One of the easiest ways a wrestler can get quick, cheap heat is to insult the town they’re in. However, for foreign heels, it’s more malicious to put down the entire country instead. It’s a stock trope, generally with a few key points – British and Frenchmen hate Americans because they’re supposedly uncouth and unsophisticated. The Japanese wrestlers believe Americans lack honor and Canadians are usually just overly proud of being Canadian. Although, for many of the Canadians on this list, they just don’t like America.
Over the years, wrestling has seen a slew of foreign born superstars, and maybe even expatriates who have turned their backs on America and all have done a pretty good job at badmouthing the USA, even though this is where they perform, make their money and raise their children, but don’t think too hard about that aspect of it, remember they are just playing characters. After all, plenty of evil Russians actually were Canadian or American.
One would think the more PG and the more global the WWE becomes, the less emphasis would be put on foreign born heels. Rusev might actually be the last one, considering just about every blue chipper in NXT was born and made their names in another country. In honor of America’s birthday, read on about some the WWE’s most disrespectful foreign born heels.
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15 The Real Americans
In a case of using real life American fears to get heel heat, the Real Americans were certainly narrow-minded American’s favorite team, playing off beliefs of the Tea Party and the xenophobia some of the country has. The angle caught the attention of right-winger Glenm Beck, who called them a mockery of the Tea Party. The WWE would have Zeb and Swagger break character during a promo to invite Beck to Raw and show him that these were just characters and in no way represent the company’s point of view. Needless to say, the Fox News personality didn’t take them up on the offer.
14 Dino Bravo and Frenchy Martin
When you carry around a sign that reads “U.S.A. is not O.K.” there’s definitely going to be a lot of American fans that take umbrage with you. Manager Frenchy Martin did just that while seconding Canadian Strong Man, Dino Bravo, to the ring. As a heel, Bravo would play up his Franco–Canadian heritage to the hilt, successfully making the Fleur-de-lis a villainous symbol of Quebec nationalism as he defeated American strong men of the day like Ken Patera, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, and the original Rock, Don Muraco.
13 La Resistance
The WWE always like to chime in on real world events through their characters and storylines, so it went with La Resistance. To cash in on America’s most recent anti–French sentiments, two French–Canadian boys, Sylvain Grenier and Rene Dupree, were called up from OVW to be the evil French tag team. Unfortunately, they were called up too soon and their lack of experience showed.
Still, the team was given the star treatment, complete with vignettes imploring Americans to not be afraid. The one memorable angle with La Resistance involved a feud with The Dudley Boyz. The Frenchmen were pounding on a U.S. Serviceman in the crowd, only for him to be revealed as the third member of the team, expatriate Rob Conway.
12 Tiger Ali Singh
A second generation star, Tiger Ali Singh had a lot to live up to, as his father Tiger Jeet Singh was a mega star in Japan. While he would never achieve anywhere near the stardom as his father, Ali Singh would become one of the vilest foreign villains of the Attitude Era. He would arrive to the ring with manservant Babu in tow and offer up money to any American who was willing to humiliate themselves to prove the point that we would do anything for the almighty dollar. Unfortunately, he wasn’t wrong, as fans would lick Babu’s smelly feet, kiss his sardine–filled breath, take their clothes off and and even eat Babu’s boogers.
11 The Un–Americans
Citing the Montreal Screwjob, Lance Storm was fed up with how the WWE treated its Canadian superstars. He was joined by fellow Canadians, Test and Christian, and the Anti–Americans were born because they weren’t pro–Canadian. The group used an upside down American flag as their logo and on more than one occasion tried to burn Ol’ Glory. The stable would add William Regal to their ranks and rebrand themselves the Un–Americans. According to Jim Ross, with the exception of Regal, the group was afraid of any real–life heat they might receive and the group was unable to succeed because of that.
10 Ludvig Borga
For fans that don’t quite remember who Ludvig Borga was, just picture a slightly smaller Brock Lesnar who was from Helsinki, Finland. Borga would debut in 1993 and run down America because he believed that his country was better and the U.S. lacked respect for the environment. Borga's feud with the All–American Lex Luger would be front and center in a Survivor Series match between the two and their respective teammates (The Steiners and the Undertaker teamed up with Luger, while Yokozuna, Jacques Rougeau, and Crush would accompany Borga).
9 Nikolai Volkoff
At the height of the Cold War, Josip Nikolai Peruzovic would defect from his homeland of Croatia and head to Canada where he would be trained by Stu Hart. Peruzovic would get his start in the WWWF, even headlining at MSG against Bruno Sammatino. After a stint in the AWA, he would return to the WWE and side with Freddie Blassie. Now, Volkoff demanded the crowds show him respect as he sang the Russian national anthem. Perhaps, if he wasn’t so out of tune or Communist, the fans would have shown him some respect. He go on to win the tag team titles with another anti–American, the Iron Sheik, and then later would team with his comrade, Boris Zhukov, as one half of The Bolsheviks.
