WWE: Sgt. Slaughter Interview

Listen up maggots! We're sounding off with the Sarge!

Listen up maggots! With the WWE's release of the new RAW 20th Anniversary Collection, we had a chance to sit with the legendary Sgt. Slaughter to discuss the new box set. The Real American Hero shared with us what the "unedited" DVDs will show as well as stories about real-life heat with Stone Cold, how WWE won the Monday night wars, what life is like backstage, recent charity work and who Sarge thinks should play him in the next G.I. Joe movie. Now drop and give us twenty! WhatCulture: Good morning Sarge. Sgt. Slaughter: Good morning. As you were. WC: Sarge, you are promoting the RAW 20th Anniversary DVD collection. This collection is being advertised as "Unedited". Can you tell us a little about what we will be seeing? SS: Well, you are going to see a lot of backstage things that nobody really gets to see. Like the Wrestlemania "fan fest" where people get to come to the arena and see where everybody is positioned, where the promo spots are done, where Vince McMahon's office is, where the doctors and trainers are, where the talent dress and everything that goes on back there that has never been shown. I think you're gonna see I lot of backstage things that went on like breaking up fights. Things I'm sure were filmed but were never shown. I haven't seen it yet, but that's what I'm hoping for. Screen Shot 2013 12 14 At 12 23 46 WC: Do you think this is a natural progression in the "Sports Entertainment" era of wrestling? This peeling back of the curtain and letting people see things like the "Gorilla position" (the room right behind the curtain) and what's going on backstage? SS: Yes. I think it's one of the things that make it so unique. I know I've come back from a match and had some of my greatest moments still fighting my opponent in the shower! The Iron Shiek and I went at it a few times. Dr. D and the Outlaw, The Ultimate "puke" The Ultimate Warrior, he and I battled backstage, back to the locker room and into the showers outside, going to our cars. I was in a confrontation with Stone Cold Steve Austin after he stunned me when I was Commissioner one night. He pulled up to my hotel that night and I was still sweating from what happened. This black SUV pulls up and I walk out. Here is Stone Cold walking out with an angry look on his face. He walks right by me and instead of saying "Aw, sorry" or "Thanks for taking the stunner" or whatever, he goes (imitating a Steve Austin growling voice) "Why don't you try selling it next time Slaughter?" I said "You know what, you son of a..." and some things that can't be repeated here. I thought from that point "This is war!" The stunner that he hit me with wasn't too good so I got up and fed him for another one and that one almost knocked my head off! I thought, being the good General that I am, that I would make him look twice as good and he though it hurt him. You know, he was just a time bomb and you never knew what to expect from him. It was the good and the bad of "RAW is WAR" and anything goes. The Attitude and everything that went with it, everyone was just going ballistic and doing whatever they good to get themselves on top of the ladder and grab that brass ring and be the one that was the hero and it was just chaotic...and I think that was the way Mr. McMahon wanted it. It was a "No holds barred" kind of situation not only in the ring, but outside the ring. I'm hoping that's brought out a lot (in the new DVD collection). WC: As a former backstage producer, you pretty much had your hands in everything that was going on all the time. What was that time like? SS: Well, as you said, you're always on the go, basically trying to help out in any situation you can. I mean, it was so much going on. It was too much for one man, Vince McMahon, to do. He can do it and he does do it, but it was just so much. You're trying to help the talent. You're trying to create the situations (backstage vignettes) and trying to create new characters. They don't last forever so you're always looking for different talent, characters and I think that the one thing that really cemented RAW and the WWE in winning the war with WCW was...and I brought it up in a production meeting...and was persistent about it and it finally happened...was telling Vince that he had to get out from behind the microphone. He was running the shows. He was play-by-play, commentary. He had two microphones and two headsets. He was talking to Kevin Dunn (Executive Vice President for Television Production), discussing camera angles and running the show live from that announce table! I said to him "You need to get backstage. We need a General back here." We had all the privates and the corporals and the sergeants. We need the General back here to give the orders and start directing and producing from back here. He did, and I think that's what really won the war and the success of WWE today...because Vince McMahon came out from behind the microphone. There was nobody better at it on the microphone, but it just was too much and we all jumped in the foxhole with him. I was one of the first to jump in the foxhole and I'm still in it! Even though I'm not there 24/7 anymore, I still live it 24/7. I watch the shows every week and jot down my thoughts and try to get them to the people that need to know about it but as Vince says "Yesterday is yesterday. This is today". There were times when someone would be ready to walk out of the curtain with a Nike shirt on or an emblem. I'd say: "Whoa, whoa! Where are you going?" "Out to the ring." "Not with THAT shirt on! You wanna get fired?" It was a lot of little things like that, that I did...that we all did. It was continuity. I've always been big on continuity. It was natural to me to find those flaws. There weren't many, but they do happen in live television. WC: Being that you are promoting a RAW specific product, what RAW moment or moments, that you were a part of, really stand out to you? SS: Well, there were so many moments. I guess the first show. Just hearing the music and the response from the fans. You just didn't know what to expect. We were in a small building that wasn't made for the production of anything, much less a professional wrestling show. Kevin Dunn, being the genius that he is, with Mr. McMahon, together that combination and that orchestration was so exciting. Gorilla position was like, you could walk right out the curtain and be in the audience. It was that close. It was electrifying. There were no locker rooms, just a place where people dropped their bags and got dressed wherever they could. I guess a moment would be 1-2-3 Kid doing the upset over Scott Hall and Shwan Michaels' title match. It was all part of one show and being live, it was so exciting. Anything with Stone Cold was outrageous with Zambonis and beer trucks and milk trucks and everything that he could grab onto. He didn't care if he was knocking down lights and equipment. I guess those were some memorable moments. You just didn't know what to expect because they were live! You don't rehearse a truck coming through a building!
