Stephanie McMahon 'Very Hopeful' Ronda Rousey Returns To WWE

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FAMILY COMES FIRST
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Ronda Rousey hasn't wrestled since mid-2019, but Stephanie McMahon says WWE's "doors are absolutely open" ... and the company's "very hopeful" the former Raw champ will come back.

TMZ Sports spoke to McMahon -- WWE's Chief Brand Officer -- about Rousey's future with the wrestling powerhouse.

"Ronda's been very public that she’d like to start her own family," McMahon tells us.

"Once she does that, our doors are absolutely open, our arms are open, we are very hopeful that Ronda will come back home to WWE."

Rousey joined WWE back in 2018, and immediately started kickin' ass and takin' names ... beating Alexa Bliss for the Monday Night Raw title at SummerSlam in August 2018.

She was champ for nearly 8 months.

But, Rousey -- who's reportedly under contract until mid-2021 -- walked away from the squared circle ... announcing she was taking an "impregnation vacation" in April 2019.

After leaving, Ronda said she loved WWE and the other Superstars, but slammed WWE fans ... calling them "f***ing ungrateful."

Bottom line -- it's obvious the McMahon family and WWE really want Rousey back ... question is, will she return??

Stephanie McMahon WWE Plans To Have Fans In Attendance At WrestleMania 37 In April

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THE MAYHEM CONTINUES!!!
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WWE hasn't had a live audience since March ... but that's about to change, 'cause Stephanie McMahon tells TMZ Sports WWE plans to have fans in attendance at WrestleMania 37!!

McMahon joined the "TMZ Sports" TV show (airs nightly on FS1) ... where she announced WWE's gunning to have an audience at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa at WM on April 10 and 11.

“I’m thrilled and excited because, hopefully, this will be the first opportunity for us to have our fans back in attendance," McMahon says.

"That’s the current plan. Of course, ticket information is not available yet cause we’re still trying to figure out all the machinations.”

McMahon tells us WWE is keeping an eye on the Super Bowl (Feb. 7, also at RJS in Tampa) ... for tips on how to make sure the massive event goes off without a hitch.

"We're going to learn a lot from [the NFL] logistically, etc., and really best practices, what works, what doesn't work. But man, we can't wait to come in and for 2 nights, really rock that pirate ship."

FYI, it's been 316 days (March 9th's Monday Night Raw) since the wrestling organization had live fans in the building.

Still, plans can change ... and McMahon stressed WWE's top priority is the health of everyone involved.

"Working with the local organizing committee, all of the health officials, health and safety is first and foremost, of course," Stephanie says.

"For our fans, for our performers, for the employees, for the staff working the building, there's a lot of different logistics that need to determined, but hopefully, it'll all work out, and this will be the first WWE event where we actually bring the WWE Universe back together in person, and I cannot wait."

As far as the exact number of fans they plan to admit ... Stephanie says WWE has a plan, but isn't ready to reveal the figure at this time.

For comparison's sake, WWE had around 100K fans at WM 33 at AT&T Stadium in 2016 (WWE's going back to Texas for WM 38).

Obviously, the number will be way smaller this April. But, bottom line ... humans will be there!

There's more ... we also talked to Stephanie about Rob Gronkowski AND Tom Brady.

Gronk is the former 24/7 Champ -- and host of last year's Mania -- so we asked McMahon if a cameo from Rob and his G.O.A.T. QB teammate was in the cards.

The full interview with Stephanie McMahon airs tonight on FS1!!

WWE Star Shad Gaspard Widow Sues Los Angeles ... Your Lifeguards Left Shad to Die!!!

WWE Star Shad Gaspard's widow claims the Venice Beach lifeguards on duty the day her husband died left him to fend for himself ... and she wants L.A. and California to pay for her loss.

Siliana Gaspard filed a wrongful death suit ... alleging the lifeguards weren't up to snuff in protecting Shad from drowning, which she says happened on the government's watch.

In her docs, obtained by TMZ, Siliana claims there wasn't sufficient signage on Venice Beach the day Shad died to warn him of the dangers of strong currents with the potential to take him under.

