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the rock smackdown 2013

Over the years, so many big names from the world of professional wrestling have met relatively early deaths, and the hits just keep on coming. This week saw the passing of the iconic WWE Hall of Famer Joe Laurinaitis, better known to fans as The Road Warriors' mohawk-sporting Animal. Many were saddened by the athlete's death at 60 years old, and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson took the time to honor Laurinaitis with some personal memories, all while calling The Road Warriors the greatest tag team of all time.

No stranger to being an influential WWE legend himself, Dwayne Johnson took to Instagram after hearing of Joe Laurinaitis' death and gave The Road Warriors credit for being guiding lights early on in his career. Check out his message below.

RIP brother. Really saddened to wake up to this news today — the passing of my friend, Joe Laurinaitis aka ROAD WARRIOR ANIMAL. Joe & Mike aka HAWK & ANIMAL, THE ROAD WARRIORS were the most intense, legit tough bad asses tag team in the history of the wild world of pro wrestling. When I was making my bones, still learning the business in the WWE as a very young 'The Rock' - I wrestled these guys so many times on the road and they always took good care of me and made sure I learned. Tough as nails. Good men. Greatest tag team of all time. And apple fritters (our inside joke). Much love and I’ll always be grateful to you both. RIP. #animal #hawk #lod #whatarush

As the son of Rocky Johnson and the grandson of Peter Maivia, Dwayne Johnson already had a leg(drop) up on other athletes when he signed on with the WWE back in 1996, with wrestling being in his bloodline. But that obviously doesn't mean everything was smooth sailing for him right away, or that he automatically knew all the ropes of the trade. In the wrestling business, it always helps to have a mentor to lead the way, and for The Rock, Road Warriors Animal and Hawk seemed to fit into that role, at least some of the time.

The Road Warriors briefly returned to the WCW in 1996 following Joe Laurinaitis' long recovery from a back injury years earlier, but soon made the jump back to the WWE (then WWF) in 1997 and later took on the Nation of Domination at WrestleMania 13. While The Rock wasn't part of that match directly, he was indeed a member and future leader of the Nation before breaking out as a silver-tongued solo wrestler. And so he definitely had some quality time, so to speak, to spend with Animal and Hawk during both house shows and televised events.

Check out The Rock's full post below, and just try to picture him growling out the Road Warriors' signature "What a rush!"

Tons of fans showed appreciation for Dwayne Johnson's heartfelt thoughts about both Animal and Hawk, with the latter having died back in 2003. Some of those fans were also famous wrestlers in their own right, such as Chavo Guerrero Jr., who also gave props to The Road Warriors for helping his career out.

Gutted. They both took great care of me on my first trip to Japan. Young Chavo, scared to death & they showed me how to hold my own.

Here's hoping the WWE puts together some compilation videos for Joe "Animal" Laurinaitis so that fans can see The Road Warriors in action against Dwayne Johnson over 20 years ago. While waiting to see if that happens (or if The Rock ends up joining the XFL), head to our Fall TV 2020 premiere schedule to see what new and returning shows are on the way, and don't forget to mark your calendars for Johnson's upcoming Netflix actioner Red Notice, which recently went back into production.

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