Wrestling Tag Teams Inspired by The Road Warriors

“Oh, what a rush!” When Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man” boomed throughout packed ’80s arenas, fans popped in anticipation. Between the menacing gear, the wild face paint, and the muscles on top of muscles, the charismatic Road Warriors were as over as any tag team ever. And, yes, there were bound to be clones of the mighty duo (for better or for worse)!

The Road Warriors.
The Road Warriors. [Photo: WWE.com]

The Ascension

Like many a Road Warriors clone, The Ascension’s shoulder pads and gear were a blatant copy of Hawk and Animal.

While at first successful in NXT, Konnor and Victor took it a step too far, calling out legendary teams, including the Legion of Doom themselves, in on-screen promos.

That didn’t endear them to the ever-so-picky “WWE Universe.”

Even the announcers pounced on the duo; the commentators, including JBL, disparaged The Ascension as “nothing” compared to the older teams they were copying.


"The Ascension" Konnor and Viktor.
“The Ascension” Konnor and Viktor. [Photo: Sportskeeda]
Their main roster run was an utter failure, and they eventually were buried, losing to virtually anyone and everyone.

They were inactive for a solid eight months before being released by the WWE in 2019.

Konnor, on The Two Man Power Trip of Wrestling Podcast, spoke about the gimmick that he and his partner Viktor were given in WWE.

“They know that was who we were, and then, the comparison– it was a tough pill to swallow; we specifically never wanted to be compared to anybody.

“Vik and I had the opportunity to speak with Animal in person and explained that we were sorry and that we hoped there was no ill will towards us because of that.

“He understood, and I think the best part about that was talking to him man-to-man, face-to-face about it, and that was really important to us.

“We had to do that out of respect for those men because they paved the way that allowed us to feed our families.

“But yeah, that was one of the things we took upon ourselves to do once we were done [in WWE]. We’ve got to talk to these men if we can and clear the air, at least just to make sure.

“They probably didn’t give a d***, to be honest with you. But, still, it was the right thing to do, at least from a man’s perspective.”

“Oh, what a disaster,” the Ascension turned out to be.

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The Authors of Pain

What do The Authors of Pain and The Road Warriors have in common?

Well, manager Paul Ellering of course.

Paul Ellering while managing The Road Warriors in the '80s.
Paul Ellering while managing The Road Warriors in the ’80s.

And thus, the inevitable comparison to the Roadies, even minus the face paint.

While the burly boys, Akam and Rezar, fared far better than The Ascension as one-time WWE Raw Tag Team Champions and one-time NXT Tag Team Champions, their run isn’t exactly going to make one forget the glory days of Hawk and Animal.

In 2020, Rezar suffered a biceps injury, putting the team on hiatus. Both Akam and Rezar were shortly after that released from their WWE contracts.

In May 2022, they renamed themselves the Legion of Pain. Well, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, fellows.

With more time on their hands, the Authors may be catching up on their writing.

The Authors of Pain with Paul Ellering, circa 2019.
The Authors of Pain with Paul Ellering, circa 2019.

The Blade Runners

Yes, this very early incarnation of Sting (Steve Borden) and Ultimate Warrior (Jim Hellwig) were two big boys with a great look.

And while some attribute their gimmicks to the then hot new wave scene with their black eye paint and spiked hair with a rattail, Hellwig’s later Dingo Warrior and Ultimate Warrior personas would indicate a Road Warriors influence as well.

"The Blade Runners" Sting and Rock (Ultimate Warrior) in Mid-South Wrestling, December, 1985.
“The Blade Runners” Sting and Rock (Ultimate Warrior) in Mid-South Wrestling, December 1985. [Photo: @WrestlingIsKing on Twitter]
That they were green as grass and were so stiff that they hurt opponents didn’t always turn off promoters who smelled green money with the duo.

Nobody could have predicted in their early days that Borden would one day become NWA Champion beating Ric Flair and Hellwig WWF Champion, besting Hulk Hogan.

At the time, they at least felt like just another Road Warriors knockoff, soon to disappear from the wrestling scene.

How very wrong we were.

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The Wild Warriors, AKA The World Warriors

Often forgotten among the deluge of teams “influenced” by The Road Warriors were Madd Maxx and Super Maxx: The Wild Warriors.

Now to be fair, accomplished grapplers Super Maxx (Samuel DeCero) and Mad Maxx (John Richmond, aka Eli the Eliminator) began their wrestling careers several years before Hawk and Animal.

But their team reportedly started in 1984, while the Roadies debuted in 1983.

And deeming yourself the Wild or World Warriors begs comparison.

They held the WWA World Tag Team Championship in 1984, beating Jeff Van Kamp and legendary Dick the Bruiser for the belts, and toured Japan on multiple occasions, where they earned as much as $3,000 a week.

In addition, they held the Polynesian Pacific Tag Team titles and challenged IWGP Tag Team Champions Tatsumi Fujinami and Kengo Kimura in Japan.