Not only that, but she claims the lifeguard towers that day were significantly understaffed and the lifeguards negligently opted to only save their 10-year-old son ... and left Shad "in the water to die."

You'll recall ... Shad had apparently instructed lifeguards to focus on saving his son, but had gone under the surface when they returned for him.

He was missing for a few days before his body washed up onshore -- but he was, deservedly, hailed for his heroism and sacrifice to save his child.

It's interesting ... after the tragedy, Siliana praised the lifeguards and divers who attempted to save and locate Shad, saying ... "We’d like to once again thank the lifeguards, coastguard, divers, fire and police departments for their efforts."

Based on the lawsuit, it seems she's had a change of heart.

Siliana's suing L.A. County, the city and the state of California for unspecified damages and burial costs too.

Bray Wyatt WWE Superstar Set On Fire ... In Insane Ending To Wrestling Match

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SET ABLAZE
WWE

The wrestling ring looked more like the set of an action movie Sunday night ... with a WWE superstar being LIT ON FIRE to end a highly-anticipated main event!!

And, just like a movie, the whole thing was not real and scripted ... but it was still insane to watch!!!

Bray Wyatt's "The Fiend" character was squaring off with Randy Orton in a "Firefly Funhouse Inferno" match -- where, in order to win, a wrestler has to set the other on fire.

And, after several minutes of brawling ... Orton did just that to Wyatt!!

Randy took control of the match, pushed Wyatt into some flames, and then did his signature "RKO" finishing move on the superstar to "KO" him.

That's when Randy doused Wyatt in gasoline and dropped a match on him!!!

The visuals were INSANE -- Wyatt's body went up in flames ... and announcers played up the moment by begging Orton to stop!!

Of course, the whole thing was pre-recorded -- NOT live -- so, if we're guessing, Wyatt's probably going to be just fine, and Orton's gonna avoid jail time.

WWE Legend Pat Patterson Dead at 79 Created Royal Rumble, First Gay Superstar

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WWE legend Pat Patterson -- the man who created the "Royal Rumble" -- has died, the organization confirmed. He was 79.

"WWE extends its condolences to Patterson’s family and friends," the company said Wednesday in a statement.

Patterson -- who considered himself wrestling's "first gay superstar" -- was a key part of WWE for decades, widely known as Vince McMahon's right-hand man.

He began wrestling in the 1950s -- and finally joined up with WWE in the late '70s, where he famously engaged in a series of awesome matches with Sgt. Slaughter. Pat became the company's first Intercontinental Heavyweight Champion in 1979.

Patterson later became a color commentator for WWE -- and continued to work in the ring and in the booth until he retired in 1984.

At that point, Patterson joined McMahon as a WWE exec -- and in 1988, he pitched the idea for the Royal Rumble.

In his book -- "Accepted: How the First Gay Superstar Changed WWE" -- Patterson explained how the Rumble came to be.

"The first Royal Rumble was on January 24, 1988, in Hamilton, Ontario. The difference between WWE’s Royal Rumble and a traditional over-the-top rope battle royal is that the participants come into the match at two-minute intervals -- not all at the same time at the beginning of the match. I wanted to create something special."

Pat famously came out as gay during a 2014 episode of "WWE Legends House" ... opening up in front of guys like Roddy Piper and Jimmy Hart. It was a powerful moment.

Patterson was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 1996.

RIP

The tributes are already pouring in ...

Vince McMahon -- "Pat Patterson was more than the first Intercontinental Champion & father of the Royal Rumble Match. He helped lay the foundation for WWE as we know it. His mentorship shaped careers, his creativity sparked innovation and his friendship lifted spirits. Love you, Pat. We miss you."

The Rock -- "Rough phone calls to get this morning to tell me, our dear family member, Pat Patterson who was my pro wrestling mentor and father figure has passed away."

"He was also responsible for calling Vince McMahon when I was training to become a pro wrestler (my $7 bucks days) and said, 'Vince you gotta see this kid work in the ring.'"

"Vince flew me to RAW a few weeks later and I had my first match EVER in Corpus Christie, Texas. The rest is history and years later, here I am writing this post."

Triple H -- "No words can describe what he gave to us. His body as an in-ring performer, his mind as a storyteller, and his spirit as a beloved member of our large WWE family. I will miss him for so many reasons ... it’s never goodbye, it’s see ya down the road. Love you, Pat. Abooze."

Shane McMahon -- "I can not express how crushed I feel right now with the loss of Pat Patterson. A true member of my family, mentor and dear friend. I love you Pat. God speed."

Jim Ross -- Just heard of the passing this morning if the great, Pat Patterson. True legend of the pro wrestling business.  A wonderful mentor who taught me so much. RIP old friend."

Stephanie McMahon -- "I’m deeply grateful to have grown up with WWE Hall of Famer, the first-ever Intercontinental Champion, the father of the #RoyalRumble and the first openly gay wrestler of his generation. Thank you for teaching me how to not take it all so seriously. Abooze."

The Undertaker Retires After 30 Years Fire, Explosions & Hologram!!!

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After 3 decades, it was the final bell for The Undertaker at WWE's Survivor Series on Sunday night -- and the final sendoff was killer.

Vince McMahon appeared in the center of the ring to announce The Dead Man one last time ... and he was clearly emotional about it.

“Tonight marks the end of an era," McMahon said ... "An end of an era of the most storied career in history, it'll never be duplicated."

He continued, "They say nothing lasts forever. I think they’re wrong -- because the legacy of The Undertaker will live on eternally!"

That's when the lights went dim and fire began to explode all over the arena -- a dramatic setting for Taker's final ring walk.

Once he got in the ring, Taker -- real name Mark Calaway -- only said a few words, but he made 'em count.

"My time has come to let The Undertaker Rest. In. Peace."

That's when a hologram of Taker's former manager, Paul Bearer, appeared.

Bearer -- real name Bill Moody -- passed away back in 2013.

It was a nice tribute to both Taker's career -- and a show of respect for Moody, who played a pivotal role in shaping Taker's character back in the day.

After the show, several WWE superstars paid respect to Taker on social media.

John Cena -- "After three decades of @undertaker committing wholeheartedly to the @WWE, tonight we bear witness to the end of an extraordinary body of work. For all the in ring moments and as a member of the @WWEUniverse, I say #ThankYouTaker!"

The Rock -- "30yrs ago today, he made his iconic #SurvivorSeries debut. Like EVERYONE - I was in awe as a rookie in the @WWE when his first words pierced my soul as he walked in the dressing room and said, “Muthaf**ka” True story! Honored to share the ring w you, my brother. #ThankYouTaker

Shawn Michaels -- "We’ve faced each other in every type of match and created some of the most special moments in my career. Standing across the ring from @undertaker was always a daunting experience but I’m excited to hear the gong toll one last time. #FarewellTaker"

The Miz to Ryan Cabrera I Demand to Sing At Your Wedding! 'He Played Mine, I'll Play His'

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THE WEDDING SINGER
TMZSports.com

WWE superstar, reality TV legend ... and now, wedding singer?!

The Miz tells TMZ Sports he's ready to add that last item to his resume ... saying he deserves the role at Alexa Bliss' and Ryan Cabrera's upcoming nuptials -- 'cause he helped set them up!!

The 40-year-old has been buds with Cabrera for nearly two decades -- and after he met Bliss through the WWE, he says he basically helped bring the two together.

Now, as somewhat of a reward, he says he's gunnin' to belt out some tunes at their impending reception!!

"Ryan played mine and [my wife] Maryse's wedding, like he played our first song -- our first dance," The Miz told us. "So, I think it's only right for me to return the favor."

And, if it ends up going down ... The Miz says don't expect him to be all that bad!!

The WWE star says all the lessons he learned putting out his "Hey Hey" diss track prior to WrestleMania this year should give him a leg up if it comes time to grab the mic at the wedding.

"To have me play your wedding, he did it for me, I should do it for him!" The Miz says. "It's just tit for tat."

Waiting for your permission to load the Instagram Media.

