You can follow him @itsmeprettytony on Twitter.