The United States of America has never been shy to be patriotic. While WWE ups the ante in its patriotism around holidays, they’re never shy about how proud they are to be an American company that expanded worldwide. Patriotic moments work in wrestling, as it’s a great way for faces to garner extra support (and for heels to antagonize the crowd). However, sometimes patriotism transcends storylines.
Not all of the patriotism that stems from the WWE has come from a holiday, as it’s a year round job for some of the wrestlers to rally the troops (literally) and promote Pro-American views. Sports fans are notoriously patriotic at live events, and it can be pretty easy to get some good USA chants going through the stands. The WWE’s patriotism stems right from the top, as Vince McMahon himself is a huge patriot. It’s understandable that McMahon would feel so passionate about his country as he’s a great embodiment of the American dream. This is a man who grew up in a trailer park in North Carolina and after his father gave him an opportunity, he took over the WWE and took it to heights never seen before. He’s made himself into a multi-millionaire and was at one point a billionaire. Vince believes in his country as much as anyone and he likes show that in his product.
Which moments in the WWE have brought out the most patriotism in its fans, though? It’s hard to pick from just a few since it seems like there is one or two every week, but only a certain few can bring people nearly to the point of red, white and blue tears. Here are the 15 most patriotic moments in the long history of the WWE. You can probably guess which wrestlers make the most appearances on the list.
15. Sgt. Slaughter Wants His Country Back
During the Cold War, Sgt. Slaughter had turned his back on the United States and teamed up with anti-American characters such as Colonel Mustafa and General Adnan. After Slaughter’s team lost a two on three handicap match to Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior at the 1991 SummerSlam event, Slaughter disappeared from the wrestling scene. Slaughter returned through a series of promos where he wanted to reconnect with the United States and became a face again.
14. Kane Arm Wrestles a Major General
“Tribute to the Troops” has been running for 12 years now (more on that later), and the 2010 edition was taking place at Fort Hood in Texas. Major General William Grimsley of the United States Army took the ring to issue an open challenge in an arm wrestling competition. Instead of one of the soldiers coming out, it was Kane that answered the call. The two were embraced in a deadlock before Edge came out and hit Kane with a spear. Even though Edge is from Canada, it’s still a country that’s viewed positively by the American soldiers and brought a huge reaction as the celebration continued.
13. Undertaker Goes Patriotic
The Undertaker once had the gimmick of “The American Badass” where he rode around on his motorcycle with a red, white and blue bandana. Before that, he was always the mysterious Deadman that didn’t say much. Heading into the 1993 Survivor Series, Lex Luger and his All-American squad were left with an empty spot after Tatanka was injured. It was a huge surprise when The Undertaker was chosen as the last member, and told the fans that the “Foreign fanatics (will) rest in peace.”
12. Iron Sheik vs. Sgt. Slaughter in a Boot Camp Match
During the early 1980s, the patriotic figure in the WWE was Sgt. Slaughter, and his main nemesis at the time was the ruthless Iron Sheik. The Iron Sheik was an Iranian character that hated the United States, and it was only a few years after the conflict between the two countries. It was a long feud that ended in the Summer of 1984 at Madison Square Garden in a Boot Camp Match (basically just a no-DQ match). Patriotic chants filled the famous venue, and Slaughter walked away with the victory.
11. Mr. America
Hulk Hogan was fresh off of his defeat of Vince McMahon at Wrestlemania XIX, and the storyline that followed saw the boss make Hogan sit out the rest of his contract, unable to wrestle with any other brand. That was until later in 2003 when Stephanie McMahon announced that she had signed a wrestler named ‘Mr. America’ to Smackdown to Hogan’s theme. It was obvious to even the biggest kayfabe marks that it was indeed Hogan, and he was somehow able to crank up his patriotism higher than usual, which is saying something.
10. Sgt. Slaughter’s Pledge of Allegiance
We have already seen how patriotic Sgt. Slaughter can get in the Madison Square Garden after his match with the Iron Sheik. This time around, it was the return of Slaughter to the arena after he made his face turn in 1991. Slaughter was defending the United States flag and taking on both General Adnan and Colonel Mustafa, where the winner got to wave the flag around. After winning the match, Slaughter led the entire crowd in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, which they were happy to do.