As for the newly engaged couple, The Miz says he's straight-up thrilled they've found love with each other ... telling us, "They're happy. That's all that matters!"

Hear, hear!

Alberto Del Rio Denies Physically Abusing WWE's Paige ... Claims He's the Real Victim

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Ex-WWE champ Alberto Del Rio is adamantly denying new allegations he routinely physically abused his ex-girlfriend, Paige ... insisting she was the aggressor during their tumultuous relationship.

Earlier this week, Paige had publicly accused Alberto -- real name Jose Rodriguez Chucuan -- of terrorizing her on a regular basis before they broke up in 2017.

During an interview on GAW TV, Paige described the cycle of abuse -- saying the incidents escalated from once every few weeks to daily attacks.

"It's like it's up to 6, 7 hours a day you're literally trapped in a certain room and getting your ass beat every couple of minutes, you know what I mean?"

Paige -- real name Saraya Bevis -- also noted Alberto is currently facing criminal charges in Texas for allegedly attacking a different ex-girlfriend back in May, something she chalks up to "karma."

"Karma's a real thing and you put out what you receive -- and right now, he's receiving it."

We contacted Alberto for comment -- and not only did he deny the allegations, Del Rio insisted he's the real victim.

"It was the other way around," Del Rio tells TMZ Sports ... "I have the evidence. Not just words."

Del Rio says he's considering taking legal action against Paige for defamation -- and issued this comment to her.

"I would say Raya, why? Why? Why are you doing this Raya? And, I'm not calling you Paige because you were never Paige to me, you were Raya."

"Why would you hurt me in a moment like this?"

We reached out to Paige's camp multiple times for comment -- so far, no word back.

The Rock Tastes Own Blood After Gym Injury ... Gets Stitches to Close Gash

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BLOOD, SWEAT, & GAINZ

Here's reason #1,000,001 why The Rock is tougher than you ...

Dwayne Johnson suffered a pretty gnarly gym injury Monday requiring stitches to close a wound on his face.

But, instead of cryin' about it -- he tasted his own blood and went right back to work!!!

The former WWE superstar said he suffered the wound throwing around some heavy weights -- and in a video, he revealed his eye was swollen and bloody.

But, in true tough guy fashion ... The Rock licked the blood off his face and said, "That's good. That's real good. Back to work."

!!!!!!

Johnson later explained he got nicked up tossing 50-pound chains ... and said the wound was so bad, he needed stitches.

Though the 48-year-old said he didn't go under the needle and thread until AFTER the workout was done ... 'cause, duh.

"We ain't playing tiddlywinks and we ain't reciting nursery rhymes," Dwayne said ... before later writing, "Taste your own blood, keep working out and stitch up later - rules of the house."

Who's ready for leg day now?!

John Cena Eric Andre Injured In Stunt Gone Wrong ... Not WWE Star's Fault

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Eric Andre was seriously injured -- and hospitalized -- after a wrestling stung gone wrong with John Cena ... and it's all on video.

The comedian revealed the whole story on "Jimmy Kimmel Live" ... saying he was shooting a bit for "The Eric Andre Show" which required Cena to hulk out and throw him through a shelf.

Kimmel watched the footage and asked Eric if the stunt hurt as badly as it looked.

"John Cena did the stunt right, but we prepped for the stunt wrong. And, that metal shelf came over and clocked me in the head," Andre said ... "And, I got concussed."

Andre says he went to the hospital immediately -- noting, "I had like a Fred Flintstone, like Bugs Bunny [welt] on the side of my head."

The good news ... Andre seems to be okay now and was joking about it with Kimmel.

"They did a CAT scan, and I haven’t been able to speak English since. I memorized this interview phonetically, actually."

Yeah, we know pro wrestling is fake ... but the stunts are VERY real and come with real risks.

Just ask WWE superstar Ridge Holland -- who underwent REAL surgery after suffering a gruesome injury on live TV earlier this month.

Hope everyone gets well soon!

Daniel Cormier The Miz Gives Advice On WWE Career ... 'Stick With It!!!'

