Sgt. Slaughter was a recent guest on the Notsam Wrestling podcast where the WWE Hall of Famer revealed that he was originally slated to be Hulk Hogan’s WrestleMania I opponent, “I went for six years with G.I. Joe and left the WWE. For the first WrestleMania I wasn’t there and I believe it was supposed to be Hogan and I in the main event for WrestleMania I.” Hogan instead teamed up with Mr. T in a victorious effort against Paul ‘Mr. Wonderful’ Orndorff and ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper.
Slaughter’s G.I. Joe deal led to a falling out with WWE CEO Vince McMahon, “I made this deal with Hasbro and I thought that Vince would be happy about it, but he wasn’t. He said, ‘I just signed with LJN and that’s a conflict of interest.”
The move caused Sgt. Slaughter to miss the first six WrestleManias, but the former WWE Champion has no regrets, “Being the great leader he is, he figured I’d say, ‘Let’s go to WrestleMania,’ but I said, ‘You can only be a G.I. Joe once in your life, as far as a real live GI Joe cartoon.’ Out of all the G.I. Joe cartoons and action figures, I was the first living one. That was a big deal. It is today. I declined. I said, ‘I’m going,’ and he wasn’t too happy about that. I don’t regret it. I missed being in those first six WrestleManias, but in the long run I’m glad I did it.”
Slaughter’s decision put serious strain on his relationship with McMahon, “We never spoke to each other. I didn’t even watch WWE. I worked for a couple of independents….I was actually making more money in the independents than in the WWE. I was all over the place, in Japan, and we were promoting G.I. Joe.”
Slaughter finally reached out to Vince McMahon after WrestleMania VI and then opportunity came calling,“‘Sarge? It’s Vince.’ There’s only one Vince. I sent him a little handwritten note about WrestleMania VI. I wasn’t crazy about the match between Hogan and Warrior, The Ultimate Puke and Pukamania, but I said, ‘The production is unbelievable, the cameras.’ Vince said, ‘I got your note. I appreciate that. I never got that type of thing. It’s usually, ‘That was a great match, great show, but I never heard about the production end of it.’ He says, ‘I hear your contract is up with G.I. Joe and Hasbro?’ I said, ‘Funny you should know that.’ He said, ‘Are you ready to go back to work?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I am.’ He said, ‘Come over to my house tomorrow morning. I have an idea for you.’”
McMahon’s idea was to turn the all-American hero into an Iraqi sympathizer, “I said, ‘That’s great. How are you going to make Hogan a villain?’ He said, ‘Hogan? No, I’m not making Hogan a villain. I’m gonna make you a villain.’”
Slaughter was ‘flabbergasted’ by McMahon’s suggestion, but ultimately went with the idea and was all in as an anti-American turncoat during the height of the Gulf War. The move inevitably led to a WWE Championship run for Slaughter and a WrestleMania VII main event match against Hulk Hogan.
(Transcription Credit: Michael McClead, WrestleZone)
Readers may listen to Sam Roberts’ interview with Sgt. Slaughter in its entirety below: