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15 Patriotic moments we salute
WWE stands tall in its unwavering support of the United States of America. From Sgt. Slaughter to John Cena, WWE has a long, proud tradition of patriots willing to go to bat for their country. So, on this day of American pride, WWE.com salutes 15 of the most patriotic moments in WWE history.
Sgt. Slaughter battles Iron Sheik in a Boot Camp Match
On June 6, 1984, the very symbol of American patriotism in WWE, Sgt. Slaughter, faced off against his ultimate foil in the guise of the markedly anti-American Iron Sheik in a legendary Boot Camp Match.
Just three years removed from the end of the Iran hostage crisis, the image of the former champion Sheik railing against the USA was too much for the WWE Universe to take, and it fell to Sgt. Slaughter to defend the honor of his country against one of WWE’s greatest villains.
The two combatants engaged in a series of brutal battles throughout spring 1984, culminating in a Boot Camp Match at Madison Square Garden in June. That bout is remembered as one of the most legendary the WWE Universe has ever seen, and is a perfect representation of nationalistic warfare.
The Boot Camp Match was a no-holds-barred, anything goes, nightmare of a contest, and even the referee stayed as far from the action as possible — he stuck to the outside of the ring, in fact, entering only to count a pinfall.
Chants of "USA! USA!" could be heard from the opening bell, and fans in attendance waved American flags in support of their hero. It was nothing short of a war inside the ring, as "Sarge" went to work on his foe with the swagger stick, then headbutted the villainous Iron Sheik with a military helmet. However, his curl-booted rival was more than game for such a fight, savagely whipping Slaughter with his belt.
In the end, it was Sgt. Slaughter who was victorious, giving the capacity New York City crowd a moment they'd never forget.
Hulk Hogan returns at WrestleMania 21
WrestleMania is known as The Showcase of the Immortals. Therefore, it’s only fitting that at WrestleMania 21, Hulk Hogan made his return to WWE's squared circle. That night, the WWE Universe inside the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles absolutely erupted when the Hulkster made a surprise appearance to come to the aid of an injured Eugene, who was in the middle of addressing the capacity crowd about his excitement over being on The Grandest Stage of Them All.
Eugene’s WrestleMania moment had seemed all but ruined by other Superstars who sought WrestleMania glory for themselves. As fate would have it, though, something legendary was about to happen.
Moments after the attack on Eugene, the classic strings of "Real American" entrance theme blared through the sound system, and Old Glory waved big and beautifully on the TitanTron behind Hogan as he made his entrance. Wearing his classic yellow and red and standing in front of the red, white and blue flag, Hogan's arrival prompted the WWE Universe to roar in what was an unforgettable moment of national pride.
Inside the ring, Hogan connected with a big boot and a leg drop to Eugene's antagonists, and the crowd reached a fever pitch. Not even a steel chair blast could stop the Hulkster’s momentum, as he delivered another size-15 boot to the face before sending Eugene's bullying adversaries over the ropes.
With the ring cleared and an icon standing tall just one night after he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, Hogan’s shocking appearance at WrestleMania 21 was a patriotic instant that was truly immortal.
The Undertaker shows the stars and stripes
The Undertaker goes by a bevy of renowned nicknames - most notably, The Deadman or The Phenom. However, another moniker can be added to the list that rings just as true: patriot. If you require proof, look no further than a little more than one week prior to the 1993 Survivor Series in what was an unforgettable moment of national pride.
Typically, when The Deadman’s funeral dirge plays, a chill runs down the collective spine of the WWE Universe. It was a chill of a different sort that ran through the audience in November 1993, however, when WWE’s legendary Phenom was announced as the final member of Lex Luger’s "All-Americans" squad. He had been recruited to replace an injured Tatanka, as they readied to face off against the "Foreign Fanatics" at the upcoming pay-per-view.
Donned in his familiar black garb, The Undertaker delivered the following words to the WWE Universe: "These three men stand up for what they believe in – American pride. And in honor of their devotion, I will stand with them and I will survive with them. So let freedom ring, and let these 'Foreign Fanatics' rest ... in ... peace."
The Undertaker then opened his trademark black coat to reveal an American flag, inciting a raucous ovation from the WWE Universe. The rest, as they say, is history.
WWE pays Tribute to the Troops
It’s become one of the great traditions in WWE: Every December since 2003, Superstars and Divas visit with the men and women of the United States Armed Forces serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. WWE’s Tribute to the Troops has become a yearly staple that has garnered praise from the USO and earned the company the first-ever Corporate Patriot Award.
Awards and recognition are not the purpose of the initiative, however. WWE understands that the freedoms of many are protected by the brave few who serve, and Superstars and Divas are proud to spend some time with the servicemen and servicewomen who defend our nation’s security.
The first Tribute to the Troops was held at Camp Victory in Baghdad, Iraq, in 2003 and has since taken place in Tikrit, Iraq; Bagram, Afghanistan and at Fort Hood in Texas. In 2010, former President George W. Bush appeared on the program with a message to all Armed Forces members and the WWE Universe. In 2012, Tribute to the Troops was filmed in front of Armed Forces members stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, and featured a message from President Barack Obama.