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IT AIN'T EASY
TMZSports.com

Listen up, Daniel Cormier -- The Miz is handing out some free advice about making the switch to WWE ... telling TMZ Sports the retired UFC champ better be ready to work his ass off!!!

Remember, the MMA legend is a HUGE pro wrestling fan ... and recently revealed he is in talks with Vince McMahon to possibly join the org. as a commentator.

We spoke to The Miz about the potential road ahead for DC ... and he ain't sugarcoating anything.

"It's very difficult," he tells us. "Not many people are able to do it. Not many people can be as successful as Ronda Rousey was, which she came in and really did a tremendous job just acclimating to our style of professional wrestling."

Of course, DC said his role with WWE would be on the mic ... but let's be real. This dude *has* to get in the ring at some point, right?!

Miz says it'll be "fantastic" if DC follows Ronda's success into WWE ... but makes it clear he wouldn't be surprised if it doesn't work out, saying, "some people just can't get it."

"Honestly, it's one of the hardest jobs I've ever seen in entertainment because it's life, it's in your face, it's athleticism, it's entertainment."

"You have to have all these different realms and bring them all into one."

As for WWE, there's clear interest on their side as well -- honcho Triple H has praised DC in the past ... and even told us, "we'd love to do something with him if the time is right."

ALWAYS WELCOME
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There's more -- Miz gives DC the same advice he got when he first started out as an independent wrestler ... and even gets deep when talking about being with WWE for 15 years!!

John Cena Marries Shay Shariatzadeh ... Private Ceremony

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John Cena is a MARRIED MAN -- tying the knot with his girlfriend Shay Shariatzadeh in Tampa, Florida ... official records show.

The couple began dating back in early 2019, following Cena's high profile split with ex-fiancee Nikki Bella in 2018.

Cena and Shariatzadeh got very serious very quickly -- and were spotted making out all over town for the past year!

Apparently, the two got engaged on the down-low -- and filed for a marriage certificate in Florida in early October.

And, according to official documents obtained by TMZ Sports, they swapped "I Dos" on Oct. 12 in a ceremony in Tampa.  News of the marriage was first reported by PWInsider.

BTW ... Shay was born in Iran but is a Canadian citizen. She works as a product manager for a tech company in Vancouver.

Cena is a pretty famous wrestler, actor, rapper and male g-string enthusiast (seriously!).

We reached out to Cena's camp for comment -- but you know, he's probably off doing newlywed things.

Mazel tov!

This is Cena's second wedding, he was previously married to Elizabeth Huberdeau from 2009 to 2012.

Cena dated Bella for roughly 6 years but they split because he didn't want children at the time and Nikki wanted to start a family.

She has since had a son with new boyfriend Artem Chigvintsev.

WWE's Ridge Holland Undergoes Surgery After Freak Injury ... On Live TV

Breaking News

2:49 PM PT -- WWE has confirmed the damage to Holland -- and it's bad.

All in all, he suffered a dislocated and broken left ankle, ruptured his patellar tender along with a patellar dislocation. Horrible.

He underwent surgery on Thursday -- and everyone is hoping he can make a full recovery.

Horrible moment for rising WWE star Ridge Holland -- who appeared to suffer a very real, very painful injury during a match on live TV.

The 32-year-old ex-rugby player from England had just defeated Danny Burch during an "NXT" match — triggering a post-match brawl between Ridge and Burch’s pal, Oney Lorcan.

While Ridge was outside the ring, Lorcan launched a leaping attack — but Ridge’s left leg appeared to buckle while trying to catch Oney.

Ridge immediately collapsed and one of the refs working the match threw up an "X" arm gesture, typically the signal for a real injury.

The pro wrestler was loaded onto a stretcher and taken away -- but Ridge did give a thumbs up on the way out.

"It's hard to see something like this, it's a scary situation," announcer Vic Joseph said on-air.

Beth Phoenix added, "Terrible to watch the footage back. Always unfortunate when we have to see an injury here. Best of luck to Ridge Holland."

So far, no official word on Ridge's injury -- but WWE tweeted out after the match, "Wishing you a speedy recovery."

