Sgt Slaughter vs Hulk Hogan
WWE Championship Match – WrestleMania VII (1991)
WrestleMania already had a history of pitting hero against villain, but for WrestleMania VII the main event went supersonic.
Hulk Hogan, always portrayed as the ultimate American hero, went up against reigning World Champion and arch traitor Sgt Slaughter – a US turncoat and Iraqi sympathiser during Desert Storm. Slaughter had won the title from Ultimate Warrior at the Royal Rumble, before Hogan stepped up to challenge him over the anti-American sentiment.
Even the event’s tagline was “Superstars and Stripes Forever”, with US flags all over the arena. Hulk entered the ring waving the US flag and wearing a starred bandana, and Slaughter with General Adnan, a real-life former colleague of Saddam Hussein.
The crowd spent most of the fight chanting USA while the action played out as a typical Hogan match: he started strong before the opponent came back into it, building to the usual adrenaline-filled conclusion. Slaughter attempted the pin after draping an Iraqi flag over Hogan, but it triggered the Hulkster’s signature “Hulking Up” finale.
It wasn’t the spectacle of two athletes at their peak, but for sheer cartoon good vs. evil, it came at exactly the right time in the WWE’s history. A much-hated champion always riles the crowd, while Hogan perfectly played the role of the bloodied hero, winning the World Championship for the third time.
Rich Nelson @BetamaxPod
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