The truest form of patriotism is embodied by the men and women who serve, and the WWE is devoted to giving something back to the bravest Americans.
Sarge pledges allegiance
Some names are just bound to appear on this list more than once, and Sgt. Slaughter definitely fits that bill. As an iconic figure of American pride, Sarge was embroiled in numerous conflicts that forced the patriotic Superstar to stand up for the country he loved.
When he took on General Adnan and Col. Mustafa in a Handicap Flag Match at Madison Square Garden in 1991, Slaughter would once again be tasked with defending the honor of the United States. Before the opening bell, ring announcer Howard Finkel set the stage and informed the WWE Universe at the legendary Garden that, "The winner of this bout will get to wave his colors high."
For a patriot, few honors are greater.
And so Sarge, who arrived wearing his iconic military fatigues, his wrists adorned with red, white and blue wristbands, battled through a distinct disadvantage, defeating the combined might of Adnan and Mustafa. After his hand was raised in victory, it was time to wave Old Glory, and the Sarge spoke to the Garden's capacity crowd. It was an emotional moment for the Superstar, who had just recently done some soul-searching and returned to his patriotic ways.
"I want to do something I haven’t done in a long time, and I hope you’ll get up and do it with me," Slaughter said before reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. The entire MSG crowd, American flags raised and hands over their hearts, joined him in an unforgettable moment of nationalism.
Lex Luger bodyslams Yokozuna
After defeating Hulk Hogan at 1993's King of the Ring, Yokozuna became the WWE Champion and kicked off a dominant nine-month-long reign as the titleholder. The future WWE Hall of Famer was a monstrous, imposing champion in his day – a true force to be reckoned with, and he knew it.
Yokozuna and his manager, Mr. Fuji, issued a challenge to anyone who could bodyslam the near-600 pounder, a feat they were confident would never be accomplished. To add insult to injury, the champion chose America’s birthday, July Fourth, as the date and the USS Intrepid as the place of the contest. One after another, competitors tried and failed to slam the champion. Just as all hope seemed lost, though, a helicopter arrived on the carrier, and from it emerged Lex Luger, who on that day personified the very spirit of America.
To everyone's shock and awe - most notably, Yokozuna and Fuji - Luger did the impossible, hoisting up the massive titleholder and slamming him to the ring canvas!
Soon afterward, Lex embarked on a bus tour of the USA, traveling in his "Lex Express" as he barnstormed his way across the 50 states in pursuit of Yokozuna’s title.
Mr. America runs wild
In 2003, after Stephanie McMahon signed a "new" Superstar, sight unseen, the WWE Universe was in for a big shock when the mysterious Mr. America finally made his debut on a segment of "Piper’s Pit." But there was something awfully familiar about the red, white and blue-clad masked "newcomer" who arrived to the SmackDown arena that night to the tunes of "Real American," the classic entrance theme of Hulk Hogan - whom Mr. McMahon had just earlier forced to "sit out" the rest of his WWE contract.
When questioned by Piper and, later, an incensed Mr. McMahon who threatened to unmask the Superstar, Mr. America responded with a simple question: "Whatcha gonna do when the 24-inch patriots run wild on you?"
Hoga — uhh, Mr. America — then proceeded to lay waste to Piper and Mr. McMahon, leaving the arena to the strains of "Real American" while waving a huge American flag over his head. The WWE Universe in attendance had Old Glory-colored confetti rain down on them from the rafters and "The Real American" had traded in the red and yellow for — what else — the red, white and blue.
Hulk Hogan defends Old Glory
On October 5, 1985, the eyes of the WWE Universe were turned to Saturday Night’s Main Event as a very special matchup was scheduled to take place. But there was even more than just the vaunted WWE Title on the line that night, as WWE Champion Hulk Hogan was set to do battle with Nikolai Volkoff in a Flag Match.
Not only would the victor claim the title, but he also would be granted the opportunity to wave his native flag proudly in the middle of the ring.
Before the bout, Hogan told "Mean" Gene Okerlund, "I’m proud of America, I stand for this country, and I’m going to promise you one thing: When this fight is over tonight, there’s only going to be one flag standing, and that’s the Stars and Stripes forever!"
In a contest that was more brute force vs. brute force than a display of technical ability, champion and challenger traded huge barrages of power moves in front of a capacity crowd that rose in unison every time Hogan connected.
Ultimately, the combined might of Hulk Hogan and the American spirit won out in the end. The Hulkster nailed Volkoff with a leg drop that nearly drove the big Russian through the canvas, and made the pinfall itself merely a formality. The crowd erupted as Hogan retained the WWE Title and stomped through the ring, proudly waving Old Glory high over his head.
Sting dons the red, white and blue
One of the most unforgettable instances of pure patriotism in sports-entertainment history occurred, fittingly enough, during The Great American Bash on July 7, 1990. Challenging NWA Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair for the title, Sting entered the ring in Maryland's Baltimore Arena with the American flag painted on his face, and sporting blue ring gear with a red- and white-striped Scorpion. The California native accented his patriotic ring attire with his iconic red, white and blue stars and stripes jacket. Literally wearing national pride on his sleeve, The Stinger was a veritable force of July Fourth that night, and defeated Flair to capture his first World Title.
