Bruce Prichard says WWE would think twice before running an angle like Sgt. Slaughter portraying an Iraqi sympathizer in 1991.
In 1991, WWE entered a transitional period. Hulkamania had run wild for over half a decade and after the experiment of running with the ultimate warrior in 1990 did not work out the way WWE had hoped, the decision was made to put the WWE Championship back on Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania 7 and they did so in unforgettable fashion.
Hulk Hogan defeated Sgt. Slaughter in the main event of WrestleMania 7, which was uniquely given an American aesthetic because at the time, in the middle of the first Gulf War, Sgt. Slaughter began portraying an Iraqi sympathizer on television.
Speaking on his podcast, longtime WWE creative team member and current executive director of Monday Night Raw and Friday Night Smackdown, Bruce Prichard reflected on the angle saying that WWE wouldn't portray anything like that today and would not have portrayed the angle in such a manner in hindsight.
“First of all, having to do it all over again in hindsight being 20/20, we wouldn't have done it and it was timely and it was, you know, in many ways formulaic in how we had presented storylines before. [Displaying] what was going on in the world and in being able to take conflict in the world and bring the conflict into the ring in a storyline that hopefully will make sense and this was probably just a little too soon, a little too close to home, and I don't think that anyone ever really thought that until this weekend that we were actually going to have a full conflict and go to war. It was you out there and everybody was watching what's going on in Iraq but you think that -- you hear the shit all the time, but there's no big, major war and then this one turned into that major war that people haven't been apart of in many many years and I think that it just affected the psyche of the country.
“You look at Japanese wrestling and where Japanese wrestling really took off is when they started bringing Americans in to be the villains, to be the heels. ‘Here are these bad guys that came over after Pearl Harbor and leveled cities,’ so let's bring them in and portray them as nasty people, forgetting that they bombed Pearl Harbor first. So, it was both sides. Both sides absolutely sensationalized it and that was part of entertainment and when talent would go to go to Germany and work in Germany, that's how a lot of guys got heat. I'm not saying it was right and in hindsight, it was just downright wrong but it was a completely different time.”
WWE would revisit storylines built around International conflict a few more times in the future. Most notably, Muhammad Hassan, who after working with a litany of Hall of Famers was quickly written off of television. Rusev also came in as a Russian sympathizer claiming to fight for Vladimir Putin in 2015.
As for the Sgt. Slaughter angle, it was shortly dropped after the 1991 SummerSlam with Slaughter suggesting that he wanted to reclaim his country and would eventually do so with the help of Jim Duggan.
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