Wrestling News

Sgt Slaughter Recalls Meeting Vince McMahon & Working Babyface

Jerry Lawler Vince

Sgt Slaughter has recalled what led to him working as a babyface on his return to the WWF and why that decision had Vincent K. McMahon ready to order silk underwear.

Slaughter first worked for the World Wrestling Federation in 1980 for current WWE Chairman Vince McMahon’s father, Vincent J. McMahon. As a hated villain, Slaughter feuded with then WWF Champion Bob Backlund and gained notoriety for his Alley Fight with Pat Patterson.

Speaking exclusively to Inside The Ropes’ own Kenny McIntosh for issue 6 of Inside The Ropes magazine, Sgt Slaughter discussed his return to the company in 1983 and how it was Vincent Kennedy McMahon that saw Slaughter’s appeal as an all-American hero:

“Vince’s father was always a huge Sgt Slaughter fan, as a villain. He always said, ‘There will never, ever be another villain as good as Sgt Slaughter.’ When I came back to the WWF [in 1983], we were out for dinner and Vincent Kennedy McMahon was getting ready to take over. ‘Sergeant, it’s always good to see you and I’m so happy you’re back. Vinnie’s going to be taking over, and I just can’t thank you enough to be back. You’re the greatest villain of all time.’”

“After I got all the accolades, I said, ‘Well, Mr. McMahon, if you think Sgt Slaughter is such a good villain, you should see him as a hero!’ He nodded his head, kind of agreeing with me, and said, ‘What do you mean?’ So I started going through the whole Iranian thing with him about The Iron Sheik being in the WWF and Ayatollah Blassie being his manager, and that the United States never really got payback for all that Iran did with the hostage situation, the Black Hawks going down, the murder of the Marines at the embassy, and everything that went along with it. I said, ‘Why don’t you let Sgt Slaughter come back and challenge The Iron Sheik to a match?”

“Let me declare war on him.’ And he was nodding his head, really getting into the idea, and then he just stopped right in the middle of everything and said, ‘No, no, no! Sergeant, you can never be a hero. Your character is such a good villain. It would be ruined by making it into a hero.’ I looked over his shoulder and behind him, of course, was Vincent Kennedy, and he shook his head and had a huge smile on his face, giving me a thumbs up and agreeing with everything that I was saying. Mr. McMahon turned to him and said, ‘Vinnie, don’t you ever turn the Sergeant into a hero. You cannot do that.’”

After initially returning as a villain, the younger McMahon’s plan soon took effect when Slaughter, Iron Sheik, and Sheik’s manager Freddie Blassie least expected it:

“Well, after that we went through three weeks of me returning to the WWF at the following television tapings in
Allentown. The first taping I was on, everybody hated me and booed me, spat on me and said vulgar words about me. I was even more of a villain than I had been in the early ‘80s. The Iron Sheik went out and did a promo in the second hour, and in the third hour he was going to have a match with Eddie Gilbert. Halfway through the third hour I was getting ready to take my gear off and take a shower—because I wasn’t scheduled for anything—but I waited because I wanted to watch Sheik’s match.”

“The next thing I knew, Vincent Kennedy ran into the locker room and he came up behind me and said, ‘Are you ready?’ And I said, ‘Ready for what? I was born ready, Vince.’ He said, ‘No, ready to do what we talked about three weeks ago when we were having dinner? About going up against The Iron Sheik and declaring war on him.’ I said, ‘Well, when do you want to do it?’ He said, ‘Right now. In five minutes. I’m not going to tell Sheik, I’m not going to tell Blassie. The only people that are going to know about it are you, me, and the production truck.’

“Right before he left, he said, ‘Give me your best General Patton promo.’ And I thought, ‘My best General Patton promo?’ I’ve got two minutes before I’m supposed to go out there . . . What am I supposed to do?’ So anyway, Sheik had just destroyed poor Eddie Gilbert and wouldn’t let up on him, then finally they got some wrestlers out there to stop them. Sheik got on the microphone and started putting down the American ways, saying, ‘Iran number one, USA two.’ The next thing you knew, the Marine Corps hymn played, and the place went quiet. You could almost hear a pin drop. I was watching the monitor and you could see Sheik and Blassie mumbling to each other, and I could read Blassie’s lips, ‘They’re playing the wrong music, they’re playing the wrong music. Somebody screwed up.’ When I came out they were all confused. Of course, Blassie being the veteran he was, caught on immediately.”

Sgt Slaughter channelled his inner General Patton as only he could, by declaring war on The Iron Sheik and getting the whole crowd to join him in a rousing rendition of the Pledge Of Allegiance:

“I came out blowing the whistle and people were kind of like, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah.’ It was building and building and they realised the cavalry was on the way. Blassie, being the smart man he was, took Sheik out of the ring. Finally, I got into the ring, checked how Eddie was doing then I grabbed the microphone. I started saying, ‘Since I’ve been back in the WWF, I see The Iron Sheik is doing these bad things. I’ll tell you what, Iron Sheik, Sgt. Slaughter and the United States of America declares war on you and Iran.’ The people were going crazy.”

“I was trying to think of a good General Patton promo, so I just said, ‘There’s one thing I’ve always done since I was a little boy in school, and when I went to the Cub Scouts, and the Boy Scouts, and the Marine Corps—and I still do it today . . .’ and I put my hand on my heart and I started doing the Pledge of Allegiance. Everybody stopped, stood on their chairs, took out their lighters, and started saying the Pledge of Allegiance with me in unison. It gives me goosebumps telling you about it now. It was just incredible what happened in those few minutes.”

“When I got out of the ring people were jumping all over me, almost having a riot. I got back to the dressing room and half my clothes were torn off. Blassie was looking at me and shaking his head, laughing. He said, ‘That was the greatest thing I’ve seen in a long time in this business. Boy, did you catch us off guard! That was incredible. That was amazing,’ and he shook my hand. I never did see Sheik. He was gone.”

According to Slaughter, his fortunes in terms of popularity as well as sell-out matches only increased after declaring war on The Iron Sheik. This is when the WWE Hall Of Famer let Vince McMahon know he could look forward to some of the finer things in life:

“Vincent Kennedy came into the room and he jumped on top of me—he was jumping up and down saying, ‘That is the greatest thing I’ve ever seen!’ Just like his father. ‘That was incredible what you just did.’ And I said, ‘Good, good. I’ll tell you what, Vince, you show me your side of the business, I’ll show you our side of the business. We’re going to make a lot of money, and you’re going to be farting through silk before long.’ That’s an old expression we used—you know, to promoters—wrestlers would say, ‘If you use me right, you’ll be farting through silk because I’ll be making you so much money.’ Vince goes, ‘Okay, I’m in for it, I’m ordering my
silk underwear tomorrow.’”

“The next time we did TV, I walked into the dressing room in Allentown and one of the guys who put the ring up came over and said, ‘Hey, Sarge, over there on that wall, that’s all for you.’ I looked and it was huge canvas bags full of mail. There were eight bags, I’m telling you. So Sheik and I did our thing, we were doing the Boot Camp Matches and selling out every place we went. We had the famous Boot Camp Match at Madison Square Garden, and not only did we sell out the Garden, we sold out the Forum next to it. People couldn’t get in. That’s how big it got in just a small amount of time.”

To read the full interview with Sgt. Slaughter you can order Issue 6 of Inside The Ropes Magazine here or take out a monthly subscription to get great wrestling interviews, features, and a whole lot more delivered to your door. Alternatively, Inside The Ropes Magazine is also available as a download.