As the Gulf War kicked into gear in early 1991, Sgt Slaughter was in the midst of one of the most controversial angles in the history of professional wrestling.
In August 1990, staunch patriot Sgt Slaughter turned his back on the United States and declared himself an Iraqi sympathiser. As the new character Slaughter lambasted his home nation, heavily leaning into his new heel persona. As the months ticked by, the political situation between the United States and Iraq continued to escalate resulting in more and more heat coming Slaughter’s way.
Things came to a head in early 1991 with George Bush authorising Operation Desert Storm just two days before the 1991 Royal Rumble. At the event Slaughter would win the WWF Championship from Ultimate Warrior setting up a showdown with Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania VII.
Speaking with Inside The Ropes’ very own Kenny McIntosh in Issue 6 of Inside The Ropes Magazine, Slaughter went into detail about how the match was put together and how Randy Savage knocked Warrior out cold during the match.
“Well, what made it a little easier is—I didn’t know until two hours before the show—so I wasn’t thinking too much about it, I was just going on with my character.
A few hours before match time the referee said, ‘Vince wants you in his office.’ I headed over and there was Randy Savage and Sherri. Warrior was nowhere to be found. Vince told us what he wanted and left Randy and I to get it done. When Vince trusted in his talent he didn’t have to worry so much. He worried about the other things he had to worry about instead.”
During the match Savage hit Warrior who he had been feuding with, with his royal sceptre helping Slaughter pick up the win. The only problem being that Savage knocked Warrior out cold, with more than ten minutes of the match remaining.
“Randy and I came up with the scenario where he hit Warrior with the sceptre. When it happened in the match I heard this ungodly sound of glass shattering—Randy had hit the Warrior right between the eyes with that sceptre. It was obliterated. It didn’t go in the ring, but it was all over the floor. After that Warrior was supposed to be lying in the ring, but when I went over he was still sprawled over the second rope.
I tried to pull him back in but he was dead-weight, he was completely knocked out. I finally got him off the rope and threw him into the ring, and I saw glass sticking out of his head like a spear. It was an incredible sight.
The match was supposed to go another ten minutes at that point. I thought, ‘What do I do? He’s knocked out. I don’t want to just cover him and that be it—the heat is going to go on Randy.’ I figured Warrior wasn’t moving, so I would just drop an elbow on him and hopefully that would wake him up and he’d kick out of it.’ So I dropped the elbow and covered him—I didn’t even grab his leg because I thought he was going to kick out.
And I heard, ‘One,’ so I grabbed his leg; ‘Two,’ I was still waiting for him to kick out and he didn’t kick out; ‘Three.’ The match was over and I was like, ‘What the hell?’ So I celebrated—I was the new World Champion.”
After the match, Warrior managed to gather himself enough to get out of the ring and run back up the ramp much to Slaughter’s amazement. However, it turned out that the knockout shot from Savage wasn’t totally an accident. The WWE Hall of Famer revealed that Savage was getting his own back for Warrior putting him out for six weeks.
“Warrior was still lying in the ring moaning. I don’t know how he did it, but he rolled out from one end of the ring to the other and started running back to the dressing room. I thought, ‘How is he doing that? He was completely knocked out!’
Like I was telling you earlier, a ‘potato’ means you are too stiff. Well, a receipt means, ‘You hurt me, I’m getting the payback’—and that’s what Randy Savage did. Warrior had hit him so hard in a match that he broke his hand and his arm. Randy was out for six weeks, or whatever it was, and wasn’t getting a pay check. That was taking money out of his pocket—which, other than breathing—the biggest thing in Macho Man’s life was making money. So that was his receipt to the Warrior for breaking his wrist and causing him financial burden.
Randy hit him so hard. He couldn’t wait to get out there. I was expecting just a little tap, and Warrior was going to fall back in the ring and we would continue our match. We had something planned where Adnan was going to grab the foot for the finish, but we never got to that. But that was Randy’s receipt and that’s what happened.”
Following his victory at the Royal Rumble, Sgt Slaughter headed to WrestleMania VII to take on Hulk Hogan. The event was famously switched from the LA Memorial Coliseum to the LA Memorial Sports Arena. During a recent podcast appearance, Slaughter explained that the switch was due to security concerns, rather than slow ticket sales.