Nothing says red, white, and blue like good ol’ professional rasslin! World leaders would search far and wide for the biggest, creepiest, and most sadistic men to invade America and challenge wrestling’s biggest heroes. In celebration of July 4, I present America’s Most Patriotic Wrestlers.
Before anyone gets their panties in a bunch, let me remind you that this is all for fun. While wrestling has always thrived on feuds, the feuds in wrestling used to be much different. Taking pages out of current foreign disputes, promoters would generally book heels from the world’s axis of evil to take on the current top star. Wrestlers “from” Iran, Russia, Germany, France, Vietnam, Japan, China, Mongolia, and others would come to America to destroy wrestling’s hero.
Sgt. Slaughter – There isn’t another pro wrestler in the history of the business that represents America the way that Sgt. Slaughter did. As a former drill sergeant in the marine corps, Slaughter brought that same tenacity with him into the ring. One man, one country, and one war turned Slaughter from evil to good in one night. Slaughter’s challenge would come from Tehran, Iran’s the Iron Sheik.
Slaughter truly made his reputation with this one feud against the Iron Sheik. Over twenty-years later, the feud is still remembered as one of the all time greats. The timing, just a few years away from the Iran hostage crisis was crucial. Slaughter would go from being showered with boos to leading 15,000 people in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Slaughter would later make the move from wrestling to popular culture. Slaughter became a fictional part of the G.I. Joe series. Slaughter would appear in the cartoon, as well as have his figure included in the popular set. Kids who never heard of the Iron Sheik were now playing with Sgt. Slaughter figures. Everyone knew Sgt. Slaughter in 1986.
Even Sgt. Slaughter’s brief turn in the early 1990s couldn’t tarnish his legacy. Most fans forgive Slaughter’s allegiance to Iraq during the Gulf War. Sgt. Slaughter reigns today as wrestling’s most patriotic wrestler and will hold on to that legacy for decades to come.
Hulk Hogan – He may be accused of domestic violence today by his ex-wife, but that wasn’t the Hogan I grew up in the 1980s. Hulkamania was real and swept the world in the mid-1980s. In the 1980s, Hogan would make the song, “Real American” his trademark theme song. Hogan would live up to that song with some fierce battles against some of the world’s toughest villains.
It wasn’t uncommon for Hogan to walk to the ring swinging a big American flag. Hogan never had one monumental feud with a foreign athlete. However, it was Hogan that ended the short title reign of the evil Iron Sheik. Hogan would later go on to battle numerous foreign villains including; Nikolai Volkoff, Kamala, Killer Khan, Mr. Fuji, Andre the Giant, Zeus, Roddy Piper (Hey, he was from Scotland), Yokozuna, and countless others. Hogan was truly Mr. America in the 1980s and deserves a top spot on the list.
Hacksaw Duggan – Before he was turned into a cartoon character on WWF television, Duggan was one tough cookie. Duggan made his reputation as one of America’s soldiers was actually made on a smaller scale. America’s hero was born in the mid-south of all areas for Cowboy Bill Watts.
Duggan’s wars in Mid-South Wrestling with the nasty foreigners put him on the cover of several national wrestling magazines. The pictures of Hacksaw Duggan slugging it out with Russian villains, earned his reputation amongst readers from all over the country.
Like Slaughter, one man would change boos to cheers from fans all over the country. Duggan’s termination of his association with Arab Skandor Akbar that turned things around for him and the fans. Duggan would go on to face foreign and turncoat villains managed by Akbar. Duggan began wearing American bandanas and bringing flags with him long before Hogan did.
Duggan brought his patriotic love with him to the WWF when he left Bill Watts’ promotion. Duggan immediately jumped into a war with the Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff. Duggan would also wage battles with Kamala, Andre the Giant, Boris Zhukov, and other foreign villains in the WWF.
Old Hacksaw was also inducted in the WWE Hall of Fame in 2011.
The Patriot - Finally after a couple of years of updating this blog I have given in to reader pressure. Yes The Patriot finally makes the list of America’s Most Patriotic Wrestlers. He didn’t have a long career fighting for freedom in the WWE but he certainly left a memorable impression.
The Patriot debuted in Global Championship Wrestling and represented America against…The Dark Patriot! The Patriot also waived our flag overseas for All Japan Pro Wrestling teaming with Eagle. Next he went to WCW and teamed with Marcus Bagwell to form Stars & Stripes. I am still not sure exactly who was the star and who was the stripe.
However, most pro wrestling fans remember The Patriot for his shortest run of all which was in the WWE. The Patriot stood tall for the red, white, and blue against those evil Canadian the Hart Foundation. He even got a win over the leader of the Harts, Bret Hart on RAW thanks to Shawn Michaels (and you thought the Hart vs. Michaels rivalry was over the Montreal Screwjob?). Unfortunately The Patriot would suffer a torn tricep and never return to action in the WWE.
Dusty Rhodes – Dusty Rhodes was the son of a plumber and represented the “American Dream” of the country every time he stepped into the ring. There weren’t many fans in the audience who couldn’t relate with the blue collar persona of Dusty Rhodes.
Dusty would defend the honor of America against numerous foreign villains for decades. Dusty would travel throughout the country waging wars against the likes of the Koloffs, the Iron Sheik, Kamala, Krusher Khruschev, The Sheik, Abdullah the Butcher, and countless others. Dusty was always successful and would bleed and crawl his way to victory. For this, Dusty Rhodes is one of America’s most patriotic pro wrestlers.