Ridge -- real name Luke Menzies -- began his pro wrestling career in 2016 and signed with WWE in 2018.

Originally published -- 6:07 AM PT

Ex-WWE Star Ryback Threatens Legal War W/ Zeke Elliott Over 'Feed Me' Trademark

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Ex-WWE star Ryback is threatening a legal war with Ezekiel Elliott ... claiming the Cowboys player has NO RIGHT to get a "Feed Me" trademark -- despite the RB's new tat.

"I'll tie him up for years," Ryback said this week. "He ain't using it. So he better get a good tattoo artist to go have him cover that sh*tty tattoo up on his stomach."

If you're unfamiliar, Ryback popularized the phrase "Feed Me More" during his time in the WWE -- and it became so big, crowds chanted it at arenas for YEARS.

Ryback claims he now owns the trademark for the phrase ... and when he heard Elliott applied for a similar "Feed Me" trademark this month, he was straight-up PISSED.

"This is exactly my phrase," Ryback said. "It's exactly. And it's the same meaning. And that will cause confusion."

Ryback says he believes Elliott -- a wrestling fanatic -- actually STOLE his whole "Feed Me" bit from watching him in the squared circle.

To be fair, this isn't anything new for Zeke ... he's been doing his "Feed Me" routine since he entered the NFL in 2016 -- and even got a massive tat on his belly to immortalize it this offseason.

Unclear how the trademark office will rule on the decision, but Ryback says he's more than willing to fight the legal battle against Elliott over the phrase.

In the meantime, he's slamming the NFL All-Pro for even attempting to make the move.

"I think it's low-life, scum sh*t, quite frankly," Ryback said ... "You're literally trying to latch onto somebody else's brand and then take it and make it your own."

Ryback continued, "It's like, come on, be a little more creative."

NFL's James Laurinaitis Heartbroken Over Dad's Death ... 'I'm Absolutely Crushed'

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5:52 AM PT -- 9/24 -- James Laurinaitis -- the former NFL and Ohio State football star -- says he's heartbroken over his father's death ... writing in an emotional post Wednesday night, "I'm absolutely crushed."

"I hate that I wasn’t able to say goodbye," Laurinaitis said ... "I miss you already."

James -- a 2nd-round pick in the 2009 NFL Draft -- was close to his wrestling legend dad ... and often spoke about how Road Warrior Animal helped mold him into a special football player.

Laurinaitis shared pictures of the two together in his post ... and added, "I don’t have the right words to say."

Waiting for your permission to load the Instagram Media.

"Say hello to Mum Mum, Pop Pop, and Hawk for me. Thank you for your love and support and the many lessons you’ve taught me. I can’t believe you’re gone. I love you Dad."

WWE icon Joseph Laurinaitis, AKA Road Warrior Animal, died Tuesday night of natural causes ... TMZ Sports has confirmed. He was 60 years old.

Law enforcement tells us, the wrestling legend -- who was one half of the famous Road Warriors tag team -- passed away at Tan-Tar-A Resort in Osage Beach, MO.

We're told cops received a call at around 11:49 PM from Laurinaitis' wife ... but when deputies arrived on scene -- emergency personnel had already declared the ex-wrestler deceased.

Laurinaitis is considered one of the best in-ring performers of all-time -- he wrestled for most of his WWE career with Road Warrior Hawk and won multiple tag team championships as The Road Warriors/Legion of Doom.

He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2011.

"RIP Animal,love you my brother," Hulk Hogan said in a statement Wednesday morning. "I know you and Hawk have a lot of unfinished business to take care of! God speed and blessings to your beautiful family,one love4Life."

Laurinaitis' son, James Laurinaitis, was a superstar linebacker at Ohio State who was picked in the 2nd-round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the Rams.

Joseph, meanwhile, was known for his face paint and spiked shoulder pads ... as well as his imposing frame -- he was 6-foot-2, 300-plus pounds.

As a team with Road Warrior Hawk (who died of a heart attack in 2003) ... Laurinaitis famously headlined several HUGE WWE events.

RIP

Originally Published -- 9/23 5:54 AM PT

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