The Good of WWE Patriotism
As an American, I will admit the Fourth of July is one of my favorite holidays. I like the idea of family, friends, food and fireworks. It is a rare all day holiday that has meant a lot to me over the years. It is the only night of the year I actually don’t mind all those loud explosions and lights in my neighborhood. Just wish it would occur for many days before and after this holiday.
If there were one organization that wraps itself in its patriotism like no other, it would be our beloved WWE. While some might have questioned their motives at times, they certainly have earned enough credibility in this area through years of tremendous work.
As a long time fan, I have seen many patriotic moments and characters in WWE history. Some were amazing. Some were cheesy. And some were Mr. America. We cannot ignore these memorable moments on this American holiday.
With that in mind, I present my list of the Good of WWE Patriotism:
Few characters are better to represent WWE patriotism then the Sarge. That iconic look, his amazing jaw and his ability to refer to everyone as “maggots”. How can you not love someone who became a G.I. Joe character? Well, I guess The Rock did as well but that is another story.
I also respect the fact he was a tremendous wrestler. He famously had a great hardcore battle with Pat Paterson in 1981. He became a very patriotic figure in 1984 when he defeated The Iron Sheik in a sold-out Madison Square Garden. The fans still cheer the patriotic Slaughter in his rare appearances now when he shows up to give back to professional wrestling by putting over younger talent whenever it is needed. I will always respect Slaughter for what he has given to the WWE. And please bring back “The Boot Camp” match!
"Real American" Theme Song
You cannot dispute this theme’s place in WWE History. The 1980’s WWE crowds went wild for the playing of “The Real American” with the red and yellow appearance by Hulk Hogan. I am amazed when I look back at old clips how loud of a reaction Hogan would get to this simple true by Rick Derringer. I find it fascinating to learn it originally was a tune for Barry Windham and Mike Rotunda, the U.S. Express but it was passed on to Hogan. Good call.
The lasting power of the song is amazing. Hogan used it from late 1985 until he left the WWE in 1993. When in his comeback in 2002, he used the song again on July 4, 2002 against the Un-Americans; the crowd loved every moment of the song.
You know a song has a tremendous cultural impact when President Obama used it to introduce himself in the May 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner. No, seriously he did. Hulk Hogan’s song makes any “birther” issue go away! Here is the link:
Kurt Angle is one of my all-time favorite wrestlers. His “It’s True” shirt was the first WWE t-shirt I bought. His matches with Brock Lesnar, Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels are some of his many great feuds. But it is his patriotic character that I truly enjoyed.
When he debuted in November 1999, he took the elements of the All-American hero. What I loved about it was he twisted the classic WWE patriotic formula and used it to create a very condescending attitude towards the fans. He was an Olympic gold medalist for the United States and wasn’t afraid to tell every WWE fans about how wonderful he was all the time.
One of the best things about Angle was his great entrance theme “Medal” by Jim Johnston”. Sure it was originally used by “The Patriot” but was used far more successfully by Angle. And thanks to Edge we can forever use the phrase “You Suck” perfectly during Angle’s theme song at just the right moments. Angle always was the most patriotic wrestler even if he was occasionally a jerk about it. I hope we get to see him come out one more time to “Medal” in the WWE so we chant how we truly feel about him again.
Torrie Wilson as Uncle Sam
Because we all need to have our Uncle Sam’s look dramatically different then that white haired old man. This image was a major part of promotion for the 2004 Great American Bash and if you haven’t seen that pay-per-view, well you are looking at the best part of the entire show by leaps and bounds. The WWE was slightly less PG back in 2004.
Tribute to the Troops
Thank you JBL. When you came to Vince McMahon with the idea to provide this annual tribute show for the troops in 2003, who knew the impact that it would have? It has provided the WWE a lot of positive press, awards, video messages from multiple Presidents and more importantly bring some joy to the American troops in a war zone during the Christmas season. The WWE calls it the most important show of the year and judging by their footage of the troops with the superstars it is hard to argue with their claim.
They were one of the first entertainers to enter the Iraqi War zone in December 2003, which was only a few short months after the war had begun. These are certainly not safe zones because before the 2006 show, a mortar attack wounded 14 soldiers right near where the WWE was setting up their show. Their shows were held in Iraq six times and Afghanistan one time during wartime. This is and is a commendable tribute to the WWE’s patriotic theme.
While the matches were always kept short to provide more images of the superstars visiting troops and locations, there were some fun in-ring moments. One of my favorite was when JBL came out with a military escort. Even better JBL was covered with a gas mask and flak jacket. Classic and very unique heel behavior for sure.
My other favorite moment is Rey Mysterio with a machine gun. He held one over his head in the ring once to end the show because I guess nothing is more patriotic then a masked luchador holding a machine gun.
But the important thing is with the entire event was how excited the troops were to see the Superstars and Divas each year. I don’t know where the event will go from here but it has to be on the top of any WWE patriotic moment list.
There you have it. These are some of the good patriotic moments in the WWE’s History. They have used American patriotism for a lot of good over their history but they also have had a lot of bad moments in patriotism as well. I am really looking forward to discussing that side of the theme in next week’s column. Have a great Fourth of July to all my American readers and if you aren’t an American, have a great Thursday! And if you're Canadian, have a great Canada Day today!