9. Hulk Hogan’s WrestleMania 21 Return
If Hulk Hogan’s theme song has taught us one thing, it’s that we all need to right the wrongs that are being committed and stand up for the little guy. Hogan was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame prior to WrestleMania 21, which is when he made his big return. Eugene was in the ring being beaten brutally by Muhammad Hassan and Daivari when a familiar tune popped up, “Real American” by Rick Derringer. Hogan came out with the flag draped over the titantron and went to town on Eugene’s attackers.
8. Lex Luger Bodyslams Yokozuna
Perhaps no WWE superstar was pushed so hard and so fast than Lex Luger was in the early 1990s. After Yokozuna had won the WWE Championship from Hulk Hogan and was in the middle of a lengthy title reign, on the Fourth of July, the WWE was hosting a show on the USS Intrepid, where Mr. Fuji issued a challenge to any wrestler to bodyslam Yokozuna. Luger answered the challenge in front of the patriots and did the deed while U-S-A chants came over the ship.
7. John Cena’s WrestleMania 31 Entrance
The Russian (or Bulgarian, but that’s semantics) Rusev was a monster heel before being involved in the current weird love triangle storyline. Rusev had not been beaten by pinfall or submission heading into WrestleMania 31. To get people on the side of John Cena, the WWE capitalized on the patriotism aspect of the United States babyface versus the Russian heel. Cena’s entrance was filled with patriotism and pageantry, leading to his victory for the United States Championship.
6. Hulk Hogan vs. Nikolai Volkoff in 1985
“Saturday Night’s Main Event” unfortunately isn’t around anymore, but it was a big deal back in the 1980s in the Pre-Raw era of the WWE. One of the most memorable matches came between Hulk Hogan and Nikolai Volkoff in a flag match for the WWE Title. Hogan used his signature moves to finish off Volkoff, ending it with a leg drop. The crowd went bananas with patriotic pride as Hogan raced around the ring, waving the stars and stripes.
5. We The People!
John Cena’s entrance during Wrestlemania 31 against Rusev might have been a big production, but the participation of the American people was nothing compared to when Jack Swagger returned to face off against Rusev during the middle of one of he and Lana’s anti-American rants. Swagger and Zeb Coulter made their way to the ring and rallied the crowd with a resounding “We the people” that was near deafening.
4. John Cena Announces to Fans That Osama bin Laden is Dead
Extreme Rules in 2011 wasn’t one of the most memorable pay per views, but it was what happened afterward that got the attention of the mainstream media. John Cena was fresh off of his victory against The Miz and John Morrison to win the WWE Championship in a cage match when he grabbed a microphone and climbed back to the top of the cage. Cena announced to all of the people that Osama bin Laden was caught by special forces, leading to one of the biggest USA chants ever caught on camera.
3. Hulk Hogan vs. Sgt. Slaughter at Wrestlemania VII
At the end of the Cold War, a new conflict started in the Persian Gulf as the United States was involved in the Gulf War. During the conflict, Sgt. Slaughter made one of the most memorable heel turns of all time by declaring his support for Iraq and held onto the WWE Championship. Hulk Hogan would win the 1991 Royal Rumble to set himself up for a match with Slaughter at Wrestlemania VII with the patriotic crowd in Los Angeles behind him. Hogan won with his signature leg drop and knocked Slaughter out of the WWE for a few months.
2. Tribute to the Troops Debuts
As the War on Terrorism started after the attacks on September 11th, patriotism was at an all-time high in the United States. With many of the troops being stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq, Vince McMahon and JBL came up with an idea to entertain the troops in a USO style show. The concept was created in 2003 and titled “Tribute to the Troops”, which still runs today. The event lasts for three days and is aired in delay on television, with the first one taking place on Christmas Day 2003.
1. First Show Following 9/11
The attacks on America during September 11th, 2001 rallied the nation in a patriotic uproar. While all of the other sports organizations delayed all of their doings for more than a week, the show went on for the WWE. In the first live show (Smackdown on September 13th), Vince McMahon came to the ring first to address the WWE Universe. McMahon gave an impassioned speech with the entire roster on the ramp while Lilian Garcia belted out a memorable rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.
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