WC: Many children of the 1980s were introduced to Sgt. Slaughter as a G.I. Joe character. Not to bring up a touchy subject, but you were supposed to appear in the film sequel in the role that went to Bruce Willis, right? SS: Yes. We had a conflict of interest between Hasbro and Mattel. I was really hoping that Hasbro was going to become the toy company for the WWE and I would have been home free. I would have been in all three movies. So far I've only been in the animated movie. The first live version wouldn't have been me so much, but my character's uniform would have been involved. The Joes that were introduced to all the G.I. Joe fans back 30 years ago, some would have been away on vacation or something and wouldn't be there to help, but they would have had my campaign cover, my whistle, my sunglasses, my riding crop, my swagger stick and my uniform. Because of conflicts of interest, I couldn't be in that one. In the last one, Roadblock was played by Dwayne Johnson, The Rock. I was told that I was going to be the one that he went to for help like he did in my animated history of G.I. Joe in 1985. They brought Sgt. Slaughter in as the first live G.I. Joe. You couldn't mess with him. You couldn't buy him (the action figure). You had to earn him. You had to send in five proofs of purchase. You would get a secret phone number to call and I would be on the other end of the phone to give you a secret code number. You would write that down on a piece of paper and send it in and you would get your action figure. They went through the roof! Like Pat Patterson said "They went banana!" They were like 2 or 3 million short of what they were supposed to send out. They were back ordered and everyone had to wait. It was a very successful time for Hasbro and G.I. Joe and it helped Sgt. Slaughter along the way. I'm hoping that maybe in the next one, Sgt. Slaughter's character can be in it, and they said that Bruce Willis was a General and they had to switch it around. On the next one, I hope they bring Sgt. Slaughter in and I hope John Cena plays a young Sgt. Slaughter. With everything he believes in and fights for, not only for himself but the WWE Universe and for everybody around the world...that's the way Sgt. Slaughter's character was. 920548 Joe2 WC: From a licensing or promotions standpoint, how did the G.I. business work or not work with your wrestling career at the time? There are conflicting stories about what happened then. Can you clarify what was going on during that time? SS: Well, I was approached by Hasbro through mutual friends and attorneys and they had me come up to a meeting and I was very excited that they chose me to be their first living G.I. Joe and a spokesperson for the company. I thought "Wow, this is really gonna help the character for the WWE". When I approached Vince McMahon, he said "That's great Sarge, but I can't let you do it. I think there's a conflict of interest with the toy companies". I think it was LJN (the toy company who produced WWE figures at the time). He said "If you want to leave the company, you can do it but if you want to stay with the company, you can't". We had a lot of problems in between, too long to explain, but I ended up leaving and going to pursue G.I. Joe. I figured I could always be a wrestler but to be the first living G.I. Joe was an honor...to be picked for that. I felt I needed to go that direction. Unfortunately, I missed the first six WrestleManias but when I got back to the WWE I was in number seven as the main event. It was a very difficult time for me because I knew I should have been in WrestleMania 1,2,3,4,5 and 6 and who knows what 7 would have been then? It was a difficult decision for me and Vince McMahon because he told me I was bigger than Hulk Hogan could ever dream of being and he had a one-two punch of Sgt. Slaughter and Hulk Hogan. I was on one end and Hogan was on the other. Everything was "Sell out, sell out, sell out". That's a magical word in our profession...to sell out, sold out I should say. It was tough. AWA at the time was still in business and allowed me to promote G.I. Joe so I went with them and did a lot of independent circuits. They were drawing a lot of people with the Sgt. Slaughter name and character. They allowed me to promote so I was going to arenas, children's hospitals, childrens hospitals and going over the country. I never quit promoting WWE even though I wasn't allowed to say it. No matter what I did, the WWE got promoted also. WC: Thanks to the internet, people now know that you're actually a pretty nice guy who does a lot of charity work. Is there anything coming up that you would like to let everyone know about? SS: I do a lot of work for the MDA (Muscular Dystrophy Association) for WWE. Of course, we have shows coming up in New York City and Boston. I'll be in New York City January 7 (2014) and Boston January 23 (2014). It's a great night to raise money for MDA. Last year in Charlotte, they got us all by surprise when two children got up out of wheelchairs and started to walk. It was kind of a miracle. You could have heard a pin drop. WC: Thanks for your time Sarge. It was an honor. SS: You're welcome. Dismissed!
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George is a life-long fan of genre, wrestling and guitars. He is an actor, writer, CrossFit trainer and former WWE storyline writer. He currently works as talent development for PWX wrestling and resides in the birthplace of the zombie movie, Pittsburgh, PA.