Sting continued to wear the iconic ring attire and jacket, donning it at WCW’s Starrcade in the Tokyo Dome in 1992 and again in a legendary battle with The Great Muta in NJPW. Over the years, a number of ring warriors have displayed their patriotism by wearing Old Glory ring attire, but few have been as memorable as Sting.
Kane feels the power of America's Armed Forces
Maj. Gen. William Grimsley found himself up against tall odds in Fort Hood, Texas, when Kane answered his open arm wrestling challenge at Tribute to the Troops in December 2010. The former World Heavyweight Champion seemed eager to deny the major his moment to shine in a contest of strength, and despite Grimsley’s bluster, The Big Red Monster was proving a difficult foe to beat.
Suddenly, the major’s salvation came in the form of a Canadian (who’d have thought?): The Rated-R Superstar, Edge, who sprinted to the ring in a flak jacket and Speared The Devil’s Favorite Demon into next week. Even though The Ultimate Opportunist hailed from the Great White North, the image of Edge and Grimsley celebrating in the ring with the contest abandoned and the challenger lying in a heap was enough to transcend nations. All together now: YU-ESS-AY! YU-ESS-AY!
Hulk Hogan rocks for America
- George Washington
- "1776" - both the Broadway musical and the actual year
- monster trucks
- apple pie
- Rocky’s defeat of Ivan Drago in "Rocky IV"
- The Dallas Cowboys ("America’s Team," for the uninitiated)
- The Muppets' Sam Eagle
Exaggeration, you say? Well, we didn’t hear President Obama breaking out Sgt. Slaughter’s theme at the White House Correspondent’s dinner.
John Cena proclaims, "We got him!"
One of the more historic moments in a WWE arena came after Extreme Rules 2011. Moments after John Cena defeated The Miz and John Morrison in a Steel Cage to reclaim the WWE Championship, news began to break across the country that Osama bin Laden had been killed by American forces in Pakistan. The Cenation leader took hold of the microphone and famously announced that the elusive terrorist had been "compromised" to a permanent end. The next night, on The Rock’s birthday celebration, The Great One opened the show with a succinct announcement of "We got him!" and led the WWE Universe in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Hulk Hogan defeats Sgt. Slaughter
In the aftermath of the Persian Gulf War in 1991, the WWE Universe found out that sometimes even patriots can waver. When WWE Champion Sgt. Slaughter went from "G.I. Joe" to "G.I. Jerk" and turned against the country he loved so dearly for so long, the WWE Universe was shocked as Slaughter publicly became an Iraqi sympathizer.
Disgusted by the actions of a man they thought they knew, fans around the United States clamored for someone to step up and defeat Slaughter for the title.
When Hulk Hogan won the Royal Rumble Match that year, he found himself in the unique position of defending the honor of America against the man who, for so long, had personified the American spirit. Even as the Gulf War started to wane by late February, the tunnel-visioned turncoat continued escalating hostilities, burning a bright yellow "Hulk Rules" banner on television — an act nearly as monstrous as igniting Old Glory herself — and insisting that Hulkamania would "go up in flames."
While Operation Desert Storm fronted U.S. headlines every day, Sgt. Slaughter's about-face on the U.S. remained a constant source of irritation both inside and outside sports-entertainment — inciting so much hatred from the WWE Universe that WWE wisely altered its planned WrestleMania VII venue. Instead of a planned outdoor event drawing 90,000 fans to the Los Angeles Coliseum, the company moved The Grandest Stage of Them All next door, within the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena.
After several tense months, Hogan would have his title opportunity against Slaughter, and he wouldn't wane. Before a raucous, patriotic crowd, The Hulkster hit the leg drop, covered his opponent, won the WWE Title ... and officially ended a war.
Sgt. Slaughter wants his country back
Following his loss to Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania VII, Sgt. Slaughter embarked on a self-imposed exile from WWE. His time away from the ring proved fruitful, as the would-be WWE Hall of Famer embarked on a journey to find himself. While gone from WWE, Slaughter came to his senses and reconnected with his country.
After realizing the error of his ways, the next step for Sgt. Slaughter was to come in front of the WWE Universe and plead for forgiveness.
"I want my country back," begged a teary-eyed Sarge, as he stood next to several American landmarks. He wasn’t all talk, either – a surprise return to save American favorite "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan from a beating at the hands of The Nasty Boys would ultimately affirm Slaughter’s true allegiance. One of the nation's heroes had returned home.
"Hacksaw" Jim Duggan fights for America
As "Mean" Gene Okerlund once said about "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan, "If there were just one man to guard our national shores, I’d want it to be that man." No stranger to Flag Matches wherein he would continually stand up for his country, the WWE Hall of Famer is red, white and blue, through and through.
Evidenced by the reaction of the WWE Universe when "Hacksaw" enters arenas across the United States and "USA!" chants break out in unison, Duggan is as American as the three-point-stance he’d assume before clotheslining an opponent to the canvas.
Inside the ring, he was known as an eccentric brawler. First and foremost, however, "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan is a true patriot.