Road Warrior Hawk Death – Heart Attack
1957-2003 (age 46)
For 20 years, Michael Hegstrand was a fierce competitor in the wrestling ring, and while most fans of wrestling during the 1980s and 1990s know him, it’s not by his given name but by his ring name – Road Warrior Hawk.
As one half of The Road Warriors tag team, Michael entertained fans and won a number of titles, including the WWF Tag Team Championship, the AWA World Tag Team Championship, the NWA International Tag Team Championship and the NWA World Tag Team Championship. Sadly, Road Warrior Hawk’s death would come while he was still in the midst of his wrestling career, leading to an end of a very successful partnership.
12 years before Hawk’s death: The Legion of Doom takes on The Rockers (1991)
Wrestling Imitates Life
Years before the Road Warrior Hawk death story took place, the Road Warriors found themselves in the midst of controversy when one of the story lines of the WWF’s Attitude Era hit too close to home. The stories showed Road Warrior Hawk was out of control and recklessly using drugs and alcohol to the point that he was unable to compete.
The storyline would ultimately play out with Puke pushing Road Warrior Hawk off the TitanTron, claiming that he was looking to take Hawk’s place all along. For Michael Hegstrand and Joseph Laurinaitis (“Animal”) the story was incredibly offensive, as in real life, Michael had struggled with substance abuse.
Ultimately, The Road Warriors were unable to resolve their differences with the WWF over the plot, and the pair left. Puke would go on to become a quadriplegic after a wrestling move went terribly wrong, but that’s a whole other story.
5 years before his death: Sunny briefly manages LOD during their final run in the WWF
The Details of the Road Warrior Hawk Death Story
At the time of the Road Warrior Hawk’s death in 2003, he and his partner, “Road Warrior Animal” Joseph Laurinaitis, were working together to write a book about their time as professional wrestlers. Michael and his wife, Dale, had purchased a new condo in Florida and were looking forward to moving. After packing boxes on October 19, 2003, Hegstand told his wife that he was feeling tired and wanted to turn in for the night early. Sadly, he would never awaken.
Dale would find him dead in bed hours later. The wrestler was only 46 years old at the time. An autopsy revealed that Hegstrand had suffered a massive heart attack. Some have speculated that his drug use during the 1980s and 1990s and the stress of dealing with the WWF had weakened his heart, leading to his untimely death.
Michael Hegstrand was cremated. What was done with his ashes is not public knowledge.
The Road Warriors (Hawk and Animal) inducted into the 2011 WWE Hall of Fame
Paying Tribute After the Road Warrior Hawk Death
Road Warrior Animal was naturally shocked and devastated by the Road Warrior Hawk death, but rather than retire from wrestling, he became committed to continuing on. In 2005, he came back to the WWE as a solo wrestler and said he was dedicating every turn in the ring to the memory of his friend.
Road Warrior Animal wasn’t the only one who remembered Michael Hegstrand. On April 2, 2011, he and his former partner were inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame by Dusty Rhodes on the eve of WrestleMania XXVII. Because fans remember and love Road Warrior Hawk to this day, you still see tributes to him posted online on memorial websites, and he and Road Warrior Animal were even included in the video game WWE ’13.
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