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    Monday, July 4, 2016

    Ranking The Most Patriotic WWE Superstars Ever

    We couldn't let the Fourth of July pass us by without remembering some of the great American patriots who have set foot in a WWE ring. From such expected names as "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan and Kurt Angle to out-of-left-field bets like Kenzo Suzuki and The Undertaker (that happened), the trope of going to battle under the Stars & Stripes has almost always proven to be a universal crowd-pleaser.

    And so we've chosen ten of the most memorable patriotic gimmicks ever employed, and ranked them from worst to first.

    On with the show!


    #13429561 Sgt. Slaughter

    Career highlights: WWE Hall of Fame, WWE World Heavyweight Champion (1x)
    Most patriotic moment: His 1984 face turn to defend America's honor against the Iron Sheik.

    You might argue that no way in hell does Sarge deserve to be ranked this low. Heck, he's the only guy on this list with a GI Joe figure of his own—and that's probably one of the most American things that could only happen in the 1980s. He's fought proudly against such foreign invaders as the Iron Sheik, which early wrestling observers called one of the most iconic feuds of the era. So why rank so low?

    Simply put, there are some things you don't come back from. And tossing your hat in with Saddam Hussein is one of them.

    Even his heartfelt turnaround eight months later didn't do much to heal his reputation among the wrestling public. The sight of Slaughter aligning with the heinous pair of General Adnan and Colonel Mustafa took some time to forget.

    He may be forgiven now, but we have two words for Sarge: YouTube remembers.

    #9 Kenzo Suzuki

    Career highlights: WWE Tag Team Champion (1x)
    Most patriotic moment: Donning the stars and stripes to become the world's worst karaoke singer.

    Kenzo Suzuki had a cup of coffee with the WWE in the mid-2000s, debuting as a generic foreign heel with Imperial undertones, trumpeting a strong anti-American view. Big surprise. He's also more infamous among the internet wrestling community for allegedly being involved in the death of Giant Ochiai, whom he was training at the time.

    But we'll give him a pass for all that, just because he had the balls to challenge an early-era John Cena in an Independence Day battle rap, which certainly wasn't the worst anyone had done against the Doctor of Thuganomics.

    Of course, the commentating team didn't do him any favors by deliberately misinterpreting his pronunciation of "word life" as "wild rice." Good job not being racist, WWE. The man was trying.

    #8 Undertaker

    Career highlights: WWE World Heavyweight Champion (7x), Royal Rumble Winner (2007), WWE Tag Team Champion (6x), WCW Tag Team Champion (1x)
    Most patriotic moment: Joining Lex Luger's All-Americans after Tatanka was knocked out of action by Ludvig Borga's Foreign Fanatics.

    We all know the Undertaker is a certified legend in the world of pro wrestling and a sure-fire Hall of Famer. But nobody ever associates some good ol' love for the US of A with the Deadman—he's the freaking Lord of Darkness, after all.

    So allow us to refresh you about that one time he did declare his love of country to fortify the depleted Survivor Series team of Lex Luger and the Steiner Brothers—predictably known as the All Americans—in their war against Ludvig Borga and his Foreign Fanatics.

    While it was weird hearing the Undertaker talking about 'American pride,' it was certainly cool when he opened his robe like a creepy pedophile outside a K-12 school, only to reveal the American flag sewn into the lining of his trench coat.

    Obviously, this was a one-time-only deal, with Taker getting eliminated from the match through a double count-out with Yokozuna, but for this night, it felt pretty good seeing the WWE's Big Dog waving the flag for 'Murrica years before he unveiled his American Badass persona.

    We just wish it didn't have to lead to a home video cover as awkward as this one.

    #7 Jack Swagger

    Career highlights: WWE World Heavyweight Champion (1x), ECW Champion (1x), WWE United States Champion (1x), Money in the Bank winner (1x)
    Most patriotic moment: Going to war against Rusev for the United States Championship.

    Poor Jack Swagger. Put him in any other era and he'd have been an instant main event sensation—a great look, legitimate athletic credentials, a natural cocky charisma, a great catchphrase, and an easy-to-appreciate gimmick. How could WWE have swung and missed so badly with the All-American American?

    We don't want to say that wins and losses are the end-all and be-all in the world of pro wrestling, but here's an interesting factoid about Jackie Swags, courtesy of our buddies at the Internet Wrestling Database: Throughout his career, he's gone to war with the Bulgarian Brute Rusev in singles competition 41 times. But out of all these, he's only won thrice.

    Talk about emasculation. Oh well. At least he can take credit for one of the most authentically spine-tingling moments in WWE history, leading a rabid RAW audience in a monster chant of "We the people."

    #6 The Patriot

    Career highlights: WCW Tag Team Champion (2x)
    Most patriotic moment: Defending American honor against Bret Hart after the Hitman's pro-Canadian heel turn.

    Nobody ever accused "The Patriot" Del Wilkes of having a richly-nuanced, multi-dimensional pro wrestling gimmick; he's literally designed to never be anything beyond a foil for any foreign heel who happens to come along.

    So we suppose we do have to give him credit for being exactly in the right place and the right time when WWE Hall of Famer Bret Hart made his notorious pro-Canadian heel turn. What kind of wrestler do you put up against a man who insults the United States at the drop of a hat? Why, one who wears star-spangled ring tights and waves the American flag on his way to the ring, that's who. He even owns the rare honor of picking up a win against Hart, who was pretty much untouchable in 1997.

    He'd go on to his only WWE main event in a losing cause at the succeeding month's edition of In Your House, but really, whether he won or lost didn't matter. What mattered was that the USA had someone to stand up and fight for them, even if he was summarily dismissed from the company months later.