DeCero praised the Japanese and described his experiences overseas in an interview with DeathValleyDriver.com years later.

“They train seven days a week out there,” DeCero said. “They use karate and everything in their matches.

“We wouldn’t let them intimidate us. We just started banging heads and ended up having good wrestling matches, and they respected us.

“As soon as they started throwing chops in, or kicks or something, to our stomachs, we’d just label them right in the face. That would set them back.”

The former Super Maxx continued, “[Japanese fans] are rowdy, but they’re afraid of Americans. We used to carry a whip, snap it, and wrap it around their neck so they’d panic and go nuts.”

The Wild Warriors moved on to the American Wrestling Association, where they became one of its top tag teams during the mid-1980s. They faced greats like The Midnight Rockers and then AWA Tag Team Champions Curt Hennig and Scott Hall.

These bruisers may not have been The Road Warriors, but they were no slouches.

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The Hell Raisers

1992 wasn’t a banner year for the actual Road Warriors.

Hawk had substance abuse problems and had quit WWE, while Animal suffered a traumatic back injury.

Meanwhile, Hawk went to Japan to form a new tag team. He transformed young Kensuke Sasaki into Power Warrior, and The Hell Raisers were born.

The Hell Raisers: Hawk and "Power Warrior" Kensuke Sasaki.
The Hell Raisers: Hawk and “Power Warrior” Kensuke Sasaki.

Hey, if everybody else is doing it, why not clone yourself?

And Hawk Warrior and Power Warrior were quite successful.

The powerhouses held the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship from December 1992 to August 1993, defeating Scott Norton and Hercules Hernandez and losing it to Keiji Mutoh and Hiroshi Hase.

They had a second run with the belts in 1994, besting Norton and Hernandez in January and holding the titles until November, when they would lose it to Mutoh and Hase. They’d continue teaming up through 1995.

By the end of that year, Sasaki dropped the Power Warrior gimmick, and the duo disbanded.

If you’re going to clone the Road Warriors, do it right.

And they did.

In a 2018 interview with Title Match Wrestling, Animal gave his thoughts on his partner Hawk tagging up with Kensuke Sasaki in Japan.

“Hawk decided, ‘Oh, hey, I’m going to go to Japan, and I’m going to get to Kensuki Power Warrior. It’s going to be great!’

“Well, six months later,” Animal continued, “the phone calls started coming [from Hawk]. I said, ‘Listen, man, I’m collecting an insurance thing and can’t do anything for two years.’

“I collected something for two years and then was able to do something.”

Describing his feelings about Hawk going to Japan and forming another tag team, Animal confessed, “What drove me crazy about it was – and Hawk’s mind was so gone by that point – it was disrespect.

“He wanted me just to quit with him cold turkey and leave [WWE], and I wasn’t about burning the bridge as you never know when you have to go back and work for them. I wanted to finish out my dates with the WWF, so that’s what I did.

“I knew my money in the future was going to be with Hawk.”

When Animal returned to the ring from his back injury in 1996, he joined the Hawk and Power Warrior in Japan. The collective was from then on announced as The Road Warriors, going back to using “Iron Man” as their theme music.

The Powers of Pain

The Powers of Pain were conceived by David Crockett to look like they could defeat and be as powerful as The Road Warriors in the NWA. Instead, he mostly made a carbon copy.

The Powers of Pain with Paul Jones.
The Powers of Pain with Paul Jones in the NWA. [Photo: @JustRasslin on Twitter]
The Warlord and The Barbarian were monsters with solid talent in the ring, and Paul Jones was an excellent heel manager for the team.

Although over with the fans, they were generally relegated to mid-card status, while The Road Warriors were at the peak of their fame and appropriately at the top of most cards.

As is often the case, once The Powers of Pain made their way over to the WWF, they were never as dominant as they should have been.

They were split up on TV when manager Mr. Fuji sold The Barbarian’s contract to Bobby Heenan and Warlord’s to Slick.

The Warlord fared better in singles action, getting title shots versus Hulk Hogan.

What About Demolition?

If you’re wondering why Demolition isn’t on here, Bill Eadie (Demolition Ax) attests that the rock band Kiss was their influence, not The Road Warriors. And in TV promos, they compared themselves to horror icons like Freddy Krueger and Jason.

Demolition as WWF Tag Team Champions in 1989.
Demolition as WWF Tag Team Champions in 1989. [Photo: f4wonline.com]
Perhaps the naysayers who called them clones of The Road Warriors haven’t been fair to Demolition all these years.

Tragically both Hawk and Animal are gone now, but what a rush they were.

And we’ll never forget, for better and for worse, the clones of The Road Warriors.

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Evan Ginzburg is the Senior Editor for Pro Wrestling Stories and a contributing writer since 2017. He's a published author and was an Associate Producer on the Oscar-nominated movie "The Wrestler" and acclaimed wrestling documentary "350 Days." He is a 30-plus-year film, radio, and TV veteran and a voice-over actor on the radio drama Kings of the Ring.