By Liam Byrne @tvtimelimit
The Godwinns © vs The Legion of Doom 10/7/97
WWF Tag Team Title Match
The Legion of Doom/The Road Warriors were the perfect example of a team that worked best during the territory era. With the chance to move around the country and head off to Japan as well, they never hung around too long to outstay their welcome and they could always command money wherever they travelled. People would pay to see the Road Warriors go against the big teams in the home promotion, with several super teams thrown together as means to take on one of the most impressive teams of the 80s (see their match versus Harley Race and Stan Hansen from earlier in the year for an example).
They were never quite the same after the allure they brought was somewhat undermined by the exposure of national television, whilst a step to the WWF never quite felt like it worked or managed to maintain the sense that the Warriors were one the biggest teams going. Repackaged as the Legion of Doom (the old stable name for them, Paul Ellering, King Kong Bundy and Jake Roberts in Georgia), they became somewhat of a shell of their former selves; a kiddy friendly team who didn’t have the quality of opponent around to make them look as good as they once did.
It didn’t help when Hawk walked out of the company in 1992.
They would eventually return to the WWF in 1997, but the bloom was completely off of the rose at this point. They could still bring the fight when needed; they had just never been a team that you wanted to see week in, week out in matches there were anything other than squash matches. They were no longer the biggest or the strongest and had basically transitioned into regular guys. Regular guys with face paint and mohawks, sure, but nowhere near as intimidating as they once were.
They had one last moment in the sun upon their return to the WWF. Having only won the WWF Tag Team Titles from the Headbangers two days earlier at Badd Blood, the Godwinns would put the gold on the line two Raws later (though it was taped two days later). If there was anyone that could bring out the best in the Legion, it was the Godwinns: two no nonsense, big hitting guys who could take and dish out punishment when needed.
A stipulation that placed the Legion of Doom’s career on the line if they didn’t pick up the belts seemed to hint at a title change, though putting Hawk and Animal out to pasture by this point might not have been the worst idea. After some double teaming by the Legion had the crowd chanting ‘LOD’, the slow pace of the contest did little to engage the crowd until Hawk mixed punches and chops for a striking assault on Phineas in the corner. The LOD offense could still look very impressive; an Animal powerslam getting a two count on the biggest man in the match, Phineas.
Phineas would wail on Hawk in the corner to finally allow the champions to have some concerted offense. A kick to the back from Phineas on the apron allowed Henry to hit a big clothesline, whilst a Phineas chinbreaker had the veteran down on the canvas. The ring apron would be used as a weapon with the official distracted, Henry driving Hawk with his shoulder back into the edge of the ring. A further attempt to double team Hawk saw both Godwinns dropped with clotheslines, only for the referee to miss the tag to Animal.
With Animal getting whipped into the steps at ringside, Henry picked up a two count with a gutwrench suplex. Officials came down to help Animal backstage with what was sold as a recurrence of an injury he had suffered before. Seeing the beating on the Titantron spurred Animal to turn back, whilst Henry’s decision to slop drop Earl Hebner seemed to backfire. However, Uncle Cletus (Dutch Mantell) stopped the Doomsday Device by pushing Hawk off of the top. A lucky horseshoe proved to be unlucky for the champions as an errant shot knocked out Henry, whilst a Hawk top rope clothesline would be enough for a second official to count the three.
What makes this tag title win of interest is what followed more so than the win itself. This was the Road Warriors last tag title reign and when they lost, it felt like a transitional move from the old school to a newer generation. Just over a month later, they’d lose the titles to the New Age Outlaws. Whilst we’d end up with LOD 2000 and Animal working with Heidenreich after Hawk’s death, this signalled the true end of the Legion of Doom as a team of consequence as they made way for one of the Attitude Era’s biggest tag teams.