8 Mr. Fuji
Like many other foreigners of the day, Harry Fujiwara would spend the majority of his career downplaying his Hawaiin heritage and playing up his Japanese heritage for big heel reactions. Most fans today remember him as the nefarious Mr. Fuji, who looked like Bond villain Odd Job. Fuji would play up his hatred for American when paired with the Orient Express and especially as the manager of Yokozuna, where the pair would tear through the WWE and challenge any American in their path to try and bodyslam the mighty Sumo.
7 The Iron Sheik
The Iron Sheik has the distinction of beating one all American, Bob Backlund for the WWE Championship and losing it to another, Hulk Hogan. As one half of The Foreign Legion, he and Nikolai Volkoff would defeat the U.S. Express at WrestleMania for the tag team titles. After Volkoff would sing the USSR anthem, he would declare Iran number one, Russia number one, USA and then hock a big loogy in the ring. After a brief stint in WCW, The Sheik would return, only this time as Iraqi Colonel Mustafa and showed his hatred for America knew no bounds.
6 The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers
At first, Jacques and Raymond were clean cut babyfaces, but then they showed their true colors, added the word “Fabulous” to their name, moved to Memphis, TN and started to proclaim that they were “All–American Boys.” A couple of French–Canadians partnering with Jimmy Hart, immigrating to city of Kings (Elvis and Jerry Lawler), what’s so anti–American about that? Considering how annoying they were, plus the French lyrics of their theme being decidedly un–American (We don’t care for them / They are the world’s worst / We love to annoy them when we say / We love the U.S.A.), the Rougeau brothers were one of the best heel teams of the late 80s.
5 Rusev and Lana
When the Bulgarian Brute and the Ravishing Russian came up to the main roster, the comparison to Rocky IV villains Ivan and Ludmilla Drago was all too easy to make. However, over time, the pair became more than just a rip off of those characters and Rusev became a bonafide threat in the ring, as Lana would declare their adoration of Russian president Vladimir Putin and declare Rusev the “Hero of the Russian Federation.” Unfortunately, any heat Rusev had went out the door when he lost three consecutive matches to John Cena. Even worse, the guy actually fractured his foot, leaving him to have to watch in horror as Land now cavorts with Dolph Ziggler.
4 Ivan Koloff
During the Cold War, all you had to do to get heat was be from Russia. Ivan Koloff did one better, when he ended the seven–year reign of Bruno Sammartino. Needless to say, when he was defeated by The Russian Bear, Ivan Koloff, for the title in 1971, the deafening silence in Madison Square Garden could be compared to Brock ending The Streak. In later years, Koloff would mentor and train his “nephew,” Nikita Koloff, helping to make him a hated heel in his own right, and along with Krusher Kruschev form The Russians, a heel stable who ran roughshod in the NWA in the mid–eighties.
3 Bret Hart
In early 1997, the wrestling landscape was changing. Heroes were becoming passé, while villains were being cheered as anti–heroes. Bret Hart, a perennial fan favorite, couldn’t take it anymore and couldn’t understand why crowds were cheering for dirty, stinking, rotten guys like Stone Cold and booing guys like him, who stood for truth, justice, and honor. His family would get behind him and reform The Hart Foundation, only this time around in one of the most unique occurrences ever in wrestling, as they would be the biggest heels in any American arena they stepped foot in, but elsewhere they would be worshiped. It would be the first time this kind of this heat would be attempted and not enough credit has been given to The Hitman for being able to pull it off.
2 Muhammad Hassan
The show 24 wasn’t the only one to portray Middle Easterns in a negative light after 9/11. Mark Copani was hired by the WWE to play the role of Arab–American Mohammed Hassan. It was another unique twist on the evil foreigner bit, seeing as how Hassan wasn’t a foreigner, but that he was just an Arab–American experiencing the same xenophobic treatment many Arab–Americans were at the time. Hassan demanded fans be a little more open minded with him and stop with the stereotypes. Unfortunately, the London Bombings had the UPN network demand that the WWE keep Hassan off their channel after some touchy material, which led to the end of the gimmick.
1 Sgt. Slaughter
When Iraq invaded Kuwait and Operation Desert Storm had begun, Sgt. Slaughter turned his back on America, aligning himself with Iraqi General Adnan and declaring his love for Saddam Hussein. He would famously burn Hulk Hogan’s shirt and win the World Title. Many wrestlers speak about getting death threats and having to wait out fans when leaving arenas, but no heel ever went through what Slaughter and the WWE went through. He received numerous death threats, had to wear a bullet–proof vest in public and had security detail at his home to protect his wife. Fans like to think Hulk Hogan turning heel was a shock, but Slaughter turning was on another level.
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