    #5 Lex Luger

    Career highlights: WCW World Heavyweight Champion (2x), WCW United States Champion (5x), Royal Rumble co-winner (1x)
    Most patriotic moment: The slam heard around the world.

    Let's be frank; throughout his pro wrestling career, the man known as Lex Luger has been a bit of a pompous jerk. From all the times he's turned on supposed best friend Sting to even donning a narcissistic gimmick as "The Narcissist" (whoa there), the man known as "The Total Package" has never been shy about putting himself first.

    We get why Vince McMahon had such a hard-on for the guy when he finally poached him in 1992; he was the centerpiece of the ambitious World Bodybuilding Federation and made his grand debut to the WWF faithful as legendary manager Bobby "The Brain" Heenan's new toy.

    But perhaps his greatest moment in the WWE came when he shockingly turned face to answer the 600-pound Yokozuna's Bodyslam Challenge on the USS Intrepid, arriving on deck via helicopter to lift the then-WWF Champion off his feet for the very first time.

    Of course, his "Made in America" gimmick never succeeded in lighting a fire under the fans' imaginations, and despite a Roman Reigns-esque push to the main event, Luger quietly faded from the company by 1995.

    #4 "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan

    Career highlights: WWE Hall of Fame, WCW United States Champion (1x), WCW Television Champion (1x), Royal Rumble winner (1x)
    Most patriotic moment: Everything he did aside from his short-lived Team Canada defection.


    Jim Duggan's career was literally built on a 2x4, an American flag, and a U-S-A chant. But despite the paper-thin gimmick, "Hacksaw" was universally beloved as America's frontliner against the various "evil foreign heel" threats that would beset the WWE throughout the 1990s.

    We'll even forgive him for his misguided defection to join Lance Storm's Team Canada stable in WCW, mainly because he was so terrible at it, continually costing his running mates victories in multiple matches, and giving everyone possibly the most tone-deaf rendition of O Canada the world have ever known. Unlike Sarge, we're more than willing to accept his public apology and return to the red-white-and-blue.

    Never change, Hacksaw. And please, don't ever shave your beard again.

    #3 Mark Henry

    Career highlights: WWE World Heavyweight Champion (1x), ECW Champion (1x), WWE European Champion (1x)
    Most patriotic moment: Representing the United States of America in the 1996 Summer Olympics

    It's been 20 years since Mark Henry participated in the Summer Olympics, so allow us to refresh everyone's memories about the "World's Strongest Man": he was voted captain of the Olympic weightlifting team, remains to this day the largest athlete to participate in the Olympics, and still holds the record for the largest total poundage across five lifts: the snatch, the clean-and-jerk, the squat, the bench press, and the deadlift. Leading up to the Olympics, he was a legitimate multi-media superstar, guesting on the talk show holy trinity of Jay Leno, Oprah, and Conan at his peak.

    It was a big deal when the WWE signed him to an unprecedented 10-year, $10 million contract, and while he didn't shoot to instant stardom the way he did in the sporting world—unless you count fathering a hand with Mae Young as a star-making act—he did eventually make his way to the top of the WWE as World Heavyweight Champion.

    His career may be winding down, but let's not ever forget Henry as a man who represented his country proudly at the highest levels of competition.

    #2 Hulk Hogan

    Career highlights: WWE World Heavyweight Champion (6x), WCW World Heavyweight Champion (6x), Royal Rumble Winner (2x)
    Most patriotic moment: Reclaiming the WWF Championship from Sgt. Slaughter at WrestleMania 7.

    He may be more infamous today for his racist rant that became the subject of a massive lawsuit against Gawker.com, but Hulk Hogan was one of the USA's proudest warriors from the mid-1980s all the way up until his nWo heel turn as Hollywood Hogan. Some of his truly career-defining victories have come against the traditional anti-American villain—from his first ever World Championship victory against the Iron Sheik (who had become the target of much anger for dethroning the All-American favorite Bob Backlund) all the way to his conquest of an Iraqi-sympathetic Sgt. Slaughter six years later, nobody waved the Old Glory more proudly than the Hulkster.

    Even his "mysterious" run as Mr. America later on fit perfectly into the legend of Hulk Hogan; of course it made sense that when stripped of his own identity as an individual, he would mask himself under the identity of his flag.

    We have no idea if today's generation of wrestling fans will ever forgive Hogan for his lapse in judgment in recent years, but one thing is for certain: Nobody had a more dominant run as America's wrestling patriot than the leader of Hulkamania.

    1. Kurt Angle

    Career highlights: Just about every goddamn championship in the WWE and TNA.
    Most patriotic moment: Winning a gold medal with a broken freakin' neck.

    Intensity, integrity, and intelligence—that was Kurt Angle to a T. But more than that, he was literally the greatest face to represent the United States in the field of wrestling (albeit of the freestyle variety rather than the WWE-flavored kind), proudly powering through to the gold medal in the 1996 Summer Olympics over his highly-favored Iranian opponent Abbas Jadidi.

    (P.S. Don't forget he did that with a broken freakin' neck. Unfortunately, this was the same injury that first started Kurt on his Vicodin addiction.)

    Kurt Angle went beyond talk when it came to flying his country's pride; he's literally gone to war for it at the risk of permanent paralysis. When a dude has done that for his country, no way are you gonna rank him any lower than #1 on the list of pro wrestling's greatest American patriots.


    Got any other memorable American patriot gimmicks you think we overlooked? Think Lex Luger was overrated, or that Sgt. Slaughter deserves a little bit more forgiveness than we've extended him? Drop us some wisdom in the comments section below!

    And to our friends in the United States of America—happy Independence Day!
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    Item Reviewed: Ranking The Most Patriotic WWE Superstars Ever Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Unknown
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